It was once a commonplace European belief that to hear a mouse squeaking was an ill omen if heard close to a place where someone was seriously ill. This might be one reason why mice are not popular but it is more likely that it is as a result of another belief. Mice were said to carry the souls of those who had been murdered, and so any contact with them was feared. Any journey begun directly after seeing one was considered to lead only to disaster.
Mice are known for their appetites, but if they were found tucking into a juicy piece of clothing this was considered to indicate that considerable misfortune would befall the person concerned. The place where the event occurred was also thought to be one to avoid until cleansing of the area had been completed.
In rural medicinal cures the mouse has often been a main ingredient for whooping cough, wetting the bed and measles. The mouse could either be roasted, fried or baked - yum-yum!
If a number of mice suddenly took up residence in a home then it was thought that a member of the family would soon be taken ill and die. To clear the house of these tiny creatures it was once thought in Scotland (UK) that this could easily be achieved by catching one and roasting it by the fire or by reciting the following rhyme.
‘Rats and mice,
Leave this poor person’s house,
Go on away over to the mill
And there you’ll get your fill.’
The other mice were thought to see what might happen to them, took the hint and would leave immediately. The sight of mice does not appear to have helped those apart to embark upon a journey with such an appearance signifying that the journey would not be successful.
Traditionally in Germany though the sight of a white mouse was once believed to a be a positive omen. Killing a white mouse therefore would court disaster.