Fact Check

China's 'Three Squeaks' Live Mice Dish

Rumors about a Chinese live mice dish called 'Three Squeaks" have been circulating for several years, but evidence of its existence is lacking.

Published Oct. 5, 2016

 (Wikimedia Commons)
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
A popular dish in China called "Three Squeaks" involves eating live mice.

A video purportedly showing clips of various people eating from plates of live, newborn mice was widely circulated on the internet in October 2016:


The three clips featured in the above-displayed video have been circulating on their own for several years, along with the claim that they depict people consuming a popular Chinese dish called "Three Squeaks," supposedly named for the sounds the baby mice make before they are eaten:

This disgustingly weird trend involves eating newborn mice dipped in soy sauce. The dish is called Three Squeaks, which is derived from the sounds the mice made while being eaten. “The first squeak is when the mouse is picked up with the chopsticks. The second is when the mouse is dipped into the sauce. The third is when the mouse is placed into your mouth.”

This disgustingly weird dish is becoming a trend right now in China, especially in Guangdong province. Someone even uploaded a video of him while eating baby mice on the online Chinese video network Miaopai. It has gathered millions of views ever since.

While rumors about "The Three Squeaks" have been circulating for at least a decade, evidence of the actual existence of this bizarre culinary practice is somewhat lacking.

The video shown above, for instance, doesn't capture anyone actually eating the live mice. The animals are shown arrayed on plates, being dipped in soy sauce, and even being placed into a man's mouth, but the clips always abruptly end before showing anyone chewing or swallowing any mice. Other videos purportedly showing diners partaking in "The Three Squeaks" have similarly suspicious qualities.

Many web sites have written about the "Three Squeaks," but these accounts all repeat the same general claims — that the dish received its name due to the noise the mice make when they're eaten, and that this delicacy is allegedly widely available in the Guangdong province — and provide no additional first-hand information.

The closest we came to unearthing a first-hand account of eating the "Three Squeaks" was one posted to the "Straight Dope" message board in 2000. That account provided a skeptical take on what a poster had heard on a talk radio show:

I heard about this one on a talk radio show one time (consider the source).

Apparently this young lad (23ish?) sold everything he owned, took a sabbatical from his job at IBM, and decided to spend a year traveling the globe. So the host of the show asked him what the most unique food he sampled on his journey. The lad replied he had a dish in China called “Three Squeaks” (rough translation).

The name doesn’t sound so bad, ‘til you come to understand the meal. According to the story, the chef takes a very pregnant rat, removes the fetuses, and serves the new hatchlings fresh with some type of hot sauce. When you grab one of the squirming babes with your chopsticks, it will squeak. Then you dip the creature in the hot sauce where it again squeaks. And the third squeak occurs when your teeth crunch the still live rat. A delicacy of the worst order.

This is the most God-awful “treat” I have ever heard described. I don’t know if this is on the up-and-up, but it’s a fun story to tell at keg parties & bars. Course it won’t get you many dates; the reaction’s the thing!  

There's plenty of anecdotal discussion of "The Three Squeaks," but we haven't been able to find any credible source confirming that this is a common dish in China. Jerry Hopkins wrote about several cultures eating cooked mice and rat in his book Extreme Cuisines, but that work made no mention of a live mice appetizer.

While it's certainly possible that some Chinese diners have eaten live mice at some point, we found no evidence "The Three Squeaks" is either a common Chinese dish or a "new trend" in Eastern cuisine. One definitely fictional scenario involving the eating of live rodents was described by Dean Koontz in his 2004 novel Frankenstein: The Prodigal Son:

Victor removed the lid from the silver server. The dish had been lined with cabbage leaves briefly steamed to wilt them and make them pliable.

This rare delicacy did not appear on the menu. It was not available at all times or on short notice.

In any event, Lee Ling would prepare it only for that one-in-a-thousand customer whom he'd known for years, whom he trusted, whom he knew to be a true gourmet. The customer must also be one so familiar with regional Chinese cuisine that he knew to request this very item.

In the dish, nestled in the cabbage, squirmed a double litter of live baby rats, so recently born that they were still pink, hairless, and blind.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.