I was recollecting on some old Tom & Jerry cartoons and began to wonder why mouse holes were often represented like the picture below.

enter image description here

Did it just have to do with the cartoonist trying to personify mice and make it look like they live in houses with doors like humans. Or was it something more, for example perhaps many houses built in those times had holes like the above that were supposed to be for pipes or vents but when unfilled mice liked to take refuge in them. Any ideas?

  • 7
    Back in the days of Tom & Jerry , the animators were old enough to have seen real mouse holes. Not so common today with exterminators at one's beck and call. Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 5:01
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    it's both of these.
    – voices
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 21:39

2 Answers 2


The cartoon mouse holes are just rounded out versions of the real thing. Mice are rodents who are capable of gnawing through walls to make a cozy home within them. Here are a few real mouse holes:

Real mouse hole

Real mouse hole

  • Okay, so the shape makes sense for dry-walls. Always wondered how a mouse could make a hole like that in concrete.
    – Suman Roy
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 9:52
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    Concrete or other masonry interior walls are very rare in North American homes. In the early-to-mid-century era of these cartoons, walls familiar to viewers would have been lath-and-plaster, some kind of softwood board or maybe even pressboard sheet, stuff that a mouse could make short work of.
    – CCTO
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 17:50

Most of the time art should look clean. If the artists made the hole jagged someone can easily mistake it for bad art. Also, having cartoon mice live in places that look like houses keeps kids entertained and interested.

  • The first argument doesn't make sense to me; why would it be mistaken for bad art? Most probably it's just easier to draw consistently a rounded hole than a jagged one.
    – Luciano
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 8:15

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