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Mice as Pets

General information

MouseMice are similar to rats. However, they tend to be faster and more active, especially during daylight hours. Mice are very social creatures, so having more than one provides good company as well as a play mate. If you choose to own more than one mouse, make sure they are either from the same litter, or two females. Housing two adult males from a different litter commonly results in dominance issues and fatal fights. Housing a male and female will result in the production of many babies!

Feeding

When choosing what to feed your pet mouse, it’s important to be aware of two things: their nutrition and their dental health. In many pet stores, you can buy all-in-one mouse feeds. These contain everything your mouse needs to grow and live a healthy life. You can also supplement their diet with Dandelion heads, carrots, boiled rice and even the odd dog biscuit! It’s important their diet consists of various textures. This helps their dental health as it keeps their teeth clean, worn down and minimises the development of sharp edges on their teeth (known as dental spurs). Supply your mouse with fresh water either in a water bowl (one smaller than the size of their body) or a water bottle.

Husbandry

Similar to rats, when you are choosing an appropriate home for your mouse, ensure it’s big enough and has adequate ventilation. Ventilation is important as it prevents the buildup of nasty smells and condensation. Similar to rats, mice love to gnaw, so make sure the material used to build their home can withstand this habit. Like gerbils, mice love to burrow, so having a thick layer of sawdust or shavings on their cage floor allows them to nest. Ensuring their environment has enough things to keep them occupied when you’re not around is also of importance. Things like mouse wheels, multiple levels and even an old toilet roll will keep them occupied for hours.

Handling

Due to their speedy nature, handling can be a little tricky, especially for children. Mice can be picked up by the base of their tail gently but firmly, and then placed onto your hand. Alternatively, they can be picked up carefully by the scruff of their neck. When handling small rodents, it’s important to be aware they can give you a nasty bite! So be careful.

Common conditions

Sometimes it’s difficult to know when your pet mouse is ill. It’s often easier to spot an ill mouse when paired with one that is healthy. On the outside, you might notice their coat looking unkempt; it’s maybe not as shiny or well-kept as it normally is. They might not be as active, sleep more, keep their eyes shut, breath funny or not eat/drink as much or at all. Common conditions to be aware of include:

  • respiratory disease (cleaning their cages out weekly is important in preventing this)
  • dental disease (incisor malocclusion)
  • gastrointestinal disease (diarrhoea)
  • skin disease (mites, lice and fleas)
  • reproductive disease (mammary tumours, usually malignant in mice)

Fun facts

There are many varieties of mice, including the domestic mouse, spiny mouse, fancy mouse and even the zebra mouse. Mice can also play dead when they are frightened.

For further information on your pet mouse, or if you’re concerned about them having any of the conditions/ symptoms mentioned above, come in and see us at your nearest Pets‘n’Vets surgery.

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