How To Care For Mice
The pet mouse, or fancy mouse, makes a great pet, especially for young children. Like many rodents, mice need the right bedding, food, cage, and toys to be kept happy. Care for the mouse properly, and he will be an enjoyable pet to look after and raise.
Step 1: Background information
The pet mouse, or fancy mouse, is found worldwide. Their natural habitats are houses, stables, and sheds. They can grow up to 6-8cms, and live an average of 1-2 years.
Step 2: Buying
When buying a mouse, especially for a child, it must be young so that it is easy to tame. Too young though and it may have nutritional and behavioural problems.
Perform a health check on the ears, teeth, feet and fur. You want to avoid bare patches, parasites, diarrhoea, arched backs, and swollen joints. Always consult a reputable breeder.
To sex the mouse, note that the gap between the anus and sexual opening in the male is wider than in the female.
Always look for a clean sparkly eye and a zest for life!
Step 3: Behaviour
Mice are active and inquisitive creatures, and even more so in the evenings. They are also excellent climbers and jumpers, and particularly gregarious.
The males are less popular due to their unpleasant odour, and if you are keeping a group you should try to get sisters of a similar age. Introducing a mouse into this group at a later date may result in bullying.
Step 4: Handling
Mice tame fairly quickly if they are handled regularly from a young age. A mouse can be picked up by gently but firmly holding the base of the tail and supporting the body as you lift.
Step 5: Housing
Mice are great escape artists so ensure on a wire cage where the gap is less than 10mm, and check that the doors are not too easy to open.
Glass cages are even better as they are easy to clean, keep mess from spilling out, can not be chewed through, and help avoid the nipping of fingers.
Cover the cage bottom with aspen, corn cob, or even cat litter. Avoid pine shavings and newspaper, as recent research suggests they may be toxic to rodents. This should all be removed and the cage cleaned weekly.
Provide a tube or wooden box as a hide, and fill this with hay. Also give them willow branches, loo rolls, and treadmills for stimulation.
Step 6: Food
Mice are true omnivores and will eat most things. A commercial rodent food makes a perfect staple, but also provide some green veg. Peanuts and sunflower seeds can be given as a treat, and insects can provide protein. Hay also makes good roughage, as well as perfect bedding.
For water, drinking bottles are best. Use bottled water when possible, or add a water conditioner and vitamins to tap water.