A Guide to Caring for Your Pet Mice

Domestic mice can make great pets. Mice are as clean as most other animals and do not inherently carry diseases. Domestic mice have been bred to be comfortable around people. If you are considering mice as pets there are several things to know that will help you have an enjoyable experience with healthy active pets. The best place to purchase domestic mice for pets is from professional breeders. Mice found in pet stores are often not the healthiest.

You will want to consider getting more than one mouse. Mice live better in groups or with at least one companion mouse, however, not all mice get along with one another. Male mice tend not to always get along well with other male mice unless they are raised together from a few weeks old. Unless you want baby mice you will need to get only females. A male mouse can be neutered if you can afford the extra expense. You can tell a mouse's gender by the distance between the genitals and anus. This distance is greater in males than in females.

Mouse Living Quarters
Mice can be territorial and need enough room. A larger cage will prevent territorial fighting. Mice are intelligent and need things such as safe toys to keep them active. A mouse’s brain compared to body weight is bigger than humans. Mice have survived by intelligence for millions of years. To reduce the chances of injuries only purchase toys made specifically for pet mice.

Mouse House http://www.afrma.org/mousehousep1.htm

Cages should be cleaned in two steps:

1. Cleaning by removing all particulate matter.
A high pressure washer such as a car wash and a stiff scrub brush are best. Dish soap can be used. Some of the best detergents for metal cages are the same as those you would use to wash your car. Make sure all detergents are completely rinsed off of cages.

2. Sanitizing
After cleaning comes sanitizing; this is what kills germs and bacteria. Heat is best and second is chemical sanitizing. The cage can be immersed or sprayed. Chlorine bleach is one of the best sanitizing agents. Water bottles, feeders, and toys must also be cleaned regularly.
Cleaning: http://www.afrma.org/howclean.htm

There are plenty of fun mouse toys available at pet stores. Make sure you wash the toys well when cleaning their cage. They will also enjoy a cardboard tube.

Handling Mice
Be very careful handing your pet mice. Never squeeze a mouse or pick one up from the sides. You are much bigger than a mouse and could easily hurt one. A frightened mouse will jump even from a height that could cause injury. Keep your mice from being afraid of you by letting them come to you. Place your hand in the cage and coax the mouse to walk into your hand.
When trained, many mice will walk into your hand when you place your hand in the cage.

If you must pick up a mouse that is frightened, softly pinch the base of the tail near the mouse’s body. Then slide your other palm under the mouse body. Keep a hold of the tail when the mouse is in your hand to keep it from jumping away. Mice like to explore and will run out of your hand. Keep a close eye on your mouse when out of the cage.

After your mouse is used to you and the surroundings, usually within a few weeks, your mouse might be able to be taught simple tricks.

Feeding Your Mouse
Wild mice eat about whatever they can find, but domestic mice must be fed certain foods. Buy or order mouse food from a pet store. Make sure the food is safe for mice not just hamsters or guinea pigs. These foods should be nutritious. Mice like variety in their diets just like people.
Some of the special snacks and treats you can provide include: small amounts of leafy green vegetables, apples, carrots, peas, cooked pasta, or cereal.

Foods That Are Bad for Mice
Some of the foods that are fatal or cause sickness in mice are chocolate, peanuts, acidic fruits, acidic vegetables such as onions or garlic, raw meats, and some dog and cat foods. While cheese has become synonymous with mouse food, some mice do not eat any and too much in bad for their digestive systems.

If your mouse does not have an appetite or becomes lethargic, take the mouse to a veterinarian for diagnosis. This can also happen when there is a sudden diet change. Make sure you keep a list of what you feed your mice to inform the veterinarian.

Obesity is a far more common than undernourishment. Most mice will eat the right amount of food however some are more gluttonous than others. Obesity in mice shortens their life expectancy and increases risk of disease. Fatty seeds and nuts should be switched to grains and fruits for an obese mouse.

Mouse Skin Problems
Common health issues with mice are skin issues. Some mice get skin rashes from food allergies.
Avoid feeding them any corn or peanuts. This can also be a sign of fleas, mites, or other ectoparasites. Mites can come from hay, straw, other mice, or infected food. They are usually too small to see. Keep your mouse’s cage and toys clean at all times. If symptoms resist get your mouse checked by a veterinarian.

More on mouse health: http://www.afrma.org/rmindex.htm#health

Resources

American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association http://www.afrma.org/rminfo1.htm
The AFRMA Rat and Mouse Information Pages have a plethora of information on the care of rats and mice and many educational posters.

AFRMA Kid’s Guide http://www.afrma.org/kidsguide.htm

Animal Corner http://animalcorner.net/pets/mice/mice_aspets.html
How to buy mice and care for them.

Animal World http://animal-world.com/encyclo/critters/mouse/mouse.php
All about pet mice.

ASCPA http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/small-pet-care/mouse-care.html
Information about mice from the ASPCA

Fancy Mice http://www.fancymice.info/whymice.htm
Learn about domestic mice.

Mice and Rat Care http://www.simplepetcare.com/pet-care/9/MICE-&-RAT/
How to care for mice.

Mice as Pets http://www.parenting-our-kids.com/mice-as-pets.html
Advice for parents of kids with pet mice.

PetMice.com http://pet-mice.com/
Everything about mice as pets.

PetFinder http://www.petfinder.com/pet-care/rats-mice-care.html
Mice care from PetFinder.com.

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