Caring for Your Mice
CARING FOR YOUR PET MICE
Mice are quiet, intelligent pets that are fun and easy to care for. They can be hand-tamed quickly and may even be trained to perform tricks! There are many colour mutations of the original white mouse. While the white mouse is still a favourite, the most popular mice are the coloured varieties in which black, brown, red or beige is predominant.
One Mouse, Two or More?
Mice are community-orientated animals. It is for this reason that even if you spend a lot of time with your pet, you should adopt two or more mice. Since mice are prolific breeders, females are recommended.
Sexual maturity of a mouse occurs at approximately three weeks and the gestation period is 18 t0 24 days. If you have an expecting mother mouse, give her and her spouse peace and quiet in their own home, separate from other pets. The litter size maybe five to 22! Very little intervention other than fresh food and water are required. Anything more than a quick change of food and water dishes and the occasional spot cleaning of shavings may cause the new mother distress. You may begin handling the babies around 16-days old. When they grow up they will be much tamer than mice that have not been handled.
The optimum room temperature is between 64°F – 68°F (19°C – 20°C). Place the cage away from direct sunlight, heat or air-conditioning vents and any drafts. Our pet counsellors are small animal lovers and because they are, they hold and play with all the small animals in our store. Our guests also play a big part in our small animal’s social skills.* This is why Petland small animals are quick to bond with their new owner.
To provide a happy, healthy atmosphere for your mice, Petland recommends the following necessary, and fun accessories. We have listed them as your new pet’s four basic needs. Nutritional, Environmental, Maintenance and Behavioural. When these needs are met, along with a loving environment provided by you, your mice will live a long and happy life. Typically, a healthy mouse may live between one to three years.
Your Mouse’s New Home – Whether it is a two-storey cage with a removable plastic bottom, an enclosed plastic unit with tunnels and attachments, or perhaps it is an aquarium with a snug-fitting screen lid; do not underestimate your potential escapees! Give your mice room enough to run, sleep and tunnel.
Nesting Material – This material is specifically made for mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters and degus. One package goes a long way in providing your new pets with soft bedding that they can form into a cozy bed.
Hiding Place – Every living creature needs an area to call their own. Their hiding place is necessary to reduce stress and to make them feel secure. Their home can be made of ceramic or wood and should be bought specifically with a mouse in mind. Tissue boxes or toilet paper rolls, although happily slept in and chewed, are potential health hazards that you should avoid. Choose a large enough home to fit your whole mouse family!
Your mouse is an omnivore, which means he eats both plant and animal food. Your mouse's primary diet is an extrusion food. Follow the recommended guidelines on the bag of food as to how much should be offered daily. Plus add a teaspoon of a gourmet mouse food mix to the extrusion food daily feeding program, to keep him satisfied. Mice have a habit of selecting mixes with nuts, corn, seeds and fruit morsels and leaving the healthy pellets behind, so a primary diet of extrusion food is the best option.
Many small animals are susceptible to diarrhea, especially when new foods are introduced too quickly or they encounter a stressful situation (i.e. being adopted). By providing food that is familiar to them, their digestive systems will prevent this type of health problem.
Moss Hollow Adapt – Using Moss Hollow Adapt, while minimizing stress, can help your new pet adapt to their new home by promoting relaxation from stress caused by the environment (Echinacea), offering a prebiotic for building gut flora (Burdock Root), easing diarrhea (Psyllium Husk), increasing palatability (Wheatgrass), providing a natural dewormer (Diatomaceous Earth), and nutrient rich clay (Bentonite). This veterinary health product uses natural ingredients which can aid all small animals before symptoms emerge.
Treats and Other Diet Variations – Supply grass hay to stimulate natural foraging activities, which help in the prevention of obesity. The bonus here is that they also love it! Hay is an excellent source of nesting material, as well there are a variety of hays available; however, mice especially enjoy oat hay, which often contains immature seed heads.
Treats are a great way to help keep your mice from becoming bored with their fare, and staying healthy and active. All mice should be introduced to new foods gradually. Never more than 5% of their total diet should consist of treats, or about a ½ tsp daily. Offer treats to encourage interaction between you and your pet, but only after your pet eats his basic food.
We recommend that for the first few days in your home, you do not feed your new pets any fruits, vegetables or treats. It is at this time that they will be most prone to getting diarrhea (wet-tail). Limiting their variety of foods is best until they are settled. Fresh foods are considered treats for mice rather than a staple in your pet’s diet. Carrot and beet tops, dandelion greens and flowers (that have not been subjected to spraying), kale, collard greens, romaine and leaf lettuce (not iceberg lettuce), parsley, carrots and pea pods are some good choices. Large amounts of green foods should be avoided, since they are difficult to digest and can cause health concerns.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplement – This should be added to the drinking water or food according to bottle directions. In the wild, animals can choose the foods their bodies require. Even if you give your mice a wide variety of foods, you may not be providing them with certain vitamins and minerals they need.
Salt/Mineral Stone – Your mice need a salt and mineral stone available at all times. Salt will encourage them to drink enough water, and the water aids in digestion.
Water Bottle – The use of a four to eight water bottle is necessary, so the water stays clean and free of bedding and the vitamins are not wasted. Fresh water should be available at all times and replaced daily. Water bottles need to be kept clean of not only any bacterial growth, but also of sediment that may be caused by using nutritional supplements. Use a bottle brush set to clean both the inside of the bottle and the inner surface of the stainless steel drinking tube. Brushes may be used with dish soap. Be sure to rinse bottles and tubes well and to wash and rinse brushes themselves following use. If your pet is housed in an aquarium, a bottle holder or bottle guard will be required.
Crock Bowls – These are easy to clean, cannot be chewed and are hard to tip over. Two are advisable. One for food and one for treats.
Litter – Aspen shaving or soft bedding made from natural fibres (e.g. CareFRESH®) is recommended for your mice. Use of Pine, Cedar or other aromatic litters may not be used due to a mouse's sensitive respiratory system. With a little patience, your mice can be potty trained! A small animal toilet is easy to remove, reduces the time and cost of maintenance and cuts down on odour. A litter scoop should be used to spot clean corners. Once a week, wash their cage with hot water and a mild soap, rinse well and dry completely. Do not use bleach or other household cleaners, which are harmful to your mice.
Cage Cleaner – There are pet safe stain and odour removers available for small pets. Many are enzyme-based formulas that work naturally to permanently break down stains and odours. Once a week, you should clean his cage with a pet safe cleaner, or hot water and mild soap, rinse well and dry. Do not use bleach, or other household cleaners, which will irritate your mice’s respiratory system, or even cause worse problems.
Chew Blocks – Your mouse’s teeth will grow throughout his life. Give your mice a variety of chewing aids to help keep their teeth trimmed. A branch from outside may not be safe nor will a toilet paper or paper towel roll. Small animal chews are generally made from balsa wood, which is hard enough to gnaw on, but soft enough so it won’t splinter or cut. Although your mice don’t play fetch with a ball or run after a squeaky toy, as other pets do, they have a few behavioural needs, and one is to chew!
Ladders and Branches – Mice love to climb and will entertain themselves (and you) with their acrobats! In order to provide them with mental stimulation and exercise, ladders and branches (some located in the bird department) are necessary.
Tunnels and Tubes – Your mice will love to burrow and run about in a maze of tunnels and tubes! This isn’t just a “fun time,” but a necessary part of their daily lives.
Exercise Wheel – Just like us, mice need exercise to stay healthy and trim. As any mouse owner can tell you, the wheel is used nightly for your little one’s instinctual need to run, run, run!
Exercise Ball – An exercise ball can be a fun and safe way for your mice to gain a little more freedom while staying in shape. Limit their time in the ball to five to 10 minutes. Remember to keep their ball far away from the stairs to prevent a sudden accident!
Please ask your pet counsellor if there are any more items that pertain to your particular pet’s needs.
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets can potentially carry diseases that may be contagious to people. Young children, infants, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and the elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with pets or their environments. Regular cleaning of your pet’s environment with a pet safe cleaner may help avoid the spread of contaminants.
Hygiene procedures such as washing your hands before and after handling your pet and/or after having any contact with their habitat, is a necessary routine. Children should be assisted with hand washing and always have adult supervision when interacting with pets.