In the latest of our blogs, experienced Veterinary Nurse Annie, gives her perspective on keeping fancy Mice! Her current mice are Picasso, Ginny and Winnie who regularly appear on her Instagram page!
Mice need a lot of space. Depending on whether you have a single mouse or a pair (or more) will depend on the size of the enclosure. Two mice need a cage size of at least 80cm long by 50cm deep, by 50cm tall. The most popular enclosure for mice is a tank as its generally the most secure and easier to keep clean. Mice can squeeze through very tiny gaps so wire cages are often not appropriate due to the spacing of the bars.
Bedding is very important. Mice are prone to respiratory infection so need bedding that has had dust extracted. Popular bedding include ‘kaytee clean and cozy’ and ‘carefresh’. These are recycled paper bedding but have had the dust extracted to make it safe. Ensure there is a thick layer of bedding at the bottom as mice love to burrow and dig.
Mice enjoy hay as well! It isn’t really necessary but very small handfuls are a great healthy snack. Timothy hay is the best type to get and again ensure it is dust extracted and designed for being fed to small mammals.
Generally mice will need a full clean out once a week but depending on how many you have may need twice a week cleaning. Spot cleans should be done daily to remove old food to prevent mould forming.
Toys are very important as mice love to climb and jump. Good toys for mice are:
- Multiple hides designed for mice so they can build a nest etc.
- Wheel for exercise and fun.
- Tubes either kitchen roll tubes they can gnaw or tubes designed for mice that can be cleaned or replaced regularly.
- Climbing ropes, ladders and hammocks.
Make sure toys are regularly checked for damage and wear in case they become sharp and can cause injury to the mouse or mice.
Female mice do best when they are paired with litter mates. They can live in small groups depending on space available. Males will need to live alone unless neutered then they may live with a female. Males will fight if put together even if they are from the same litter.
The best advice I ever received when handling mice for the first time is ‘little and often’. To begin with you can encourage them to get inside a toilet roll tube then put your hand flat at the opening to allow them to come to you. Even if at first they only put a paw or two on you only spend about 5 minutes at a time. Mice are usually active most at night so try and stick to evening handling session. Eventually once your mice become accustomed to life with you, they will mimic to a degree your active hours. Every time your mouse has a handling session, follow it up with feeding time. This way they associate you with yummy food and good times. Obviously if you do this too much they will become fat so stick to a single seed or a pea for example.
Mice are naturally curious and even when frightened will still be inclined to come out and investigate. One way to get them used to you is allowing them an area where they can roam freely but also climb on you at their own speed. For example I personally put a dust sheet on my bed and sit and allow them to run around the bed. They have toys on the bed as well so they have lots to do and I can keep an eye on them and prevent them from getting in trouble. They then have free reign to run jump, play and hide as they please.
Mice are omnivorous like rats and have a wide variety of foods they can eat. Generally you should feed mouse pellets because then they cant pick and choose what they want to eat like with the muesli mixes. There are a wide variety of mouse pellets out there. I have tried several and my personal favourite for the mice is burgess hamster, gerbil and mouse mix.
Other varieties of foods are:
- Supreme science selective mouse
- Science selective rate and mouse
- Tiny friends farm reggie rat and mimi mouse muesli
- Purr dwarf hamsters and mice muesli
For treats and snacks to add a variety to your mouse’s diet they can eat:
- Gravy bones (once a week I give them one broken up to share)
- Mealworms (treat sparingly as little nutritional value and high in fat)
- Seeds (budgie mixes are great, u will want to give half a teaspoon scatter fed)
- Fruits (apples, pears, banana, melons, strawberries and tomato (not the leaves or stalk of either strawberry or tomato) - a quarter of a teaspoon per mouse sparingly as can give them soft stools)
- Vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, endive, carrots, Bok Choy/other Asian greens, celery, parsley, berries, tomato, fresh corn, beans, peas teaspoon per mouse every few days)
- Pasta (sparingly just one piece of cooked pasta split between two mice)
Another source of nutrients are fruit tree branches. My mice favour the apple tree. Ensure they are clean and free of parasites etc before given them to your mice. Alternatively, you can buy cuttings for mice in pet shops. You can also buy dried fruit mixes and herb mixes suitable for mice as well.
- When mice get excited they jump in the air and flick their feet which is called ‘popcorning’
- Mice will brux to express emotion which is when their teeth grind together. It sounds similar to very tiny chicken clucking noises. It can mean happy, content, excited, curious or annoyed!
- Fancy mice can learn basic tricks just like rats can.
- Fancy mice come in a whole range of colours and coat types from curly to satin coat, from red to Siamese.
- Female mice are called does and males are called bucks.