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 extrusion food. A few cubes placed in his dish every day plus the following extras in his daily feeding program (listed below) will keep him satisfied. Seed mixtures, which include nuts, corn, seeds and fruits need only be offered as a treat. Mice have a habit of selecting these tempting morsels and leaving the healthy pellets.
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 stay 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 teaspoon daily. These also include mixed seeds and treat sticks. Offer treats to encourage interaction between you and your pet, but only after your pet eats his basic diet.
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 – A water bottle should be used to keep your pet’s water clean and free of shavings. As well, the liquid vitamins will not be wasted if a bottle is used. Fresh water should be made available at all times. If your mice are 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 – We recommend pine shavings for your mice. Cedar or other aromatic litters may be used in small amounts in the toilet area only. This corner should be spot cleaned every one or two days. 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!
A Book on Mice – Petland has many excellent books on small animal care available. Having a book available to you will make for interesting reading and may be used as a reference for years to come.
Please ask your pet counsellor if there are any more items that pertain to your particular pet’s needs.
*Ask about the volunteer programs at your nearest Petland location.
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets must be kept in a clean environment to avoid the spread of dirt and contaminants to yourself and others. Always keep your pet’s home clean, and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home.
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit diseases to humans. 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 homes.