Welcome to March, CHS Supporters!
March is one of our favorite months at Calgary Humane Society because everything starts to turn green, our summer camp program starts to take shape and we start to plan our flower beds for the summer season.
This year we have an interesting influx of little critters at the shelter and we are spending the month of March celebrating these little furry residents. Currently we have several small animals including mice and guinea pigs, looking for great homes. Today on the blog, we’re looking at the real truth behind pet mice!
The domestic fancy mouse has been bred for many years, producing a wide variety of coat patterns and colours. Domestic mice are typically small in size and have bright eyes, dainty paws, large ears and a constantly twitching nose that make them the picture of cuteness. Their small size makes them appealing to many families with limited space. For the right family, domestic mice can be engaging and enjoyable pets, but their low cost unfortunately leads to many mice falling victim to impulse pet purchases each year. At Calgary Humane Society, we love all of our resident critters and so today we are bringing you all the information you need to care for a pet mouse!
The domestic mouse is a slight and fragile animal, the domestic mouse prefers the company of other mice, but male mice should not be kept together as they may fight resulting in injuries and even death. Keeping a single male mouse with a female (or group of females) should only be done if the male mouse is neutered as mice reproduce with alarming efficiency. Female mice reach sexual maturity at 6 weeks of age and can produce 5-10 litters per year of 5-6 babies per litter.
When choosing housing for your mouse, security should be a top concern. Mice are inquisitive creatures and a curious mouse could easily escape an improperly secured enclosure. Mice are prey animals and need areas where they can hide and feel secure. Proper ventilation is needed for mice to remain happy and healthy. Choosing an aquarium with a locking screen top or a small animal enclosure specifically designed for mice will help to ensure adequate ventilation and safety. If you choose a wire enclosure be advised that some mice love to climb and this can lead to injury so it is important to watch your mice carefully to ensure they are not becoming injured. Plastic areas of cages must be well-scrubbed regularly to remove urine. Cardboard boxes should never be used to house a pet mouse.
Mice are nocturnal! If you are a light sleeper you will want to keep your mouse enclosure in an area other than the bedroom because these critters will want to party all night long! Keep the cage in an area where your mice will receive social interaction but where they will not disrupt your sleep. Mice should not be kept in direct sunlight as their enclosure may become uncomfortably hot. Keep pet mice out of reach of other household pets and away from drafty areas.
Outfitting your mouse enclosure is a fun way to enrich the lives of your pet mice. Provide a deep layer of aspen shavings (or another appropriate substrate) but avoid ceder and pine shaving as these woods can release volatile oils. In addition to a substrate, provide ample access to bedding material so your mice can build a comfortable nest. Hay, paper towel or facial tissue can be used as nesting materials. Commercial nesting materials are also available but you will want to ensure these do not become stuck to the mouse’s feet.
Once you have layed down a substrate and nesting material, outfit your mouse enclosure with a nest box (store bought or homemade is fine), an appropriately sized exercise wheel and plenty of toys. Paper towel tubes, toilet paper tubes, wood blocks or wood houses, willow balls or mouse-safe toys with holes to climb in and out of all make great additions to a mouse enclosure. When choosing toys try to provide a variety of toys that will encourage your mouse to exercise, chew and exhibit other normal mouse behaviours, like foraging and nesting.
Water and food are important for all pet mice. Gravity water bottles are a top choice for many mouse owners because they do not spill easily. A solid ceramic food bowl is a great choice because it is also difficult to spill. Your pet mice should be given a high-quality mouse food and fresh vegetables as a treat. Giving a mouse too many fruits or vegetables can lead to diarrhea. For an extra special treat your mouse could enjoy a very small amount of organic peanut butter (the kind made without added sugar and oil) or a tiny piece of whole-grain cracker. Contrary to folklore, mice do not like cheese and cheese is not an appropriate treat for a mouse. Cheese is high in fat and difficult to digest so it is not a healthy choice for a mouse… plus most mice tend to prefer high carbohydrate foods instead!
Like any animal, pet mice need regular attention from a veterinarian. You will need to find an exotic veterinarian in your area who is familiar with mouse care prior to bringing your little furry friend home. As a prey species, mice are highly skilled at hiding illness, so any signs of illness should be reported to the vet right away!
Sadly, pet mice are a shorter-lived species, living only 1-2 years. Some breeds may live slightly longer than others, so if lifespan is an important consideration you will want to do plenty of research before adopting.
Mouse enclosures must be cleaned regularly to prevent the build up of ammonia, bacteria, urine, feces and dirt. Substrate and bedding should be replaced regularly and the cage should be completely empty and scrubbed thoroughly when cleaning. Through cleaning will not only make your mouse happier, it will keep the smell of their cage to a minimum.
Mice are more independent animals who like to exercise, explore and engage with the world. Mice are not fond of being handled a lot, so if you are looking for a pet that is agreeable with being carried around and cuddled a mouse may not be for you. If you do want to train your mouse to accept handling you will need to start very slowly and carefully. You should never squeeze your pet mouse when handling them as you could inadvertently injure the mouse.
If you are looking for a pet that is entertaining to watch, mice can be a great choice! Many mouse owners enjoy creating fun toys and foraging puzzles for their pet mice to solve and take great joy watching these fun critters interact with each other. Talking to your mice and keeping them in an area where they receive social interaction will help your mice become accustomed to you more quickly.
Need more information?
Looking for more information about adopting a pet mouse or another animal? Our adoption team would love to help you out! Come and visit us at the shelter or call us at 403-205-4455 and we would be happy to assist you.