Domestic mice have been kept as pets for centuries. While white (albino) mice are most common, they come in a wide variety of coat colors and types, from curly and shiny to silver and cinnamon.
Mice are social, curious, fun to watch and even more fun to play with. But because they are small and fragile, they should be treated gently. Parents should always supervise children as they care for mice.
Mice love to socialize, so it’s best to have several living together. Females will do especially well in a group. Do not house males and females together, since mice breed quickly – and often – with large litters.
You can keep three to four mice in a wire cage with a solid floor – make sure that the bars are spaced close enough together to prevent them from escaping. If you can stick your fingers through the bars, a young mouse could probably sneak out. You may want to keep your mice in an aquarium-type habitat, but make sure that you use a close-mesh wire top for adequate ventilation.
Because they love exercise, mice need a running wheel. Make sure that the wheel has a solid surface without wire rungs so their tails won’t get caught. Mice love to climb ladders, so a multi-level habitat is optimal. They also like to hide, crawl and sleep inside enclosed spaces, so put a small box with an entrance hole, a small never-used flower pot and tubes (cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper will do fine) in the cage. Mice love to gnaw, so put unpainted, untreated pieces of wood, dog biscuits or safe chew toys in the cage.
The home for your mice should be lined with carefresh® complete all natural paper bedding or carefresh® custom Hamster & Gerbil bedding added absorbency and odor control. Do not use cedar chips, as aromatic oils in cedar bedding have been shown to have adverse health effects on small pets.
Mice also love to nest! Provide them with nesting material, such as colorful and fun carefresh® Nestables. Spread them around the habitat, and they will forage for the springy shreds and gather them into a comfy nest.
Remove soiled bedding, droppings and stale food from the cage daily. Clean the cage completely once a week by scrubbing the bottom of the cage and soiled accessories with warm water and a gentle soap and replacing dirty litter and bedding. Make sure to rinse and dry everything completely before returning it to the cage. You may want to clean the habitat more frequently if you have male mice, which emit more odor than females.
The most important part of the diet is a commercial mix specially formulated for mice. carefresh® Complete Rat & Mouse food is nutritionally complete and perfect for mice! Foods should contain both pellets and block-style food. Because mice are foragers, they should have a constant supply of food in their cage.
Additionally, you can give your mice a snack of roughly half a teaspoon of fresh fruits or green vegetables such as apples, bananas, carrots, broccoli, arugula, turnip greens or cilantro. Avoid chocolate, uncooked beans, garlic, onions, grapes, and raisins. Cabbage, sunflower seeds, candy, junk food, peanuts should only be given in moderation.
Fresh clean water should be available through a water bottle with a drinking tube attached to the side of the cage at all times.
Care & Handling
Although mice love to interact with humans, they may need a little time to get used to you handling them. Start by feeding your mice treats. Let them get used to the sound of your voice. Once you’ve earned their trust, you can gently pick them up. Mice are very good jumpers, so be careful when you take them out of their cage. You can scoop them up in your hand or in a paper cup to safely transport them. Never grab mice by the middle or end of the tail.
Once your mice are tamed, you can let them out of the cage for supervised exercise every day in a small, secured area where your pets can’t get stuck behind furniture or chew on electrical wires. Also, make sure that no other pets can enter the room and that there are no house plants in reach that could be toxic to your mouse. You may want to make a playpen out of a large shallow cardboard box with some carefresh® Nestables in it, or even build a maze for your mouse with some treats for encouragement!
Health & Veterinary Care
Take your mouse to the veterinarian for a new pet exam, and every six months after for wellness exams. If you think your mouse is sick, seek medical attention immediately. Common symptoms include sneezing, lethargy, weight loss, dull eyes, diarrhea and difficulty breathing. Also, mice are particularly susceptible to external parasites such as mites. If you think your pet is infested, you’ll need to treat the animal, housing and surrounding environment.