Do Mice make good pets?

Mice can make great pets especially for children as they are low maintenance and can be fun to watch. Mice can be tricky to handle as they are small and quick but once they are tamed they can be picked up easier.  

How many Mice should I adopt?

Like rats, mice are social animals and should not be kept alone, even a pair is not ideal.  The minimum number of mice that should be kept together is three.  In some cases though males need to be kept by themselves as they can become territorially aggressive. 

My mice are skittish, how do i get them to come out so i can handle them?

Mice are naturally quite curious little creatures most of the time.  However, they tend to be shy of people at first.  A person might think of it like this: If you were confronted by King Kong trying to pick you up and play with you right away would you be quite timid.   Many times it is best to offer your hand in the cage for the mice to explore, just don't move it. Let them see that you mean them no harm.  Then slowly you can start working your way up to handling your mice.  

Tips:

  • Give them a piece of fleece or something that smells like you that can be left in their cage so that they can get                  used to your scent can ease in the process of taming your mice. 
  • Hand feed your mouse immediately after taking them out 
  • Handle your mouse for at least 15 minutes a day 
  • DO NOT wear long sleeves or gloves when handling your mouse 

How big does a mouse cage need to be?

Most pet mice spend the majority of their time in their cage so it needs to large enough to be a complete environment with enough space an furnishings to allow the animals to express all their natural behaviors without becoming stressed. 

In general a cage that is 2 cubic feet will comfortably house 4 mice. The shape of the cage should be taken into consideration though as mice love to burrow and digging in their substrate is a really important behavior so the cage should be at least 25.6X 17.7 inches with a nice base tub about 6 inches deep to hold a thick layer of substrate.  

Mice also need to climb so the cage should also be at least 15.7 inches in height.


What size bar spacing should a mouse cage have?

When looking at bar spacing it is important to measure the space between the actual bars paying close attention to places in the cage where there may be gaps in the cage its self like doors or the corners of cage panels.  We recommended bar spacing of one quarter of an inch. 

The thicker the bars the better as thinner bars offer an opportunity for mice to push their way out of the bars. 

Toys: 
Mice require stimulation to keep from getting bored so toys and cage variation are a must.  To create stimulation in you mouse enclosure you can get creative.  Many mouse parents will tell you the dollar store is your friend, also thrift stores, and good will.  Things like cardboard boxes, wicker baskets, toilet paper and paper towel tubes, empty 2-liter bottles, hard plastic cat toy balls with the bells in them, ping-pong balls, baby rattles, hard plastic baby toys,  hamsters chews, ropes, bird toys,  are all things that one might use to create an interactive environment for their mice.  Mice also need wheels.  Wheels should be made of hard plastic and not wire mesh (In a mesh wheel mice can get their toes and tails caught causing amputation.) 

Why not just use a tank or plastic tote?

The main reason is health.  Glass aquariums and plastic totes no matter how much they are modified have poor air circulation allowing for dust and ammonia to accumulate in the cage and therefore in the mouses' lungs.  This causes irritation and sometimes upper respiratory infections that can lead to death of the mouse. 

What about a DIY cage?

There are a lot of cages out there that are made out of wooden cabinets or bookshelves, but this is not generally recommended as mice will chew on the wood and it may not be safe for them to eat. as well as the wood will absorb their urine. 


Cage cleaning:

Most mouse cages will be easy to clean when taken apart.  Simply remove the old bedding and disinfect the cage with a mixture of vinegar water.  Replace the bedding and its good for another week.  Many people suggest that you keep a portion of the dirty bedding intact in the cage and replace the rest in an effort to help with odor control.  This works on the theory that maintaining some of the mice's naturally achieved scent ("marking") will keep them from working over time marking their environment again therefore keeping the odor down.  The cage should be kept out of direct sunlight, away from drafts and direct heat sources. 

What type of bedding to use?

Paper bedding like CareFresh is a good option as it is made from recycled paper.  It does not offer much in the way of odor control, cleaning the cage in a cyclical manor will help to control the odor.  This tends to be the most expensive option but it is easy to clean up and hypoallergenic making it a great option for many people.  


Wood bedding like kiln dried Aspen or pine offers assistance with odor control however there are some downsides to using wood bedding.  First of all wood bedding tends to carry mites, while easily treated in rats they can be hard to spot until after they have been infested for a while and can spread to other animals.  The second thing that we have found with the use of wood bedding is that people tend to have allergies to wood.  So what happens is that they are handling their pets and start to show symptoms of an allergic reaction and tend to believe that they are allergic to the animal.  When in most cases if the animals bedding is changed and they are given a bath of sorts the person finds that they were allergic to the bedding.

CEDAR BEDDING SHOULD NEVER BE USED FOR SMALL ANIMALS.  I t causes upper respiratory infections that can lead to pneumonia and unfortunately many times death of the animal.  Wood bedding tend to be cheaper option in the short run than paper but is more expensive in the long run.  


Rice hulls are available in states where a common farming commodity is rice.   It is a by product of rice farming therefore a green product.  It can be composted and is extremely inexpensive.  We have had good success with it for both odor control and the fact that it is a less allergenic option.  There are a couple draw backs however to rice hulls.  They can be dusty, messy and get stuck in carpeting making it hard to clean up off the floor.


Glass Water bottle, plastic water bottle, or water dish we have used all.


Please do not use plastic water bottles.  They have all the cons of water bottles along with they warp if you place in dishwasher and they have a high fail rate (1 out of 3 fail).


Glass water bottles are what we currently use.  Pros is they give fresh water all the time that it has water in it.  You can wash them in your dishwasher.  Cons are that they can fail (1 out of 50), They can chip teeth on older hedgehogs.  Some people heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend that they can get their tongue stuck (I really don't know how they come up with this stuff).  They do break when you drop them.


Water dishes are what we used for a short period of time.  Pros they won't chip teeth or get tongue stuck.  You don't have to worry about failed water bottles.  Cons are they play in the water, they poop in water, they dump over water dish.  It is near impossible to keep water in the water dish. 

Do mice bite?

Mice can and will bite when frightened.  They also tend to nibble when they smell food on your hands. Most bites do not draw blood.  Biting typically goes away with time spent handling your mice.