Mice are very small rodents that have short lifespans. Their curious behavior and active nature do make them good pets for family homes. They are considered to have low maintenance requirements and will provide hours of entertainment in return. Mice have high energy needs and do need a period of training to acclimatize to their habitat. Mice are natural foragers, so providing them with treats in various places in their habitats will be appreciated.

Mice will happily live in groups. Although safe to touch, they will do well with little handling. Their habitat requires careful consideration as it needs to be large enough to accommodate the number of mice living in it and is to be cleaned weekly in a specific manner. These are generally clean pets that will self-clean to maintain their coat’s condition.

Information about Mice

  • Average size: 2.5 to 3.5 inches
  • Average Weight: 1 ounce
  • Coat Type: Long length, smooth, curled, or a combination
  • Coat Colors: Brown, black, gray, tan, and albino
  • Grooming Needs: Low Need
  • Good tolerance to Heat and Cold: No, mice are affected by very high temperatures or extremely cold conditions.
  • Good Pet: With early socialization and training, yes!
  • Safe with Children: With training
  • Good with Other mice: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Suitable for First-Time pet Owners: Yes
  • Training: They learn fast but you have to remain patient during training
  • Exercise Needs: High need
  • Weight Gain: Normal
  • Health Concerns: They tend to have skin infections, wet tail, diarrhea, and respiratory infections
  • Allergies: Dust, cold, and heat give mice allergic reactions
  • Average Life Span: 1.5 to 2.5 years

Physical Appearance of Mice

Mice are small rodents with a pointed snout, small round ears, a long tail, and four short legs. A mouse is often confused with a rat and the only way to distinguish between the two is their size.

The female mice are smaller than the male mice and the pets are known for their prolific breeding rates. Mice exist in different varieties with the most common being the domesticated house mouse. Breeders have also bred mice resulting into different fancy varieties.

Temperament and Behavior of Mice

Mice are social pets that require companionship from their own kind. The best living arrangement for mice is a pair of females or even more if there’s enough space. Males placed together in a cage can engage in territorial wars which can lead to fighting or even death.

Mice enjoy human companionship if you give them enough time to get used to you and their new environment. A mouse can bite if it isn’t used to human touch, Let them get to know you by regularly approaching the cage to allow your pet time to get comfortable with you.

To help your pet enjoy handling, you can start by placing your hand in the cage without necessarily touching the mouse. With time, you’ll notice the mouse crawling on your palm. You can also try offering treats by hand to make the process smooth and fun.

The best way to handle a mouse is scooping it using one hand so that you hold its entire body on your palm. If you’re dealing with a rather timid mouse, support the base of its tail using your other hand. A timid mouse can quickly jump from your hand leading to injuries especially because of their small fragile bodies.  


Training a Mouse

A mouse can learn amazing tricks after it gets used to your voice and touch. The best way to train a mouse is exercising a lot of patience and remaining consistent throughout the training period. Offering a treat every time your pet obeys a command is also a good way to reward your mouse. The best treats for your mouse include sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

For example, you can teach your mouse to stand on two feet and reach for a treat. Hold the treat right above the pet and ask it to ‘stand’. Gradually, your pet will rise trying to reach for the treat. Make sure to hold the treat for a little longer so that you teach the mouse to hold the position.

Amazingly, your mouse can also learn its name. Come up with a unique name for your pet and try calling out the name every time you approach the cage. Offer a treat as you call out the name and eventually your mouse will start approaching you every time you call the name. To test whether the mouse has really mastered their name, try calling out from across the room and see whether the pet will look at your direction.

Best Habitat for Mice

When considering a habitat for your mice, think about both safety, and comfort. A wire cage or an aquarium make the best choice for their habitat. If you decide to go with a wire cage, choose one with very small spaces between bars because mice don’t have collar bones and can squeeze through the smallest of spaces. The bars shouldn’t be more than a ¼ inch apart. Wire cages should also have solid floors to prevent injuring the feet of your mouse. Aquarium habitats should have a mesh lid to prevent escapes and to also allow proper ventilation.

A cage or tank meant to house a pair of mice should measure at least 12 inches by 12 inches. The cage should be tall enough and preferably have several levels because mice enjoy climbing.

Bedding materials

The bedding material you choose should have about 1 inch depth so your pet can burrow, hide, and rest. The best bedding material is recycled paper and shredded toilet paper. Paper is inexpensive and a favorite for mice because they can also chew on the materials. 

If you buy paper bedding material, make sure that baking soda isn’t part of the manufacturing process. Baking soda is used on paper to remove odors and is toxic to mice. Once the pet lies on the paper material with baking soda, the chemical gets transferred on to its fur. The mouse may then ingest the baking soda during self-grooming sessions.

Aspen shavings or hay also make great bedding materials. Avoid using wood such as cedar and pine because other than causing respiratory infections, the texture of the material can also hurt the feet of your mouse.


Habitat Maintenance

Clean the cage thoroughly once a week but if you have many mice in the cage, consider cleaning two times in a week. The more the mice in a cage, the faster waste accumulates. Each day, look for and remove any wet spots on the bedding material to prevent accumulation of mold. 

As you replace the bedding material, try to leave some of the previous cleaner bedding material so that it will have their odor in the cleaned cage. If you cannot do this, the mice may feel uncomfortable with new materials without their scent on it. 

The Attention Requirements of Mice

As mentioned earlier, their cage only really needs a weekly cleaning. Also make sure to remove any wet spots on the bedding every day to prevent mold from growing. 

Mice are smaller than other rodents and generally have very few attention needs. Mice are active during the night making them great pets for people who remain awake most of the night. Since mice are great for watching rather than a lot of handling, you can have a busy life without worrying that your pet needs attention.


Health Issues

Mice have a short lifespan and as they age, their health also deteriorates. A mouse also has a very high metabolism compared to other rodents and can even catch human diseases that can be fatal for them. For example, a mouse can get flu, food poisoning, or even stomach bugs from a sick human.

The best way to protect your pet from health problems is maintaining proper diet, and hygiene in the cage and food handling. Here are some of the most common health problems for mice.

Fleas, mites, and ticks

Mice get infestation from parasites such as ticks, fleas, and mites especially if there are other pets such as cats or dogs in the same home. An infested mouse becomes uncomfortable and may even lack an appetite. 

The pet may also lose hair at the affected areas leaving them with bald skin patches. You may also see some redness on the skin, excessive scratching especially against objects, and some of the parasites attached on the mouse’s skin.

A sick mouse should be taken to the vet for proper treatment. As a preventative measure, avoid buying wood shavings and other bedding materials directly from farms. Only buy well packaged bedding materials and wood shavings from reputable pet stores. Wood shavings directly from farms could have fleas, mites, or ticks from other farm animals.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections are common in mice and are often caused by dust, or moldy living conditions. A sick mouse shows signs of watery eyes, wheezing, coughing, sticky eyes, difficulties in breathing, and may also have a ruffled fur.

The mouse should be taken to a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. To avoid future outbreaks, keep the mouse cage clean at all times. Also avoid having sawdust because it has a lot of dust that can irritate the respiratory system of your pet.

Wet Tail

Wet tail is a common problem among rodents including mice and often poses a life threatening situation. The disease is caused by stressful conditions and accumulation of bacteria in the gut leading to severe diarrhea. Here is how you can know if your mouse has a wet tail.

  • Foul smelling diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Wet bottom with brown looking diarrhea
  • Dull eyes
  • General body weakness

The illness doesn’t have any home remedy and a sick mouse should be taken to a vet for administration with antibiotics. Also eliminate any stressful conditions for your mouse. For example, reduce overcrowding and noise. Also make sure to change the bedding materials once a week to keep your pet comfortable.

Their Compatibility with Children

Mice make great pets for kids with proper supervision and training. A mouse is a delicate pet that requires gentle handling. A child can easily lose grip of the pet and a fall to the ground can hurt or kill them. If the children are patient enough to learn how to handle a mouse, it can make a great companion.

It’s also important to teach kids on the importance of washing their hands after handling the mouse or anything inside its cage. This way, diseases cannot get transmitted from the pets to the kids. 

Kids should never be allowed to feed a pet mouse unless with the supervision of an adult. This is because a mouse has to feed on the right food and in the correct amounts.

The best way for a child to enjoy the company of a pet mouse is by minimizing handling because mice can also nip when scared. If your child wants a pet they can watch running in wheels, climbing, or even performing tricks, then a mouse is the best pet for them.

Bathing and Grooming of Mice

Mice are generally clean pets that self-clean all the time. It’s also normal for the male mice to have an odor which they produce to mark their territory. Female mice don’t mark their territory so they don’t have any odors. Mice don’t require bathing especially because they don’t like being submerged in water and it could make them stressed.

rodent food

Feeding Mice

Mice are omnivorous so their diet should contain both meat and vegetables. Mice pellets and cubes should make up the largest composition of your pet’s diet because they usually have a balance of all required nutrients. 

Since a pellet and cube only meals for your mouse can become monotonous, supplement the diet with fruits, vegetables, seed mixes, and healthy treats.

The best fruits and vegetables are strawberries, melons, broccoli, spinach, cabbage. You can also feed them fresh mealworms or dried ones once or twice a week. Millet seeds meant for birds are also great for a mouse. Other foods you can give your mouse include pasta, cereals, boiled eggs, and dog biscuits.

Place clean water in the cage every day in a water bottle preferably with a sipper. The best way to feed mice especially on pellets and cubes is spreading them all over the cage instead of placing all of it in a bowl. This is because mice are foragers in nature. The pets spend the whole day looking for food among substrates.

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