The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Mice as Pets
They are one of the oldest-forms of pet known to man and while they might not be quite as popular as cats or dogs, mice are still a common choice across the typical household.
Most people will keep several at a time, usually sticking to females which are regarded as easier to have together, and take advantage of their excellent companionship.
Of course, keeping them does entail a slightly different set of rules compared to more “standard” pets, as we take a look at each of the areas you need to cover if you are thinking of bringing mice into your home.
What equipment do you need?
The main piece of equipment you’ll need for your mouse is the enclosure. Ideally, this should be formed of wire walls and a plastic base, with the base coming up a few centimeters to ensure that the bedding is secure inside. Like a lot of points you’ll read through this guide, bigger is better, despite the small size of the animal. In terms of specific guidelines, ensure that it is at least 30x30x45cm.
At this point we should probably warn you not to turn to a fish tank, with some people opting for this approach with a mesh cover. The problem with this is that it can stint ventilation, increase the temperature as well as making it much harder to clean.
Most owners will also provide their mice with a wooden hut to sleep in, whilst relying on shredded inkless paper for the bedding in the bottom. The former is pretty essential, as mice do prefer a dark and dry place to hide away and sleep.
As well as the above, make sure you arm yourself with food dishes, drip-bottle, toys, an exercise wheel and mouse carrier. We will discuss some of these in further detail down the page.
What environment should you create for them?
In terms of the best environment for your mouse, some basic common sense will serve you well.
Suffice to say, keeping them away from other pets is a must-know piece of advice, particularly if they are going to be preyed upon. Pets that could fall into this category are the likes of dogs, cats and snakes – so pretty much the main domestic pets that are found across the country.
In terms of their living environment, you should ensure that they are not subjected to excess sunlight as they can overheat easily. It’s for this reason that a lot of owners will turn to an ice-pack and attach it to their cage, just to keep the temperature down.
A final note surrounds children. The small nature of mice means that they are ideal for family homes in a lot of ways, but at the same time exercise caution whilst letting your child handle them. An interesting point is that mice can pick up “colds” through basic handling, which is why it is important to wash your hands prior to touching them.
What are the feeding requirements of mice?
They might be small in size, but mice require a constant supply of water as they tend to become dehydrated very quickly. All you will need to do is ensure that your drip-bottle is regularly full and this will satisfy their thirst requirements.
One of the most surprising elements about feeding a mouse is the type of food you should provide them, with the general consensus being that hamster food is much better for them. As well as this, many owners swear by a dog biscuit as a treat from time to time, so you don’t necessarily have to shop for mouse-specific nutritional products.
Contrary to the cartoons, most mice don’t like cheese either (nor is it good for them). Instead, apples and carrots are much preferred, while some might even munch on dry cat food.
In short, the options are aplenty and not necessarily obvious.
What are their exercise requirements?
In terms of exercise, the best piece of advice we can offer in this regard is to turn to an exercise wheel. The larger the better is undoubtedly the rule, for the simple reason that this allows your mouse to keep its posture in shape and won’t harm their back. Additionally, always make sure the wheel is constructed from solid plastic, as the wire alternatives are dangerous and can result in your mouse catching his feet.
Various toys will also provide stimulation and as such, exercise. Cardboard rolls are usually sufficient and you would be surprised at the entertainment-value that they provide your furry friend.
Can you train your mouse?
In a word, yes. Sure, the training regime isn’t going to be as rigorous as if you had a cat or dog, but there are still basic principles to follow.
To start with, the mouse should start to learn how to sit on your hand. This is a harder act to follow than you might think, for the simple reason that it can take them a few weeks to get used to their new home and you.
Once you think they have settled, put your hand into their cage and just wait for them to approach you. This stage might involve a big of sniffing and general investigation, before he or she will take the plunge and climb onto your hand. Keep them there for as long as they desire, before over time you will notice that they become happy climbing all over your body.
Should you groom your mouse?
One of the big advantages of mice compared with other pets is that they can keep themselves impeccably clean. Nevertheless, if you are looking to keep them in optimum condition, cleaning with mild soap and warm water every so often will do no harm whatsoever. When we define “every so often”, it’s usually when they have come into contact with some dirt that would merit a wash.
Of course, all of the above refers to the mice itself. In relation to the cage, you should be cleaning this on a weekly basis. The bedding needs to be replaced, while you should turn to diluted vinegar to clean the cage.
You should use this to rinse the cage with, making sure that no remnants of it are left with the mice returns. At the same time, keeping a section of their bedding unwashed is regarded as good practice as this can retain the cage’s familiarity.