I have a couple of enquiries about my mice. I have 2 cages, one with 4 mice in it (more than enough room) and another smaller cage that has a mum and her 5 babies in it.
Okay so firstly, my baby mice are around the 2.5 week old mark and they're so adorable with amazingly fluffy/soft coats. So i know that they're super healthy and doing well. I'm a new mouse owner, and this is my first litter of pups so I'm not too sure when they're supposed to start eating foods, but I've read around the 4 week mark. But they're eating food now and attempting to drink from the water bottle. Is this normal at that age? And should i get a more easily accessible water bottle? (I have the Habitrail Ovo Pad).
Also, just now i heard some scurrying coming from the cage and when i looked, mamma mouse was sitting with her front legs on the outside of the wheel and her back legs stretched out on the floor. She's a really friendly mouse and is more than happy for me to take the babies and play with them, and she normally lets me pick her up (with a bit of playing in her cage, then i give her treats as a reward for being friendly). But just now she stayed perfectly still as i picked her up. No moving at all. And when i held her she stayed still and barely moved. I tried giving her a treat but she wouldn't take it and her eyes were slightly closed. I guess the expression she had on her face was kinda a mix between fear and exhaustion. (From what i could tell). When i tried putting her back in the cage she ran up my arm and didnt want to go in. After a little bit she started moving again and then became super jumpy and strange. And she still wouldn't take a treat. She let me put her back in the cage and just sat in the food dish. I'm not really too sure what was going on..
In my other cage, with the 4 mice, there are 3 of them who seem to almost gang up on one of my mice Minnie. The 3 sleep together but minnie is always sleeping by herself and i can always find her by herself. I did have to take her to the vet (about a 5 weeks ago) because she was sneezing and I've given her anti biotics but she's finished her doses now. She's such a friendly mouse aswell but the other 3 are so jumpy it's ridiculous. I was standing in my room one time and i sneezed and the 3 jumped and ran around everywhere. It was so weird. It made me laugh though because i couldn't believe that they're so skittish that they're scared of a sneeze. Is there anything i can do to make them friendly towards me and minnie? Whenever i give minnie a treat for some strange reason she takes it to where they are and then they snatch it off her. Every single time i give her one she takes it to where they are unless i stop her. I dunno why.
One of the 3 mice was pregnant and i got it confirmed by multiple experts, but she never had her babies. It's been about 6 weeks now and she's still the size of a golf ball and i doubt she's fat because she has the saddle bags. So i dunno what's going on there either. Mum and i think she aborted them because she had a bit of an incident where she got out of the cage and hid in the bathroom cupboard, orit could be because one time my cat knocked the cage off the desk (cage didn't open but it scared the ice a bit). So could that be why she never had them? I dunno to me she just looks like she's gonna explode...
I know that's a lot haha, but thankyou so much in advance <3
The pups sound like they are doing great! Congratulations on your litter. They're about on schedule for when to start eating foods, but they will continue nursing until about 3-4 weeks as they may need. I'd say they're a bit ahead of schedule for the water bottle, which is usually the last thing they figure out, but it's great that they are trying! You are welcome to get a more accessible bottle if you want, but they will grow and get more used to it quickly over the coming week. Once they are reliably drinking on their own, regularly, then it's time to consider pulling them out, or at least the boys.
Mom sounds a little exhausted to me. As the pups grow up and start to take over the cage it can become a little crazy for mom - you may want to try adding some unobtrusive structures for her to hide in or climb up so she can get away and have some alone time, now that the babies are not super dependent on her. Popsicle sticks and hot glue make some awesome jungle gyms that will both distract the pups and allow mom to have her space, and paper towel tubes make for really great exploring fun for the little ones. It's of course possible that something else is going on with mom, but I'd try distracting the energetic pups first and see if she does a little better.
Your jumpy mice - this can sometimes be genetically influenced, or even how they were handled as pups. It takes a lot of time and patience to convince skittish mice to be friendly with you, but they may always be a little jumpy, and as long as it doesn't seem to bother them, that's alright. You can try just putting your hand in the cage and leaving it there for a minute or two, letting them have the option of staying in their hides if they want, and then rewarding them afterwards with a hand-delivered treat. You can also have playtimes outside of the cage in a confined, mouse-safe area, letting them run around and explore and then putting them back by hand once they're a bit tuckered out.
As far as Minnie, whenever you give her a treat be sure and give one to each of the other mice. They may still try to take hers away, but they can only hold one at a time, so she'll always get to have some! Minnie is likely just going to where they are to have a safe place to eat - most mice prefer to eat in privacy or a covered area, so it makes sense that she'd go to where her cagemates are, even if they are eyeing her treat. It doesn't sound like their behavior is too risky outside of that, though - are they bullying her physically? Or just leaving her out?
About the pregnant mouse, 6 weeks is double the gestation time and far, far too long for her to still be pregnant. I'm sorry to say, but there aren't any little pups in there. If she had lost them early on she could reabsorb them, but she would not have been "showing" yet, if she lost them later in pregnancy and hadn't expelled them, truthfully, it would have killed her by now. Retaining fetuses can quickly become lethal. So it's a good thing the roundness is not from pups! However, you mention she got out - is it possible she could have had the pups somewhere else and become pregnant a second time? Was this three weeks ago? Or has she been golf-ball shaped this whole time, about the same? Mommas can become pregnant again immediately after giving birth, and typically go into estruus that same night or the next, so if there were a boy mouse running about... However, if that were the case, she would have lost the weight suddenly and put it back on over the past three weeks, being due right now. If she had aborted the pups on her trip out she would have appeared immediately thinner, so if she is still large, we can assume that isn't the case.
If she has been pretty round this entire time, I would look to either weight or, less likely, a health problem. Weight is not a big deal at all, though, and having trouble regulating body weight is common, especially with orange/yellow mice (or albinos hiding this gene). There is no way to confirm pregnancy without pups, unfortunately, as there is no pregnancy test for mice and as they mature, some put on weight naturally. Even when breeding mice intentionally it is impossible to be sure of pregnancy - one has to check for something called a "plug" immediately after an attempted mating, and this is still no guarantee the mating was successful, but only that it took place. The good news however is that if she is just overweight, there is nothing to worry about. Mice do not have to "diet" when they are overweight, as the issue is genetic and outside of our control or theirs. They're just a little rounder at the middle!
I believe I got all your questions, but if I missed any or was unclear about anything, please feel free to write me a followup and I'll try and help out a little more. :) Best of luck!