Mice/Keeping mice warm in a cold room
QUESTION: Hi, this is my first time taking care of mice, so I'm still rather new. I have two females, Alice and Jenna. I've had them for several months now, but it's starting to get cold, and we don't have the best heating. I've had a few nights were my mice scare me half to death, because they aren't moving around when they normally are, so I check and they're cold. So i spend most of my night holding them. After a few minutes, Alice is warmed p, feeling better, and completely normal. However, Jenna will stay curled up with me for much longer. I might not concern myself with her being snuggly, but normally she'll run from my hand when I'm just putting food in. Is it possible she is just too sleepy and cold to care?
So, my main question is really, what can I do to help make sure my little buddies are going to be okay through winter?currently I am making sure they have plenty of food, water, and bedding, I put little pieces of cloth in so they can use for nesting material. Also, what should I do when they become cold and lethargic? I can't afford much, how much does it normally cost just to get a mouse checked out at a vet? Could you give me even a rough estimate?
Sorry this is so long and rambling, I'm currently making sure poor little Jenna is ok, again. I hope you can help!
ANSWER: Dear Angel,
It is very bad for a mouse to get cold. They can easily die overnight. A mouse body should never, never feel cold to the touch. You must keep them warm.
You can use a heating pad on low, under a towel, under part of the cage. You must give them space to get off of the pad in case it gets too hot. A hot water bottle wrapped against the side of the cage with towels, and changed frequently, can help temporarily. For super temporary, you can heat up a bag of frozen vegetables in the bag. But that is pretty awkward and doesn't last long. Of course, none of these things can go where the mice can chew them.
You must, must keep them warm. Temperature fluctuations are really dangerous. In an emergency, the warmest but safest (so as not to get too hot) place is between your hand and your naked chest, under your clothes, and even under the covers if you are not that warm. But it should never come to this.
A vet visit can cost, depending on the vet and where you live, between $25 and $200 (emergency- actually, emergency here in NYC would be about $300 but I did not want to scare you)). Mice, even though they are tiny, are as intricate as any animal, and actually harder to work on because of their size. You would have to call around and ask. Cat and dog vets won't do: You need a vet who looks at "pocket pets" or "exotics." You might as well find out now, so you will know where to go in an emergency.
Best of luck. Keep those mice warm!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi, thanks so much for the advice. Unfortunately, I could not help Jenna in time, she died last night. I've found a vet nearby but I won't be able to get Alice there until next week, so for now I am going to try giving her tetracycline like you've suggested in other questions. I'll see about a heating pad, but until then I'm going to keep the cage in the warmest part of the house, the same room as our heater, at night.
Nice to know you have a vet nearby : ) and thanks for writing back. Hope you can keep Alice warm. One way to help keep the cage from losing its warmth is to put about six sheets of newspaper covering three sides. When it has been super cold and I had no heat, I sometimes slept with them- put their cage partway under my covers with my warm body. Other times, or when I left the house, I wrapped up almost all of the cage (left room to breathe) with a blanket and put a hot water bottle in between, and put them in the cupboard with the door slightly ajar for air. Then I finally got a little space heater, which kept my 8x8 room warm. Stupid NYC landlords!
Best of luck,