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Mice/Baby field mouse care


QUESTION: Hi Natasha.
I live in South Africa.We went away on holiday to a remote camping destination and while there( the day before we left) we discovered a little wild field mouse had made a nest in our friends camping closet and had 6 babies. The mother then proceeded to move the babies one by one to our caravan tent, but we didn't know where she put them and we were worried as we needed to start packing and didn't want to hurt them by accident. We eventually found the new nest, in my husbands jacket! Which she had shredded to pieces!
We used tissue paper to pick them up and put them all into a cardboard box. We didn't touch them directly. But we couldn't get the mother to find the box. Eventually we saw her and she again started transporting them to a new location out of our tent. The next morning however, we saw three in the box still and the mother was nowhere in site. We put the box in the long grass where we had seen the mice scurrying around to and fro and hoped she would hear their little squeaks and find them.

We then packed up and left...7 hours later we arrived home and began unpacking and low and behold we find one tiny little baby in a towel! She must of gotten it in that morning while we packed!

We didn't touch it, thinking the mom must be in the caravan too. We put it in some cotton wool and tissue paper ripped up and set a friendly mouse-trap, hoping to catch her and reunite the two.

We were very sad that the whole night passed with no sign of her and we thought she had been left behind. I couldn't wait any longer, not knowing how long the little baby had been without food. I went and put a paintbrush and some kitten replacement formula and began feeding the baby. At first every hour and every two hours at night.

It is now the end of the full second day, so in total I have had the baby two and a half days. He seemed to be doing well, making little clicks and sucking on the paintbrush quite eagerly.
I have been massaging his little belly with a ear-bud dipped in warm water before and after each feed and he has been making yellow poo's. I also made a rice bean bag which I heat in the mircrowave to keep his little "home" warm and which he snuggles under. I was feeding him every hour the first day and every two hours during the nights and today I started feeding him every two hours. I am just worried though as he seems to be very sleepy and not wanting to feed at all for the last two or three feeds today. Very lazy and almost weak.

By the way he is beautiful. Has a lovely coat with a dark brown stripe all the way down the middle. He is brown and has fur. Eyes are still closed, he appears to be about 5-7 days old. He loves my hands and as soon as I put them into the box, he clammers on and lies down, making little clicking noises.

My questions are:
Is the lack of wanting to feed an indication he is weak and dying?
Do they go through a phase where they don't want to eat?
How do I know he is getting enough food?

I am desperate for the little guy to make it! We had a hamster before, and loved the little guy until he died when he was one.
Any advice you could offer would be appreciated.

Many thanks.

ANSWER: Dear Bonnie,

What an adorable story, and it sounds like such an adorable mouselet!

He may be just fine. There is an addy in my profile; copy that into your address bar to get to a YouTube link with 10 orphan mouse videos. The woman who made these has quite a bit of experience. Watch all ten (note the titles can be a little off). If you are doing all the things she does, you are doing your best.

These little guys are really tough to care for, and it is very hard to be a mouse mommy. Not only is he being fed something very different from mommy mouse milk, and less frequently (I don't really expect you to feed him every 30 minutes like his mom did), he also had terrible stress every time he was moved, and everything else that happened to him; not to mention going that time without feeding. So he has a tough battle, though it sounds like you have done a very good job so far.

What I am saying is that it is possible that even with doing everything right he might not make it, and it would not be your fault. I'm afraid I can't reassure you any better than this. Give it your all, and hope.

If he makes it, he is going to be a wonderful little pet. Hand fed wild mice (at least field mice) are very loyal, and live longer than fancy mice... You can probably find him on the Internet once he starts looking like a real mouse.

Do send me a photo. He sounds adorable, with the little stripe!  And let me know what happens. All of my mice are crossing their tails for him.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Natasha
It is with great sadness that I write to let you know that my little mouse whom I named "pixie" died in hands last night. I was devastated. I had become so attached to the little thing and had visions of raising him

I forgot to let you know in the previous email that yesterday morning, we saw our cat with a mouse in her jaws and low and behold it was the mother! Unfortunately our cat killed it. She must of gotten out the caravan while we were unpacking. It was heart-breaking. To think they traveled so far together and at least one of the mice could of survived. But by that stage, I had already handled the mouse. So I do know now at least that the baby had been fed all that time as she was with him.

Pixie became very weak, I could see the change in him, he just wasn't drinking at all and sleeping longer and longer. Like he had no energy or reserves left. When I went to feed him last night, (just after I sent my email to you) my heart sank. I picked him up and he was so cold, twitching ever so slightly. I knew it was the end. I just held him in my hands as his little life slowly ebbed out of him.

I don't think I have ever cried so much over loosing a "pet" especially since I only had him for two days".

I have since found out that the species of mouse I found is called a Rhabdomys. You can read about them here:

I have attached a photo for anyone who might come across such a little mouse in the future and need help.

By the way I did watch countless of those videos from which helped me a lot in learning how to feed, how much, how to massage his tummy etc. I feel I did everything right, but still he died.

Thank you for your help though, and I help this could assist somebody else. It was a lot of hard work but I greatly enjoyed the short time I had with him, it was a real eye-opener into a world I never knew. I have children who are now 11 and 9, so the 2 and 4pm feeds were hell!

Many thanks again for all you do on this site. You provide a valuable service.


Dear Bonnie,

I am so sorry about little Pixie. You are not alone in falling completely in love with an itty bitty mouse pup. They are such special little creatures. People just don't understand how special "even" a mouse can be. They hold a lot of love in those tiny hearts. I am sorry she didn't make it.

I wish I could be more upbeat when people ask about prognosis of these little orphans, but they are so delicate that there is often nothing to be done. Thank you so much for trying.

She looked like a chipmunk. I will check out the link when I am on a computer.




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I can answer questions about raising mice and caring for them as pets, with knowledge from my 38 years of having fancy mice as pets. I have NO MEDICAL TRAINING and you should take a sick mouse to the vet; but if you simply can't, I will try to help you. I LOVE PHOTOS!!! I ALSO LOVE UPDATES! Let me know how the little tyke is doing later on, for better or worse, especially orphans. It also helps me to help the next person. Please first search first: use 'Natasha Mice Mouse' with whatever else your question includes. Or check out these links: **** YOUR FIRST MOUSE (my video; rough draft): **** TEN VIDEOS ON RAISING ORPHANS: **** SEXING MICE: **** And some GREAT MOUSE INFO SITES:


I have had mice for 40 years (since I was 5!). I raised them when I was a child but now I keep all females, and never fewer than three so that if one dies the others are not devastated, because they have each other.

I run Rats and Mice are Awesome on Facebook. The official name is Rats are Awesome.

B.A., M.A., M.A. in Linguistics: Yale University and University of Connecticut

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