Mice/Bereft mouse gets mites, makes noises
We'd like your opinion on how best to introduce new mice to our female mouse, Freckles, who lost her mate last month and if you could tell us what the new noises she is making mean.
She's 18 months old but seems to have turned into a little old lady who's lost her mojo.
Freckles won't run on her wheel anymore, doesn't eat very much, has lost quite a bit of fur from her head and neck, and only last week we had her to the vet to be treated for mites because she was scratching herself silly.
The medication the vet gave her did the trick and she is no longer scratching and the sores she had on her body have cleared, but now she is making a weird 'clicking' noise.
If you put your tongue to the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth and say "te te te te te te te te" really fast, that's the kind of noise she is making. She's not doing it all the time, but only when we get her out of the cage and one of us places her in our hands. She also does it when she is placed on her wheel or if someone goes near the cage. What does this mean?
Whenever we have her out of the cage and do manage to get her to stop 'clicking' and settle down for a cuddle, she sometimes makes a 'whipping' noise. Her whole body twitches in one movement, as though she has had an electric shock, and she lets out a sound as though she has cracked a whip. Do you have any clue what she is trying to tell us? Apologies if our descriptions are strange.
We are planning on getting her some new sisters, but are waiting on the pet shop to get more mice. Is this a good idea and, if yes, how young should the new mice be and what do you think is the best way to introduce them to Freckles given her behaviour?
Thank you very much for your help.
Lisa & Evan
Dear Lisa &Evan,
Unfortunately, you are finding out what happens to a mouse who loses a friend and lives alone. Because she is lonely and depressed, she is more susceptible to mites and illness. The mites are also a problem because no one is grooming her.
A healthy mouse makes no noise. The reason it is only sometimes, is that the wheezing happens when she is excited. She has to go back to the vet for antibiotics.
Keep her on the antibiotics for two weeks minimum, no matter what the vet says. I am sure they don't do it on purpose, but vets get a lot more business when they say ten days, because many times the mouse just gets sick again. 14 days is a minimum. If she gets amoxicillin, that only lasts for two weeks. The Baytril which she will probably get, and/or the doxycycline, will last a month if flavored and far longer if not- of course the expiration date will be on it.
Expect her to show marked improvement within three days. If she doesn't, and she is only on one antibiotic, she will need to go back and add another, probably amoxicillin. Continue both until she has been on both for two weeks.
I assume she is going to an "exotics" or "pocket pets" vet?
She can have new friends when she has been well for a week. She should get as young babies as possible. That way there will be no real territory disputes. I should tell you, though, that when she reaches that suddenly elderly stage, which practically happened overnight, right? She may not last a whole lot longer.
She needs a lot of love right now.
I recommend you get three baby girls. When you have three, when one dies you do not have a heartbroken and lonely mouse who is at risk for mites and illness. Then you have time to replace mouse three.
Best of luck to her and to you with the new babies.