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Mice/Keeping or Releasing a Hand-Raised Mouse?


I found an orphaned baby mouse almost two months ago. I raised him myself and I am very attached to him. However, he has been growing more and more distant from me since I weened him, and especially over the last month. He has a large and very roomy tank with a wheel but it's not enough, he is always trying to escape, and has succeeded a few times. I want to be able to give him the best life possible but I'm not sure what is best for him. I will let him go if that is what will be best for him, I'm just not sure if it is or not. I know he has instincts but he has never had to find his own food or shelter before. I also have a few cats, and while he has never been near them, I'm sure he would know the smell and I'm afraid that if I let him go he would not recognize a cat as a predator. Also, it is getting colder and I'm not sure of how he will fair in an upstate New York winter. Do you think it is best if I let him go? If not, what can I do to make him happier?  Thank you so much.

Hi Ali,

It is such a hard question. I wonder why he has become less friendly? Very often they remain very close to their human 'mom.' I do know of another mouse who has stopped wanting to be handled, but his human said she stopped handling him very much and that seems to be why. Sorry about this :( it is indeed a heartbreak.

When people catch mice in cold, especially snowy weather, I support keeping them over the winter and letting them go in the spring. But not if they hate it.

I don't know how big his house is-- any chance you could get him a 40 gallon tank, or larger? I would also give him a ton of toys, chewables, climbeables, hideys, and always lots of toilet paper rolls.. One great climbing toy is a parakeet playground, which can cost anywhere from $15-$60 (the less expensive being just as good) at Amazon. The little ones easily fit in a 30 gallon tank and if you swap a few out it might make his life more interesting. I also recommend two sizes of wheels. Another option is a complex maze of Habitrail tubes. That is also fun because you can change the shape often. They are, however, pretty expensive.

You can try this over the winter and if he still just wants to go, let him go in the spring- but not near your cats. You would take him to a nice wooded area or meadow with lots of places to hide. You can even build a mouse release shelter to help him out in his first few days.  I can get you the link to plans if you write back (it is a little awkward on my iPad at the moment).

Let me know if he is happier in a richer environment. How sad that he has become less human oriented.




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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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