Mice/Mice: Vitamins in water
QUESTION: Hey there!
I came home from classes today to discover my mouse, Dottie, had died. For the last month, she had been sleeping on top of her house instead of inside with her buddy, Putt Putt. There were also times when her fur looked frazzled; but I never witnessed her sneezing or anything in her fur. She didn't even seem to be wheezing (I held her up to my ear). She definitely didn't seem to be running on her wheel anymore, and she had gained a bit of weight. But despite this, she always came up to the glass to greet me, willingly coming into my hand, and taking any treats I gave her.
I'm worried about her buddy now. She's very active, running on her wheel most of the time, but also very skittish. In the pet store when I got them 9 months ago, she was the one that ran and hid behind the food dish when the cage was opened while the others sat together sniffing the air. She is/was definitely the dominant mouse though; whenever there was skirmishes over the wheel, she had the last word.
Is there anything I should be looking for in my now-alone mouse besides not eating? I'm not sure I want to get another one if Putt Putt is old, but like I said, she seems very active and fit. I read mice can live from 1 to 2 years. So if she's going to live another year, I feel like that's a lonely existence by herself.
ANSWER: Dear Jess,
Female mice do need friends. If she is only a year, she may indeed have a nice long life ahead of her. Long for a mouse.
The best thing to do with a dominant girl is to get her two baby friends. Adult mice respect babies. She will chase them and they will squeak their heads off-- this is one reason to get two, so they each get a break!-- but she will be unlikely to hurt them. What is likely to happen is that she will chase them for a while, they will get into a corner and turn around and stand up, exposing neck and belly-- basically saying 'I'm only a baby! I throw myself upon your mercy!' and within a day or a week the chasing and squeaking will slow down and stop.
Put them together in a clean cage with REAL vanilla dabbed on their necks and rumps so they smell the same (and smell yummy). The only reasons to separate are:
2. Depression, lethargy
3. Someone is blocked from wheel, nest, food, or water
4. The chasing and squeaking is simply nonstop (you can give everyone a break from time to time by holding the babies or the older mouse) for days.
The other reason to get two is that unless you are phasing out, you should always try to have three. That way your current situation will not happen: a mouse who is not only heartbroken but also lonely, which puts her at risk of depression, illness, and mites.
If the babies are really sweet, there is the added possibility that Putt Putt can learn to trust you too.
As to Dottie, she showed signs of being sick and near death for a while before she went. Mice, as prey animals, do not show any illness until they are quite sick and need antibiotics. If you can imagine, if a mouse shows illness she gets eaten by an owl. So the mouse doesn't show illness until the owl (or wildcat or fox) might as well get it because it is going to die anyway. A scruffy mouse is very, very sick. She is so weak that she can't wash herself. Now you will know next time :(. -I hope that Putt Putt isn't named after a noise she makes. If she is, she is also sick.
Good luck with the new ones :)
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hey again!
The only thing closest to "baby mice" available in my area, I think would be the young mice at my local petsmart (probably 5 weeks old). Are these young enough?
It's between that and the Pet Supplies Plus we have, and I'm not sure they care for their critters as well, though I know they tend to handle them more.
I actually took Putt Putt out today. Once out, she was crawling over my arms and shoulders. She also seemed to be eating well, and I even saw her on her wheel a few times (and no, her name isn't Putt Putt because she sounds that way; she's actually named after mini golf). I also bought her a new wooden house and some extra wood toys.
Is there anything to those vitamin supplements that you can add to their water bottles?
ANSWER: Dear Jess,
Oops I thought I answered this :(
Five weeks is fine.
If you let me know where you are located it is possible that I can find you a private breeder. A privately bred mouse should be bred for health, longevity, and temperament. They actually are usually not expensive at all: $5-10.
Vitamin supplements can be useful but I don't know which brand/s are the best. Maybe they are all good. If you write back, I can find out about both.
Good luck to Putt Putt.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hello again!
I live on the coast of Georgia, in Brunswick. That would be awesome if you knew a breeder; I haven't been able to find anything. If not, I'll check out the pet store on Tuesday.
The brand I've seen of drops are Oasis Vita-drops. Just curious if those can be beneficial to keeping a mouse healthy.
All I have from Georgia are two ratteries. However, often ratteries have mice that they don't advertise explicitly; they may also know of mouseries. It might be worth contacting these places:
R Spooky's Playhouse Rattery (Hall County, Georgia)
R MacRil Rattery (Alpharetta,Georgia)
To the vitamins: the brands are all the same. However, they lose their potency in water--the water would have to be changed every day. You could get it into the mice on something yummy such as a piece of popcorn. A tiny drop every couple of days seems reasonable.
squeaks n giggles,