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Mice/One of my new mice is sick.


QUESTION: Hi Natasha,
I acquired two mice from a pet store three days ago. It was a spur of the moment kind of move. One of the mice had only one eye and I decided to get it and another mouse. They are both females. The one-eyed one is doing fine and is always running on her wheel. The other one is not doing so well. She sits in the corner of her cage and squeaks and sneezes. Her breathing is also very labored. I'm planning on taking her to the vet in the next few days. (If she makes it.) My question is, can the vet help her or do you think it is just too late? My other mouse is doing fine but if it's a URI then it is going to spread easily to the other mouse. If my sick mouse can not be saved, my other mouse will be lonely. It seems though that there is no good place to buy another mouse. I can't go back to the pet store because their mice are sick and I couldn't find any breeders in my area. The mouse is just going to be lonely. Will it definitely also become sick?  If not do I risk going to the pet store and getting it a friend? This is my first experience with mice and I have already become very attached to them. It breaks my heart to see them suffering. Thanks!

ANSWER: Dear Susan,

You can very likely save her but you must go to the vet NOW. Mice don't get a cold and stay sick and then get better the way we do. Mice get a respiratory infection and die. But it is as unnecessary as for a human to die of strep throat-  because antibiotics are indeed miracle drugs. A vet should put her on Baytril and amoxicillin and she should get better. You will want to give her the antibiotics for 10-14 days no matter what, but she may be fine after 2-3. If not, she will be miserable (much worse than she looks) and die.  It is a pretty clear choice.

The other mouse has already been exposed, as have the rest of the mice in the pet store. On the bright side, if you get mice from the same store (which should be told their mice are sick), there is no need to quarantine. So no one ever has to live alone. Work with the vet to make sure you either get extra or have an automatic extra prescription if another is sick. Be aware that the amoxicillin is only good for two weeks after mixing.  And get 2-3 mice because you never want to have fewer than three mice for the same reason that you never want one mouse alone when another dies.

I hate to give the pet store business. They ought to give you one free. But if it is really your only option then it is more important for the mice to be happy than follow principle and not shop there. But unless they are wonderful about the mouse, they don't deserve your business for mouse accessories.

There is another option, or a concurrent one. It is possible to treat mice at home with antibiotics made for fish which you get at the pet store. It isn't as strong as what the vet gives you, and I recommend the sick one get on the vet's meds right away. But you might want to be preventative with the others.

These are the instructions I give people who can't get the mice to the vet:

The advantage to this is that the other mice may never get sick. Just keep using the tetracycline in the water until you have had them for two weeks to make sure. If you get the sick one on meds from the vet right away she does not need the extra kick-start paste dose. If not, she does. I would give the new ones that dose. Not the one eyed one since she seems to be pretty strong,

The disadvantage to this is the inaccuracy of the doses, which your vet will disapprove of; treating potentially well mice; and the fact that it won't necessarily be strong enough for the sickest cases. Those are fairly big disadvantages, and I far prefer getting a sick mouse under a vet's care, however there are some pretty big advantages for the other mice. First, it is quite likely to keep them from getting sick at all. Second, it saves vet trips and expensive antibiotics for mice who wouldn't have gotten very sick. And third- there is the difference between light and day, between scruffing and force medicating, say, 2-3 annoyed mice twice a day, and changing the medication in the water every three days.

But listen to what your vet has to say. And remember, a very sick mouse should get on the vet's meds; tetracycline is not as strong as what you can't easily get OTC. If any mouse does get sick despite the tet, she must go to the vet.

Welcome to the world of mice! If you tell me where you live I may be able to give you the name of a mouse breeder and/or rescues which may have mice, for another time.

Paste the URL from my profile to see a video about Your First Mouse. And join my mouse and rat group Rats are a Awesome (circumstance sadly left mice out of the name) on Facebook, telling me who you are :)



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

QUESTION: I am not able to take her to the vet right now for many family reasons. I bought tetracycline and put it in their water. I'm having a lot of trouble getting it in Bleu's mouth. (Bleu is the sick one and Fern is the one-eyed one) How crucial is it to get it in her mouth? Thanks for all your help!


You can see why giving it to several mice twice a day for two weeks would not be fun..!

Make it a little more liquid and wipe some on her fur, maybe by her whisker pads. Then keep the other mouse out till she has washed herself.

Best of luck.




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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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