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Mice/Orphaned Mice


My husband, moving boxes in our garage yesterday, accidentally killed a mouse, then saw the disturbed nest with six little orphans. Based on pics on another site, we guess they are between 3 and 5 days old. (Eyes are closed, they have a light coating of gray fuzz I wouldn't call fur yet.) I've been caring for them for about 24 hours now. We have kitten formula left over from a similar incident this past sumer (those three orphans died after about a week.) I've been feeding them every two hours, even through the night, using a wet Q-tip to stimulate anus and genitals after each feeding, and cleaning and their whole bodies with another damp Q-tip before returning them to their temporary home, which I keep warm on a heating pad on LOW setting.

They are all eating at most feedings, but none of them has pooped in the last 12 hours. I chart their feeding, cleaning and stools. (I tied a tiny bit of different colored thread to each one's hind leg so I know who is who.) Prior to that only three had stooled. I have diluted the formula twice the amount recommended on the can, and feed each as long as it will eat, which still seems like very little. I have searched through their bedding and have found no evidence of their eliminating on their own. A couple of them are showing signs of skin appearing saggy. They are still moving around--no lethargy or listlessness. I'm just very worried about their not pooping an possible dehydration.

It was quite difficult to lose the three last summer. I'm even  more emotional now as I'm pregnant, and waking every two hours for mice is more of a challenge than it was before. (Really, I have seven-year-old human triplets and I'm getting almost as little sleep now as when I was breastfeeding them!) Unfortunately, none of my five kids is old enough to really help with these little squeakers. I am willing to give them whatever care they need (in spite of my sisters and friends calling me nuts!) But caring for them makes me even more anxious to keep them alive and healthy. I realize the survival rate of orphaned mice is low, but if it is at all possible to help them thrive I'm determined to do so.

One more note--we have the formula, dropper, a cage for when they're bigger, and bedding, but we have literally no more money until next month. We will not be able to purchase anything else or take them to a vet. Do they maybe need some electrolyte solution I could mix up from ingredient at home, like salt and sugar? Is there something I could feed them as a laxative? Am I not stimulating them correctly or for long enough? Any help you can offer would be so appreciated. Sorry for rambling; I just want to make sure I give enough relevant info to get your answer based on complete information quickly. Plus I might be a little ditzy from mouse  and kid care. (kids are out of school today), exacerbated by pre-natal brain, of course!

Thanks so much!

ANSWER: Dear Jamie,

I am so sorry to take so long to reply :( and I hope the tykes are ok. If they aren't I blame myself :(

I was collecting tips from others who have raised pinkies. I think this works best in list form.

1. Stimulate for longer than 30 seconds.

2. Stimulate belly, abdomen, genitals, and anus.

3. Gently press from belly toward genitals

4. ?Gently press the belly while feeding (This was an older orphan so that may not make sense)

5. Use a Q tip with warm water to be more like mom's tongue. But be careful not to rub the skin raw. One person wrote to me with very unhappy pups because their genital/anus area had gotten chapped :(

6. Tickle the anus

7. Massage the whole pinky gently

8. One vet made a hot water bottle with a latex glove. The pinkies loved it, and the warm filled gloved finger worked better than the Q tip at stimulating

When an adult mouse is constipated I give it a full body massage fairly often. It gets things going. I concentrate on the lower parts.

You should also be diluting not with water but with pedialyte. Happily you can make this at home.

I truly hope the little ones are OK. If you are on Facebook you can friend me and I can add you to the group of people who have raised orphans, who can help you out. Friend me and write to me:

and I can add you.

best of luck!



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

QUESTION: Thank you for your advice. Do not feel badly at all; you responded very quickly, and I appreciate your asking advice of others. Sadly it's not looking good. I had to run an errand yesterday evening, so I left right after feeding them, planning to be home within two hours. "Things" happened, as they so often do, and by the time I returned it had been almost four hours since the last feeding. They all appeared to be in distress--cold and really dehydrated. One of them--Grey--died in my hand when I picked him up to feed. I began giving the others just the electrolyte solution every hour for four hours. The five remaining squeakers seems much better, so I diluted the kitten formula with the electrolyte solution and fe every two hours through the night. They were all eating eagerly, moving around well, and starting to plump back up, though they still were quite skinny with some sageness to their skin. By late this morning they began pooping. I knew they were still fragile, but I really believed we'd turned that proverbial corner. Then at 3:00 PM today they began having diarrhea, but still seemed fine . By 7:00 PM they all looked as if they would die at any moment, They look almost completely desiccated. Skin is so very saggy, and there is no elasticity to it. Their movements are jerky, almost spastic, and they lay stiffly on their backs or sides. Their fur is totally stiff, though I've continued cleaning them after every feed. They try to eat, but often can't. They will either swallow eagerly for a few seconds then stop, refuse to open their mouths at all, or swallow weakly. They continue to have very runny stools, though not as much, since they aren't eating very much. It has only been two hours since this drastic turn. I don't know what's causing the diarrhea. Frankly, they look so bad that I wonder if there is any way for them to turn around at all. I've gone back to offering formula every hour, massaging, cleaning, and stimulating still.  I don't know what I could or should have done differently. Maybe they were just too young.  I'm so sad, I just keep crying over these little guys, who seem to have actually shrunk. If you can think of anything else I can do please let me know.

Thanks again for your help.

Dear Jamie,

They are dying of dehydration from the diarrhea. The diarrhea needs to be stopped.

I asked the 'expert' and others who have saved them. They said straight pedialyte, then 10% formula, then 20% formula, etc. it has saved lives.

Damn this question went into saved answers rather than being sent, while I asked people. I didn't really have an answer then, but I didn't ignore you :( .

I am so sorry. I hope it is not too late. I know it works though.




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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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