Mice/Breeding and feeding mice
QUESTION: Hi Natasha! I haven't written in a long time. I am the girl that had Whisp, Aspen, and Shy. Now I have Whisp, Aspen, Shy, Leo, Sam, Gidgit, Owl, Blizzard, Flora, and Fauna! I've officially gone off the deep end and become a crazy mouse lady haha :) I had one planned litter on the way too but Owl and Blizzard came to me pregnant which I wasn't aware of but thankfully I already had a long waiting list for rexes and both happen to be Rex and longhair carriers so homes were sorted out quickly. They all live in 2 40 gal. heated tanks (4 girls per tank so each girl has space if she needs it) with cardboard houses aside from the boys Sam and Gidgit who have their own 10 gals. I'm really hoping these litters go well, since I was planning on one litter and got three hahaha. If you're ever looking for a Rex or longhair I feel like I'm still going to end up with extras haha.
I have a question on what I should be feeding my pregnant girls though, right now I am giving them a mix of pellets, corn, sunflower, safflower, dried fruits, millet, and pumpkin seeds and supplimenting them with things like small pieces of chicken or hard boiled/scrambled egg. Is this good or should I be adding/removing something? I want to make sure that they are all very healthy, as the girls that came to me pregnant are too young to have been bred and I want to make sure they will be in good enough shape to live through giving birth. I give my bird somsome crushed eggshells as a calcium booster, would these be good for the mice too or do they not need it? All of the websites just say give them mixes high in protein, vitamins, and minerals but ii'm not really sure what that entails. I also give them some fresh veggies and fruits on rare occasions, their favorites being carrots and blueberries. I give them some homemade treats too which are made of crushed up pellets, peanut butter, water, and a tiny bit of honey. I feed treats very rarely just to avoid giving them too much fat/sugar even though the main ingredient is just pellets.
Any feeding or general breeding advice you could give would be much welcomed. I'll attach some pictures I took of Owl and Blizzard today, as their coats are really pretty.
Thanks as always Natasha!
ANSWER: Hi Rachel,
Wow that is a lot of mice! I have six now. Four are teenagers. So mad that my camera was not working when they were babies! My older mice are Bianca and Arabella. The babies are Midnight, Moonbeam, Amelie, and Half Magic. Half magic has half of her face grey and half white, with the dividing line forehead to nose. She is named after a book I loved as a kid by Edward Eager. The picture had black and white swapped though I am not sure there was a person. By the ways those books are great. Edward Eager and E Nesbit were my favorite authors. The stands for Elizabeth but back then books by women would sell less than by men just because women were not supposed to be smart enough :) . Anyway I recommend E Nesbit most.
10 gallons is not enough for any mouse. A mouse cage should be at least 20. You can put all the girls in one, one very lucky boy in the other, and get a 20 gallon for the other boy. This is another reason not to breed... Each male needs his own cage and they can't be small just because it is one mouse. Look at the length of the mouse vs the length of the tank. That isn't enough mouse lengths to be any fun. Imagine a dog in a kennel that small. It would be cruel, right?
I don't approve of you breeding. Breeding right actually includes knowing genetics. Because the mouse mills don't care about genetics, the genetics of mice will always go downhill. That is why a breeder must study genetics carefully for at least a grown-up year before starting to breed. I wish you would not breed. Have you checked the shelters nearby for mice for friends who want them? There might be some nice ones that need homes. I used to think animals in shelters would be sick or mean, but actually most come from good homes where the people had to move or someone was allergic. Did you ask me about breeders nearby?
But what's done is done and you can't un pregnant a mouse (well you can but it would be expensive). So you want to feed them right. They should be eating a commercial mouse mix (not Kaytee). Mixing your own is fun and even seems nice for the mouse. You know those pellets in regular mouse seed? Those are all the nutrients the scientist couldn't get from the rest of the food. That is how complicated actual nutrition is. Even the mouse mixes on, say, the Fun Mouse, are not perfect; though if you really want to make your own mix, you should use theirs. By the way, that is the best mouse website there is and I don't know the half of the information in it!
The two best things I know to give to a pregnant mouse is tofu and scrambled eggs. If the rest of her diet is complete, that is enough. That is what a breeder does. They don't need calcium-- they do not lay eggs ;)
For the most tame babies, handle them each twice a day, starting at one week of age and just a little bit at first, more each day. Take mom out of the cage before taking the babies out, and keep her out.
Squeaks n giggles,
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi, sorry if I was a bit unclear in my last message, I wrote it at a few different periods of time. I have 3 40 gallon tanks, one has 4 girls, one has 5 girls (they don't get along because one tends to be a bully) I swapped the boys to 20 gallon tanks and I have one female from the tank with 5 girls in a 10 gal to raise her babies.
Also as for breeding, believe me I didn't just rush into it. The mice I bred are from breeding stock and I have been studying genetics for the past few months, and I have also gotten an experienced breeder to help me with any questions I have. The litter I was concerned about was a surprise one I got from a mouse who was pregnant when I bought her. I've been giving both moms egg and things like cheerios, and they are doing great. I've only had one death in each litter and both were incredibly small runts. The planned litter is already completely sold (they won't be going home for weeks though) and the surprise one I am slowly finding homes for. I've been handling the babies at least twice a day for short periods of time so they don't get too cold outside of the nest.
I also have another mouse that was brought to me yesterday, my friend found her in school and she had a big cut on her tail from kids throwing things at her. She told the teacher she would kill her but instead she brought her to me and I have her set up in my last 40 gal tank. She's very sweet and definately a Deer Mouse. She looks like a very young adult, probably just left her nest not too long ago. She is sweet and crawled on my hand with no fear. If she wants to I will release her in spring, if not she will be welcome to live with me. Wild mice are the best IMO, they're such nice babies once you earn their trust.
Thanks for your advice once again!
ANSWER: Hi Rachel,
I am glad you have a breeder mentor. There are an awful lot of mice with inferior genetics out there so I really discourage what we call byb, or backyard breeding. Sounds like you are going in the right direction.
Wow poor baby, how can kids be so mean?! And the teacher! Such ignorance and cruelty. Little thing-- if she is not afraid, she might have been someone's pet or baby-- what a scared little thing. By the way she can live with a fancy boy-- they are different species and can't mate!
Best of luck to that little one. They live a very long time, so you have found yourself a true companion.
squeaks n giggles,
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Yeah the reason I started breeding was because I couldn't find any good rex coats in my home state, and I happened to be taking a trip to Michigan and connected with a breeder there who sold me some of her stock to bring back with me and I started getting a lot of people interested in having one too so after a while I decided to breed them.
And I was thinking of putting her in with Whisp, her cage mates have grown to be biger than her (one is one of my rex girls and the other is just her larger brindle sister) and they're starting to bully her :/ I can't put her in with my other girls because they still have some young-ish pups and the mom will attack her. So if the Deer mouse passes quarantine alright I'm thinking of putting them together. She gets along with every mouse I've ever put her with so I'm just worried about the Deer's temperament but she seems nice enough. I'll send pictures of the surprise litter from a few days ago (they are bigger and starting to get their Angora coats now) and one of one of my Angora girls that I've been bragging about lol. If you're in the Mouse Breeding and Genetics group on fb though you might've already seen them because I've been showing them off haha :) Thanks Natasha!
Ok that sounds sensible.. :)
Fauna is stunning and I love the Siamese pup!!
What, you are in that mouse group and not my group Rats and Mice are Awesome? It may just say Rats are Awesome in the title but that was basically a clerical error, sigh:
Come and post Fauna there :) . If you post the babies and anyone questions you tell them you have a mentor (and if anyone bugs you you can say you have okayed it with Natasha-Mouse Millikan). Our motto is EDUCATE- BUT BE NICE which means we will question breeders and not allow byb to post their litters or talk about them. It also means when you post a cage with aspen someone will ask if it is pine and lecture you on how dangerous that is :) and if they don't ask very gracefully, just take it as part of the fact that it is hard for me to teach 3400 people to critique or disagree without anyone getting mad!
Anyway as long as you can accept the two things about the group which are different--1. strict guidelines on a few issues and about how you may communicate (i.e., no insulting each other); and 2. people critiquing your photos and whatever. -- you will like it. And we always need more mouse photos to balance out the rats!
Back to your gals.. hope that works :) it probably will. Poor little baby.
Squeaks n giggles,
PS the group is what brought my reply time here from two hours to two days, sigh!