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Mice/Pet mouse severe skin problems


QUESTION: Hi Natasha,

I have got a little year old mouse called Saffy that has had really bad skin problems over a period now of a bout 3 months. She started out being a little quiet and then we took her to the vet and the vet pointed out that her ears were a bit bloody. The vet gave us a syringe of Revolution, which we gave her to no avail. Thus it was back to the vet again, by this time a few weeks later she had scratched off all her fur at the back of her tail and around her ears and face. The vet said that she didn't think it was mites, since the treatment didn't seem to work, but rather overgrooming.

I'm now getting to the point of desperation, I'm so concerned about my little girl. She used to be very fat with a beautiful black coat, but now she is quite thin. She doesn't stop scratching. We have tried to change her bedding, from shredded paper which she used to have to carefresh to aspen and all hypoallergenic toilet paper, but none seem to really work. It appears that she is getting better then falls back into a bad spell again. Her ears are still bloody and her skin around her neck and front paws is like a type of angry red rash, or excema. I have tried to put a number of ointments on her including an antiseptic betadine ointment, (we can't get nerosporin in Australia) but she goes goes crazy and wont eat for the rest of the day and her scratching gets worse.

At this point the only food she will take, for the last 6 weeks or so, is a porridge that I make with chocolate ensure, 2 teaspoons of oat bran and 1 teaspoon of baby brown rice porridge. I also put in a small cap of vegetable oil just to try and put some fat on her. She loves this and climbs the bars of her cage in excitement to get her ensure meal, but will not touch any other solid food. I have thought that maybe the porridge was causing an allergy, but I dont know how this could be since she started with this problem while she was still having solid food.  

She lives in her cage with a little wild mice that I rescued and then bought Saffy as company for her. My little wild one also has a scratching problem, but not nearly as bad and still eats solid food.

Your help would be very appreciated, Im really worried about her and just don't know what to do!

ANSWER: Dear Kristal,

Poor, poor little Saffy! She is so, so sick. : (

My first thought is an allergy to something other than the bedding or food.  Another possibility is something in the air. Hairspray? Furniture spray? Incense? Paint or glue from a project? New rug?

Have you tried Benadryl for allergies?

Unfortunately, overgrooming would not cause this incredible decline in health.

Has your vet tested for ringworm?  Ringworm can actually be seen with a blacklight. Even if your vet can't be sure, treating for fungus can't hurt. I'll let your vet figure out what to use to treat fungus. There may even be an oral method.

Ringworm or allergies by themselves would not cause the terrible degeneration in her health. But once one thing lays her immune system low, everything else that makes mice sick comes in and attacks her system. : ((

Can you get some echinacea powder or liquid into her mash for immune assistance? I would also recommend goldenseal, but it tastes absolutely horrible. I would do it for two weeks and then one week on, one week off. It is more effective that way.

The last thing I can tell you is that in another horrible case similar to this, the vet finally decided to try Haldol. It is used for birds when they pluck their feathers; it may be able to stop the cycle of scratching. It is worth a try. It did help some-- but she has not written back to tell me what happened next.

Let me know what the vet says, and what happens. This poor mouse has to somehow be saved.



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

QUESTION: Thank you so much for your fast reply! No my vet didn't test for ringworm but I will certainly ask her to when I take Saffy. I think you are right and may possibly be a fungal infection, her skin is red and scaly, almost like athletes foot. The other thing I noticed was that she has got a slight white crusting around her one eye.

I will definately look around around for some goldenseal, perhaps it will give her the boost she needs. Could you please tell me what dosage of Benadryl I can give her? Also the goldenseal?

I have wondered about her having OCD, I will ask my vet about Haldol if she can't diagnose a fungal problem.

Thanks again :)

Dear Kristal,

I'm glad to hear you say it looks like athlete's foot. That really does sound fungal. Mice do get ringworm. It is also the only thing mice can share with you, cats, dogs, etc. On a human, ringworm looks like a ring! So watch your own skin, and if you have other animals, watch theirs in case they develop skin problems.

I recommend the echinacea rather than the goldenseal because the goldenseal tastes really awful, so she would not eat it. Echinacea doesn't taste great, but it can probably be masked somehow. In the oil, perhaps. If you get the liquid, let's say a drop. Mice are so tiny, that it is extremely difficult to measure an exact dose-- and even when I know the dose in 10th or 100th of milliliters, I just use a drop. And echinacea is just a plant. It would take a lot to overdose, if it is even possible.

If you can't find the liquid, you can get the capsules. I would say 1/8 of a capsule. Again, I am guessing but again, this is just a plant. If you feel like doing the math and figuring out how these doses compare, then halfway in between! And tell me.

One other strong immune or health supplement that a lot of people give to rats is called Green Mush. A rat gets up to a teaspoon per day, so I recommend 1/8 tsp. Apparently it tastes great to some rats. I have not tried it yet. You can get it here:

The sample packet should be by far enough.

As for the Benadryl, I am again going to say a drop of the liquid. I am not going to try to guess about crushing the tablets. Benadryl is also very benign. It is given to kids, which is why there is syrup. But I assume you are getting to the vet right away- so wait till you have treated for ringworm. No point in over medicating the mouse if she is not suffering from allergies. You have tested for the most usual allergies already. : )

If she has been on the antibiotic meds for 14 days and they didn't seem to help, you can stop them, with your vet's approval. If it has been less, make it at least ten, again on your vet's approval.

Here's wishing her a very speedy recovery..



And do continue to keep me informed. Thanks : )


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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:


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