You are here:

Mice/orphan mouse weaning foods


QUESTION: Dear Natasha,
What can i do to quarantine Hantavirus in wild mice?
I have no clue about the hantavirus so it's important
for me and the wild mice i can stay away from for me saving these wonderful creatures has become second nature to me.the only people who actually know of my growing hobby is my sister,my closest friends, and now of course the volunteers of all experts(my parents don't know even after two yrs.);so i kinda of need any and all the info on proper care of them, please you could save a life coming this coming next few weeks cause right around here into summer are going to be my most bustiest

ANSWER: Dear Jada,

You are a wonderful person to be saving so many mice! What do you do with them when they have grown up?

It would help me to know what you have been doing. I will just start at the beginning.

A little mouse pup needs to stay warm, well fed, and hydrated. It needs some kind of warming device, whether a heating pad, not water bottle, etc., to be sure to have a place which is not heated, so it can crawl over if it gets too hot.

Then it needs to be nursed EVERY TWO HOURS AROUND THE CLOCK! This is the mistake that people make, and I have to admit that if you run into my advice from 3-4 years ago I will have written every 2-3 hours. But the survival rate is far better at two hours than three. After all, their mom nursed them every 30 minutes. The other mistake in timing is that some people think they can take a break overnight. Not so. Mama mouse takes no breaks.

The formula can either be soy infant formula, kitten milk replacement; or, less recommended, puppy milk replacement. However, I am going to send you to a link of videos which includes one showing you how to make your own very healthy formula, and I bet, with your love for these creatures, you will make it.

People have used all sorts of ways to nurse the mouse, but I think the best way for a pinky is a brand new watercolor paintbrush. People have been successful with the corner of a paper towel, or just pouring the formula in their hands. An eyedropper or needle-free syringe doesn't allow the pup to control the flow of the formula, and you can end up with formula in the lungs. If you ever see formula coming out of its nose, you are doing the wrong thing. An older pup is fine with an eyedropper or needle-less syringe.

If the pup was not taken directly from the nest when the mom was killed, but was found somewhere else, it is going to be dehydrated. For this you need an electrolyte formula such as pedialyte. The first feeding should be 90% pedialyte and 10% formula. The next feeding should be 80-20%. You get the jist. Stay at 50-50% until you are sure the pup is very healthy. After that, there are disagreements on whether to stay at 50% formula and 50% distilled water, but I would stay with 100% formula unless it seems hard to swallow or the infant looks at all dehydrated.

Some people have ideas about exactly how much the pup should get each time, but I find that a little silly. Each pup is different. My recommendation is to make sure the pup is getting enough formula to fill its little milk band, and not to stop till the pup refuses.

After each time they have been fed they need to have their abdomens and genitals massaged to help them to eliminate. Mama mouse licks them to help. It is good to use your pinky if you don't have long nails, because then you can detect a change in how the tummy feels and recognize bloat before it becomes deadly; but most people say use a Q tip. If you don't do this, the waste will remain inside and quickly poison the pup.

There is a set of ten terrific orphan mouse raising videos at the following link. They are entitled "Raising a baby mouse 1/10" through "Raising a baby mouse 10/10."

Many extra issues are discussed, such as bloat, dehydration, bathing, etc.

I am sure you have noticed a few things about these guys, such that soon after their eyes open (suddenly the world is terrifying!) there may be a day or two when they hop and are hard to handle. You may also have noticed that they sometimes lose their fur, but they grow it back.

I am so pleased that you are saving these little tykes. Your parents don't know-- you must not be living at home!?

Please let me know how the next one or two go. If you are on Facebook, join the group called Rats are Awesome. Unfortunately, mice didn't make it into the official title, but we do mice too, and the other mouse expert is a member, as well as a few good mouse breeders. In fact, the woman who made the videos is in the group too! When I have trouble with a question, that is where I go to ask my friends for assistance. Don't forget to tell me who you are.


You also asked about hantavirus, the only disease that American mice give to humans. First, house mice, wild or fancy, can not carry it. But as you know, deer mice can. Hantavirus is very rare but very deadly. It is fatal for one third of victims. Here is a fact sheet on hantavirus:

If deer mice in an area have hantavirus, humans are most likely to get it if they have been working in an old barn, house foundation, basement, or attic. Some place which has been infested and not cleaned for a long time. It is transmitted through the air from breathing in dried urine and feces of infected mice. It does not necessarily have to be old, though; the first identified cases were in people who lived in a mouse-infested trailer home. There have been no cases of hantavirus being transmitted from one person to another.

When you read about hantavirus on official sites, you will read things like "scientists surmise that you could get it through a bite," which means it has never happened but they don't want to get sued if it does. They will also tell you to basically wear a hazmat suit if there are mice within 100 miles. Their job is to make the incidence zero, not to be reasonable.

The likelihood of mice near you having hantavirus depends on where you live. The most cases have been around the four corners states. In the state where there have been the most instances, New Mexico, between 1993 and 2011 there were 91 cases. Other states may have had one or zero cases.  You can see where the incidents have been in this map:

The last outbreak of hantavirus suddenly occurred last summer in Yosemite park, in people who had stayed in a certain cabin. Three people died of the ten who contracted it,

I have been trying to find out how hantavirus spreads between mice, and whether it is possible-- or has ever occurred-- to get it from a tiny pup. I have found the information that is is not transmitted to the pup inside the mom. But I do not know if it can get it from her milk. That would be the only possible route.  

Unless I lived near someplace quite near where someone had gotten it, or in the four corner states, I would not worry at all. Don't sniff its butt, and wash your hands after it eliminates.

But you have to decide what risk you are willing to take. An infinitessimally small one, or none?

Once it is grown up, you may be able to find a vet who can send off a sample of urine to one of the few labs which test for hantavirus without killing the mouse (I am not 100% certain of this information).

Thank you for loving these sweet beings. I hope your luck changes as you follow the guidelines I gave you above. Please feel free to write with any more questions.

Squeaks n giggles,


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

QUESTION: Dear Natasha,
I really have appreciated your help, it was very helpful, and I will try to make the formula for this years little ones who somehow end up in my home whether it be by cat,  an accidently dug up nest, or a killed mother or even a wounded adult .Maybe only  a half of my rescues made it and I ended up releasing those that did in the woods behind my house. But what I want to know is there something other than a heating pad to keep them warm, and can I possibly make something warm for them? cause I'm a little short on money and then there's my parents who yes, actually I do live with they just don't know(or they really don't care). I'm already taking a big risk and I'm loving every minute of it with this I may of actually found a place for myself as a mouse and rat(only raised 1 in two years actually was first case ever ) raiser, there's nothing more I'd rather do.
Anyways, I will tell you all about the next one or two shouldn't be to long from now:)

ANSWER: Dear Jada,

The problem with not using a heating pad is just that everything else has to be changed frequently. But there are certainly options. For instance, the cheapest heater I can think of is a bag of frozen vegetables thrown in the microwave. But of course you must wrap it in a towel and regulate it well. Another option is a washcloth in hot water in a ziplock bag but be soooooooo careful that the orphans can't get wet. OK, that's even cheaper :)

Squeaks n giggles,


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

QUESTION: Dear Natasha,
As you can see I'm full of questions and probably will be until about next month or so because here in AL May  is defiantly my hardest and busiest month and I will have no time for questions then, just wondering what would you recommend to wean mice?

Dear Jada,

Mice wean pretty easily. Good intermediate foods are crisp bread soaked in formula, watery oatmeal made with formula, cream of wheat (ditto)... and you can put crackers and bits of fruits and vegetables in the cage, watching for nibble marks.

Squeaks n giggles,



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




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

©2017 All rights reserved.