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Question
My sister rescued two baby mice from her cat. When found, they still had their eyes closed. She followed your directions for feeding and caring for them. Now their eyes are opened and eating kitten formula from a saucer, and she wants to know what will be a good food to start off with and when should they be released back into the wild? Her parents will not allow her to keep wild mice as pets.

Answer
Dear Julie,

She can start off by just putting a number of food items in the cage and letting them choose. She should give them some vegetables and fruit, some crackers, a bit of cheese, etc. If she is going to feed them mouse seed, she should put that in right away. They will start eating these things pretty quickly.

It is a real pity to release hand raised wild mice in the wild. Hand raised wild mice make wonderful pets. They live longer and are very loyal. And they are much smarter than a pet mouse.

If her parents just feel that as a philosophy, wild animals should not be in captivity, let me explain how I feel, and you can explain it to them as gently or candily as you like. The philosophy that wild animals should never be pets, is based on nothing reasonable; it is silly. If something "should" then there must be someone to whom it matters. But unless they have a strong belief that God will be angry, there is no one to have to answer to. Nature doesn't care. In fact, Nature has created these little beings to be extremely flexible and adaptive, and live in any environment.

The only thing that matters is happiness, and the best thing for the mouse. A mouse raised in the wild will hate a cage, and so it shouldn't be in one. A mouse raised by hand wants to stay a pet with the person it loves. That's all that matters, in my opinion. If it would be acceptable to keep a pet store or bred mouse as a pet, it should be OK to keep these guys. It is the thing which will make both your sister and the mice happy.

But maybe even this will not sway her parents. If you know of no one who wants some sweet little hand raised mice as pets, she will have to let them go. Wait until they are about 5-6 weeks old. Wikipedia tells me they won't mate until they are 50 days old, but I would still separate them at 5 weeks to be sure, whether she is going to keep them or not-- she doesn't want to release a pregnant mouse in the wild where it has to immediately deal with the emergency of babies. Wild field mouse bucks can actually live together much of the time; so there need only be two cages. Or she can release the bucks (males) and keep the does (females).

There is a pet wild mouse "ranch" in Colorado (as far as I remember) if she is near there! They take in hand raised orphans. She should check out their site.

http://mouseranch.com/

I just found this thread about keeping a wild orphan. It is interesting.

http://www.animalliberationfront.com/Practical/Pets/WildAnimals/housemice.htm

Best of luck and I hope her parents let her keep them!

Squeaks n giggles,

Natasha  

Mice

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Natasha

Expertise

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): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNK4uqNZTbA&feature=share **** TEN VIDEOS ON RAISING ORPHANS: http://www.youtube.com/user/CreekValleyCritters/videos?query=raising **** SEXING MICE: http://www.thefunmouse.com/info/sexing.cfm **** And some GREAT MOUSE INFO SITES: http://thefunmouse.com/info/index.cfm http://www.rmca.org/Resources/mousefaq.htm

Experience

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.

Organizations
I run Rats and Mice are Awesome on Facebook. The official name is Rats are Awesome.

Education/Credentials
B.A., M.A., M.A. in Linguistics: Yale University and University of Connecticut

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