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Mice/Update on Whisp and Aspen

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QUESTION: Hi, it's Rachel again, who previously had Leo. We gave him a proper send off to it, and they were even setting off fireworks for some event, so it just felt right. I hope he is happy in mouse heaven.

In other news, I came across two females today whom I welcomed into my home. I was at the pet store with my friend to get supplies for her rabbit, when i saw two beautiful girls who were about to be sold as snake food. I watched them for about 15 minutes to make sure they seemed healthy and active, and then I bought them both and took them home. Neither have names yet, I am calling them curious girl and cream colored girl, haha. Curious girl is brown with a white belly and a white blaze on her face. She is very smart and loves to explore everything! She is also very athletic. Cream colored girl is very shy, she is hard to pick up, but once she is in my hands she loves to cuddle. She is a beautiful golden color, with a white blaze on her face and many grey splotches. She is more of a follower, and likes to follow curious girl around. I got very lucky that these two like to be held and petted, as the store employee told me they have not been held or touched hardly at all. I hope they will be as excellent mice as Leo was. I will send some pictures as well as names in a followup. Do you think I should get a third girl just I case one doesn't make it? The cage I'm using for them is my friend's old hamster cage, so it's a pretty decent size for a little mouse, and i also have a burrowing den extention attached to it :) I've figured out that if I can get curious girl on my hand, cream girl actually starts scrarching on the roof of the cage to get me to take her put as well, but she is terrified when she is out by herself. They are both quite adventurois however, and I definately want to make them obsticle courses etc. mice are such great pets! My friends can tell you, I was debating buying almost 10 of the feeder mice, but I knew I would have nowhere to keep them :( Maybe when i am older and in my own house I will be able to have more :) I hope you will be able to follow the adventures of these sweet girls with me!

ANSWER: Hi Rachel;

I was going to suggest you go get some mice but I was afraid it might be too soon to suggest it. Yay!

If the hamster cage is wire bars, there may be a problem. A hamster cage is not escape proof for a mouse. They need bars a little closer together. A little mouse can fit through any opening its head fits through!  You need specifically a mouse cage.

On the other hand if it is a plastic Habitrail, the issue is ventilation. I don't know about hamsters, but mice have such delicate little lungs. They need to have something with some air flow. One way to help reduce this problem is to clean it pretty often. Mouse urine is a lot like ammonia and is actually quite bad for their nasal passages and lungs! Pretty stupid planning on Nature's fault. But of course they weren't designed genetically to live in enclosed spaces.

In any case, a plastic Habitrail works for a little while while you are looking for something more suitable. And certainly the tubes are fun! A wire hamster cage, on the other hand, may just be dangerous. A lot of times it seems like it is just fine and then you find out, for one or another hopefully not tragic reason, that the mice have been getting out at night and enjoying their freedom. Which is great- until something goes wrong. I have found this out three times, the third time being a tiny little half-wild mouse who was too small to be contained even in a mouse cage... It wasn't until the night that she was at a mouse sitter's and she didn't come back, and there was a cat.. That I belatedly knew. The first time they had chewed a subtle hole in the back of a very large cage. And the second time it was a cage I didn't know they could get out of, built of a huge plastic bin; I found out when there was something wrong in the cage and my smart mouse came out to tell me.. I do wish I had listened. But that's not a good story.

So, how far apart should the bars be? (runs and measures cages). The hamster cage I have (temp for dwarf rats) measures at  7/8" *between the bars*. That does not mean if you measure 8 bars it is 7". I measure the distance including the bars as 13 bars for 6". I don't actually have a mouse cage, but I can extrapolate because I have my mice in a 4 level converted bird cage with smaller spaces (so the wild mice can't get in). That one measures at 5/16" between the bars,  so we can be pretty sure a mouse cage measures as 6/16" or 3/4". But the easiest way is to do what I did and see if 6" gets you 13 spaces-- if so, the bars are too far apart to keep in a smart mouse. Of course, the cage should be at least 2 levels, much better three.

Or A 30 gallon aquarium.

There is something you can do for your Habitrail. You can use a dremel to cut out windows in the plastic, and cover them with hardware cloth (1/4" galvanized steel mesh).

So I have made your life more difficult, but your mice healthier and safer.

Yes, three mice at a minimum. You are right; when one passes, there should be two left. A mouse that loses a friend is bereft; one who loses a friend AND lives alone, is at great risk of depression, illness, and mites. I always have between 2-5 and get them three at a time. Actually I ask my breeder at 3 because sometimes he doesn't have a litter for a while.

It is so cute that curious girl wants to be with her friend! You can get her out of the cage gently with a toilet paper tube, which are a standard feature of mouse cages; right after a wheel. You usher her in, put your hands on the two sides, and pick her up. But you might as well always take her out with her friend. Later she will become more brave on her own.

I know I will be learning more about these two including, soon, their names. I like to wait till they tell me their names too.

Have fun!

Squeaks n giggles,

Natasha















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

Whisp and Aspen
Whisp and Aspen  
Aspen
Aspen  
QUESTION: Thanks for the great advice! I measured the bars and they are safe for them to live in. The cage itself is only one room, however I have a 3 story burrowing tower arrached for them, so i think that should be OK? I can go back to the store this weekend and get a third girl to be with them. They also get along great with my bird Hiccup, although I think he is a bit scared of them!
As for names, cream colored girl has become Aspen, and curious girl has become Whisp/Whisper. They love to run through little blanket tunnels I make for them, and sometimes I'll even hide some treats like pumpkin or sunflower seeds in there for them to find :) It was really hard to get a picture o them both, but I finally snagged a good one!

ANSWER: Hi :)

Thanks for the update. Sure, the extra climbing space is plenty. They just need room to run around and climb.

The pattern on Whisp's nose is called badger-- at least in rats. I only know that because I had a lovely rat who had that. I don't even know if is a special pattern at all in mice. Let's assume it is :)

They are both so cute and look great!

Squeaks n giggles,

Natasha




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

QUESTION: Thanks! What do you think Aspen's color qualifies as? I've been looking and couldn't find a name for it. Whisp qualifies as a tan mouse. Also, are there such things as agility trials for mice as there are for dogs? Whisp ran on her wheel for almost 2 straight hours today, only taking breaks for eating and drinking. She has so much energy! She was still very energetic after that, and she started to try to climb all over their house, and she up knocking it over which prompted a very sleepy Aspen to stumble out to see what was happening. They're very cute and i hope the third girl I get will be just as fun!

Answer
Dear Rachel,

As far as I can tell she is a tricolor splashed. But this is not my area of expertise :)

Look on YouTube and search under "World's Smartest Mouse." There are I think two videos by the same person of their mouse running an agility course and then I believe also how the mouse was taught. There are others too if you look around.

Maybe in England or Australia they have agility trials. Those are the countries most into mice! What we have in the US by way of mouse shows, etc, is just silly compared to the real thing there.

Someone wrote to me recently about a fundraiser where there had been I think a mouse race... She wrote because a mouse had been left behind.

Silly Whisp.

Squeaks n giggles,

Natasha  

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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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