Mice/Mouse proofing a basement
QUESTION: Hi! It's Rachel again with Whisp, Aspen, and now a third mouse too! She's white with grey bands. I haven't thought of a name for her yet, but she is really cute! It took a long time to pick her out though, because there weren't any girl mice that were ready to go, all of them were males. There was a tiny golden male that was a feeder, but I'm thinking of getting him and putting him in a separate cage (I found a 35 dollar one on clearance for 16 because it didn't latch right. Turns out you just had to push extra hard on the top to get it to snap in, so I bought it to use for the new girl until they are used to each other). He was so cute that I really don't want to see him turn into snake food! We finally found a girl that was ready to go though, she was one of the mice they were going to use for breeding stock for pet mice, but since she wasn't old enough yet they said I could just have her. I also got them some new bedding today, and i hope it will help keep the odor down. My dad is watching them next week while I'm at camp. He already doesn't like mice and I hope their smell won't drive him nuts. I had the pet store put the golden boy on hold for me just in case I decide to get him. I can't keep getting more mice or i'll go entirely broke, haha.
How bad do males really smell? Are they any worse than females in terms of biting or being social? Do they need a bigger cage or anything special? Can they interact with females as long as they don't breed, or do they not need to?
Also, my dad knows absolutely nothing about mice, so he might be asking a question of you if he can't get a hold of me at camp. He won't be taking them out at all, so i hope that's alright. I did tell him their feeding requirements and how to change their water and such. I have seen Whisp drinking, but never Aspen, so I am still a little worried about her.
I also heard from the pet store that they sometimes sell retired breeding or pet mice that weren't selling as feeders. Is there a way for me to tell if my girls might have had babies in the past?
ANSWER: Dear Rachel,
I will answer both at once and "refuse" the other question ;)
What to do with the other bedding? Mulch. Put it around your roses in the garden :). Even if you just have houseplants, it keeps the moisture in! I was thinking packing material for a package, but that might be annoying for the receiver!
Any brand of vanilla extract is fine as long as it is the real thing and not "essence."
Not kitty litter unless it is a natural one like wheat. Think of it this way. Not anything you would be horrified to see a baby put in its mouth! Or, let's see, find in your sandwich...
And don't you ever let that mouse get off the table again! Seriously, she could have been killed! Although I had a mouse jump from my shoulder once because she had escaped, seen the world, been found, and darn well did not want to go back into her cage.. People have also written to me about mice who were killed even falling short distances. By the way, that naughty escapee mouse was so intrigued with the world that she spent two solid days gnawing the bars of her three level cage... She wasn't happy until I gave her the four level converted multi bird cage that I use now-- with six wheels (hung from different places :) ). Her name was Brandy, and she literally died of a broken heart a few hours after her beloved friend Honey died. I have never seen that before or since.
Ok, to this one..
Aspen has definitely been drinking. I have only had my mice run out of water once (I should have been slapped...) and they got really, really skinny ( I thought it was meds making them lose weight). Boy was I lucky they were healthy and no one died. You can also tell if a mouse (or a human, for that matter) is actually dehydrated by pinching their skin- for a mouse the loose skin at the top of the neck (the "scruff")- and seeing if it snaps back or remains a little bit pinched. For a human, the top of the hand. But if you feel she hold get more liquid, give her wet fruits or vegetables such as cucumber, grapes, watermelon, etc. If it is fruit watch carefully for diarrhea- real diarrhea can kill a mouse through dehydration itself.
Your new girl is pretty. But don't get golden boy unless you have an amazing vet who can neuter him! No, they can't play. Males can get even sweeter than girls, because they have to live alone (which means he would need an hour of your time every day) and you are their only mouse friend, but people complain about the smell all the time. If you don't like female mouse pee, even after only a week (how big is the cage?), you won't like male pee after a day. And it only gets worse if you change the litter more often, because then they have to mark everything all over again!
If a girl has had babies, her nipples should be more visible. Well, you saved her a life full of labor (excuse the pun ;) )!
Another place to look for mice-- and maybe even get cute babies- is to ask your local animal shelter. People do need to rehome pet mice; and sometimes they get hundreds of mice from a hoarder (thought in that case handle them first; you don't know how tame they are).
I welcome your dad's questions.
Squeaks n giggles,
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thanks! My friend has been looking for a mouse after seeing mine (she fell in love with Aspen, even though she doesn't like to be held too much) but she only wants one mouse, so i might set her up with the little golden boy.
As for going to the local shelters, I've been checking their website periodically for mice, usually they only have rats and bunnies, since they charge a fee to surrender animals I think most people would rather wait it out than pay more than what the mouse costed to surrender it.
And let me rephrase the table I was talking about, we call it a table however it's more like a coffee table, so it's pretty low to the ground. There is also a pretty soft carpet under it, so the possibility of her getting hurt were lowered. I will still be more careful though. My friend and i took a day to mouse-proof my basement as well, so if Whisp feels a need to explore again, we can lay out a ton of boxes and old toys for her to play with, with us watching her of course.
As for cleaning, we have a product we use for our bird that is natural and eliminates odors, so I am using that to clean cages. It's designed for sensative animals (birds have extremely sensative systems, we can't even use nail polish remover inside our house without closing the door to the bathroom and opening all the windows) and it's safe enough that they can even chew on things it's put on. I still make sure to rinse the bulk of it off anyways, but it does help keep the odor down.
I have to go to camp now, so bye! Thanks again!
Good. Golden Boy has a home.
Sounds like fun for the mice. To mouse proof an area you have to think like a mouse. Scurry your eyes all around the floor at mouse level and look for anything to climb on or chew. Sniff around. Does the carpet smell like chemicals? If it is new it is not OK. If it is cement, scrub scrub scrub on your knees with something harmless like Dr Bronner's.
Have fun at camp!
squeaks n giggles,