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QUESTION: Hi there,

I would really appreciate it if you could try help me with some advice regarding a sweet little mouse I recently saved. I went to visit a friend 5 days ago and saw this mouse running around in their King snake's tank, as I own two beautiful rats and have become a rodent fan I could not let this little mouse stay in that tank waiting to be eaten and so I begged my friend for it and scooped her out. I bought a cute little cage for her which has a wheel (she is forever on it# and little house and she seems so happy but i am not clued up on mouse, I am not even sure if she is really a female #but I have given her a very female name - Queenie)and if she is still a baby? My boyfriend thinks she is still a baby but I think she just looks like one compared to my two huge rats! Do you know if there is anyway I can figure out if she is a baby or adult? As well as how to figure out what sex she is? On my male rats it is pretty evident what sex they are but because mice are so small it may not be? She is extremely tiny.

With my rats they were no where near as skittish or afraid because the came from a breeder and this poor little thing must have had a very traumatic past, I have no idea how to handle her as she usually runs away from me and jumps when I try to scoop her up so I have not handled her as yet, however I have noticed she seems to be less nervous now and when I come up to her cage she runs up and looks at me, if I put my hands in to take her food bowel she isn't running away or hiding anymore and runs around my hands and smells them, unless I try touch her then she darts off. My boyfriend rearranged her 'toys/furniture' around in her cage for her last night but she was not happy about this and was running around his hand and biting him as he moved everything around which was quite funny.

She seems to have alot of character and I would love to get her to befriend me so I would really appreciate some tips on handling her :) I am also unsure as to what food she should be eating and it looks like she sometimes battles to eat the petshop rodent mix i am giving her,she nibbles a few times and then chucks it...is this how mice eat? I gave her some Reggie Rat and she did the same thing. I have been giving her some lettuce and cucumber and tiny bit of potato which she loved but when it comes to her way of eating it could be an indication that she is till a baby and maybe battling to eat the seed mixes?

Some advice would be much appreciated :)

Kind Regards

ANSWER: Dear Nilla,

Here is a page to help sex mice. The Fun Mouse is the best mouse site I have found online,

http://www.thefunmouse.com/info/sexing.cfm

Here they show what a mouse looks like daily up to age 4 weeks:

http://www.thefunmouse.com/info/daybydaybabies.cfm

Mice do throw their food around as they search for the best bits. It drives me nuts because my mice are at the top of the stairs on top of another (my dwarf rats') cage, and they throw their food down the stairs where bare feet step on it. But as long as it is still in the cage she will find it and eat it later. My mice are basically feeding the wild mice, which is not helpful.

However, if your mouse looks younger than about 20 days then maybe she is having trouble eating. If so, she needs a complete formula, which she can eat soaked into bits of crisp bread or cooked into soft hot cereal.  Infant soy formula or kitten milk replacer are good.

To tame her will just take a little patience; but she wants you to. She is very lonely. She is going to need some friends. Just like all rats, doe mice need to live together. Male mice, however, must almost always live alone. They will kill each other. You can get the friends now, or wait till she is tamer, as long as you spend a lot of time near her, talking to her and letting her get used to your smell. I wrote out these mini steps for how to tame a mouse. You can adapt to what makes sense for her and you.

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Mice-3824/2011/7/frightened-mouse.htm

I hope her cute little cage isn't too little... She does want room to run around, and many mouse and hamster cages are simply unsuitable small. I would recommend at least a 20 gallon tank for 1-8 mice.

You should watch a video I made called Your First Mouse. It was so off the cuff that I forgot to even mention that female mice cannot live alone.

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DRNK4u

Don't expect her to ever be as calm as my mice! My mice are show stock, which means they are raised to be pretty and easy to handle so a judge can examine every toe :). At this point my breeder has given me some that are motionless in my hand. But this also means they are not curious-- I.e., for a mouse, not very intelligent. Your girl is more fun! If I didn't have the rats to take up so much time I would get a few mice from somewhere else.

Could you do me a big favor and give me contact info and web presence (web and Facebook if possible) of your rat breeder? I run a Facebook group called Rats and Mice are Awesome (unfortunately the Facebook name is actually just Rats are Awesome), which you are welcome to join (and let me know who you are :) ). One thing of many that we are doing is compiling a never-complete list of mouse and rat breeders around the world (though mostly in the US). I doubt we have any in South Africa, if you are in close contact with your breeder, maybe you can also get permission for us to keep them on our list. Do they do other rodents besides rats?

Welcome to the wonderful world of mice. Mice are really just as great as rats, just a little different. They may not be quite as clever, or as human-oriented, but they are more interesting to watch. They also work harder. Except mine :).

Meet my mice and rats:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150091824234803&set=vb.564919802&type=3&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150253528884803&set=vb.564919802&type=3&theater


Squeaks n giggles,

Natasha

PS don't forget to send me info about your breeder! And let me know how mousie does.














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

QUESTION: Hi,

Thank you for answering my questions!

I was unable to check my mouse's sex last night but I will be cleaning the cage today and will be checking then. If she is a girl I want to get her a friend but I need to know how I must introduce the two? Must I just put the new mouse in the cage or do I have to introduce the two slowly like with rats? I am a bit worried that the petshop gives me a male and they end up mating, the people at the petshops here are not too clued up when it comes to rodents, infact when I told the man at the petshop I was buying a cage for the mouse he thought it was hilarious and admitted he had sold the very same mouse to my friend as well as a rabbit for the snake. I know snakes have to eat too but it really upsets me how rabbits, mice and rats are handled in these pet shops. Hamsters seem to be better off.
Anyway I think my little mouse is wanting to be friends with me as she runs up to the cage bars every time I am in the room and as soon as I got home last night she ran up to her cage entrance.
You are right mice are very interesting to watch, I know this sounds terrible but I expected a mouse to be quite boring, yet my boyfriend and I often find ourselves standing for quite some time by her cage watching her!

Regarding your question about my breeder, I unfortunately lost contact with her about two months ago, we communicated through instant messaging but she no longer is online so something may have happened to her phone, however I managed to find her e-mail address for you. It took me about 6 months to find a breeder here, when I last chatted to her she actually told me she was trying to breed mice too so I do hope you manage to get in to contact with her.
I don't mind giving you her e-mail address but I would not want to post it on here for everyone to view without her permission, if you can reply to my e-mail or give me yours I will send it to you.

Many thanks for your help! I will keep you updated on how my mouse is doing.

Answer
Dear Nita,

Sorry that my auto correct somehow decided your name ought to be Nilla last time ;)

There is a foolproof way to tell a mouse is not a male. Males do not have nipples. If your mouse has nipples, fetch her some more mice who definitely have nipples, and you will be all set. It is easiest to see if you put the mouse in a glass dish and look from underneath. You might want to bring the dish to the pet store if the mice there are hard to handle.

You should get two more. If you only have two mice, when one dies the other is not only devastated at the loss of her friend, but also lonely, putting her at high risk for depression, illness, and mites.

It is far easier to introduce mice than rats, thank gosh. Clean the cage so it doesn't smell like any of them. Tap a drop of *real* vanilla on each mouse's rump and neck. Put them in.

Chasing and squeaking, even lots of chasing and squeaking, is fine. Separate them only under the following circumstances:

1. There is blood
2. Someone is depressed, lethargic
3. Someone is kept from nest, wheel, food, or water,
4. The chasing and squeaking simply never ends, or is very often for more than a week.

You will have all babies so I can't imagine they wouldn't get along. They even come from the same place.

To contact me privately you just have to choose 'private' when you send me a new message. Then no one can read your or my messages.

Have fun with the little gals!

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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