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Hello.  I have question about our mice. Three years ago, we were cleaning the garage and a mouse came across the floor. Shocking was our response to kill it with the broom. We both, my husband and I, felt terrible. We should have just let it out the door. In retrospect, this would have been our response had we not been pre-programmed to believe mice are pests and horrible, disease carrying creatures, made from everything bad. :( The following days resulted in orphaned baby mice appearing in our garage. We were horrified. We tried to nurse and each and every one of them with what little bit of help we could find online and each mouse died, one after another. :( We felt responsible for the whole ordeal and we were, there was no good reason to kill this mouse in our garage. For a week, we both felt horrible about the Karma we brought into our home. What we found while nursing the babies was that mice were quite loving little creatures. After some talk we decided to adopt two feeder mice and save their lives. We went online, learned as much as we could and off to the pet store to do our good deed.  The two female feeder mice we chose were perfect. They have lived the last three years happy, in good health, and have been super good pets. We have sold our friends on mice as well. We allowed them both to breed one time, albeit we did give away the male mouse after breeding and we were glad to see him go as keeping his cage from stinking was quite a job.  We found homes for each and every one of the babies when the time came. We have been very pleased with our experience.

The joy these two female mice have brought us has matched that of our dog. They are truly our little friends.  We just love bringing them new gifts and toys and treats.  The joy they show us when we get them something new is always well worth the effort and money spent. I do not think our friends would have ever guessed us the kind of people who had mice as pets but now we have sold most of them on this small part of our lives.

As you can imagine, at three years, at least from what we have read, they are getting old.  The smaller one, we call, however unimaginative, 'baby girl'.  She is the sweetest of the two. She loves to be held, comes to greet us at the first cage when she hears us enter and is very social.  Her sister, the larger of the two, is not as friendly but still quite sociable.

Now that I have given you our background, I am writing because we seem to have a problem.  Our little girl is getting sick. I think it may be old age and the problems that come with it, however I am not sure. Her hips seem to be suddenly sticking out. It does not appear to be a tumor, as I have read feeder mice can be prone to tumors.  She has gotten quite small.  She is not thin by any means but much smaller than she once was. Her hips are clearly protruding from her body.  I also notice a red line going through her tail.  Her sister seems to have a normal red line (blood flow) through the tail while baby girl's tail red line has become very dark.  The extreme end of the tail, just the tip seems to be curling oddly.  A very small, tiny part of it and right at the end but still it is clearly out of order.

Their coats are very neat, their personalities seem the same, and the only other symptom I see is Baby Girl at times is breathing very quick and heavy. :( I see no signs of coughing, no gastro intestinal problems, no bleeding, nothing else, just the breathing fast and the tail/hip problem.  It seems harder for her to climb than usual as well but she is still using the running circle. This has been going on now for three weeks but does not seem to be getting worse, in fact, it has remained exactly the same since her hips started sticking out and the breathing fast started.

Both of the mice are the true feeders, pure white babies with red eyes, most likely blind.  They have had the benefit of fresh veggies, nuts, and snacks their whole lives. We have given them a ton of attention daily and have really spoiled them and looked into as much as we could find to give them a good life.

Can you tell me, are these signs of aging in our Baby Girl? Do you think there is something we can do for her? I have called all of the local vets and all of them told me the same thing, they do not know enough about rodents :( to be helpful. I know it is odd but I was a big angered they called them rodents. It just seemed a bit extreme to call them this even if it is what they are lol.  

Do you have any advice for us and can you tell me if there is anything I can do to help her be more comfortable or should do? Thank You so much for any time you spend answering me. I appreciate the benefit of your advice. :D

Answer
Hi Billiejo,

Yes, it does sound like it could be just aging.  She is quite old, and that is wonderful!  The protruding hips may be a sign that she is losing weight (even if she doesn't look VERY skinny), which is a common issue with elderly small animals.  The funny breathing is typically a sign that she is in discomfort, which can also go along with her advanced age.

As far as what might be making her uncomfortable, specifically, seems difficult to tell without more symptoms.  It would be great if a vet could take a look at her, but they are simply being honest with you about not having the knowledge, even if they call her something you don't prefer.  ;)  There may not even really be a way to tell what is going on, since she seems so happy and healthy otherwise.

Just being there for her will help her be more comfortable.  Giving her extra treats, snuggling her, and keeping her entertained is just about all you can do, and she'll love it!

Best of luck to you and your Baby Girl!  Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with.
-Tam

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Tamarah

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I can answer questions regarding mice as pets, mouse behavior, color and coat genetics, breeding techniques, and general health questions. I can help with caging and setup, nutrition, social issues, and what to do in most mouse emergencies (such as unplanned litters, injuries, fighting, etc.). I can also assist with questions pertaining to orphaned mouse pups, weaning litters, and questions of mating and birthing. I cannot answer questions about exotic or wild varieties of mice such as spiny or pygmy mice. *****FOR EMERGENCIES, anything requiring immediate medical intervention, PLEASE take your mouse to a professional veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitator who works with mice as soon as possible! IMPORTANT RESOURCES: Raising Orphaned Mice: http://www.rmca.org/Articles/orphans.htm Orphaned Mice Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/CreekValleyCritters/videos?query=raising Natasha's Your First Mouse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNK4uqNZTbA&feature=share General Mouse Help: http://www.fancymice.info/ Mouse Info and Exotic Breeds: http://www.hiiret.fi/eng/species/

Experience

I have enjoyed the companionship of mice nonstop since 2004, and spent a year caring for them in a lab where I learned a great deal about their breeding, social needs, and health. I spent a few years breeding them, specifically working with albinos, marked mice, angora mice, and satins. My education never stopped - I am learning something new every day from current and well-established research thanks to the wonderful folks at the Jackson Laboratory, as well as from my wonderful mousey friends online. I also love learning from my terrific questioners here on AllExperts - you folks keep my passion for these amazing animals alive and well!

Organizations
East Coast Mouse Association - expired, American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association - expired

Education/Credentials
Partial University for a B.S. in Microbiology, Partial University for a 2-year degree in Veterinary Technology (RVT cert), C.E. classes in pathogens, aseptic technique, genetics, and applications

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