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Mice/Female mouse with labored breathing/lethargy


QUESTION: I obtained an adult female mouse about a month ago after she randomly showed up in my apartment ( I live on a college campus so escaped pets are pretty common ). She had a wound on her back when I found her that over the last couple weeks abscessed and burst revealing the fascia and muscle of her back and spine. She had also been pregnant but ate her litter after giving birth.
Despite the horrific wound on her back she was getting better for a while. The vet said nothing was infected and she would just need time and rest for the wound to close.
Last night though she took a turn for the worse. Her breathing has become labored and she has very little energy. She's still eating and drinking but it's a lot less than she used to. In just a day or so she looks to have dropped a lot of weight. Nothing is wrong with the wound on her back, it has completely scabbed over now with healthy tissue and skin growing back. The vet can't find anything more wrong with her. What could be causing this?

ANSWER: Dear Natalie,

I am going to be honest. That was a stupid vet that did not put her on antibiotics. Lethargy is a horrible sign of a severe bacterial infection. She was very susceptible because she was injured, whether or not there is an immediate connection.

If I were you, I would insist on antibiotics. At least Amoxicillin. I don't think she will rally without it.

For a mouse you need an exotics or a pocket pets vet. Obviously don't tell this vet I called them an idiot. But with a mouse you do not have to diagnose an exact illness before you decide to treat it.

I so hope you can get amoxicillin and she gets better. Best of luck.



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


QUESTION: She's done the impossible in my eyes and survived another day. It's now clear her face/neck area is becoming severely swollen. If she survives the night I'm taking her into the vets again. Unfortunately this is the literally the only vet within a good 100 miles that will even agree to me bringing in a mouse at all. I'll try and get some anti-biotics the small animal vet there says it's nearly impossible to get a concentration down far enough for her. Is there a trick for getting her to take them? Because of her wound I can't scruff her and she's highly susceptible to stress right now. I've attached two pictures of her if it helps. She's been on my laptop all day for the warmth (and to give her some peace from her two cage-mates) and that has perked her up a lot. She's been drinking a bit more and will eat steel-cut oats but she won't touch anything else.

Dear Natalie,

It is not easy to OD on antibiotics. Amoxicillin is pretty harmless. Simply one drop of the lowest dose they sell for small animals. Sometimes a vet will let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Twice a day for two weeks.

I am so frustrated that the vet didn't do that. I guess if they don't know mIce they don't know how much sicker a mouse always is than it looks or acts. As prey animals, they can't let the fox know they are sick until they are going to die anyway. So if you can ever tell a mouse is sick she needs ABs immediately. They can die in 12 hours or even less.

Put it on/in something she will definitely eat. Like one of her oats. Amoxicilin comes in a sweet pink flavor of some sort which they generally don't mind at all.

Best of luck to her. I hope she is OK. She is a trooper.




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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): **** TEN VIDEOS ON RAISING ORPHANS: **** SEXING MICE: **** And some GREAT MOUSE INFO SITES:


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.

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

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

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