Mice/Should I try to raise a fuzzy feeder mouse?
QUESTION: Bought a fuzzy mouse as lizard food last Sat. Lizard did not show any interest at all over three days. By Monday late I couldn't ignore how bad I felt about the little guy so I began trying to feed it kitten formula cut with water like it said to online. Mouse opened its eyes fully yesterday and tried to eat a small bit of granola bar. Today shows no interest in any food matter. Problem: little guy & my feeding technique don't work well, he is licking/nursing formula off of my fingers. He is having several seizures a day out of which he is active and hungry. He is extremely poor at walking and has horrid balance. I just made him a little terrarium with two toilet paper roll holders and a empty tissue box of mouse bedding. He has a little tiny dish of water and of mouse seed commercial mix. He does not recognize either the food or water. I feed him with a small dropper but he gets all wet and he is not grooming off his body. He can groom his face and head. He poops and pees by himself now. He is so shaky on his feet walking with no balance and with hind legs up high. His head shakes sometimes, he has a seizure where his mouth stretches open,body curves and right front leg sticks out. He is good at holding on but still is not really licking. I'm wondering if I should keep going trying to raise him or if it would be kinder, with his seizures and complete lack of balance, to just end his life now. I have a warming light during the day in the lizard tank but at night it gets to low 70s. Colder at my house.
With practice walking around will he get better at walking? How many seizures are ok? Will he ever learn to groom himself by himself?
ANSWER: Hi Jennifer,
Poor locomotion is part of a pup's growth - he may get better at moving around as he grows more sure of himself. The spasms, on the other hand, are not normal and are a sign that he is in immense pain. Judging by the difficulty he has been having with eating, and the fact that pups should be eating several times a day, it sounds like he is starving to death.
If he is still with you, I would strongly recommend finding someone in your area with experience feeding young mice. You could try the pet store, local vets and rescues, rehabilitation centers, breeders - anyone who has experience with orphaned mice and might be able to either feed him quickly or help you do so. Older pups can be picky about the position they want to eat in, so try holding him upright, letting him lick the milk out of the creases in your hand, offering stale bread soaked in water or kitten milk, anything that gets the milk in him and quickly. It is extremely urgent that he eats very soon, and he could already have permanent damage.
It is also important to keep him warm. Young mice have a hard time controlling their body temperature, and need to be kept around the mid seventies. You could try placing a heating pad underneath the cage (on its lowest "warm" setting). It may not feel like it warms it, but it keeps it from getting cold, and that is important. As far as grooming - moms usually groom their young, so it's to be expected that he can't clean all of himself just yet. Always dry him off before putting him back so he doesn't chill.
Whether or not to put him down or keep him alive is a decision only you can make. I can tell you he sounds like he is in a great deal of pain. This is a sad situation, but the faster you can find a local expert to give you hand, the better chance he has.
Best of luck to you and the little guy, and let me know if I can help with anything else,
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thanks so much for your response!
Well, unfortunately, Peanut died this morning. After I wrote in, I watched several online videos about raising baby mice. I had already talked to pet store staff (one individual told me not to try feeding a baby "feeder" mouse). I thought that he was doing better as he was licking up apple butter & peanut butter off my fingers and showed more interest in the apple butter than in the formula (which I also dribbled over my hand)in recent days. I thought that he was moving toward solid food (I tried the soaked bread as well). I bought real mouse food pellets and dissolved one in water and offered him this as well as the formula.
I really thought that he was having seizures as he had the same motions in the same sequence each time (I had seizures in the past and they were painless). Does a baby mouse who has open eyes still need help with body temperature? Should I have been offering solid foods at this point? He was eating yesterday afternoon and was vigorous despite the shaking/seizures. He was pooping and peeing by himself. He climbed half way up the cage bars the day before. I got attached to the little guy :(
Thanks for your advice!
I am so sorry to hear that! Thank you anyways for trying so hard to save his little life, even after such a rough start.
It does sound like he was doing better, showing an interest in food is usually a good sign. It is possible that he either already had permanent damage from the pet shop and his spasms, or he may have even had something internal going on from just genetics. Many places that breed feeder mice pair randomly and do not pay attention to potential genetic problems, since the mice are expected to be consumed quickly. That may have been what the employee meant by suggesting you stop trying. If that was the case, even the best of care may not have been enough to help him.
As far as body temperature, yes, pups with fur still need help. Once they have a full coat they are capable of temperature regulation, but because of how tiny they are, they still chill very easily, especially if wet. Trying to hand feed an orphan can get very wet and messy, so becoming too cold is a very real possibility. The bigger the mouse, the better they can handle chills, but even an adult mouse needs dried off completely if they get wet, such as when giving some medications.
The way you handled the solid foods and other food options was ideal, it just sounds like there wasn't much you could do at that point. I am so sorry for your loss. :(