Mice/Runaway

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RUNAWAY
RUNAWAY  

Runaway\'s mommy
Runaway's mommy  
I don't mean to be a pest, but I am worried about Runaway, and afraid of him now to.  Yesterday i put my finger up to his cage like i always did so he can get use to me and know i am his friend, in the beginning he would just climb on the cage and just snif- last night i did the same thing and he tried to bite me and he was squeeking and trying to reach me through the cage bars, teeth and all and like he was yelling at me. He perched by the door and if i jiggled the door like i was openning it he would pounce on the door. I went to put his food in the cage and i thought he was at a good distance, but he charged me and i just threw the food and the little cup i pour the food in into the cage, because i had to get the door closed, and he scared me.

i know he is mad at me, i get my disablity check this weekend,can you tell me what  i can buy him so he wont be so mad.

I am sending you a photo of the little guy its dark but you can't miss those eyes. He is a mouse, right? sometimes i wonder because my fancy mice boys i can hold them they never once tryed to bite me I don't fear them.  I do  with his brothers also but they scatter, they are not as friendly as my others but they are half and half. and they never tried to bite me like this little one.

I am hoping maybe you know something i can do to get them to be more friendly. sending you also a picture of his mommy too.

Answer
Hi Leah,

Yes, Runaway is all mouse (and very pretty, too, plus his momma is gorgeous).  House mice and pet mice are the same species, mus musculus, which is why they can breed.  The difference is primarily instincts - wild, house mice are harder to tame because they have several generations of instincts tha help them survive in the wild (or loose in your houe).  They are more active and anxious, and less reliant on people for company.  It takes about four or so generations before this is "bred out" so to speak, since as you noticed, what is helpful as a loose mouse is not the same as what is helpful as a pet!  A wild mouse, even a half and half one, can still be tamed, but it takes a lot more work and patience.

Of course, even pet mice will have the same problems sometimes, especially if they are not handled frequently as youths.  Since Runaway got out as a young mouse, it's possible he just missed out on this learning period with you and will need more work over time to reach the same comfort with people as the others.

The first thing to do is to make sure his cage is comfortable.  Is it in a low-key, comfortable area of the house?  Can he smell or hear the other mice or other pets in the home?  If he is anxious in a high traffic, high-pet part of the house, try moving him to a more secluded spot where he just sees you and never in a threatening way.  Bedrooms are good if you can handle the noise at night, because when he sees you, you are not a threat to him - you are asleep!  But then the rest of the day he is not "on guard."  A hallway, on the other hand, or right next to other mice, might be stressful to him.

The next thing to do would be to make sure the cage is large enough for him and that he has a hide.  You were talking before about having quite a spacious area for him to run through, so that part is good, but does he have a space where he can go and not be seen?  It needs to be completly opaque, like a little wooden hut, bird nestbox, etc., so that he knows he has a spot where he can feel totally safe and not bothered.  Whenever he is in his hide, make sure you do not bother him.  That's his safe space.  If he doesn't already have one of these, you might notice a very quick difference once you get him one!

Now for interactions, you want to focus on making all encounters positive ones.  Pick a time of day (or night) when he is already awake and active, make sure your hands are clean, and just put it near the cage.  Biting is negative, so not only will you want to avoid that because it hurts, you also want to not give him the chance to take that as an response.  When he charges or nips, calmly withdraw your hand, give him some space, and offer a treat (if you feel you can do so safely).  Pumpkin seeds or little yogurt drops are good choices.

Give him a couple of weeks, and hopefully he will start to feel like you are not so scary!  Eventually you should be able to place your hand in the cage for short intervals, but don't move anything around when you do, and always stop if he goes to his hide.  This is what we want him to do - instead of attacking you, we want him to retreat to his safe space and know that will stop anything scary or intimidating.  Remember that you are much bigger than him, so always make slow movements and speak in a calm voice.  Try not to get too anxious or jumpy, because he will pick up on that and respond the same way.  Taming him will take work and patience for both of you.

Another thing is to remove him from the cage when you clean it and put him somewhere he cannot see it.  Take a little of his dirty beddng and sprinkle it in with the clean, new bedding, so he still smells himself in the new cage.  You can either lift him with thick gloves on, grasp him gently by the middle of the tail (never pull if he grabs something, never hold him this way more than five seconds, and never grab the tip or base of the tail), or wait until he crawls into something like a paper towel tube and then lift that (probably the best and easiest way for you!).  Again, if he nips at you, keep calm.

Hopefully all of these tips will help him calm down over the coming weeks.  Just keep me posted and let me know if you have any more questions!

-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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