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Mice/Itching mouse, slowly balding?

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Question
Hello Tamarah,

I'm Vanessa. I brought home a fancy mouse (Marlon Brando) over the Summer from Petsmart. He was doing fine until about a week ago, when he started itching much more than usual.

I use shredded paper bedding and cardboard boxes for his home.

I try to change them every few days.

He has toys and toilet paper tubes to keep him busy, and I try to play with him every 2-3 days(but he hates being out of his home).

He also has a metal mouse wheel, which he runs around in and a water tube.

About a month ago, he scratched his eye on a plastic tube. I cleaned it with a paper towel, natural soap and water.

I think it may be just the scabbing from the wound, as it is noticeable but healed. But I just want to be sure.

He itches way more than usual, and I'm worried about him itching off his ear like some of the things I've read.

The skin in his face is red, but I don't know if it's from the scratching and it's inflamed/infected or that's just his skin exposed by the thinning hair around his face.

Please help my Marlon Brando. I'm about to go to Petsmart, but considering they couldn't even tell me what sex he is, I have little faith in them.

He eats healthy, he may be a little fat, and I've checked for mites/louses but I haven't found any. And he certainly doesn't look like the mice in the pictures I've been comparing him to.

Should I bathe him? Buy Animax? Please respond. I can also provide pictures upon request.

Thank you so much.

Answer
Hi Vanessa,

If they were mites, you wouldn't be able to see them without a microscope, unfortunately. A vet can diagnose what's causing itching by doing a skin scrape (brushing off some skin cells) and viewing it under a microscope.  This can help rule out lice, mites, ringworm, and any other parasite.

Is there any way that you could send me a picture of his face/eye? Or maybe describe exactly which areas are missing hair or inflamed? This is your best clue as to what's the source of the problem.

If the wound was infected, you should see redness around the injury, either discharge if the skin is broken or a lump of swelling if not, and the area may be warm to the touch.  An infection may require antibiotics, so please write me back if this sounds possible.

Is there a scab there still, from the initial injury? If so, is this the only area he is itching? If this is the case, you might try a tiny amount of neosporin on the scab one to two times a day to protect it from debris and distract him from itching it. A tiny amount goes a long way, so use the bare minimum amount of ointment needed to cover the scab.

Is he itching other areas of his face?  Mite infestations are typically characterized by scratching and scabbing on the face, head, ears, shoulders, and neck, depending on how mild or severe the case is. Thinning or missing patches of hair can result from the scratching, leaving the skin that is exposed red and sore. It can be tough to tell the difference between mites and other causes of itching, however, so the best way to tell right now would be to look at where the scratching is focused and if other areas are affected.

Mites can be treated at home with an over the counter spray, so please let me know if you think this might be the cause based on where he's scratching, and I'll help you figure out what to use and how.

Hope I helped you figure out what the culprit is, and let me know if there's any other way I can assist!

-Tam

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Tamarah

Expertise

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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