Mice/Orphaned mouse with red irritated bottom
QUESTION: Hi! I found a baby mouse in a parking lot last Friday and have been trying to keep it alive. So far I think he's doing ok, but his rear is extremely irritated and red, even getting a tiny bit of blood when I wipe him after meals. He squeaks and squirms like crazy, even trying to bite when this process happens (his eyes are still closed, I'm guessing maybe a week old?). I've been using a damp cotton ball and just very lightly dabbing the area, not rubbing. It's been this way since Sunday, seems to be a little worse today. I got some coconut oil and gently dabbed that on today after each cleaning, but so far no improvement. I just put a small bit of neosporin on tonight just to see if that might help him. I think he has a bit of diarrhea as well, not liquid but not at all like he was pooping when I first found him. I got him some canned pumpkin and made an electrolyte mix and fed that to him all day yesterday. Today I put him back on the 50/50 electrolyte / kitten formula. I don't know if his rear is irritated because of the digestive issues or something else, and I don't know how best to cure it. Thanks for your help.
ANSWER: Hi Andrea,
Why pumpkin? The more the diet changes, the more likely he is to have stomach upset and loose stools. Best to stick with the kitten milk, adding in the electrolyte mix during times of diarrhea. Is the electrolyte mix lactated ringers solution? There's also a possibility that if it isn't, something in the mix could be irritating his bottom. I'm not sure what other rehydrating solutions besides LRS are safe versus potential irritants.
Everything else you are doing so far sounds spot on. The neosporin and coconut oil are both great ideas - either should help keep the skin on his tush from drying out from frequent pottying, and the neosporin should help protect any open skin around his bottom from getting infected. Until he starts going to the bathroom on his own, this is all you can do, along with making sure he is never put back still wet. If you notice a reaction to anything, such as if it suddenly worsens after trying the oil, immediately stop and seek the help of a veterinarian or a wildlife rehabilitator who has experience with mice or rats.
Can you take a look for any other symptoms that might help me figure out what's going on? Is any tissue around the genitals or anus protruding, swollen, scabbed, or oozing? When you put him back down after a meal, does he go to sleep pretty easily, or still cry? Has he been eating normally for you without too much trouble? Does he urinate and defecate on a pretty regular schedule? Has he been gaining grams in weight at a steady pace so far? Is there any blood visible in the stool? Lastly, does he have his fur in yet, and does he try to move around? That last question is just so I can get a feel for his age - there's nothing wrong with him if he isn't moving around just yet!
Let me know if you can answer these questions and how he is doing now, and I'd be happy to help out further! Best of luck with the little guy, and I hope his tush feels better soon!
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QUESTION: I read somewhere on this site that pumpkin was recommended for diarrhea, so that's why I gave him some of that, thinking the loose stools might have been causing the irritation. No, the electrolyte solution isn't LRS, it's a homemade formula I found (basically water sugar and salt). He was looking better this morning after the neosporin, I switched back to coconut oil today because I wasn't sure if the neo was ok, but the coconut oil doesn't seem to be as effective so I'll go back to neosporin. Just this evening he has taken a turn for the worse. Up to this point he's been active and eating ok (usually puts up a fight, never particularly eager to eat, but I still get some in him...he does do a few good draws on the brush) but tonight he's gotten lethargic and really showed zero interest in food. I think he started sweating or something too, he was all wet after trying to feed him. He usually makes a mess and his head will be wet, but he was wet all over this time, so I don't think it was all the feeding. He also hasn't urinated today that I have seen. I have continued to gently wipe after each meal and I do get some yellowish stuff but it looks more solid-ish like poop, not just turning the cotton ball yellow like yesterday which was obviously pee.
To answer your questions, the skin around the genitals looks a little swollen, there's one bump closer to the stomach, then appears to be a tiny hole and all around there is a bit swollen and just raw looking, still getting a little blood when dabbing there. It almost looks like a skin sore. This morning after the neosporin it wasn't as red or swollen. After he eats he immediately goes to sleep, no crying. As soon as I stop messing with his lower tummy/genital area, he's perfectly happy. No real regular bathroom schedule, so far today he has pooped a tiny bit after eating, but then when I would check on him later there would be more poo on his bottom. I'm not sure if that means diarrhea or if he's getting to the stage where he can go on his own? I didn't think they could go unless stimulated. So I guess it's possible he has urinated in his bedding today and I just didn't see it. I don't know about his weight, I don't have anything tiny enough to weigh him on. Looking at him, he doesn't appear to have gained anything. There isn't any blood in his stool, just a dab of blood when I wipe him but it's just from the raw skin :( he does have fur and is very active. Thanks again for the help :) hoping he perks back up soon.
Has he been eating again? In the photo, he doesn't look very irritated, actually. Maybe a little swollen, but not enough that he should be bleeding. Maybe the neosporin is helping?
He looks to be around 7 or 8 days old from what I guess from the picture but it's hard to say, which means he may indeed be on his way to pottying himself. It usually starts around when the eyes open, but is different for different mice. Of course you should continue to try until you can confirm he is urinating and pooping regularly on his own. How about his feces? By now I'd expect it to be becoming more normal, at least in color?
He needs to be gaining weight - that he hasn't seemed to to you, and that he was lethargic really concerns me. Around when his eyes open you can begin offering easy foods, like a piece of stale bread, maybe even soaked in water or kmr, or mouse food (blocks or mixes, seeds and corn removed). A chunk of scrambled egg made with water or kmr could also provide a little extra nutritional punch - just be sure to remove unexplored foods before they go bad. You'll also need to continue providing kmr until around 4 weeks when he learns to drink on his own from a bottle. Until his eyes open, try feeding in different positions and different methods - whatever gets it in his stomach. You might even try an eye dropper or puddling some in your hand to let him lick up.
Is there anyone from whom you could borrow a food scale? This is an inexpensive way to be sure he is consistently gaining. Just put a container with a cloth lining it on the scale, tare, and record the weight pre and post meal in grams. The reason I'm stressing his weight and appetite is that orphaned mice have the deck stacked against them - they could have been starved before being found, kicked out of a nest due to illness or genetic problems, or a host of other things, not to mention the inherent difficulty in keeping a small fragile creature from chilling, dehydrating, etc. So far you are doing GREAT, but even when we do everything right, we still lose some, and typically the first sign is weight loss. So the best thing you can do is protect that tush how you've been doing and get as much nutrition in that belly as you can.
The good news is I'm not seeing any prolapse or danger in the anal region requiring emergency vet care. Hopefully he has been hanging in there and eating for you. Please let me know how he is doing now and how else I can help. My thoughts are with you and the little trooper!
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QUESTION: Sadly the little guy didn't make it :(. After he took that turn for the worse all the sudden, he just refused to eat and never got lively again. I did get a few drops in him occasionally, but you could just tell he was on his last leg and wasn't going to make it. I think it was because he hadn't peed at all that day, no matter what I tried. The bleeding on the rear became worse, I was just getting a tiny pinhead size drop here and there at first, but by the last day it was definitely more noticeable and frequent when I would wipe him. His poop was still yellowish and sludgy, the last time he poop was even rust colored, not sure if that meant blood in his stool or not, but each time his poop would just be a small drop. I am sad that I lost him, but at least I did try to save him and he had a good last few days. Thank you again for all your help, I really appreciate it. Maybe one day I'll have a mouse again. This was my first experience with one, but the more I read and studied up on them, the more I was drawn to the idea of one for a pet :) He was a sweet little guy. Thanks again.
Oh no, Andrea, I am so sorry to hear that.
Like I was saying, orphaned mice are an uphill fight. From what you've told me just this message, I think we can guess at one of two outcomes - failure to thrive (catch-all term for pups that for whatever reason do not gain weight or accept nutrition, usually genetic or caused by the separation from mom), or an intestinal disease or disorder, since the rust colored stool and bleeding bottom really sound like there was an issue with the anus/intestines.
I'm explaining this so you understand there isn't much of anything you could have done to help it. Medicine for pups is largely limited and focused on supportive care - which you exercised perfectly. This is a sad loss, but he was lucky to have you, and I know you'll be a great mouse mom when you are ready to start keeping them as pets! It's definitely a lot easier than hand raising pups! :)
Best of luck in your future pets, and I'm sorry again to hear about the little guy's passing. If you have any questions later on just drop me a line.