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QUESTION: I bought three mice from the pet store, and have one of those silent spinner wheels in the cage. The mice have no idea what to do with the wheel and just avoid it or hide underneath it. I've tried putting them inside the wheel hoping they will get the idea, but they just hop back out as soon as I take my hand away. I've even tried smearing a little bit of peanut butter inside the wheel to make it more appealing, but still no interest. How can I teach them to run on the wheel?

ANSWER: Hi John,

That's okay!  Some mice just aren't that interested in wheels.  They are quick to learn, however, so once one of them starts doing it, chances are they'll all give it a go.  How long have you had them?  Remember that they need a few days to settle in before they feel comfortable enough to explore and play like they will later on.  The peanut butter was a great idea. You could also try checking the tension on the wheel - does it spin freely, or need a little push?  If it is fastened too tightly they may not realize it spins.

In the meantime, you can try giving them other options. If you're feeling creative, you can build all kinds of jungle gyms out of toilet paper tubes, tissue boxes with the plastic flap removed, even popsicle sticks put together with hot glue.  You might even build a tunnel that leads to the wheel.  Try googling "DIY mouse toys" for ideas - there a lot of fun options out there!

Best of luck, and let me know if there is anything else I can help out with!
-Tam

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

QUESTION: I've had them for about two weeks now. One learned to run on the wheel soon after I initially wrote you and is very good, she runs fast. The other two still won't go near it. They haven't copied or learned from the one that has. They're not sick because they will climb up the sides of the cage, and they all like to explore when I let them out for some supervised playtime. But thanks for your suggestions - I'll try and build some kind of structure for their cage. Or maybe I'll try one of those mouse balls to run inside and see if they like that. I hate to see the two non-runners bored and spending most of their time in the nest box doing nothing.

Answer
Sounds like a good plan!  At two weeks they should be settled in, but they may still adjust their play behaviors over time.  Also remember that mice are nocturnal, so they might be running when you are asleep!

Let me know if there is anything else I can help with,
-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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