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Mice/orphan mouse behavior change


Deer mouse
Deer mouse  

deer mouse
deer mouse  
So I found a baby dee mouse the other day and it looked like he was abandoned, so I took him in and he seemed fine, I've been feeding him lettuce cause he eats it and seems to like it. I've also given him crumbs from crackers an water from an empty syringe. He is very small and his eyes haven't opened yet so I'm guessing he is very young. When I first started interacting with him he ran around and would climb up on me and just cuddle in my hair or on my chest and would fall asleep. But today he fell off my hand and onto the rug a couple feet off the ground an it scared me cause I don't know if it injured him or not. After it happened, he still ran around and acted like he normally would. But know all of a sudden he is barley walking an when he does he is sometimes clumsy with his back feet or he will walk in circles and then falls onto his side or stomach and just lays there for a minute and than do it again, and sometimes he will lay down for about 5 minutes and then will randomly start running slowly anywhere for maybe 10 seconds and than just stop and lay there again. He is also doing this weird hiccup breathing, almost like a silent hiccup breathing, and I don't know why. He just crawls every so often and than lays there. I not sure if he is dying or not and I've only had him for about a day and a half. Is he dying or is this normal?

Dear Julia,

The most important thing right now is that he is starving to death. He is nowhere near old enough to be weaned. He needs to be drinking formula at least every two hours around the clock. Nighttimes too.

Watch these videos on how to take care of an orphan mouse. There are ten here; start with 11/10 and go through 10/10.

The usual formula for a mouse orphan is kitten milk replacement. However this guy needs a huge boost. Here is a recipe that has made orphans on the brink, bounce back:

1 cup whole goat milk yogurt
13 oz oat milk
1/2 tsp honey
one egg yolk
1 TB peanut butter
1/2 capsule probiotics
1-2/3 cup pedialtye or other electrolyte solution

Peanut butter can be hard to mix. You may want to start by mixing by hand the peanut butter and honey first, and then the yolk, before putting the entire thing in the blender; or by heating up the peanut butter first.

This makes about six cups of formula. You can probably measure half of each but you still won't be able to use it all before it goes bad. You may be able to freeze some and use to later. I am not *positive* because I haven't tried with this formula,  but this is what you do with the plain kitten milk: Freeze it in an ice cube tray and then put each cube in a ziplock snack bag, squeezing the air out -- or just freeze a few tablespoons in each bag directly. Make sure it is warm in your hand before giving it.


I do not know if starvation can cause this kind of neurological behavior-- and if it does, how reversible it is. Mouse moms will also abandon a pup on purpose if they know something is wrong with it, so these guys sometimes start with an extra handicap if they survive at all. However just because a mother mouse knows she herself doesn't have the energy it would take to make the pup healthy, or just because a mouse would not be suited to survive in the wild, does not mean it won't thrive with a human and be a terrific pet.

And it also may have sustained an injury in the fall.


If you are on Facebook you may friend me and I can bring you into a group just to help with babies. We have helpful resources, you can read old posts, and someone will be assigned to you to make sure your questions get answered. The person we have doing that right now is a mouse breeder and a vet tech so she is great, and I will check often as well. It is much faster than here, everything is in one place, and we can call in others to help as needed.

Also if you make a video of its behavior I can bring you into a medical oriented rat group which helps me with mice. They can't do much with a description though.

I hope I hear from you again. If you find me on FB message me so I know it is you. Best of luck and thank you for caring about the little tyke.




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I can answer questions about raising mice and caring for them as pets, with knowledge from my 38 years of having fancy mice as pets. I have NO MEDICAL TRAINING and you should take a sick mouse to the vet; but if you simply can't, I will try to help you. I LOVE PHOTOS!!! I ALSO LOVE UPDATES! Let me know how the little tyke is doing later on, for better or worse, especially orphans. It also helps me to help the next person. Please first search first: use 'Natasha Mice Mouse' with whatever else your question includes. Or check out these links: **** YOUR FIRST MOUSE (my video; rough draft): **** TEN VIDEOS ON RAISING ORPHANS: **** SEXING MICE: **** And some GREAT MOUSE INFO SITES:


I have had mice for 40 years (since I was 5!). I raised them when I was a child but now I keep all females, and never fewer than three so that if one dies the others are not devastated, because they have each other.

I run Rats and Mice are Awesome on Facebook. The official name is Rats are Awesome.

B.A., M.A., M.A. in Linguistics: Yale University and University of Connecticut

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