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Question
I found a cute brown little young field mouse roaming our house. We think that her parents abandoned her when she was a new born in our house. We are keeping her and  calling her Hazelilly. Is it safe to hold her? Will she bit? Does she carry a disease?

Answer
Hi Hazel,

How old is she, do you know?  If she was abandoned and is still young enough to need milk, she will need to be fed kitten milk replacement very frequently and need a lot of hands on care.  If you think this may be the case please visit the following link for a start on how to care for orphaned mouse pups:

http://www.rmca.org/Articles/orphans.htm

If she is eating and drinking on her own, then chances are she is old enough to be wandering around on her own and no longer needs her nest or mom.  She may be small, but once she can eat and drink on her own, she is adult enough to survive independently.

Wild mice stay wild - the same genetics that allow her to instinctively find food, water, and shelter also drive her to avoid contact with predators, escape captivity when possible, and act aggressively when cornered.  It takes several generations to wear that down.  With that in mind, she may not be happy being a pet - chances are that a wild mouse living in captivity will have a higher level of anxiety, be more likely to bite/lunge/avoid you, be very, very good at escaping from cages, and leap when picked up (which may cause her escape or worse, an injury from falling into hard surfaces; this is an instinct to avoid aerial predators).  Please, if she is an adult and eating/drinking on her own, look at her behavior and try to figure out for yourself - is she happy?  Is she relaxed?  Does she approach you or hide when you come near?  It is a decision for you to make, but the majority of the time, wild mice make poor pets (with exceptions being orphans who survived being bottle fed at a few days old, and even then, many grow up with overwhelming instincts to escape).

As far as it being safe to hold her, as I mentioned earlier, if she decides to jump or bite you so that you let go she would be at risk of hurting herself in a fall.  She's not likely to transmit any diseases to you from a bite (mice are not carriers for rabies), however some species of wild mice may be more prone than others to carry something called Hantavirus, which is extremely dangerous to humans (but not to mice).  This disease is spread through aerosolized waste from dirty bedding (breathing in poo or pee particulates when changing bedding or putting your head too near the cage).  You can evaluate risk by visiting the CDC's website and finding an "incidence map" that includes your area, but this only covers cases that have already happened and does not promise the disease does not exist in your region.  You can more accurately determine if she carries hantavirus by sending her waste to a laboratory for testing.  It's possible a veterinarian who works with exotic pets or pocket pets can help you achieve this.  Though Hantavirus is most commonly carried by deer mice, I would be cautious around waste of all wild mice, since the disease is quite serious.

Hopefully I helped answer your questions, but if there is anything else you need please let me know and I'd be happy to help out!
-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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