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Mice/My School Mouse


QUESTION: Okay, so I have been asked to take care of my school's mouse during summer next year, and well, just within a week after I was told I would be taking care of him, he has gotten this red dot on his forehead. It looks like a cut, but it keeps bleeding, scabbing and then left alone. He hasn't been scratching at his head and I want to help him, but I don't exactly know what it is, nor do I know what has caused it. I am the only person he will let pick him up and take him out of his cage. Can someone email me and help me figure out what happened to my mouse's head? My teacher wants to "put him down", and I don't want that to happen, he is still very young.

ANSWER: Hi Alexis,

Is there any way you can write me a follow-up and attach a picture of the injury?  It's tough for me to guess which possibility it might be if I can't see it.  How long has the dot been there?  Has it spread or changed in any way, besides scabbing over?

The good news is there is nothing that could cause the spot that would be life threatening.  No illnesses, cancers, or anything else would result in a single, non-itchy scratch, so putting him down would be pretty silly.  However, treating it appropriately is important, because any time there is a break in the skin there is a risk for infection.

For right now, it's important to keep it clean.  Since it's on his head and he doesn't sound like he'd like it dabbed clean a couple of times a day, what I'd suggest is using a tiny, itty-bitty dab of triple antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin).  Only use enough to very thinly coat the spot, because he's going to groom most of it off anyways, and that's okay.  You can apply it up to three times a day if he'll let you, but once or twice daily is great, too.  The ointment helps to catch physical debris before it gets in the wound and causes an infection, so good stuff!  :)

Once you write me back with the answers to my earlier questions and a photo if possible, I can help you out a little more.  And of course, if a vet is possible, that's always the best route to go.  I know it can be expensive, though, and not everyone has access to a rodent vet!  So, again, just write me back with any extra info you can and a picture and I'd be more than happy to help as much as I can.

Best of luck!

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

Butter Nut
Butter Nut  
  Sorry I haven't been able to send a pic so soon, but here is a good pic of my school's mouse. My teacher told me to bring him home for Thanksgiving Break.


Two possibilities come to mind from the picture - one is an injury, and the other is a tic.

If it is an injury, it could have resulted from something as simple as scratching himself too deeply on accident, or scraping against something in the cage.  If it became infected, or simply itchy as it healed, he could have continued to mess with it (maybe even when no one was looking), which has prevented it from healing normally.  In this case, daily or twice daily thin applications of a triple antibiotic ointment should help drastically.  Signs to visit a vet (for antibiotics, for example, or simply to have it looked at and treated professionally) include: excessive scratching at it like it itches, colored or foul smelling discharge, red/irritated skin around the wound, swelling around the wound, or a widening of the wound's borders.  It is important that it heal, and it won't heal while he is messing with it, so provide fun activities to distract him, keep his cage tidy, and keep that ointment on the wound to protect it from when he does groom at it.  The faster the scabbing goes away, the better, because while that skin is broken he is at risk for infection.

The second possibility is something called a neurological tic.  A tic is basically like a bad habit, like chewing your lip or biting your nails, and some mice are more prone to this than others.  I would only suspect this if a normal wound was ruled out by a vet, but it's worth mentioning, because the best way to help with a tic is to reduce his stress as much as possible.  Make sure he has at least one good hide that he can retreat to and be totally left alone when he needs it, and keep ultrasonic noises (such as computer monitors or dripping faucets) away from his cage, as well as drafts.  The calmer he is, the less likely anxious habits will continue, if that is indeed contributing.  Again, though, I'd suspect a regular old injury first.

Please let me know if it gets better or worse with the triple antibiotic ointment, and if you have access to a veterinarian in your area who works with mice!  Best of luck to the little guy!  Keep me updated.



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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!

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