Mice/Captured pregnant mouse, and now babies…
We are humanely fighting a little mouse infestation in our home by setting up glue traps in ‘high traffic’ areas, holding the caught mouse in a tank for about a day usually, and then releasing them far from home.
However, a really big mouse came up one late evening, and the next morning upon seeing her Dad told me she must be heavily pregnant. …Little we knew she'd give birth few hours after!
We gave her an old box half from my phone as a shelter, where she retreated rather quickly. But the poor 4 babies kinda crawled around helplessly, so we carefully moved them round and tucked them in with a stick (we were super gentle, I promise… we used it so they wouldn't catch our scent). Few hours after though, I saw the likely strongest one crawling about at the exit from the box and got really worried - what if the mother really abandoned them? How long can they last like this? When do we have to take over?
…But eventually on the next check-up soon later they disappeared, suggesting the mother finally took them in and I hope finally got them fed. I mean, they are so cute and pink and adorable! Who'd want to hurt such a thing? I feel like their second mother and that it's my duty in protecting them from harm.
The question is: now what? How long should we let the mother handle this? They are wild mice you see, the mother is rather terrified of us, she's a quick and strong jumper, but the glass lid (set-up with a tiny gap to let some air in but not let the mouse squeeze through) prevents her from escaping. She's madly jumping around right now as I'm writing! That leaves me to wonder had she been given a chance, would she leave just like that and abandon her babies? We would like to at least make the kids tame and just like pet shop mice, but when is the period we'd have to get them separated from the mother (who eventually had to be released)? This is their second night - it's 2 AM…
We currently focus on feeding the mother: she received sunflower seeds, pieces of rhubarb, pineapple and a cookie, as well as some milk (it's certainly just for her not the babies, apparently they don't take the cow milk well anyway - I'm convinced mouse mother's milk would always the best for them anyway); is there anything else we should give her to keep her strong and that she provides the kids with the right nutrients?
And also, I lifted the box very briefly today, and what I saw was the babies tucked in very closely together under the mother - by this I mean you wouldn't assume there's 4 mouseys there! But then again I looked very quick cause didn't want to bother the mother. Is this how it's supposed to be? The last thing I want is the mum going somewhat crazy and doing something to any of her babies - so anything to watch out for and what are some good precautions to take? I wouldn't forgive myself if something happened to a little helpless cutie like this :'(
It might be a good idea to look around for a mesh or locking lid. She will need adequate ventilation to prevent the bedding from smelling and building up ammonia, since you will likely need to keep her with her nursing pups for 4-5 weeks. A glass tank like this is perfect to prevent escapes, but will need an appropriate lid.
The very best thing for momma to eat is a commercial mouse food, specifically labeled for mice. She may also need a little bit of supplement in terms of protein - you can add in a few pieces of cat kibble as well for a treat that also provides a boost. She should have this food available around the clock, as well as a source of hydration. Milk can mess up her stomach - mice are not able to digest the proteins in milk like we can, even adult mice. She should have a water bottle if she will use it (you can use strong velcro tape to secure it to the inside of the glass), or if not, moist foods as supplements or even small pieces of stale bread soaked in water (remove uneaten moist foods before allowing them to mold).
The pups will mature around 4-5 weeks of age. Make sure they are not only eating on their own, but more importantly, drinking on their own before separating them. My personal suggestion would be to release them as well once they are old enough to live without mom, as their wild instincts will be completely in tact. These instincts on how to find food and water, avoid predators, and behave "wild" are actually genetic and take 3-4 generations to "breed out." It is very likely that these pups will not be very friendly once grown, and may be too skittish to keep as pets. Of course, every mouse is different, and this is your decision to make in a few weeks!
I think I got all of your questions, but if I missed something please let me know and I will respond as soon as I can. In the meantime, please give momma some space and only interrupt if you need to spot clean a part of the bedding (you will never need to clean the nest - she'll do that) or add food/water. She knows what she is doing. :)