Mice/My Mouse Is Scratching and Twitching
QUESTION: Hello! I found this site just this morning and I was wondering if you could help me with my mouse problem, I got my mouse Kritine a few days ago from a local pet store and she seemed perfectly healthy. But just yesterday she began to scratch every few seconds, she twitches and it has been non stop. There hasn't been any hair loss yet but I am afraid this may not be the case if I don't act quickly. I have also noticed a problem with her eyes, and it puts me in agony to watch her. I assume she has allergies but I wanted to check with you first since mites could also be a factor. Thank you for helping out in any way.
ANSWER: Hi Cynara,
What a beautiful mouse!! What is the matter with her eyes? I can't see anything wrong with them in the photo, but that might be the angle. Are they discharging, swollen, dull, crusty, red/irritated around the lids, anything like that?
Being in and coming home from a pet shop is very stressful to most mice, and can lower their immune system, making it more likely for them to get sick in the couple of weeks after coming home. Housing many mice together in the pet shop also means it is very hard to tell what possible illnesses or parasites might get picked up accidentally. What was she eating and using for bedding in the pet shop? Are you using anything drastically different, dusty, or a very different food? If not, I would not suspect allergies as being the first cause, though they can certainly be a possibility if anything suddenly changed.
Mites are quite likely, especially if she is living alone currently. Sometimes mice that are used to being groomed frequently develop an overabundance of natural mites when switched to living by themselves. Stress from the sudden move can also cause neurotic overgrooming. Are there any other mice in the cage, and are they also scratching excessively? Let me know if this sounds like the most probable, and I can point you in the best direction for easy treatment.
If you can write me back with a few more details (the condition of her eyes, changes in bedding/diet, what areas she is scratching at the most, who she lives with, and anything else you can think of to help me pinpoint the cause), I would be happy to give you a more clear plan of attack for conquering the itchies before skin damage is done.
Let me know!
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Thank you. I greatly apologize for the picture, she does not like to keep still. Her eyes are irritated, and she continuously closes them, they seem sticky. The majority of her scratching is near her face, neck, and side - although she has been scratching all over.
I am using Mazuri Rat Food. (if that's even a brand) And I have been giving her a variety of seeds and small treats to nibble on. Her bedding is different from what she is used to, I am currently using a pine based bedding. However I use the exact same bedding for my guinea pigs and they have not had a problem with it.
She is currently living alone, would you reccomend getting a roomate?
Other than that I am not certain. She was fine for the first few days with no problems, but this showed up out of nowhere.
Mazuri is a brand, and is an excellent one at that. They have several different lines of mouse and rat food and it's easily one of the first foods I would recommend, so good on you for picking a great one!
Pine bedding not only has the potential to be very irritating, it also can cause her to have organ damage over the longterm, due to chemicals it releases building up in the body. There is no easy way to see that kind of health damage until it is too late. Even if it turned out not to be the cause of the itchiness, I would still highly recommend switching to a non-pine, non-cedar bedding. If budget is the concern, aspen is very inexpensive and releases no such compounds, plus seems to contain smell even better. This is the very first thing I would change, and if you do not see a difference in the following 1-2 days, I would suggest treating for mites. Let me know if her itching does not subside and I can explain how to get and apply a super easy and very effective mite treatment, as well as how to treat the cage. :)
She might indeed be happier with 1-2 roommates, but ultimately that part is up to you. I would definitely wait until her itchiness is resolved before bringing in any new friends, though, just in case it is something contagious like mites.
Definitely let me know how she does and if I can keep helping out!
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QUESTION: I watched her for a few days and she seemed like she's was getting better, but now she is having diarrhea and she is a habit of squinting her eyes. The itching has not stopped and I talked to the store owner about it. She said she could maybe have bacteria, but I'm not sure...
Unless your pet store owner is a veterinarian, I'm not sure they are the best person to diagnose her itching - bacteria is not a cause of itchy skin. We all have bacteria at all times, and while bad bacteria can certainly cause an infection, it's more likely to infect an open wound as a *result* of itching than to be the cause of that itching. Possible causes include allergies, sensitivity to pine, mites, lice, ringworm (a fungus), neurological habits, and other parasites. The very best way to identify the cause (and to address the diarrhea, which could be from illness or the dietary switch) is to visit a local veterinarian who works with pocket pets like mice. A veterinarian can do something called a skin scrape - a very gentle and fast test which allows them to look for parasites under a microscope. It's painless, quick, and affordable.
If her itching has progressed beyond normal grooming and she begins to have hair loss, red or irritated skin, scabbing, scratches, or swelling I would recommend getting something from your veterinarian called Revolution. This medication is usually prescribed for kittens, but is completely safe for mice - all you need to do is apply ONE drop to the back of her neck and prevent her from grooming until it has dried. Then just clean her entire cage with hot soap and water, replacing the bedding and any absorbent toys. This will protect her from mites and lice for one month, and does not need to be repeated unless she becomes infested again at a later date.
Is there a veterinarian in your area that you can ask for help? It would almost certainly put your mind at ease to have any and all questions answered in one visit by someone who can examine her in person and who can fix any issues right then and there.