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Mice/Sick/Bullied Mouse

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Question
I recently bought 3 female mice from the same litter back in March, and when I first got them they all seemed happy and healthy. But recently, one of them I think is either getting sick or the other two are fighting her but I'm not sure why! The one I'm worried about has always been less active than the others, but now she's been getting a hunchback, and her fur feels and looks different, almost greasy. I read about how it might have something to do with temperature so I made sure that their habitat is extra clean and has a good temperature for them. But this morning, I found her just sitting in her wheel, and when I looked closer there was blood on her tail, and her eyes are all squinty. I haven't heard any squeaking or fighting, but I moved her into a separate cage just in case. Should I leave her there? I know mice are sociable but I'm worried she might be getting attacked. She only took a small nibble of a treat I gave her and won't go near water I offer.

Thanks in advanced for looking at this!

Answer
Hi Lauren,

Yes, I would recommend leaving her separated, at the very least until she recovers.  It also sounds like she may be sick, which would not be terribly surprising if she has been very stressed and/or injured recently.  Is it possible for you to get her in to a vet who works with rodents as soon as possible?

Because of the hunched posture you described and the lethargy/lack of appetite, I'm going to go ahead and include a link for giving tetracycline, just in case you are unable to see a vet.  This is not a replacement for a vet visit, and not as good as the meds they could prescribe, but is a good first step in an emergency and might help get her eating and drinking again:

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Mice-3824/2010/2/Tetracycline-directions-sneezing-mou

Since she is not drinking much, that first step Natasha mentions about making a paste is the best way to get the medicine in her without forcing her.  I would strongly recommend it, as well as encouraging her to eat or drink anything she can (that is safe for mice).

You can also clean the injury on her tail once or twice a day if it doesn't stress her by dabbing it with betadine - a safe iodine based disinfectant that doesn't hurt. You can find this at any pharmacy, then just add a couple of drops to warm water to get it the color of tea, and gently use gauze or cotton to apply to the injury. Let it dry, then remove what you can with warm, clean water on gauze or cotton. It's okay if you can't get it all off. Then you can put a tiny, very small amount of triple antibiotic ointment on the broken skin to help keep debris out during the day (just a little bit is enough - she'll probably groom it away so no need to use a ton).

In answer to your main question - while female mice are social, yes, not all of them get along. In this case, she would certainly be happier alone than getting picked on! When she has been healthy for a couple of weeks, you can always try either reintroducing them very carefully or finding her new friends, if she seems unhappy by herself.  Some females truly are happier alone, though - or at least, just with you!  I'd say see how she feels in a few weeks, personally, before stressing about her cagemate situation. Just focus on her health for the time being and let her tell you what she wants.

Best of luck, and please let me know if you have any other questions,
-Tam

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Tamarah

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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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