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Mice/New mice, nipping?


Hi again!
So I was going to make a follow up question, but Fawn seems much healthier. We've been giving her a little bit more treats, and she definitely doesn't look as 'shaggy,' but I never see her clean herself still.

We recently adopted two female mice, both black, Cola (who is longhaired) and Smokey (who is short-haired).

They're both very different, and I have a few problems. Cola is afraid of people. As soon as I walk towards the cage, she darts to her wheel, where she continues to run for at least 5 minutes. She's very skittish.

Smokey seems very interested when I put my hand down to pick up Fawn, but when I let her sniff, she nips. First, she lightly nips, then she starts biting harder. She hasn't drawn blood yet, though.

I also want Cola and Smokey to start grooming Fawn, but they don't really groom her, unless she's been handled. After I put Fawn back in the cage, Smokey starts sniffing her but doesn't really groom either.

Hope you can suggest some solutions!

Anyway to solve these problems?

Hi Michelle,

I'm glad Fawn is doing better!  It's actually great that Cola runs on her wheel when you walk near.  It's better than hiding all the time!  Young mice have a ton of energy, so it's a good thing that she's choosing to play when you are near.  She may take some time before she can be handled, but it's a good start.

It's important to deter biting with Smokey without frightening her further.  There are a few things you can try for that and just see what works for her.  First, always wash your hands with unscented soap before handling them - you might smell like food you've touched anywhere in the last couple of hours!  Second, I'm not sure how your cage is set up, but it's always better to approach your hand from the side, rather than from above, which can be interpreted as a threat/predator.  The best way to keep her from biting is to remove your hand immediately after she's sniffed it, BEFORE she has the chance to nip.  Let her smell you, then slowly and calmly remove your hand from the enclosure.  Offer a treat (to all three of course) after each time you do so and she doesn't nip.  If she nips, calmly remove your hand, don't offer a treat, and walk away to try again later on.  Letting her nip or bite will make it her go-to behavior to get rid of you, so definitely don't let it get that far if you can help it.

How long have you had them?  Mice need a week or two to settle in before they are comfortable enough to start much playtime, so if it hasn't been very long, consider reducing how much you interact with Fawn just for a little while they get to know everything.

As far as grooming, most of that is going to happen when you aren't watching, or in the middle of the night when the lights are off and they are most active.  It's okay to not see mutual grooming - I guarantee it will happen at some point, just maybe not when you can see it!

Best of luck, and let me know if you have any other questions!


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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: Orphaned Mice Videos: Natasha's Your First Mouse: General Mouse Help: Mouse Info and Exotic Breeds:


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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