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Mice/Sick mouse with labored breathing, don't know what to do


Hello! I have a young female white feeder mouse that appears to be sick or is getting sick. I've had her since she was a baby, and she was born blind. Other than her being blind, she has always been perfectly healthy until about a week ago. She is also housed with a female mouse, who seems to be unable to get sick.
Before I got the white mouse, I had a chestnut-and -white colored female mouse, who ended up catching the rodent form of pneumonia, and ended up killing her. The same female mouse who is housed with my now sick mouse was housed with the chestnut-and-white colored mouse. I did remove her as soon as she started coughing, but the other mouse never got the illness.. Which surprised me. I fully disinfected the cage, I mentioned this because my white female mouse is starting with the same symptoms.
My white mouse has been breathing very heavily for the past week. She's not making any other sounds yet, but I do know she is not walking around as much. She stays in one spot more so than usual. She is still eating and drinking, and I'm doing my best to make sure she continues to do so. I've read online that tetracycline can help, so I'll probably grab some, but I wanted to know what else I can do to try to save her.
Thank you for your help!

Hi Madison,

Even if the sick mouse was removed as soon as she was symptomatic, she was likely still contagious before that point.  The best thing you can do is get your white mouse to a veterinarian as soon as you can, so that she can get on the best possible antibiotics immediately and clear the infection.  Since the antibiotics are usually administered via the water bottle, it's a good idea to go ahead and treat any mice that were exposed, even if they don't seem sick.

What you are describing sounds like an upper respiratory infection, or URI, which is the catch-all term for any infection of the airway or sinuses and can cause that difficulty breathing.  It's best to treat right now BEFORE it gets to the point of coughing, clicking, wheezing, sneezing, lethargy, or hunching.  Pneumonia occurs when the infection progresses deep to the lungs and advances, so this is likely the same thing, just caught earlier.

If a veterinarian is not an option at all, or if you cannot get in right away, you can try to treat at home with tetracycline - an over the counter, much more mild antibiotic.  It's not the preferred antibiotic by any means, but it is better than no treatment at all.  Better antibiotics can be purchased through your vet for a reasonable cost, though, so again, vet is the number one option.

Tetracycline can be purchased at your local pet store in the fish section, and instructions on preparing it and giving it in the water are as follows (copied and pasted from a previous answer by our other expert):

"It either comes in powder, tablet, or capsule form.  If it is a tablet, you will need to crush it into fine powder, which you can do with the back of one spoon against the front of another.  If it is a capsule you will empty the powder out of the capsule.  One capsule is the same as 1/4 flat teaspoon.

Take one capsule and mix it with a drop or two of water until you have a mustardy paste. Grab the mouse by the scruff (back) of the neck to open its mouth, and try to get a bit of the paste in the mouth. The mouse will struggle a lot and this may be impossible. In any case, smear some on the whiskers and sides, where it can easily wash it off and ingest it.

Put another capsule's worth in a large water bottle (10-12 oz), or half that in a small water bottle (4-6 oz), and that should be the only source of water for about 10 days. Shake it up well. Change it every other day. Cover the bottle with tin foil so no light can get in. Tetracycline reacts with light."

Best wishes, and please let me know how she does and if there is anything else I can help with!



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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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