QUESTION: Hello! I recently adopted my first three mice a few months ago, and it's been mostly going well aside from one problem. I just came across your site today (love it so far!) so maybe y'all could help me?
I got all three of my mice together from Petsmart, so there's not been any other behavioral problems besides some mild treat-stealing. The two yellow piebalds (Marigold and Snickerdoodle) adjusted quickly, and behave themselves pretty well. The grey one (Clover) was more skittish, and took a lot of gradual coaxing before she got used to me. She eventually did, and it was great! But then one time I left her in the playpen (separate from their regular wire cage, an open-top box with extra toys and foraging material) unsupervised for a little too long, and she discovered the sweet taste of freedom.
She's never gotten outside of my bedroom, thank goodness, and I can usually catch her within a couple days. The problem is that her escape attempts are becoming more frequent, and I'm getting tired of having to jumble my room around in order to block off her various hiding spots, as well as the stress of her just being out in general. She isn't afraid of my hand when she's in the pen or the cage, but as soon as she's out she wants to STAY out and won't come to me.
Basically my question is, is there a way I can decrease her urge for near-constant escape attempts? I'm saving up for a bigger cage (the one they have now is a touch smaller than the birdcage in your YOUR FIRST MOUSE video), but it'll still take me a little while so I'm hoping for another kind of solution, since I feel bad keeping her stuck in the kinda dinky cage 100% of the time (she preys on my bleeding heart, I swear).
Thanks for any help you can give! Keep up the awesome work C:
ANSWER: Hi Ashley,
Is she escaping from the cage, or only from the play area? You might look into a ten or twenty gallon aquarium with a mesh lid (some of them can be locked with reptile clips, too). That's probably the least expensive way to get them more space, and is super easy to clean, since it can be wiped out.
If she's escaping from the cage, the bars need to be closer together (or replaced with a glass tank such as mentioned above). If she's only escaping from the play pen, you'll need to mouse proof that space better. Mice are naturally inquisitive, and she's likely going to keep trying to explore, regardless of how attractive you make the cage or play area. Consider something not climbable, such as a tall-sided, large plastic bin (such as those used for storage). You can trade it out with different toys each day, as long as none of them reach near enough to the top for her to escape. You can also use those mouse balls (the ones they roll around the room in), provided you keep her in it no longer than the time specified on the packaging, so she doesn't get disoriented.
Hopefully this is helpful, but if you have other questions please let me know! Welcome to the world of pet mice! :)
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QUESTION: Thanks so much for your quick response!
It is the pen that she escapes from (I made triple sure I got a cage with small enough bar spacing, it's one of the biggest problems I'm having with getting a bigger cage, bleh. I'd go for a tank but I live in a muggy climate and worry about ventilation/ammonia buildup). I'm working on escape-proofing it, but I'm kind of hoping for some techniques on discouraging the near-constant MUST ESCAPE behavior in the first place? I know mice aren't the easiest to train and this might not very well be a thing that can be done in the first place, it just makes me a little sad that she apparently only sees "interacting with me" = "OPPORTUNITY TO ESCAPE". It's also generally stressful when it's very apparent that she's literally ALWAYS scoping for a new way out, you know?
But yeah, outside of "bigger cage" = "feel less cramped" and "spend more time with me" = "enjoy my company as something other than a living stepladder", I figure it's a longshot. But that's why I'm asking, just in case you might have any further insight :'D
Thanks a bunch, sorry for the weird question!
I live in a muggy climate, too (gulf coast)! I promise, as long as you keep the cage clean and use a screen lid, it's really not any worse than a wire cage. Plus there's no bedding getting kicked out. :) But if you can find a suitable wire cage that works too!
Like already mentioned, mice are just naturally investigative and curious. It might get better as she ages, but it's not a bad thing for her to want to explore. It is totally natural, so there's not really any way to discourage it. It doesn't mean at all that she doesn't like you.
Hopefully this makes sense, and you are able to get some good playtime with her in the soon to be escape-proofed play pen. :)