Mice/Mouse leg issues
QUESTION: I'm 18 and I just got two mice from my Biology teacher, one male and one female, the Female has been having trouble moving her back feet. Could this be something with her nervous system or genetics? I saw some responses from Natasha about a similar issue. I am worried that she won't make it, she sleeps a lot and stays very still for most of the day. They have a wheel and she seemed to have a problem climbing into it and even "running" (more like shuffling) in it. She likes to climb the bars of the cage and I was wondering if she could have hurt herself while climbing. She doesn't eat much and I've been watching her for a few hours and she hasn't left the straw house I placed in there. Could it be something I did or is it just bad Genetics? Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help her or make her comfortable.
ANSWER: Hi Aubrey,
Yes, an spinal or leg injury is possible, as is genetics, or unforeseeable internal issues such as problems with circulation, bad joints, inflammation, foot damage, hip problems, or even unrelated discomfort which makes ambulation difficult or painful.
The wide range of possibilities which causes this behavior is proof enough that there is no way you could be the cause. Even if she was injured, how could you have guessed that? You haven't done anything wrong.
Probably the best thing to do would be to see a veterinarian who works with pocket pets like mice. An experienced vet may be able to identify what is causing her walking difficulties, so that you can address it quickly if possible, or at least know if there is anything to do or not.
If a vet isn't possible, or if you have no one local who is experienced with mice, there are indeed some things you can do at home to make her comfortable. First, please understand that mice are wholly nocturnal. They might respond to you during the day, or go out and about for a bit, but most healthy mice will lay around all day because they are resting. Then, at 3 am, you'll hear the wheel going! As far as cage decor goes, you can build ramps out of household objects (tissue boxes/cardboard without glue, paper towel tubes, popsicle sticks, etc.) to anywhere she is having trouble getting to. Adding a food bowl and second water bottle to a different part of the cage might ensure she can always get to food and drink without discomfort. Offer extra hides so she feels safe moving from one to another without exposing herself. Make sure her cage is away from drafts, chills, predators, and ultrasonic noises (TV or Desktop computer monitors, drippy faucets, etc.). Keeping her light cycle steady is also a great way to keep her relaxed and happy. Then it's just about monitoring her for changes and keeping her as happy as is possible until you know more.
Are the two mice housed separately? It's a pretty poor plan to keep a male and a female together longterm. At some point they will breed (in fact, are we sure this isn't the reason for her decreased activity/movement?), as mice go into estrus every five days or so. That is a LOT of chances to get pregnant. Always being pursued by the male can also lead to high levels of chronic stress or even injury. Back to back breeding puts both pups and mom in mortal danger. Your best bet is to keep them separate if you aren't already, and if she is healthy again in the future, getting her one to two female friends to socialize with.
Hopefully this information put your mind at ease a bit, and hopefully she is doing well right now! If there is anything else I can help with please let me know. Best of luck to the little girl,
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: I was wondering what it meant if she had climbed out of the cage on her own. I had just come upstairs to see her out of her cage and on the floor waddling around. She seems to be getting better but i don't know if her issue will come back. The male, that I've named Goliath, doesn't really seem to bother her. If anything he avoids her when he can. I haven't had much experience with small animals except Hedgehogs and Gerbils. Could she be expecting a litter and "moving" so to speak? I apologize for my pestering but I'd hate to sit around and watch my poor mice stress each other out. I'd appreciate any insight you may have to help me better understand the new additions to the family.
Mice are naturally inquisitive and adventurous. All climbing out of her cage means is that you need to better secure the cage. :)
Even if it doesn't seem like he is bothering her, it only takes a moment to copulate, and your house could very quickly fill up with litters. You will unfortunately need a second, also secure, enclosure. You can still place their cages near each other if separating them makes them sad, but they should not live together. Mice take about 21 days, give or take a couple, to gestate, so you'll need to wait about three and a half weeks after separating them before being sure you don't have babies on the way. If you do have a litter, mom will need to be living by herself at that point and in a stress free environment. If you have any questions about mouse pups please let me know and I'd be happy to help out.
It's great that she seems better! Never feel bad about asking questions. I think I answered everything you wrote about, but if I missed anything or if there is anything else, just gimme a holler and I'll answer whatever you need. :)