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Mice/Re: Sick Wild Mouse


Last night, a friend of mine found a very sick wild mouse (they named her Olive) in their house and brought her over to me to look at. I am quite experienced with mice but could not tell for sure what was wrong with Olive. Maybe you have an idea.

She was lying on her side, seeming unable to walk, hardly moving. She was breathing heavily and shaking and seemed in a lot of pain. There were several spots on her skin that looked irritated (slightly red and she was scratching them a lot) and her fur was soaking wet. My friend said that Olive had been dry when they first found her, but had gotten increasingly wetter since then. No one knew where the wet might be coming from, but we guessed that Olive could have a fever and be sweating a lot. What do you think?

My best guess of what could be wrong with Olive is that my friend's cat could have hurt her and then left her. There is no bleeding or physical sign of injury except the red irritated spots, but the cat could have caused internal bleeding or something, right?

Unfortunately, my friend was in a hurry to get home and, although she cared about Olive, she didn't seem that commited to doing what it would take to save her. I told the friend to dry Olive off, keep her warm, and give her yogurt water (2 parts water to 1 part yogurt) every 2 hours to keep her hydrated, but the friend said it was past her bedtime and she would care for Olive in the morning. I wish I had been able to keep Olive and care for her better. ),:

Do you have any ideas of what could be wrong and what we could do?

Thank you,

ANSWER: Hi Miriam,

I am so sorry to hear about how it's going so far with the mouse.  Is it okay today?  As you probably already know, a vet is the best way to find out if there are internal injuries, what's going on with the irritated spots, and to find out the best course of action.  The following are just my thoughts, but I cannot diagnose anything definitively from what I know currently.

There are two main causes of her symptoms that come immediately to mind (although, I am not a veterinarian, so these are not the ONLY two causes I'm sure).  One is trauma, as you guessed.  It's certainly possible the mouse was injured by the cat, or even other animals (such as rats in the walls, or a rival mouse, for example).  In this case, the mouse would need to be seen professionally immediately to evaluate.  At home, all you can really do is try to make it comfortable, but a veterinarian can identify injuries and prescribe medications that may help ease her pain.

The second possible cause that comes to mind is interaction with something chemical that caused skin damage and possibly nerve damage.  Many household products are poisonous to mice, and some harsh cleaning or pest prevention chemicals can cause chemical burns that would certainly hurt quite a bit.  Not all chemicals need to be ingested to cause damage - some can be absorbed through the skin.  I would look around where she was found to see if you can identify any risks - are there pest treatments around?  Spilled or open cleaning products?  Was the yard or house recently treated for insects or anything else?  These clues can help point you in the right direction, and will be extremely valuable information to bring to the vet's attention.  Depending on the chemical, you might be able to calm the skin with a bath (via wash cloth, not submersion), but I would want to try to identify any possible exposures first.

What to do for the mouse is going to depend on what state it is in currently.  If it is eating, then watching for changes/clues, feeding and hydrating, and keeping him comfortable is the best thing besides a vet visit.  If NOT eating, it will need to be seen by a vet, as it may need fluids or even tube feeding to survive.  It cannot survive without eating.  You might also consider placing a heating pad beneath its enclosure on its lowest "warm" setting, so it does not chill too much if it is still trembling.

With respect to the wetness, mice only sweat through their feet, so the wetness could be from grooming or possibly from exudate draining from abrasion wounds/chemical burns.  It's extremely concerning that there is enough dampness to cause the mouse to become soaking wet when it started dry.  That kind of wetness can also cause life threatening temperature loss.  I really can't stress enough that if the mouse is still alive, it needs to see a vet immediately.

Hopefully this info helped in some way, but please let me know if you have any other questions.  I'm glad your friend has you to help guide her in what to do.  Best of luck,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your answer.
Olive made it through the first night, amazingly! My friend said she was doing a little better in the morning; she's still not walking, but she had dried off and was eating on her own (at first she wouldn't eat on her own but would accept food from us). I totally didn't expect her to live through the night, she was so sick and wet (I know, it was very strange and concerning that she got so wet). I haven't heard from my friend yet this morning, but she said she'd keep me updated so I'm expecting her to call soon.

I know the vet would be the best thing, but I don't think that's an option for my friend, both because my friend doesn't have that kind of money and because I don't think there are any vets in our area that will see mice (I've tried to find one in the past for my pet mice and had no luck).

I highly doubt that there is a strong chemical in my friend's house or lawn that Olive could have gotten into, since my friend uses natural products only. She would never spray her lawn or clean with harsh chemicals. However, it is possible, I suppose, that Olive got into some essential oil (oil from plants that, although natural and safe for humans, is very powerful and could cause harm to a mouse). The next time I talk to my friend I will ask if there was any essential oil around.

I told my friend that the mouse should stay extra warm with a heating pad or something, but as I said, she isn't very commited and is not willing to go of her way much other than feeding, watering and cage cleaning. :(

It seems there's not much I can do except hope for Olive to recover. This would probably take a miracle, but miracles are possible! :)

I'll keep you updated.


Good thing about the natural products!  That makes it much more likely that it was trauma, which, since she's made it this far, seems possible to recover from.  As far as someone to see the mouse professionally, you could also try (if you haven't yet) your state's forestry and wildlife website.  Many of them include a listing of wildlife rehabilitators and what they work with - you might be able to find free medical help in that manner.  Worth asking, at least?

Definitely keep me updated.  My fingers are crossed for little Olive!



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