Mice/Baby Orphaned Mouse
Last night we found a baby mouse outside of our garage. We searched for its nest but couldn't find it, we plan to keep looking today as well, but we have a feeling it was orphaned.
The mouse seems around 7-10 days old, it has most of it's fur and it's ears have opened. However it's eyes are still shut. I've been feeding it soy milk as no KMR is available (since we found it so late in the evening yesterday all the pet stores/hospitals were closed, and now it's Sunday and the pet store/hospital is still closed). We are making a trip to the city this afternoon to find some KMR so I hope to switch baby mouse to that by this evening.
It is currently living in a little box with cut up tshirts and tissue. There is a heating pad beneath the box to provide the baby heat. I have been feeding it every 2 or so hours, and then stimulating it's belly and genitals. It has been eliminating pretty regularly, however the stool has become less solid since we first found it.
I understand that baby mice are very hard to hand-raise. Perhaps I am being overly cautious but I have a few concerns that I was hoping you might be able to help me with.
1) Since we have been feeding it soy milk, the mouse's stool seems to have become softer. It has changed from a dark brown color to a light brown-yellow color. I understand that this may be expected when switching from mother's formula to soy milk but when does the soft stool become a problem? I've attached a picture of what it's stool looks like right now (sorry in advance! I'm just so anxious!), could you tell me whether it looks normal?
2) The mouse makes little clicking noises whenever it's cozying down to sleep. Is this a sign of respiratory disease? When the mouse is running around in my hand/lap or when I am feeding it I don't think it makes this noise. Also, once it's asleep it stops making that noise as well. I've mostly just noticed it as it starts settling down to sleep.
3) Sometimes when I hold it in my hand to let it run around, the mouse's body will shake from side to side. Is this normal? Does this just indicate that the mouse is cold and needs to be returned to the heated box to sleep/rest? Or is this indicative of a more serious problem?
4) I have been using a slightly damp q-tip to stimulate/clean it's genitals after meal time. I have also used a slightly damp q-tip to brush over it's body, and dry it off with a dry q-tip. But I've noticed that it's belly area, near it's genitals is slightly damp/matted down. I've try to dry it as much as I can but it does not seem to be doing any good. Will this cause a problem for the mouse?
5) Lastly, when we found the mouse it was covered in fleas and what appeared to be mites? I have been able to remove 4 fleas from it's body and there does not seem to be any more. With that being said, I know that parasitic eggs may remain. Do you have a recommendation on how to remove them? I've been a little apprehensive to try anything since the mouse is so small and young, and I figured that it's more important that it stays fed and warm for now.
I know this is a really long question, and I really appreciate you taking the time going through it. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated! I am attaching a picture of the little buddy in case you might be able to identify some other issue with him (or perhaps better determine his age) that I have yet to see.
Thank you so much, and I very much look forward to hearing from you!
ANSWER: Hi Riah,
First, in response to your numbered questions:
1. That is definitely a normal colored stool, though I would hope to see a little more of it by this point. Stool will change shades and texture as the diet adjusts, as you mentioned, and should be soft but able to hold its shape. Runny stool becomes a problem when it comes out like pudding, in which case dehydration becomes a risk, or if the color becomes very dark or bloody.
2. I'm honestly not sure if the clicking during snuggling down is indicative of a URI or something else, but it is abnormal. The problem however is that mice that young cannot receive antibiotics, so the best thing to do is to keep him well hydrated and fed, warm, and watch for signs of worsening - such as clicking at any other point or more frequently. Should anything at all worsen, a vet is the best person to ask for safe antibiotics, as there are a couple of options for pups that are older than newborn but still not 3 months of age.
3. As far as the shaking, does it stop when you replace him in the warmth? Pups of that age are unsteady in general and learning how to move around on their own. Without seeing it I'm afraid I can't guess if he's uncomfortable or simply unsure on his feet.
4. Is he urinating well at every feed? The dampness on his lower belly makes me think he is beginning to figure out how to potty on his own, which is good, but makes it pretty tough to keep him warm. A fluffy bedding like carefresh (or something similar) will help to wick away moisture quickly if he relieves himself in the enclosure. He does not need wiped down except for during pottying sessions, or with a dry q-tip (or finger) when petting after a feed. The other possibility I can think of is if he is a bit of a messy eater, especially if you feed him upright. The biggest risk will be chilling, so making sure he is dry each time you put him back in his enclosure and switching the bedding to something quickly absorbent that doesn't chill as fast as tissue will eliminate most concerns there.
5. That is a tricky one. To the best of my knowledge, flea and mite treatments (such as Revolution, or sprays like 8-in-1) are not safe for mice that young, but neither are parasites. This is an instance where I would call a veterinarian and see if there is a safe alternative, because sometimes they know safe tricks and tips that I simply don't, as I am not a professional. Baths can be dangerous because of chilling, like mentioned before, so if it were me, right now I would pick off visible parasites whenever possible (and kill them) and change the bedding every 2 days. Mites are a bit trickier, but fleas at least do not lay eggs on the mouse - they lay in the bedding. By frequently changing and sanitizing everything in the enclosure, you can keep the population under control until old enough to be treated with a miticide. New bedding can be frozen for 24 hours and then thawed to kill incoming mites, as well.
It looks to me like you were about spot on with your age guesstimate. Actually, it seems to me like you've been doing a positively outstanding job on your own, which is amazing, because like you said - baby mice are TOUGH! Hopefully nothing new has developed since you wrote, and I'm sorry for my delayed response, but if you have any further questions or need more help please feel free to write me back and I'll be sure to check my emails more diligently so you get a prompt reply!
Best of luck!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi Tam,
Thank you so much for your response. Unfortunately, baby mouse has passed since I wrote my question. I can't seem to figure out what went wrong except that his/her damp belly was definitely indicative of a worse problem. I picked the mouse up to be fed, and it urinated *a lot* more than it usually had. Rather than a few drops there was a tiny puddle in my hand and a lot of it got onto it's belly. I tried to dry him off as best I could but every time I checked up on the mouse the belly stayed just as damp. I was worried about dehydration but was not able to give the mouse any electrolyte solution. I wonder if the mouse might have had something wrong with it genetically, which is why momma mouse abandoned it in the first place? Anyway, thank you again for your response. I read through a lot of your responses when I was researching up about mouse care and you are very helpful.
I am so, so sorry to hear about your loss. I'm glad he had you while he did, but I know it's hard when you put so much love into a little guy and he doesn't make it.
I think you are correct - something related to his wet tummy (especially if there was a puddle!!) was likely to blame. It's possible he had something going on with his kidneys, a malformation which put pressure on his bladder or something wrong with the bladder itself, or any number of related internal congenital defects. From what you have described, there is nothing you could have done differently to prevent it - even if it was treatable as an adult, which would surprise me, it would not have been treatable as a pup.
You are also likely right about the momma abandoning him for this reason. Frequently when only one pup is found, it's because the momma could tell something was wrong with it, and chose not to continue expending valuable energy to raise it. Of course, sometimes they are lost on accident, so it's always worth it to try, but it's not an uncommon occurrence by any means.
I'm sorry again to hear about his passing, but I'm so grateful that he had you caring for him in the time he was here. Thank you for doing such a tremendously good job.