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Hi Tamarah,

My wife and daughter rescued three farm mice after their home was destroyed by farming equipment.

They were maybe two or three days old.

After hand feeding them, and caring for them, one died and the other two did well and grew to adulthood.

We were under the impression that they were both males (a vert checked them out and told us so), but we discovered to out surprise a few days ago that they were in fact a male and female, after we noticed one of the mice staying out of the house all the time, and when we checked the house, found the female (previously thought to be male) with two infants.

We are now left with a problem in so much that we do not know what to do.

Should we keep them all and perhaps neuter any males, or should we set them free into the wild. We live in Israel and sadly there is no experienced vet there who has performed this sort of procedure, so we would be chancing it if we did chose to go down that path.

I am worried that since we have had the parents since they were really small (babies), and we feed them daily on rodent food, carrot, cucumber etc, that they would (the parents) not know how to find food in the wild themselves and they would all die because of that.

Although I understand it's mice, and these are by nature, being feral mice, more apt to that life, I would hate to put them somewhere knowing I am leaving them to die.

On the other hand, I can't have the parents continue to breed as we would have no way to manage that.

So, we would really appreciate any suggestions you could give us on this.

Many thanks,

Mike and Sari Glassman
Israel

Answer
Hi Mike and Sari,

Have you already separated the male?  That should be the first step, as females can ovulate the same night they give birth.  Gestation takes approximately 21 days, so it's possible she could have another litter while still feeding the first litter.  She will then go into estrus every five days or so, although this might be irregular during nursing.  To minimize how many chances he has to get her pregnant, definitely separate him right away if you haven't already.

My suggestion would be to keep them as long as she is still nursing the pups.  If she has another litter, you may need to keep her even longer.  However, pups that have weaned enough to eat AND drink on their own (usually 4-5 weeks of age) and the father can be released outdoors a good distance from your property, in an area with a little cover to protect them from aerial predators until they get their bearings.  The good news is that it takes several generations of domestication to impact their instincts.  Even though they have been raised with you, they should not have any problems finding food, water, or shelter.   The only reason they would not thrive would be if they had a medical problem or were too young at the time you released them, which is why I say the pups should be eating and drinking entirely on their own first.

Keep in mind that male pups can impregnate mom as well as early as two months of age, so when they are weaned, it would be a good idea to remove them from her cage.  You can send me photos if you need help identifying their gender (either place them on a clear surface and take a picture from beneath, or gently lift their tail and snap a photo of their bum), or this link has photo examples and should help:  http://www.thefunmouse.com/info/sexing.cfm

Neutering is unfortunately not an option for the majority of the world.  Because of how tiny mice are, anesthesia is very risky, so most veterinarians will not attempt it.  You can keep them if you want to, but males will have to each be housed individually at adulthood, and you'll have to decide for yourself if they are happy or not being in enclosures.  Because of those same strong instincts, many rescued wild mice do not find living in a cage to be stress-free.  That decision is yours to make, because you know them a lot better than I do!

Hopefully this helps you figure out what to do, but if you have more questions please let me know!
Best of luck,
-Tam

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Tamarah

Expertise

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: http://www.rmca.org/Articles/orphans.htm Orphaned Mice Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/CreekValleyCritters/videos?query=raising Natasha's Your First Mouse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNK4uqNZTbA&feature=share General Mouse Help: http://www.fancymice.info/ Mouse Info and Exotic Breeds: http://www.hiiret.fi/eng/species/

Experience

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!

Organizations
East Coast Mouse Association - expired, American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association - expired

Education/Credentials
Partial University for a B.S. in Microbiology, Partial University for a 2-year degree in Veterinary Technology (RVT cert), C.E. classes in pathogens, aseptic technique, genetics, and applications

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