Bewildered on Death of Pet Mouse; Need Direction

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Bewildered on Death of Pet Mouse; Need Direction Empty Bewildered on Death of Pet Mouse; Need Direction

Post by AnimalAdvocate on Wed 20 Feb 2019, 8:58 am

Story of Mini, Minee and Moe. Last December I was walking through the pet store and saw two mice fighting over the water spigot and realized there was no water in the bottle. I called management over and notified them of their ill-care of these mice. There were three in the cage and I brought them all home with me. I have 4 dogs, 10 cats, 2 guinea pigs, 1 hamster and 7 rats, but I have never owned mice. This was a new experience for me.


I quickly learned of the constant need to keep the cage clean due to smell. I bought an air purifier for the room and since it's winter, I run the humidifier several hours a day. What to feed them was difficult because everything I read was contradicting every other article. Yes, feed them celery. No, don't feed them celery. You get the point. I stuck to carrots, celery deveined, apples, blueberries, bananas, broccoli and cauliflower.

After cleaning out their cage thoroughly washing it every 7 to 8 days (just changing the bedding every 4) I'd give them coconut based yogurt so they could produce poop they could eat, was my thinking, you know, kind of replenish what I had just cleaned out.

Two weeks after purchasing them, Mini (grey haired) started losing his fur by his tail. I knew from reading I'd have to go to the vet. The vet took some scrapings and sent me home with medication for all three mice for mites. I can't recall the name of the medicine but I was to give them 1 dose once a week for three weeks. It worked! Within 2 weeks, Mini started growing back his hair. No more problems with that afterwards.

Here we are about 2.5 months later. I did my thorough washing and decided to give them seeds as a snack instead of yogurt. I noticed the next morning there was not much poop or pee and neither Mini nor Minee were running the wheel (Moe has always just pretty much been low keyed, coming out of his hut to grab food or water and then go back in).

That evening I noticed Minee (brown haired) was standing by the water spigot just drinking water, kind of hunched over. The next morning he was away from the other mice and in a corner. He was the most active of the three. I prodded him and he did not move. I thought he was dead. I picked him up (he would never like me to touch him before) and he didn't struggle this time.

I had to go into work early that day. I thought it might have been from the seeds or not giving them yogurt, maybe he was constipated. I read about giving them 50/50 kyro syrup and warm water to help with constipation. When I got home from work that afternoon, Minee was barely moving and would not take any liquids, even from a syringe. He was extremely cold to the touch. I knew he would pass soon and he did, within minutes.

I examined his body and to my bewilderment he had huge scabs all over his body under his hair. It was like feeling the back of a reptile. He had blood shot veins on the base of his tail as well as his back legs. Was this something contagious?? What the heck do I do with the other two mice??

I called the vet because I wanted to bring the corpse so he could tell me possible causes of death but he was not in and would not be in until later that week. I examined Moe (after washing my hands of course) and he seemed fine. He has longer hair (black) than the other two. As for Mini, he won't let me catch him to examine him but to the eye he seems fine. Minee (deceased) looked fine too visually. It was only after he died that I saw the scabs.

This is now day 2 after Minee dying. I bought this cage extender that lies flat so that when the mice are in there, I can get a good view of them. Mini is looking normal, but Moe seems to be breathing heavy and he's scratching, but I can't tell if that's normal grooming. I never noticed the heavy breathing before because he's always in his hutch, at least 95% of the time. Funds are low at this time and it would cost $100 to take both of them to the vet for an exam.

I'm heartbroken. I don't know what to do. The cage mates have already been exposed to whatever Minee had, so now it's a matter of watch and wait?? My daughter tells me that Minee had a good 2.5 months because he surely would have died at the hands of the pet store's neglect or sold as a feeder to snakes, but I can't let it rest until I know a possible cause/explanation as to death and until I can make sure my other two are as safe as I can make them.

If anybody has any idea on how I should proceed and/or any idea as to what might have caused the death of Minee, I would sure appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

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Post by MouseLover on Wed 20 Feb 2019, 11:05 am

@AnimalAdvocate I'm so sorry for your loss Sad An unexpected death is so upsetting. I'm not a vet, and I haven't been able to examine Minee myself, so obviously I can't tell you for definite why Minee died.

First, just to clear something up. Was their diet only the things you mentioned above (the fruit/veggies, coconut yoghurt and occasional seeds)? Whilst most of us give our mice fresh fruit and veggies, it is not the staple of their diet. It's recommended to feed mice either a nutritionally complete seed mix, lab-block or a mixture of both, unless you're experienced enough in mice/their nutrition to know how to make your own nutritionally complete mixtures. Mice are omnivores and need a pretty varied diet, including some occasional animal protein. If you were only feeding the items mentioned, it's possible that their diet wasn't nutritionally complete, though sorry if I misunderstood that. If you were mostly feeding fresh fruit/veg, did they have access to it constantly? As mice have very fast metabolisms and need constant access to food, which is another reason why a dry mix is better for mice (as it won't go bad if left in their cage for a couple days). Also, unlike guinea pigs or rabbits mice don't need to eat their own poop, and I've never seen any of mine do it.

Second, I wanted to ask about the sex/gender of your mice. Are you certain that they are boys? Unfortunately male mice usually don't do well living together. In nature, a male mouse would have a territory where he lived with other females, and he would defend that territory from other males. So because of this instinct, one males reach maturity they will often start to fight, which often results in one or more mouse being injured or sadly, killed. Is it possible that the scabs on Minee's back were bite marks, and that he was being bullied by one of the other mice? If he was being bullied, it could have contributed to his death, either by the injuries, or if another mouse was preventing him from accessing food, water, a warm place to sleep etc.

Last, you mentioned being in a hutch. Is this hutch an indoor hutch, or an outdoor hutch? It's not recommended to keep mice outdoors for a few reasons. They are pretty fragile little creatures, and drafts or sudden drops in temperature can mean that they become ill. Ideally I'd say they'd be kept above 10 degrees celcius (above 50 degrees farenheit), indoors away from any drafty windows, with plenty of soft bedding to make nests in (like ripped up tissues). Being indoors also means you see them more and can spot health issues more quickly.

I hope that something I said was helpful, and hopefully you've identified a problem that you can fix so that the other mice will be okay. If not, hopefully someone else will be along to make other suggestions. It really sucks to have a mouse die and not know why Sad

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Post by AnimalAdvocate on Wed 20 Feb 2019, 12:26 pm

Thank you for your reply!
I feed my rats Oxbow rat food and the pet store said the mice could eat that as well. It has a lower protein ratio than Oxbow's Mouse & Young Rat food. However, about a month later, I bought Oxbow's Mouse & YR food and gave them both kinds. Not sure that was a good idea.

They would always have the Oxbow staple food 24/7. I would add a small amount of fruit and veggies in the evenings with a couple of cheerios. In the morning only a couple of cheerios with their staple food. I was afraid of overdoing it and giving them the runs with too much fruit/veggies. About every 7 to 8 days they'd get the coconut based yogurt (nondairy) after their house washing/cleaning.

Every once in a while I'd see Mini chasing the other two around and humping them, but most of the time they'd be sleeping together or co-existing. I have two cages that connect with each other. Each cage has its own wheel, house/hutch, water and food bowl.

Now that Minee is gone, I see Mini following Moe around. I raised two male dumbo rats together and they did fine. I figures since these three were at the store together maybe they came from the same breeder and would do well growing up. I could have been sorely wrong.

They are kept inside and in the winter the house temp is kept at about 71 degrees Fahrenheit. The room the mice are kept in might be a little cooler but not less than 69 degrees.

I've never read so much mixed messages about what to feed mice. Oxbow is supposed to be a great brand, but according to what I read it's high in protein. I have my regiment down with rats. In fact, I can rescue them from a pet store where they are sneezing and looking quite frail, give them the right fruit and veggies to get them getting natural vitamins, and then introduce the coconut milk-based yogurt, Goji berry powder and Echinacea liquid drops in a specific schedule and, boom, within 3 to 4 weeks they are healthy and no more sneezing. But to be honest, these mice have been challenging because I'm unsure what/how to feed them. If you have a list or source you trust, please forward or point me to it.

I called my vet and he's in surgery today, but they said I could drop off the mice so he can look at them between appts. Otherwise, he won't be back in for several days. I've opted to go ahead and do that, leaving him a detailed note of what has happened. I don't know where I'll get the $ but I'm sure my daughters will help me on this one if I ask.

I will post on what he says. Maybe my experience will help someone else. Thank you again, Mouse Lover.

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Post by MouseLover on Thu 21 Feb 2019, 6:44 am

Male rats and male mice are pretty different. I know male rats can usually live with their brothers, and often even with non-related males if introductions are done right. But male mice are pretty different in this regard. In pet shops, the males that you see together are usually babies or juveniles. Fighting between males will often not start until they're fully mature (a bit like with syrian hamsters who you will often see kept together at pet shops, but shouldn't be kept with other syrians). It's not uncommon at all for them to seem to get on well, sleep and cuddle together, and then start to fight, even if they're from the same litter. It's a bit of a controversial subject in the "mouse community", and some people will try and keep males together. But I've seen too many people whose mice ended up permanently disfigured or even dead, to ever recommend it. Most reputable breeders will only sell males alone, for this reason. Having two connected cages could actually make this even more likely, as there are kinda two different "territories" that the mice could try and claim as their own.

Most pet shop mice will need around 12-14% protein. If they're big show-type mice, they may tolerate more. Too much protein can cause itching, skin issues, and a greasy looking coat. I'm not personally familiar with Oxbow as I'm from the UK and I don't think we get it here. But I have heard that the adult rat mix has a more appropriate protein level for mice than the actual mouse mix does. The forum has a couple of pages on mouse diet advice (Link Here) and safe/unsafe foods for mice (Link Here). Hopefully you will find those helpful.

Hopefully your vet will have some answers for you. I've had mice die before for seemingly no apparent reason and it made me feel terribly guilty, even though I was doing my best for them. They are very fragile little things, especially typical pet shop or feeder mice, so it does happen sometimes.

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