Somebody's in time-out.

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Somebody's in time-out. Empty Somebody's in time-out.

Post by lizardtails on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 8:30 am

Alright, so. I'm gonna put full context of the situation here first.

I have a twenty-gallon tank now with four female mice in it--Prompto, Noctis, Gladio, and Ignis. All four of them were bought at the same time from the same tank at a Petco, so they'd already lived together previously, though I don't know how they got along before they came into my care. They all appear to be the same age, though I have no idea if they're related to each other.

I have, on occasion, heard squeaking from the tank at night. I'm under the impression that sometimes mice chase each other just for regular squabbles or for play, and it's not something to always be concerned about if it's not ending in blood? I wasn't always aware who was chasing who though, because usually by the time I turn on a light to look, they've all frozen and are staring at me, or having zoomed into a hidey hole. Undecided I have, however, witnessed one particular chase incident: Prompto chasing Noctis. At the time, it was just a short chase, I don't even remember if there was any squeaking involved, and within a couple of minutes they were back to minding their own respective businesses.

This morning, however, I heard some very vigorous running around the tank, and when I looked, Prompto was chasing Noctis again. As I watched, Prompto chased Noctis into a corner underneath one of the platforms and proceeded to pounce on her when she had nowhere to run. I immediately rushed over to the tank, which seemed to scare Prompto off to hide somewhere. Noctis remained in the corner she'd been chased into, sitting back on her hind feet and holding her hands in front of her and just kinda. Sitting very still, breathing pretty fast. I've read that this is a submissive pose? Anyway, I just stayed there for a minute to look Noctis over since she was in a good spot right next to the glass, seeing if I could see any visible injuries. But after a minute, Prompto came poking back out of the tube she'd hidden in, and after a short sniff around, proceeded to pounce on Noctis again.

At this point I was seriously concerned, and took off the tank lid to break them up properly. I caught Prompto and took her out of the twenty gallon; she's now in a ten gallon tank that I've set up as a proper time-out tank. I also caught Noctis to place her in a clear glass cup so I could check her over fully for injuries and see her belly; as far as I can tell, she's fine, though she's predominantly a black mouse so it's kinda hard for me to tell. I ran my fingers over her as much as she'd let me--she's not completely tame yet so she's very wiggly--and I didn't feel anything that seemed off.

So, my questions: Is this something to be genuinely concerned about? How long should I keep Prompto separated? Should I continue to separate them if I catch Prompto chasing Noctis again or even vice versa? (I ask this one because I've read that sometimes the bullied mouse can turn on the aggressor.) And are there any signs I should keep an eye out for before separating someone out from the group permanently? Sad

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Post by Peachy on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 8:50 am

How new are your platforms? I know it seems like a silly small thing to humans, but I’ve seen platforms and shelves cause troubles like this. Sometimes it just takes a bit of time for everyone to get all their ducks back in a row. Sometimes (in my case with a shelf) the new things need to removed.

There’s countless other things it could be. I’d give the bully a time out for a few days and then plop her back in. Don’t separate the bullied. I would only consider a permanent split if the chasing is relentless and mice are being excluded from the colony resources (nest, food bowl, water, etc).

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Post by lizardtails on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 8:53 am

Additional note: I don't think I'm at a point where I need to separate them permanently. This is technically only the second time I've caught Prompto chasing Noctis around, and it only concerned me enough to separate them because Prompto was being persistent about it; still, as far as I can tell, Noctis hasn't actually been hurt. From watching videos on Youtube by the channel CreekValleyCritters, I'm under the impression that some time apart can make a mouse change it's mind on whether it wants to be so aggressive, give everyone time to cool off, and upon reintroduction everyone can be fine again? I just want to know what to look out for just in case it ever reaches that extreme point. I don't want to notice things too late and wind up with a seriously injured mouse. =C

I meant to add this here, by posted it to the wrong thread by mistake. Oops. ^^;

Is two or three days really ok? Another friend told me that too long apart might cause the mice to squabble as they re-establish the pecking order. They are self-professed to be out of practice though.

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Post by Peachy on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 9:57 am

Usually time outs are a few hours to a few days. If it had been a couple weeks I’d do a proper reintroduction, but a couple days should be just enough for her to want her friends back.

In the future I would only separate for timeouts if it’s ongoing squabbles that seems to really mess with “quality of life.” Being separated and reintroduced can be stressful and frustrating and contribute to issues. Sometimes squabbles happen, and it’s totally normal and something that they need to work out.

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Post by lizardtails on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 11:25 am

Ooooh, I see. I guess I was overreacting then, huh? I'm just still so new to this, and whkle I really wanted a community of animals with different personalities, I'm still so nervous about the possibility of somebody getting hurt! Thank you very much for the advice!

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Post by MerciToujoursMaPetiteBoop on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 2:07 pm

Not that I want to tell you how to live your mousie-caretaker life, and not that I expect anybody else to put any trust in my cosmic hippie attitudes, but I have found that situations always seem to be calmer for an animal I interact with if I am mellow myself. Just don't worry so much, be confident in yourself around your new little friends, treat them as though everything is always très cool and under control, and hope your zen will calm their zens!

Maybe there will still be chasing and fighting, but even so you will be much better prepared to deal with it.

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Post by Peachy on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 11:04 pm

@MerciToujoursMaPetiteBoop wrote:I have found that situations always seem to be calmer for an animal I interact with if I am mellow myself.  Just don't worry so much, be confident in yourself around your new little friends, treat them as though everything is always très cool and under control, and hope your zen will calm their zens!
Laughing I’ve been more into dogs/dog sports than mice lately and have had the same idea drilled into my head by instructors and trainers! My dog is so in tune with me that I have to be super careful about even “small” things like stuffing my hands in my pockets. My dog is reactive to strangers and if I start to get anxious about a stranger coming up he’s more likely to start growling and barking before we get to his usual threshold. Very interesting!

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