Took in an orphaned deer mouse (Central Valley, CA)

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Took in an orphaned deer mouse (Central Valley, CA)

Post by mouseinthehouse on Thu Jun 15, 2017 1:45 pm

First let me thank you for the wealth of information and links contained on this site. These were instrumental in the successful rearing of my little baby deer mouse. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did recounting and writing this (it got a bit long I'll admit).

The story...

I was sitting on my porch one night when I heard the faintest of chirping from some random direction. I looked around, shrugged, assumed it was rabbits or birds, and went about my business (relaxing Smile). When I came outside again later, I heard it again. This time, I could tell it was coming from under the house, through the vents at the bottom of the sills. I got my flashlight out and shined it underneath... sure enough, there was this tiny wriggling thing in the middle of the barren dirt, struggling, crying for mom.  I had recently caught/released a few mice from my garage so I immediately felt this sinking feeling of guilt: I had probably taken its mother away, about a 1/4 mile, and she wouldn't be returning. :/ So I deliberated: do I want this responsibility? Can I get away with rearing a baby animal which needs constant care and attention? Would it be cruel to just allow nature to take its course? I've never done this before, will I be successful?

I decided to do it, based mostly on guilt but also on the fact that I could not live with myself if I simply let it perish under the house. I just moved to this place and have been determined to live with nature, not against it. As I had already intervened in an attempt to clean up the garage, I grabbed some gloves, a box, a towel, my shoes, a flashlight and took the plunge through the crawl space entrance. She was about as far away as possible from that entrance, so it took some wriggling on my part to get under the pipes and what-not but eventually, I had her in hand. Squeaking and squiggling she seemed immediately comforted by the warmth of my palm, so I gently placed her in the box, verbally assured her it would be ok (lol), and crawled out from under the house.



Videos (day 1):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8T3RcXq2AQ


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mLVJDk8o7Q


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Dk4YDkrNd4



She weighed in at just under 3 grams on day 2 (when I remembered I had a scale), the tiniest animal I've ever held no doubt (though perhaps this stunned hummingbird I found one time was a bit lighter; don't worry it woke up and flew off eventually). I guessed at her sex, actually as a male since I'm male I suppose. A few days and some googling later I determined she was in fact female.

She looked emaciated but not terribly so, and I felt some hope for her. Her eyes were tightly closed but she had some baby fur. No teeth yet that I could tell. Up in the kitchen, I immediately grabbed some q-tips and water and started trying to get her to take in some hydration. She naturally suckled on the q-tip without delay, and I was very happy. She seemed to be a real fighter, and I hoped I could keep her going for the night whilst I vigorously searched the net for anything I could find on how to care for orphaned mice. That's how I found your awesome community here!

So it went, every 1-2 hours I would check on her, hydrate her, feed her, hold her. She loved being pet with q-tips and I braved it once or twice without the gloves so she could get my scent and feel the warmth better. In the night I made a run to the local late night grocery, picked up some Pedialyte and Enfamil (liquid), a heating pad, some modeling paintbrushes, etc. I had read that you should avoid the "iron added" types of Enfamil but I had no choice at this store and it's about 11pm, so I grabbed it. I would later replace this with KMR (liquid), still diluted to about 1/2 strength.

After the first 2 days of this, I'm running thin on REM sleep but we're still going. She's improving, has more energy, crawls into my hand instantly when I approach her (now a shoebox) home. I've been doing all I can; stimulating her bathroom movements, gently feeding her, keeping the food to liquid still, cleaning and sterilizing like a mad crazy person. I picked up some CareFresh bedding (they only had the gray stuff — more on that later) and tore up a bunch of tissue/paper towels for her to sleep in. She made a tiny nest despite not being able to see, and hunkered down. I was using a fine-tip paintbrush to administer the food (thanks to CreekValleyCritters' youtube videos for the tips on this, it works a treat). She would take 8-10 dips before she was full, then she'd pass out in my hand. Once she had a handle on that (a couple days later) I decided to try something with a little more volume capacity. I had a bottle of peppermint oil with a glass eye dropper, so I removed the bulb and cleaned it thoroughly, and found it made a brilliant little pipette (just dip it in the liquid food and let her lick it drop by drop at her own pace).



She was pretty immediately able to learn this, and enjoyed lapping up droplets off my fingers and hand as well. A couple of times she reared back with her mouth open and I would get worried, but she always came back without an issue. I think this learning was instrumental in her success later because she took so easily to a small bowl of cooked oats as her first "solid" food. She also started opening her eyes at this point, well one eye as the other was slower to respond. It made for an adorable stink eye look. Wink



So, at this point we're on day 3 or 4, and I'm starting to take notice of her bathroom movements not being that peanut-butter consistency (really since the beginning). I figured this was baby mouse norm, nothing to worry about. Things were looking "ok" according to internet research, some yellowish with brown liquidy output, no real urine that I could discern though. Further research reveals that KMR isn't nearly the correct proportions of protein/fat/lactose that a baby mouse gets from her mum, but it's all I have access to so I just keep my fingers crossed. In an effort to improve her situation, I decided to go to Petco and pick up a 20gal tank and some supplies/toys/etc. for her. I figured I might as well invest now so I can take care of the future critters who end up abandoned/orphaned around my house (squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, voles, mice, everything really). She took to the tank pretty well, made a little nest in one of the toys and I figured we were home-free sans the hand feedings every 2-3 hours (at this point).

I finally left the house to go get some dinner and drinks with a friend like a normal person (though I never really took my mind off her tbh), only to return to my baby mouse curled up in her bed and barely able to move. I couldn't decide if she was just extremely tired or what, so I gently scooped her up and tried to get her to eat/drink. She wasn't having it. I said, "dammit this is that hump the internet told me about with these babies." I assume it was dehydration, as once I got her to finally take a few drops of liquid she perked back up, albeit lethargic and shaky with poor balance. I held her for an hour and tried to get her to drink as much as possible. Bottom line is, she made it through this.

I think moving her to the tank plus the constant feedings created a lot of stress for her, maybe that caused the dehydration, maybe it just put her into shock mode, I don't know. But one thing I learned is to never let her go too long without a check-up, while being as minimally invasive as possible. It really is a fine balancing act between keeping her alive and comforting her in hand at this point.

Carrying on, a couple more days go by and her fur is starting to fill out. She's gaining some weight too, we're up to 3.8-4.0g depending on the time of day. I started weighing her in and out pre/post feeding; she's taking in 0.2-0.3g of liquid each time. I thought, "wow, this is really going to work!".

The next day (let's call it day 5, I can hardly recall) I noticed she has a wet bum. It's not terrible, but it's damp. She's cleaning herself and nothing seems to help. I had been cleaning her with a wet q-tip (whiskers, belly when she'd let me, her tail and back legs as they seemed to be getting a lot of feces on them). She's also starting to squeak every time she passes a movement, and doesn't like me touching her legs or tail or bum anymore. I took this as probably being diarrhea causing skin and orifice irritations. (sigh) What could I do about this? I was always so gentle with the q-tips, so I decided it wasn't my influence.

I stayed vigilant. I rubbed her belly after feedings gently with my index finger (though she was not distended nor bloated). I kept cleaning her, despite her clearly not liking it. I never had to hold her too firmly, I just got stubborn and kept at it. She'd spin around in my hand faster than my eyes could keep up, looking at me as if to say, "What the hell are you doing to me?!". A wet fluffed up q-tip, dry with a fluffy dry one, back at it with another wet one the another dry one. Some pets on the head and behind the ears in between helped quell her stress. They're like dogs and cats I found out; you scratch behind their ears and the rear legs start fluttering. Smile This went on twice a day (so as not to overly irritate her) after feeding (still every 3-4 hours at this point) for 2 days and I imagine it was indeed quite stressful for her. I reduced the dilution of her food a bit, including more KMR. I figured more solids = more solid output. I'm no vet so this was a shot in the dark, and I'm pretty sure it worked but then -- constipation hit. She was squeaking like before, but not passing anything. This all happened in the span of a day. I switched back to Pedialyte and less KMR, and more frequent (hourly or 1/2 hourly if I could do it) feedings. That was a worrisome night for me. But by the next day I noticed her fur starting to improve. She wasn't irritated or squeaking much anymore when using the bathroom. She had recovered on her own! I was ready to take her to the local wildlife rescue if she ever became lethargic or unresponsive, but she never did. She never refused a drink or food, and never let me down on the energy front. About this time her second eye became fully open too. Progress!!

It's now been 8 days since I found her, and she weighed in at 5.3g this morning, and 5.8g (!) tonight. She's making little peanut butter dots everywhere and urinating clear, with no squeaks. We're down to twice a day check-ups (keeping the stress low) and she still comes running to my hand as soon as I put it down near her bedding. She's living in the big tank again now, after moving out of her shoe box and into a Critter Carrier because she was starting to get climbey and jumpy. I have cats in the house so we couldn't have that obviously. She has her own room and has taken well to the oats/oatmeal and pet-store mouse food. It's only been a couple days so I'm still very concerned and keeping a close eye on her (re: movements, wet bum, hydration), but all signs point to success. I'll continue to weigh her in/out and make sure she's ultra comfy and energetic. She deserves it after going through all of this. My hope is that one day she'll be mature and ready to live the wild life she was meant for. But if not, she's welcome to stay indefinitely. And if the worst happens, I'm prepared.

I decided her name is Ms. Mouse. Smile

Here's her house:




Videos (day 8 ):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC7O1CvNNgU


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTJQWdFkzn0


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWwLLvAGX6U



Some learnings, tips, newbish advice

In case someone else stumbles upon this thread looking for similar answers/advice, I submit the following as what I learned from this experience (please feel free to suggest changes or additions btw!):

1) be safe and wear gloves; one of the first things to read up on is Hantavirus and Lyme. It's hard to tell if you've got a deer mouse or not, but be safe anyhow. There are other things they vector, be aware of them, most don't show any signs in the mouse itself.

2) do search the internet but only rely on information you see repeated in multiple places, backed up by real people discussing things on places like this forum. I'm not so keen on eHow articles or anything like that but perhaps you can garner some tips from them from time to time. Call around to your local wildlife rescue and ask questions if you can; they will hesitate to give you advice but you might be able to coax some information out of them to put you on the right path if you're having a problem (for example, I got tipped off that the KMR formulation isn't a match for mice, duh). You'll have some ‘duh' moments too, it's ok.

3) avoid the "natural" Critter Care / CareFresh bedding; I found it has small wood chips mixed in with the paper because it's the cheap stuff (I presume); the fluffy pure white stuff is probably the better way to go but I ended up shredding paper towels/tissues/toilet paper myself. I also bought a ream of plain white copy paper and put some through the shredder (contrary to the internet, it came out with soft edges, no sharp ones). I thought I was doing the right thing buying the "unbleached" gray CareFresh stuff, but it turns out that's not the case; they're all "unbleached" and one is just higher grade than the other with NO WOOD shards. I swear I picked a splinter out of her bum one time. Sad It made me very upset.

4) if you're not comfortable/able to put in the required 1-2 hour checkups/feedings, DO take baby to the local wildlife rescue. They are usually "(your county name) wildlife rescue", just google it. They'll probably give you an ID # so you can track your baby's progress to release back into the wild. My local actually brings them back to where they were found, for release. Otherwise prepare for a week or two of no contiguous sleep. It's worth it!

5) do prepare for the worst. I didn't get attached to her (well, fully anyhow) until about day 6, it was just too risky for me emotionally. I was all business up until then, basically working off my guilt, but she has warmed my heart regardless. Every time I checked on her I prepared for the worst, and lucky me I was pleasantly surprised.

6) keep your hands and work area clean; rubbing alcohol (away from baby) and lots of disposable paper towels will make this easy. Sanitize your sink and surrounding area (and brush/sponge) each time you use it. In fact if you can help it, don't use your kitchen for any of this.



7) prepare a home for your baby if you intend to help it to maturity. Keep it in a dark room for now, with a heating pad and definitely a thermometer that can read inside the box. As you might end up reading in your research, put a towel between the heating pad and the box. Make sure 1/2 the box is OFF the heating pad so she can move to a cooler location if need be. Heating pads are horribly inaccurate and get very hot cycling on/off even on low. Don't ignore this, you could end up in a really bad spot. I've found that now she's in a room with a window, the day/night cycle is working its magic and she sleeps most of the day, and is pretty actively nest building/caching food at night. She's definitely harder to wake up before I go to work than before I go to bed. Smile

Some supplies you may want to keep on hand during all of this:

  • clean (perhaps bottled if your tap isn't great) water and Pedialyte (I also made my own Pedialyte using this recipe, as I was out and she was in dire need: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/homemade-Pedialyte/)
  • KMR liquid or a better substitute (I contacted PetAG and they recommended the Zoologic 30/52 for Canyon Mice, which is as close to a recommendation as I could get from any wildlife center or vet; it's on Amazon btw). There's also PetAG Multi-Milk. Simply put very few professionals will give you advice about wild rodent care. I did not get a chance to try this Zoologic before weaning though.
  • q-tips for cleaning baby up (she doesn't know how at first really, and she may need help)
  • small bowls for cleaning your feeding tools, and separate bowls for clean water to clean her
  • I liked the modeling paintbrush food distribution method; she never complained and was able to suckle on them easily even though she was so tiny. I got a set at the store for like $5 in various sizes. Q-tips work too until they start pulling them apart with their gums. I do not like the plunger-style droppers or anything that forces the liquid out, recipe for disaster if you ask me.
  • disposable gloves, and plenty of them
  • rubbing alcohol (I put it in a spray bottle) for sanitizing surfaces, I used 91% strength
  • bedding material (purchased or make your own as I did)
  • a warm room or heating pad, thermometer (I used my Alton Brown bbq probe thermometer so I could see the temp at the bedding level inside her box)
  • toilet paper/paper towel tubes; baby will enjoy these and make a nest inside. They're like tunnels for them.


Some feeding/drinking/bedding tips...

  • Pedialyte is good for 48 hours once opened; KMR 72 hours. I wouldn't disregard this.
    I chose KMR liquid because I didn't need to worry about overdosing this way, it was always dilute and the small cans weren't too pricey anyhow
  • ultra-small dishes so baby doesn't drown in water or food; they will spill frequently, just top em up and keep the bedding dry/replaced -- try bottle tops and jam jar lids as suggested by CreekValleyCritters
  • go easy on the feeding, patience is the key, it will take some time to master and you need some fine motor skills with your hands. You do not want to get food/liquid on baby's nose nor force anything into her mouth as she may choke. It will take time, each feeding; just keep improving. I fed her until she wouldn't eat anymore; by day 3-4 her belly would get kinda plump and she'd have a nap in my hand Smile
  • if dehydration/not eating/drinking occurs, try just wetting baby's lips a little. This woke mine up from what seemed like a death spiral and she started drinking again when I thought all was lost. If all else fails, get to the wildlife rescue/rehab center immediately, this is a dire time and you literally have an hour or two to rectify things
  • if constipation occurs, I found lots of water/Pedialyte/very little formula was our ticket out of trouble, but if it goes on for more than a day or two and she's losing energy I again recommend going to the local wildlife rescue asap
  • clean the bedding frequently; I found I could clean up her tiny house (shoe box or critter carrier) in about 2 minutes just by picking out the dirty stuff. Replenish with additional torn up paper towels/toilet paper/etc.
  • don't use separated cotton balls in her bedding; they get stuck to baby's bum and that's not going to be comfortable; she does however enjoy whole cotton balls and hauls them around to her liking
  • do leave a small bowl of water mixed with a little Pedialyte (I guess I'm doing about 80%/20%) in it in her home just in case you're late to feed her or something, hopefully she'll find it and drink a bit so as not to dehydrate
  • I weaned her as soon as I saw teeth, with straight rolled oats (Quaker cardboard can type) and water + a touch of KMR, then swapped the KMR out for a touch of Pedialyte to get her off the formula. She took to the oats quickly. I par-cooked them so they didn't get too gooey. Change this out at least 2x a day so she continues to enjoy it and they don't go off. Honestly, removing the formula from her diet has made the biggest change in her bowel movements it seems. 2 days later and she's mostly eating solid mouse food.
  • for weaning I mixed ground up oats with ground up mouse food at first, then after she got used to that I started leaving them whole (but still par-cooked)
  • I put a small bowl of pet store mouse/hamster food next to that and her water so she could choose when she was ready to eat real solid food.


Some resources I used:


Again thanks to this community as well as the above mentioned, and countless other resources on the internet. Couldn't have made it this far without such a plethora of experience at my fingertips.



Last edited by mouseinthehouse on Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:50 am; edited 5 times in total (Reason for editing : update on the bedding I didn't care for, brevity)

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Re: Took in an orphaned deer mouse (Central Valley, CA)

Post by Peachy on Thu Jun 15, 2017 2:49 pm

Welcome to the forum! Can't wait to hear about your friend. Smile

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Re: Took in an orphaned deer mouse (Central Valley, CA)

Post by AnonymousMouseOwner on Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:08 pm

Welcome!

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Re: Took in an orphaned deer mouse (Central Valley, CA)

Post by Rodents rock! on Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:32 pm

Hi and welcome! Looking forward to hearing about your deer mouse Mouse28

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Re: Took in an orphaned deer mouse (Central Valley, CA)

Post by mouseinthehouse on Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:12 am

To all who subscribed, I've finally posted! Smile

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Re: Took in an orphaned deer mouse (Central Valley, CA)

Post by AnonymousMouseOwner on Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:13 am

@mouseinthehouse wrote:

3) avoid the gray CareFresh bedding; I found it has small wood chips mixed in with the paper because it's the cheap stuff; the fluffy pure white stuff is probably the better way to go but I ended up shredding paper towels/tissues/toilet paper myself. I also bought a ream of plain white copy paper and put some through the shredder (contrary to the internet, it came out with soft edges, no sharp ones). I thought I was doing the right thing buying the "unbleached" gray CareFresh stuff, but it turns out that's not the case; they're all "unbleached" and one is just higher grade than the other with NO WOOD shards. I swear I picked a splinter out of her bum one time. Sad It made me very upset.


I'm sorry, off topic, but what do you mean gray CareFresh? I've never seen gray CareFresh. And yes, they stopped putting baking soda in it years ago if that's what you meant, they don't put bleach in it at all that I've heard of. CareFresh is my main bedding that I always use for my 10 pet mice, and I have been very happy with it. No issues. If you contact them about this they will gladly assist you, they are a very kind company and I'm sure they'd be willing to fix whatever went wrong. Smile

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Re: Took in an orphaned deer mouse (Central Valley, CA)

Post by mouseinthehouse on Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:43 am

@AnonymousMouseOwner wrote:
@mouseinthehouse wrote:

3) avoid the gray CareFresh bedding; I found it has small wood chips mixed in with the paper because it's the cheap stuff; the fluffy pure white stuff is probably the better way to go but I ended up shredding paper towels/tissues/toilet paper myself. I also bought a ream of plain white copy paper and put some through the shredder (contrary to the internet, it came out with soft edges, no sharp ones). I thought I was doing the right thing buying the "unbleached" gray CareFresh stuff, but it turns out that's not the case; they're all "unbleached" and one is just higher grade than the other with NO WOOD shards. I swear I picked a splinter out of her bum one time. Sad It made me very upset.


I'm sorry, off topic, but what do you mean gray CareFresh? I've never seen gray CareFresh. And yes, they stopped putting baking soda in it years ago if that's what you meant, they don't put bleach in it at all that I've heard of. CareFresh is my main bedding that I always use for my 10 pet mice, and I have been very happy with it. No issues. If you contact them about this they will gladly assist you, they are a very kind company and I'm sure they'd be willing to fix whatever went wrong. Smile

EDIT: hold up, I got my brands mixed up here!

I'm actually talking about Critter Care bedding, sorry. CareFresh does not have the trademarked Natural on the packaging. Smile

They both however have these wood shards in them.

Here's the Critter Care package:




----- ORIGINAL reply: -----

Maybe my ms. mouse was just too small to put with this bedding, but here it is:




The white CareFresh has none of these wood pulp left overs, as if it was taken from the top of the separation tank while this brown/gray stuff was taken from the bottom.

Since I have two bags of this stuff I'm using it as a base liner for the tank, separated from the primary bedding of shredded papers.

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Re: Took in an orphaned deer mouse (Central Valley, CA)

Post by Rodents rock! on Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:06 pm

Wow, what a great story, I really enjoyed reading about yours and Ms Mouse's journey together! You did a great job! That took a lot of care and dedication. Ms Mouse is adorable. I hope you will keep us all updated! Very Happy

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Re: Took in an orphaned deer mouse (Central Valley, CA)

Post by mouseinthehouse on Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:40 am

@Rodents rock! wrote:Wow, what a great story, I really enjoyed reading about yours and Ms Mouse's journey together! You did a great job! That took a lot of care and dedication. Ms Mouse is adorable. I hope you will keep us all updated! Very Happy  

Thank you so much! =) I'm really glad you enjoyed the read. I was beginning to think (after reviewing it) that I wrote too much. All too common for me.

She is doing extremely well at this point. Her fur is filling in and thick, her ears are getting larger and she's grooming and nesting regularly as expected. She has about 4 spots now in the tank where she beds down for the morning (her evening) and is very active all night long now that she's used to her new environment. I'm extremely proud of her! Such tenacity for life.

She remains very handleable and seems to look forward to my hand coming down to scoop her up once I enter the room. She's up to 7.4 grams as of last night, about 1/2 way there from what I've read is their average adult weight (10-18g apparently).

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Re: Took in an orphaned deer mouse (Central Valley, CA)

Post by Rodents rock! on Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:16 pm

@mouseinthehouse wrote:
@Rodents rock! wrote:Wow, what a great story, I really enjoyed reading about yours and Ms Mouse's journey together! You did a great job! That took a lot of care and dedication. Ms Mouse is adorable. I hope you will keep us all updated! Very Happy  

Thank you so much! =) I'm really glad you enjoyed the read. I was beginning to think (after reviewing it) that I wrote too much. All too common for me.

She is doing extremely well at this point. Her fur is filling in and thick, her ears are getting larger and she's grooming and nesting regularly as expected. She has about 4 spots now in the tank where she beds down for the morning (her evening) and is very active all night long now that she's used to her new environment. I'm extremely proud of her! Such tenacity for life.

She remains very handleable and seems to look forward to my hand coming down to scoop her up once I enter the room. She's up to 7.4 grams as of last night, about 1/2 way there from what I've read is their average adult weight (10-18g apparently).  

You can never write too much about animals, my favorite thing! You really have done wonderful with her. I'm so happy to hear she is thriving! I think since you've raised her from a baby that she will remain handleable. She really is so adorable. Looking forward to hearing more about her Mouse Wave

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