Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

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Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by Elliander on Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:50 am

What could cause the appearance of a swollen anus in female mice?

We first encountered this problem a few months ago. A mouse we purchased a few days prior went into death rattles in front of us and she died before we could get her to a vet.

We cleaned the habitat and later on bought more mice. All of our mice were growing strong, and interacting with each other with no major fighting aside from the occasional chase and no biting either. They also have plenty of space, with six modularly connected cages and lots of bedded habitat areas throughout the tubing and multiple connected wheels and spinners. No more than 9 mice at a given time. They also have both water tubes and water bowls and multiple bowls of fresh food and their bedding is a combination of corn cob bedding and soft wood flake bedding.

Here's the habitat for reference of their living conditions: (took me more than 12 hours to build! Takes even longer to clean...)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4_9hPPWxAWBMUVUbUFxemNnTDQ/view?usp=drivesdk

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4_9hPPWxAWBdTE1MnVpdHJ1U0k/view?usp=drivesdk

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4_9hPPWxAWBdEU2amx3bjNhRjQ/view?usp=drivesdk

We conduct monthly inspections of the mice, bring them into a large cardboard box so that we can check them for injuries and make sure they're in good health. The last such inspection was July 4th and we noticed that one of the mice had the beginnings of a swollen anus, just slightly more than what it was, and took pictures of that area specifically before putting the mice back into a newly cleaned habitat. She was energetic enough to be jumping and running on wheels and was never hunched over like the other mouse that died so we figured to just keep an eye on her . We observed her and she was interacting with at the mice, only somewhat spending time by herself, but then on the 24th she was dead. We found her in one of the communal Nest areas. ( the mice each have their favorite Nest areas, with two or three usual communal areas, and occasionally they will all messed together into one. It's not treated like territory though, since they tend to go in between all areas freely without fighting, but they have their preferences.)

Even when we're busy working, we check on them at least twice a day so she had to have died within 12 hours. Normally we check more because I keep them in my office, but I had to work outside that day . The only other Factor was that we had a power outage for one hour around noon, and it was 105 degrees outside, but the mice have their own air conditioned room with whole room air purification that's set for their comfort so that if it got hot it wouldn't have been for long, but it is a possible factor that could have contributed to the death of this one mouse if she was already vulnerable.

After removing the body and gently putting it in a box for freezing ( we freeze them instead of burying them in case we need to reference anything) we did an immediate check on the mice and did not observe anything out of the ordinary, but I'm concerned. If it's an infection I don't know how much may have been exposed to other mice. If it's hereditary, I'd like to know more about it and why it doesn't appear right away.

Unfortunately, we can't afford to take all of the mice in for a routine vet visit earlier than planned because they charge quite a bit per mouse and although we can afford to bring an injured Mouse in to be treated we can't really waste that money to bring in a mouse that's showing no symptoms because if a mouse did show symptoms we would need that money at that time. If I better understood what to look out for I could at least know when to bring one to a vet as it's rather difficult to inspect their undersides and they don't like the inspections all that much, or if there's some kind of precaution that I can take I'd appreciate knowing.

I can show pictures of what the swollen abdomen looked, but need to upload those still.

UPDATE: here's the picture. The only reason it stood out was because the first looked similar, but worse, when she died.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4_9hPPWxAWBaG0tUjJYVFNSRms/view?usp=drivesdk

If it's genetic then I won't cause the mice additional discomfort with more frequent health checks, but if it isn't I'd probably check them all weekly.

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by scaredymouse on Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:21 am

My word, that is quite a set up you have there.

So the only thing you didn't mention is what you are feeding them... Swollen anus is not a common ailment we see around here. It actually looks like a rectal prolapse. Were they still able to poop or was there a complete blockage?

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by Elliander on Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:46 pm

Oh, Totally forgot to mention that. We feed them exclusively "Higgens Sunburst Gourmet Food Mix". We also occasionally put "Asis vita drops" into their water, but that's not consistent because we'd have to change the water more often so they always have a choice between regular water and that. They also have access to wooden chew sticks. Oh, and the water is reverse osmosis with pos carbon filter so we're sure no problems with that.

Yes, they all seem able to poop, and we are sure they were all able to when we got them, but we can individually test them overnight in a temporary carry cage to be sure. They won't enjoy that, but it's something we can do. If we observe no poop from a particular mouse over a span of 6 to 12 hours though what would that indicate? And if it is prolapse what would be the treatment?

For reference, here's a mouse we took a picture of last night.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4_9hPPWxAWBNm5yYUJhN1RYdU0/view?usp=drivesdk

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4_9hPPWxAWBRXhWYnJnQVo4TlE/view?usp=drivesdk

Is there anything to worry about in this picture? What should a healthy mouse anus look like? Never thought I'd ask type of question, but I want to make sure they all get long and happy lives.


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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by Rodents rock! on Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:52 am

Is the cage being taken apart and thoroughly cleaned once a week? That must be a job. Do you feel there is enough ventilation with the cage?

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by scaredymouse on Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:27 pm

While the diet isn't the best, there is nothing in it that would be responsible for rectal prolapse. The only factor that I can think of that would make a mouse more susceptible to rectal prolapse is childbirth. Other than that, you are likely dealing with genetic predisposition. The only other thing that could cause it, which I'm sure is not the case, is a mouse being squeezed too hard.

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by Elliander on Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:46 pm

What diet would you suggest? What is the best? And is there any food or supplement that should prevent this?

No childbirth, and no squeezing. Is there a possibility of a parasite?

There is plenty of ventilation, since there are little holes in everything, in addition to the air purifier on low blowing cleaned air through. They tend to stuff end caps with bedding though. They also like to drag toilet paper tubes into some nest areas, but it's fine overall.

As far as cleaning, well, thankfully the mice spend most of their time in the attached nesting areas so they spend very little time in the cages. Oh, they go in there, just don't nest in there so it's not as bad as it could be.

I regularly inspect the areas and clean as needed. Yesterday, for example, I had to wash in the sink just the trays that embed in the tops of the cages where I put the food and water. The day before that it was just the areas they nest in.

Tomorrow I plan to get all the mice out to inspect them. There's only one who had bite injuries on her hind from before we got her and apply fresh aloe during these checks to help them heal, since we're not sure what ointments are safe. One of them is a real crybaby and audibly goes "eww eww eww" when she's out of her tubes. The one that died last was a jumper and taught the others to jump last inspection so inspection is not something we try to do more often than once every 3 or 4 weeks.

When their all pulled out we shop vac the cages and tubes, spot clean the cages until it doesn't have the slightest smell, and check for any tubes that smell like urine and wash those. They seem to have specific tubes they use as their most frequent pee areas which helps.

Every other month I wash it all to be safe, in which case they go in a newly cleaned cage with just a few new tubes and a single outside wheel for a few days and everything else soaks in a soapy bathtub. I then take the stuff outside to power spray with a hose and build it all again a little different each time. The mice don't like being without their network of tubes for a weekend, but they don't fight and they love it when the layout change and they get to explore. It takes 12 hours just to build it all up again, not to mention the few hours of spraying every little thing, which is why I spot clean more often. cleaning a little as needed even daily is far easier and sems to work ok without disturbing them much, but even then I want to fully clean periodically.

They also have a ferris wheel, but that's currently soaking in a bucket because they really pee in that.

The current plan is to purchase duplicates of everything they use most often, so I can do a quick swap and then soak for a few days without affecting them. That way every week, once a week, I'll have a fully cleaned set of their most commonly used areas.

The mice like their setup so much that the last time a mouse got out she was busy trying to find a way back in.

Oh, and one mouse got into the deer moss that I use to offset any smell that might be produced. Apparently the mice like eating that, but that mouse is not showing any signs of prolapse right now. The mice don't get into any of the other plants that I have around the area as natural air purifiers. They also haven't gotten into the charcoal bags.

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by Rodents rock! on Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:49 pm

That's a really good idea about getting doubles of the most used tubes and such. It must be a really fun place for the mice running through all those tubes Bliss

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by Elliander on Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:43 am

Yes, they have gotten quite used to them. Something I made sure to do from the start was to ensure that there was more than one way to any area. Because of this, often when a mouse is chasing another mouse I observe them suddenly split into two directions. They also seem to like the step-down areas and winding turns. Although their favorite seems to be the straight long run.

They each have their own personalities, and initially our first one, Ice Bear, seems to be very assertive alpha, although this was because she was continuously getting new areas every few days as we purchased new stuff and you could see on her face how happy she was to constantly get new areas to explore. She's a white mouse with red eyes, but we selected her from a group of white mice because she was the one who was the most active trying to find a way out. When she had a small cage she was continuously looking for a way out, but when her area expanded to a certain point she totally gave up on trying to get out and was completely happy with the space she had.

When she finally got roommates she was not happy, but the many personalities seem to work well together. For a while then there would be two basic groups where the alpha personalities spent a lot of time together and the beta personalities spent a lot of time together, but occasionally they would all spend time in one pile so it wasn't like they were separating two different communities they just had their preferred bunkmates. Having three outside wheels and two inside Wheels and a ferris wheel and a spinner definitely seems to make a difference though.

One female, Lucy, which appears to have the starting of a prolapsed right now, is very motherly to all of the other mice and I even observe her grooming the alpha. She's also by far the most sociable with people. I've actually observed her mediating disputes between other mice as well so this is one mouse that would really hurt the community to lose. She seems to be more of a brown Calico mix with black eyes.

Another, Nom nom, likes to dig everywhere. In one of the small cages on the Second Story we have a little hobbit hole and we used to put a water container next to it but she would dig out a multi-layered complex somehow using the surface of the water container as a separate bedroom. She's also the reason why I had to put a white cardboard surface in front of that cage to keep her from kicking it all out to make it easier for the daily vacuuming around the cages. She's a gray Mouse with a red eyes.

Grizzabella is brown with a white belly and a white line on her forehead and is the second most trusting with the hand, but also by far the most skittish and the most docile. She's the one that had bite marks her hind area when we got her, but they've been healing up nicely. She also seems to be growing in size the slowest though.

Chloe is a black mouse with a tail that is black from the base to the middle of the tale, then white to the end of the tale, with a slight white bush around each ear. She used to be much more docile, but she's been growing rapidly and is practically the second most Alpha and runs almost as much.

For me it's something of a learning experience, so if there's anything I could do better I appreciate any input. Like, is there any fresh fruit that would be better than a mix that contains dried fruit? I decided against fresh fruit mostly because I wanted to avoid attracting flies. Is there maybe a probiotic that could help with intestinal issues?

I estimate that the area could reasonably hold as many as two dozen mice without causing major crowding, but I'd personally like to limit it to no more than one dozen mice in the future and I plan to replace the smaller cages with 2 level cages on the top to give them even more space.

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by scaredymouse on Mon Jul 31, 2017 2:56 am

I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know i haven't forgotten about you.  I'll address your questions tomorrow.  It's 4am right now, i need sleeps.

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by scaredymouse on Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:46 am

Most of us have very basic set ups compared to you, like 20g tanks or bin cages, so it's very easy for us to keep track of our mice and their food. The bedding we recommend most is paper based bedding like Kaytee clean and cozy or Carefresh. It's soft on their footsies and very absorbent. For food we tend to recommend (believe it or not) parakeet food, Vitasmart Vitakraft Parakeet food. It has good nutrition, good variety, and mice love it. On top of that I add in quite a few extras like flaxseeds, black sunflower seeds, walnuts, dried mealworms, pumpkin seeds and oats. For fresh foods they love kale, broccoli, apples, spinach, and blueberries (at least mine do). So there you have it!

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by Elliander on Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:36 am

I briefly tried paper based bedding, but found that it was very prone to smells and mold growth. I also tried cotton bedding, and the mice did prefer it initially, but it likewise became a source of odor. The bedding that seems to work best is a combination of corncob and "sophresh natural softwood" in the cages and just the softwood for the tube areas. Although we also recently tried this thing that looks like a dry banana filled with fluff in one cage. We also give them toilet paper rolls to chew to create their own preferred bedding softness.

We recently decided to give steamed vegetables a try, adding as an option to the seed mix, and we are going to try berries as well soon. Since those will have to mbe washed daily we figure we could alternate fruit and vegetables

I'm surprised to hear about parakeet mix, and moreso about mealworms. I thought they were more or less vegetarian. Are there any particular brands or ingredients to watch out for as potentially harmful? Any specific recipes? we bought our seed mixes in bulk already, but I have no problem with trying if you combinations out and seeing how the mice like it.

actually, I operate a Spirulina farm so I could try giving some of that to them as a protein supplement. Since cyanobacterial don't have cellulose base cell walls it's easy on digestion and also improves the beneficial bacteria in the gut, but I currently don't have a way to make pellets out of it. Just fresh. I suppose I could add some to one of the water bowls though.

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by CallaLily on Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:21 am

Mice are actually omnivores. In the wild they naturally eat mainly grains, seeds, and insects but will also take full advantage of fruits, nuts, mushrooms, herbs, roots, etc and even sometimes carrion.

I would be cautious of softwood bedding and fluffy nesting material. Some softwoods are harmful to their respiratory systems and the fluffy nesting material can cause blockages if ingested or become entangled (inside and out), cutting off blood supply. Aspen bedding is safe, if you prefer wood based. And toilet tissue is a very safe, soft nesting material that most mice love.

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by Elliander on Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:38 am

Big Update: the last Mouse to get prolapse is now prolapse free!

I had assumed that because the seed mix contained dried fruits and vegetables that it would be sufficient, but I took the advice here to add fresh food.

The first day I added steamed vegetables which included broccoli, cauliflower, and peas. I let it cool before putting it in a bowl and putting that in the top space so it doesn't mess up the bedding. I left it in there for 2 days and they ate most of it, but on the second day it started to get moldy so I cleaned the whole thing out and shortened to my cycle.

I replaced it with diced orange and tomato. Within a day the Tomato was gone and the orange was picked clean.

After this I took a look at Lucy and while I couldn't get a clear picture to show, she is definitely prolapse free. She has no signs of any of the swelling that I associated with the previous two deaths. I'm thinking there must have been something in the fresh food that may have helped them heal from it, and I'm more certain than ever that the last death was as much as a result of the heat during the power outage as the prolapse.

I bought a few groceries and dice them up a new mix to go alongside their grain: orange, tomato, celery, carrot, yellow pepper, blueberry.

here's what it looks like in the clean tray:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4_9hPPWxAWBR3h5U3VZQkZ6bHc/view?usp=drivesdk

I'm still a little concerned about the possibility of tomatine causing a problem so I only used one Juliet tomato diced just in case.

I also haven't purchased mealworms yet. I'm curious if there is any particular brand that's best, or if I could just use the mealworms in betta fish food. I could blend that into the dry mix to make it more protein-rich to go along with the fruits and vegetables and the other tray.

For the bedding, the brand I'm using is Pine based, with no added chemicals. I haven't observed any coughing or sneezing or anything to indicate respiratory distress. For the cotton fluff, they seem to use it more as a tunneling device than anything else.

My deer Mouse in her habitat actually uses it to build a literal cavern under her artificial wood stump. I unfortunately had to disturb her in order to check up on her, because unlike the mice she just doesn't want to be around people, and it was impressive to look at. Unlike the mice she doesn't seem to make a huge mess in it either so I've left it alone. Oh, and it looks like it's actually bamboo nesting material rather than cotton nesting material.

I wish I knew what that dried banana husk looking thing with fluff in it is though. It looks to be way softer than the bamboo fluff.

Oh, and here's my latest revision to their habitat. I actually have quite a bit more to put together though. Have some tubes being cleaned.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4_9hPPWxAWBQWNMZFMxbk9oUjg/view?usp=drivesdk


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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by CallaLily on Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:47 am

I'm glad they're doing better and enjoying their fresh foods. Just remember the main bulk of their diet should always be a healthy grain/seed mix. There's a list of safe foods here: https://www.petmousefanciers.com/t2-safe-foods. It's far from complete, and many things on the avoid list are there mainly because I just couldn't find more info on them and/or very experienced mouse-parents recommended they be avoided.

You can buy big bags of mealworms from the wild bird section of stores for a better price. They sell smaller, but more expensive, containers in the reptile and fish section. If you prefer to order online, I really enjoy this site:http://tastyworms.com/dried-mealworms/. Their "tasty grubs" are safe too.

I believe that banana looking thing is kapok, and as far as I know it and bamboo fluff are considered just as unsafe as cotton. I recommend removing it.

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Re: Had a recent death with a swollen anus; trying to prevent a repeat

Post by Elliander on Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:23 am

hmm. I noticed that tomato, citrus, and celery are in the avoid list.

Tomato I could understand because of tomatine, an alkaloid, but it's more concentrated in the leaves. A rather cruel animal study (referenced here) that exposed rabbits to concentrations of tomatine found that after a few days of discontinued exposure ill effects were completely reduced. So for that, I'd say that removing the stuff inside and dicing up the flesh and giving small amounts of that every few days should be safe. The mice seemed to prefer that over anything else and dd not observe any ill health effect, but that is my own anecdotal experience. Weirdly, I have seen this referenced as OK in some lists and not OK in others. Maybe that's because tomatoes vary in acidity by type and if it's canned or not, meaning that some tomatoes might be harmless and others might be harmful? If it is an issue with acidity, removing the seeds and goop and only using fresh tomatoes in small amounts seems like the best compromise.

Citrus happens to be antimicrobial, and they ate it without any problems, but they are acidic. Is it the acidity? If that's the issue, then maybe the acidity helped to heal the gut, but long term offerings could be harmful? In which case maybe I'd restrict it to a very small amount once a month maybe with some alkaline water to offset the acidity to prevent them from getting too much.

Celery... is there any reason for that? I would think that would be great for them because it's crunchy and juicy. The only thing I could think of that might make it harmful would be if they choked on a string of it or something. Is that it? Well, regardless, the mice seemed to eat around the celery showing no interest in it so I'll avoid giving it to them again.

What's the problem with Mulberry? I have multiple mulberry trees. Well, only one fruiting female, but I plan to start grafting female branches onto the male branches to get more berries so would have plenty. Does it contain a compound toxic to mice? Or is it an unknown? It's not in season yet so that would be good to figure out sooner than later. I looked up medical studies after reading that, but all I could find was a reference to Mulberry bark reducing diabetes in mice here. It was also concluded that it regulated lipid metabolism, so it can't be all harmful. Still, the berries might have a different compound. Mulberry juices do have gi effects in humans though, and stimulates appetite. Mulberries are also an alkaline food, so if citrus is a problem due to acidity that doesn't seem like it would be a problem here.

Whatever helped heal her had to be either of, or a combination of, the following: broccoli (sulfurophane?), cauliflower, peas, citrus, tomato. Even if something in that list is potentially harmful it seems the benefits outweighed said harm. Of course, I'd update if anything happened.

Now mint, that I completely understand. It is horribly toxic to some things. I actually mopped my floors in mint one year to remove a flea infestation. Maybe it would be helpful to specify on the list why something should be avoided, or if it's an unknown? For example, there's a big difference between something that is poisonous, and something that can potentially disrupt the ph of the gut, but if the ph of the gut is already disrupted I imagine such items could be helpful.

I will refine the fresh produce recipe as needed and will also get mealworms to add to the seed mix. Is there a good ratio of mealworms to grain mix if I put it together?

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