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Discussing Male Mice Living Together

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Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by stephlisa on Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:23 pm

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Topic merged with off topic posts. View original first post
First Post:
First off, if you haven't already go read this sticky on the subject: https://www.petmousefanciers.com/t142-males-living-together-warning-graphic-photos

Keeping males together is not recommended in general. I only advise it when you are advised to do so by a professional (be it a knowledgeable breeder, rescue worker or vet - the key word is knowledgeable).

This discussion came up in another topic so I thought I'd a new thread for its discussion so it doesn't hijack other threads.

Okay - brief history - I'm in the UK, I have two male mice who are living together perfectly peacefully. The rescue we got them from recommended this and I trust their judgement. They are very sweet together but there is a definite alpha mouse and so they may not always live together peacefully, but I have a list of behaviours to watch put for that may lead up to a full blown fight.
- chasing away from food/water
- chasing out of nest
- over grooming and barbering
- tail rattling (might be too late at this point)
- any differences in behaviour that are aggressive
- serious fights (scuffling over a treat doesn't count usually)
If one occurs, they get watched carefully until the behaviour calms down and doesn't get worse. If it gets worse and there are serious fights and scuffles regularly, they get separated.
We haven't had any of this behaviour recently which is good.

Good behaviours include:
- normal amounts of grooming
- sleeping together
- ignoring each other (I know, sounds strange, but it means they are comfortable with each other)

If you are determined to keep males together then I have some tips to help smooth it out.
- you may need a bigger cage than the minimum recommended for groups of mice on here (my boys have lived peacefully in the equivalent of a 10 gallon for a week, but they are happier in a larger cage because there are more toys to play with)
- always start introductions on neutral territory after 3 weeks of quarantine (so you can work on taming and find the behaviour of the mice - if they are aggressive towards you then it may not work...) and make sure the cage you are putting them into doesn't smell of any mouse
- it is thought that males living together works better with brothers from the same litter (this is my situation)
- always treat them equally, give all mice a treat or no mice a treat; to start with, have out of cage time together so that one doesn't get jealous and start a fight (my boys don't need this anymore)
- I find having two water bowls and two food bowls helps so they learn that they don't have to fight for food and that there will always be enough food

However I repeat again, I do not recommend keeping males together unless you have been advised to by a professional.

You will find that in the UK you may be recommended to have a mouse neutered if he is very aggressive so he can hopefully live more peacefully with another male or a group of females. I'm undecided where I am on this matter but again, mouse surgeries come with risks (including a death risk).

I hope that helps with both my situation and advice in general for males together. Do your own research and make your own decision, feel free to discuss below - try to keep the discussions pleasant and good natured, I understand that everyone has their opinions, but giving a space to discuss will help stop this topic hijacking other threads on the forum!

Colin was exceedingly special, we still grieve for him, when I have bad days I miss his cuddles so much :-(

@Blessed actually they don't stink too much.  Only at the end of the week when its approaching cage cleaning day do I notice it.  Maybe I'm just used to it though...or got lucky with these boys.  Diet can help a long way with stink.  We also have a barred cage so the better ventilation may help too.

As I'm UK based, its often considered that our males as less territorial and aggressive towards each other.  I wouldn't recommend keeping males together if you don't know what you're doing.  Reading your story, it would have been sensible to do a few more steps on the introductions process - mostly completely cleaning the cage so nothing smelt like either mouse she you put them back in and watch them like a hawk.  But, I don't recommend trying it I general unless you're advised to by a professional (vet, breeder, knowledgeable rescue centre worker etc.)

Their relationship is very good.  They don't fight much anymore.  Snuggles up together every night.  We make things easy though - give them both a tasty treat at the same time, bring them out to play together, basically treat them entirely equally.  They are very sweet together, haven't fought for ages.  I imagine they are like a pair of girls living together (having not had girls I wouldn't know from experience though).

We were advised to keep them together by the rescue we got them from with the promise that we could return one if it didn't work out.  I admit I was sceptical.  But it going great so far.

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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by Blessed on Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:43 pm

@stephlisa, that's nice. Smile
But I don't really do things the way I'm supposed to with my mice, like my care for them and all of that type of stuff, most people would probably avoid, which I don't blame them. It may not be quite as responsible as the way we're 'supposed' to do it, but hey, it works for me (sorry if that just confused you). Razz
But you know mice are very social animals. . . And honestly, I still don't see a problem with two or more males living together. At the pet stores, I don't ever even remember seeing any of them fight. And sorry, I'm not trying to start any fights or anything. This thread is supposed to be friendly and hopefully fun for most and for anybody who wants to share anything about their mice and stuff like that, and for people of all ages. So, again, sorry if I'm sounding too strongly opinionated or defensive and rude.

Anyways, that's nice that you got your boys from a rescue. I've only found rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets (occasionally), and rabbits at shelters when it comes to small pets like that.. Never mice, which seems slightly odd.. =)

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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by Rodents rock! on Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:23 pm

In the United States the male mice at pet stores that are kept together, it's because they are young and their territorial instincts haven't kicked in yet. If you notice at pet stores, Syrian hamsters are kept together too, again because they are young.


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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by Blessed on Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:26 pm

@Rodents rock! wrote:The male mice at pet stores that are kept together, it's because they are young and their territorial instincts haven't kicked in yet. If you notice at pet stores, Syrian hamsters are kept together too, again because they are young.  
Nice point, @Rodents rock!. I still think most male mice are fine together, though. Sorry if I sound pig-headed or whatever. Remember, hamsters in general don't like other hamsters, but mice do like other mice. Mouse Wave

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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by AnonymousMouseOwner on Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:19 am

@Blessed wrote:@stephlisa, that's nice. Smile
But I don't really do things the way I'm supposed to with my mice, like my care for them and all of that type of stuff, most people would probably avoid, which I don't blame them. It may not be quite as responsible as the way we're 'supposed' to do it, but hey, it works for me (sorry if that just confused you). Razz
But you know mice are very social animals. . . And honestly, I still don't see a problem with two or more males living together. At the pet stores, I don't ever even remember seeing any of them fight.
At my local pet store I've seen many males with scars on their back from being bitten by other males. I once saw a beautiful BEW male at a pet store, and thought nothing was wrong with him, until he turned around and I saw he had 3 large scabs on his back, he was bitten by other mice.

In the wild, mice would be in a group consisting of several females and only one male. If the male were to encounter another male, they would fight until one surrenders or passes away, and from what I understand, the winner of the fight gets to have the group of females. In the US, this instinct mostly still remains, and males will fight until one gives up or doesn't make it, but in some other countries, hundreds of years of selective breeding has bred this trait out of a lot of their mice.

Yes, they are very social animals! There are ways to give them companionship other than another mouse of their kind, though. If you can interact with your male daily, and give them as much attention as you can, they will appreciate every bit of it. And another option that I personally LOVE, is that people house male mice with multimammate mice, or "African soft furred rats". These are little rodents that are slightly bigger than a fancy mouse, and can interact with fancy mice, groom them, and serve as a companion, but cannot breed with them, so there's no risk of babies. These animals are, however, illegal in some states unfortunately. My state does not allow them. I love the idea though, as you can keep a female multimammate mouse with a male fancy mouse, usually without any issues, and they keep each other company Love

You certainly can make your own choice, but many people have unfortunately found out that it can be risky. Have you seen our thread on "Males Living Together"? It is not a very positive or happy thread to read, but it does show how risky it is. I hope you understand Smile I don't mean to sound rude either, just letting you know why we say that males shouldn't live together.

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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by stephlisa on Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:17 am

I agree with everything others have written after me. I didn't mean to sound rude or opinionated, I just don't want to see animals get hurt through someone not understanding the risks and not knowing what is generally recommended. There are risks to males living together and I was given a list of behaviours to watch out for that will point to something not being right. If you're interested I'll find it and write it up in another thread.
But for now we should probably put this thread back on its topic!

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Discussing Males Living Together

Post by stephlisa on Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:58 am

First off, if you haven't already go read this sticky on the subject: https://www.petmousefanciers.com/t142-males-living-together-warning-graphic-photos

Keeping males together is not recommended in general. I only advise it when you are advised to do so by a professional (be it a knowledgeable breeder, rescue worker or vet - the key word is knowledgeable).

This discussion came up in another topic so I thought I'd a new thread for its discussion so it doesn't hijack other threads.

Okay - brief history - I'm in the UK, I have two male mice who are living together perfectly peacefully. The rescue we got them from recommended this and I trust their judgement. They are very sweet together but there is a definite alpha mouse and so they may not always live together peacefully, but I have a list of behaviours to watch put for that may lead up to a full blown fight.
- chasing away from food/water
- chasing out of nest
- over grooming and barbering
- tail rattling (might be too late at this point)
- any differences in behaviour that are aggressive
- serious fights (scuffling over a treat doesn't count usually)
If one occurs, they get watched carefully until the behaviour calms down and doesn't get worse. If it gets worse and there are serious fights and scuffles regularly, they get separated.
We haven't had any of this behaviour recently which is good.

Good behaviours include:
- normal amounts of grooming
- sleeping together
- ignoring each other (I know, sounds strange, but it means they are comfortable with each other)

If you are determined to keep males together then I have some tips to help smooth it out.
- you may need a bigger cage than the minimum recommended for groups of mice on here (my boys have lived peacefully in the equivalent of a 10 gallon for a week, but they are happier in a larger cage because there are more toys to play with)
- always start introductions on neutral territory after 3 weeks of quarantine (so you can work on taming and find the behaviour of the mice - if they are aggressive towards you then it may not work...) and make sure the cage you are putting them into doesn't smell of any mouse
- it is thought that males living together works better with brothers from the same litter (this is my situation)
- always treat them equally, give all mice a treat or no mice a treat; to start with, have out of cage time together so that one doesn't get jealous and start a fight (my boys don't need this anymore)
- I find having two water bowls and two food bowls helps so they learn that they don't have to fight for food and that there will always be enough food

However I repeat again, I do not recommend keeping males together unless you have been advised to by a professional.

You will find that in the UK you may be recommended to have a mouse neutered if he is very aggressive so he can hopefully live more peacefully with another male or a group of females. I'm undecided where I am on this matter but again, mouse surgeries come with risks (including a death risk).

I hope that helps with both my situation and advice in general for males together. Do your own research and make your own decision, feel free to discuss below - try to keep the discussions pleasant and good natured, I understand that everyone has their opinions, but giving a space to discuss will help stop this topic hijacking other threads on the forum!

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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by elmtree on Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:24 am

I was actually just thinking about asking a question on this, so this is brilliant timing!

I know they're not the same species, but there are definitely similarities and I value the input (even if it may not be 100% directly transferrable) for my male multis. Like mice, females get along brilliantly together but unneutered males are very prone to brutal fights.

My boys are all neutered, but currently living in seperate groups. I was wondering if anyone has experience of introducing unfamiliar neutered male mice together, as the information online seems a little bit sketchy.

Another question I have is, is there an opinion on multi tier cages and fighting? In the hamster community it's always recommended that if you're keeping dwarfs together, they cohabit in one large open space as different tiers/dividing sections/etc can allow hamsters to identify those sections as different pieces of territory which increases the chances of them fighting.

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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by stephlisa on Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:36 am

I don't have any experience of multis or introducing unfamiliar male mice to each, it seems you do it in much the same way as females - on empty neutral territory, then add food and water, then maybe a wheel and gradually add toys in.  Then they go into the clean cage (that smells of no mice!) again with minimal things (food, water, maybe wheel) and gradually add toys making sure they don't start fighting over it.

Edit to add: how do multis live in the wild? As a male with a group of females?

My boys live in a Skyline Leon which has 3 tiers.  They've never fought over the tiers but I could see it being a potential problem depending on the mice in question.

As all mice have different personalities it'll be quite hard to predict if there will be a problem or not.  It will probably also depend on how they get to each tier.  In my cage the ramps between levels are wide enough that 2 mice can pass each other easily, but I think if you had tubes or ladders where the mice can't pass easily that might also cause a problem.

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Post by CallaLily on Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:26 pm

@AnonymousMouseOwner wrote:
In the wild, mice would be in a group consisting of several females and only one male. If the male were to encounter another male, they would fight until one surrenders or passes away, and from what I understand, the winner of the fight gets to have the group of females. In the US, this instinct mostly still remains, and males will fight until one gives up or doesn't make it, but in some other countries, hundreds of years of selective breeding has bred this trait out of a lot of their mice.

You certainly can make your own choice, but many people have unfortunately found out that it can be risky. Have you seen our thread on "Males Living Together"? It is not a very positive or happy thread to read, but it does show how risky it is. I hope you understand Smile I don't mean to sound rude either, just letting you know why we say that males shouldn't live together.

A thousand times this.  Also, in the wild the losing male has a much greater chance at getting away and finding another territory. In captivity there's no where for them to go.  Once male babies mature, they're chased away too. There are some unusual circumstances where things are just too crowded for males to have their own territory and in that case they'll be tolerated but beat down and not living the best life they could.  And I'll stress that  very well bred bucks that have been bred for less territorial behaviors for many, many, many generations can sometimes live together - but still not always.  I've read quite a few times that even then a lot of the time it doesn't work out for long.  But with mice from untracked lines it's EXTREMELY rare for it to work out in the long run.



@Blessed wrote:
@CallaLily, I meant to say Hazel was pretty. =) Sorry. But really? Lydia has fairly recently developed a large lump in her throat, and I was considering making a separate thread with questions about that, but now I might not need to, since you mentioned something similar. So, anyways, do you think the large bump on her throat could also be a cancerous tumor? Or could she maybe have gotten an abscess there? I just personally find an abscess there very weird (if it is one).. Confused And before you say this, lol, I'll just tell you right away: I won't be taking her to the vet. Smile Don't say I'm a horrible person, either, please. Oh, and, Lydia isn't lethargic or anything. She still acts the same.

Oh yes, Hazel was a very pretty girl. I loved her shiny shiny fur. She developed an abdominal mass (confirmed by xray - there's a thread here somewhere if you're interested) which eventually put too much pressure on her diaphragm muscle making breathing difficult. This developed around 17 months of age and she passed at 19 months. Sad

I'm sorry I can't say for sure what the lump is on your mouse. Only a vet could tell you for sure. If it's an abcess they can treat it and she would likely be just fine. However without a vet she will die either way. I don't mean to sound rude, I really don't. But I do highly recommend you take her to see a vet. Mice may be short-lived "cheap" pets but they deserve health care. Please reconsider. As prey animals mice hide illness very well for as long as they can, so they often seem "fine" even when they're not. Good vibes

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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by elmtree on Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:35 pm

Oh I see, so the temperament change with neutered male mice is quite dramatic then!
I'm not sure how they live in the wild to be entirely honest. They aren't really of much scientific interest, so I imagine the time investment of studying their social structure isn't considered to be worth it. But multis are very very closely related to mice, so I imagine their social behaviour would be quite similar.

Yes, that also makes sense. I imagine that groups that start to fight over different levels are probably quite unstable anyway, and it sounds like your two get on brilliantly. Smile

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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by CallaLily on Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:54 pm

I've voiced my views on this many times so I just wanted to say; thank you for this thread and for being such a responsible mouse parent!

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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by stephlisa on Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:00 pm

Thanks @CallyLily. After all the discussions coming up every so often when I share things about my boys that it was worth it's own topic for people to discuss!

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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by Blessed on Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:22 pm

Thanks for posting this, @stephlisa! That was very smart of you. Referring to hijacking other threads because of this topic... I think I hijacked my own, in that case! Razz
So sorry if it sounded like I wanted to argue over it, or came off too strongly. I really did not want to. I actually regret posting all that in my thread 'How Many Mice Have You Had?'. But now we can get back on topic in that thread, as you'd said, and discuss the males in this one. (Again, brilliant idea). Smile I'm also going to ask Peachy if she'll delete all of those posts about the males living together in the aforementioned thread. =) (So I'm not going to respond to the other ones that had been posted after that, as I'm too lazy to, lol).

Anyways, you're probably very knowledgeable about this, but I know what I'm talking about, too. Bouncy But I get you said what's 'generally recommended.' =) Totally caught that, and respect your opinion.
I did happen to see and look at the sticky post you'd mentioned, and that's probably in extreme cases. :/ I've personally never seen any males--at all the pet stores I've gone to--with a single scratch on them.

Oh, and, one more thing: Sorry for appearing? to have made a big deal over your boys living together. I just find that really nice, as I know yours aren't lonely because of it, but I feel bad if you get that a lot.

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Re: Discussing Male Mice Living Together

Post by CallaLily on Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:37 pm

@Peachy should be able to just transfer those posts over to this one, so they're not lost.

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