Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

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Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by susb8383c on Tue 19 Dec 2017, 7:31 pm

Hi All,

I'm new to this forum. I've had just a few pet mice in the past but not very many. I just rescued three female pews from that art gallery in NYC that was using live mice for an exhibit. The artist put all the mice together before the rescue group picked them up. Two of the three were pregnant and they just gave birth at exactly the same time. I have no experience at all with mice litters, but some with rat litters.

I have them all together in a 10 gallon tank. They gave birth in the plastic igloo. I read the breeding guide and have not disturbed the nesting area at all. I hear a lot of squeaking and caught sight of one with a milk band.

The three females are great. They take turns hanging out with the babies.

I have a couple of questions, but any additional advice you'd like to throw my way would be appreciated.

1. This may sound funny, but I'm not 100% sure which are the two mothers. I thought I knew and marked their tails with non-toxic magic marker after they gave birth. But when I was holding what I thought were the two mothers (they are pretty friendly considering their history. One climbed right in my hand, the other climbed in from the wheel), Auntie was in with the babies in the Maternity Igloo. I could see a little through the translucent plastic and it looked like they pups were nursing. So maybe who I thought was Auntie is really mommy, but I thought I saw the same thing happen with who I thought was mommy. Is it possible that a non-pregnant mouse can develop milk to help feed? Or might she just be going through the motions of nursing even though she doesn't have anything for them (I've seen rats do this)?

2. Which leads me to food. I'm planning on giving them scrambled egg. How often and how much? I saw one post that said every other day, does that sounds right? Would it be horrible if Auntie got egg too even though she isn't nursing? Right now I give them about 5 Tablespoons per day of Vitakraft Sunseed Vita Parakeet seed but have ordered Supreme Petfoods Science Selective Mouse lab blocks which should arrive any day.

I know they have to be separated at 4 weeks and have a second tank standing by ($14 at Walmart!).

Anything else I should know?

Thanks in advance,
Susie

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by AnonymousMouseOwner on Wed 20 Dec 2017, 1:49 am

Hi there! Welcome to the forum! I had to look up that art exhibit you were speaking of, is it the one with mice in the floor? Sounds like those mice have a very interesting story, so sweet of you for rescuing them!

A mouse cannot produce milk if she has not recently given birth or is/was pregnant with young. It isn't uncommon for other female mice to act as "nannies" and help the mother keep the babies warm and happy, though. Just make sure you watch the other mice in the cage closely, as it can be risky to keep other mice in the cage with the babies (besides the mother). If the other mice (not the mother) are harming the babies, they should probably have their own cage until the babies grow up.

Vitakraft Sunseed Vita Parakeet is a good food, and will have much better variety than lab blocks, so I'd actually recommend that food over just lab blocks. You could add the lab blocks as a supplement, but I'd always recommend having a seed mix available for variety.

Yes, the mice will need to be separated by gender at 4 weeks. The girls can stay together, but the boys are each going to need their own tank, soon after separation. This is because males become territorial and will many times fight to the death or seriously injure each other once they reach adulthood.

Good luck with all of them! Smile

Edit to add: Forgot to answer your egg question. A little bit of scrambled eggs every other day won't hurt. They are kind of high in protein though, so don't go overboard, just a little! That protein will help whoever mama is.

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by scaredymouse on Wed 20 Dec 2017, 11:07 am

You can also feed plain cooked chicken and dried mealworms for extra protein. Every other day is fine and it's fine if you nanny gets some too.

As far as the vitakraft food, you can free feed... meaning just fill up the bowl and let them eat as much as they want. You don't have to measure. They won't overeat.

Congrats on you new family! That's great that you took them in and are caring for them. It's a big responsibility. I had an accidental litter and I loved every minute of it. I even kept the whole bunch. But I only had 8 babies so it wasn't too big of a deal.

Let us know if you have any more questions. The breeding packet pretty much covers most of the questions a person might have.

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by susb8383c on Wed 20 Dec 2017, 3:53 pm

Thanks for the quick replies.

Yup, it was that exhibit in the floor. Our rat rescue group took 11 females from the one who rescued them in NYC. A few females were pregnant, but miscarried. One had a litter of 7 but none lived through the night--I think the mother didn't produce any milk. One other adopter's female had a litter of 10 at the same time mine did and so far they are doing well.

I'll keep a close watch on the Auntie. So far she's been great with them.

I totally forgot about fighting males. How soon will they start to fight? All the babies are going back to the rescue group to be put in foster care, the males in individual tanks, so they wouldn't be in their own tank with me for very long. Do I have a few weeks, months, or no time at all?

Ok, I'll keep with the Vitakraft. The only reason I wasn't so sure about it was because in the past, two of my black mice started losing their fur. It wasn't barbering. One started growing it back when I gave her some dog kibble, but then lost it again and it didn't grow back. So I wondered if the Vitakraft was good enough. I also know that, although mice are natural foragers, a seed mix means they can pick out what they like, and maybe they weren't getting what they needed.

Oh, one other question. What's the best way to sex the mice? The pictures of the different distances of urethra to anus don't help me at all: I can't see the difference. I know with rats there is a shortcut: before they start to get fur, the nipples are really visible on the females. Is there a simple way like that with mice? Or should I wait until 4 weeks and look for testicles?

Thanks, Susie

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by Peachy on Wed 20 Dec 2017, 8:44 pm

Males usually start fighting sometime between 4-6 weeks so around weaning. Female nipples are clearly visible on day 9 (I think it was), but fingers crossed you're able to remember who is who because once the full coat comes in it will be a game of hide and seek. Wink

When they're older, looking for the vaginal orifice is a pretty easy way to tell.

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by susb8383c on Thu 21 Dec 2017, 4:55 pm

Ok, I'll look for nipples around day 9.
once the full coat comes in it will be a game of hide and seek.
They're all pews (I assume). When they get their fur, I was planning on marking their tails with non toxic magic marker the way we do with baby rats.

Here's another question. It's past 72 hours, so today is the day for the first handling and counting. But...how do you lure the adults away from the nest to do it? I read about putting them in a separate tank so they can't see what you're doing. But there's always at least one adult in the Maternity Igloo. I have the two mothers on my shoulders right now, but Auntie is in with the babies. I assume if I just lift up the igloo, I'll stress her out.

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by susb8383c on Thu 21 Dec 2017, 5:37 pm

Well, I gave up trying to lure Tia (Spanish for aunt). I'll try tomorrow which will be day 4. The two mothers are funny, though. I had Georgia out with me for quite a while, then Artemis when she exited the MI. After a while I put them in the spare tank to give them some egg, and when I put them back in their normal tank, they just wanted to be picked up again. I thought for sure they would want to rush in to check on the kids, but, nope! The kids are fine with their babysitter and the adults wanted to play. I can't believe how tame these mice are considering they were feeder mice in a pet store, and then had people walking on their heads for a month.

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by Peachy on Thu 21 Dec 2017, 8:43 pm

I never had nannies or litters together, but I'd try a yummy treat. A Cheerio with a dab of cooking oil always gets everyone's attention around here. Egg was also very popular with my moms... I just put a piece on a climbing toy, and when they were on it I took the whole thing out. They seemed to enjoy their "mommy breaks." Razz

The chances that a litter will be harmed as a result of stressing out the adults go down as the litter gets older, dramatically by the time they have fur. Others (with more baby experience than me, lol) have said that the chances are small no matter their age, and that culling is most often done for a health reason. If you know she's awake and just being stubborn about coming out, it's probably okay to quickly go into the nest to get her.

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by susb8383c on Mon 25 Dec 2017, 10:37 am

Thanks. I've had more luck since my last post. I've been able to catch all three adults out of the igloo at least once a day, so I drop everything I'm doing and pick them up. They are surprisingly tame considering all they've been through. I hold them for a while, then put them in a kritter keeper in another room. So I've been able to hold the babies everyday since day 4, five at a time. Still can't tell the sexes but I'll keep trying. They are starting to get white fuzz. Here's a picture from day 4.

Incidentally, I noticed they each have a tiny red spot right above the eye. Do you know what this is? At first I thought it was where mom grabbed them, but that's not it. Every single baby has it above each eye, so it must be a 'thing.' Do mice has some sort of gland above the eye? Never heard of something like that, but I've only had a few mice in the past. Thanks.

--It's not letting me add an image or even a link to an an image. Maybe because I'm new, I don't know.

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by Peachy on Mon 25 Dec 2017, 11:05 am

There's no restrictions on images. Are you using ServImg?

If the red spot is what I'm picturing, it's not anything to be concerned about. It was visible on my PEW babies too.

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by CinnamonPearl on Mon 25 Dec 2017, 11:30 am

AAAAAAAAAAAAH so cute!!! That's one of my favorite baby stages, furry but eyes not yet open! Man I'd love to have a pregnant doe someday.

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by susb8383c on Mon 25 Dec 2017, 2:19 pm

Peachy--Yes, that's exactly it! What is that spot? Is it just on pews? How strange. I've been googling, assuming I could find something about it, but I didn't come up with anything.

I have an image on photobucket. When I clicked on Insert Image and put in the url, the editor changed it to just photobucket.gif. I tried deleting and replacing it with the path again, but it did the same thing.

Thanks, Susie

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by MerciToujoursMaPetiteBoop on Mon 25 Dec 2017, 2:28 pm

Are we talking about the prominent follicle for an "eyebrow whisker"?

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by Peachy on Mon 25 Dec 2017, 3:09 pm

It's not just PEWs, just easier to see with their light fur. I never put thought into what it was so I'll agree with Merci's answer. Laughing


Last edited by Peachy on Mon 25 Dec 2017, 3:19 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Food for Nursing Mothers and Auntie

Post by susb8383c on Mon 25 Dec 2017, 3:14 pm

Oh, that's interesting. Never thought of that. I'm going to keep an eye on it to see if that's where the whisker emerges. Just curious.

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