Keeping Mice on a Budget

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Keeping Mice on a Budget

Post by Blessed on Wed 03 Jan 2018, 1:09 pm

Hey, guys!
I wanted to make this thread for people on tightish/carefully monitored budgets, but still wanting (and can afford) a mouse or two or three. =)

The important things for mice to have:
1. Water
2. Food
3. Bedding (so they won't be on a hard floor 24/7)
4. Hidey-hut (to help them feel secure)
5. Exercise wheel (to help them burn out some energy)
6. Cage
7. Chew toys

Nice-to-haves:
1. Nesting material (to build their nest with if they don't want to use the bedding like my mice don't do)
2. Treats (you can help tame them a little with these! When you first get them, though, they probably won't eat from your hand...give them some time Thumbs Up)

NOW... moving on....
Mice don't drink much water to begin with (you can probably find a cheap plastic water bottle from Walmart in the pet aisle(s)). But make sure they always have water in their bottle or bowl (you can probably find an even cheaper bowl for your mouse, but they tend to get dirtied fast).
They also don't eat a whole lot of food, but they do like having the option of getting some throughout the day. Mouse food from Walmart is real cheap and still good, unlike a lot of the rat/mouse foods at pet stores. A 3-pound bag of seeds for one mouse may last up to six months, more or less (the food I get my mice lasts super long, but I also rarely keep food in my mice's bowl all day...though that's not recommended you follow that example). And food bowls are cheap but optional; it generally helps keep it a little less messy, but scattering the food can encourage your mouse's ('wild') instincts to search for it.
3. Bedding - if you only have three mice or less, and using about an inch-and-a-half of bedding, it should be fine to clean their tank once every two weeks. You can make bedding mimicking Carefresh's yourself for cheap (buying a big supply of paper, colored or white...your choice). Or, you can line their cage with super cheap paper towels...but then it'd be best to clean their tank once or twice a week, depending on how many mice you have (cons: Not odor absorbent). The price of bedding isn't typically too bad, depending on the size of bag you get, where you get it from, and the brand. Just Stay Away from cedar, pine, and aspen wood shavings...it might give your mice mites/lice, or a respiratory infection...possibly cancer, too.
4. An empty Kleenex box would work great! I've used those before. Smile
5. If noise bothers you, opt for the silent or comfort wheel or spinning saucer...the wire ones are cheaper and chew-proof, but, you typically don't have to replace a wheel, so you should only need to buy one or two, your preference depending on how many mice you have (at least, I've never had to buy more than one).
6. Use a tank. Tanks may not have thee greatest ventilation (particularly with a lid, which is recommended you have one on for safety reasons), but mice are notorious for escaping between the bars of a metal cage. So, again, use a tank. A ten-gallon tank works great for up to three mice. A twenty-gallon is perfect for five. You can probably get a used tank for cheap or possibly free, in good shape. Other than that, an empty, new 10-gallon tank will probably run around $15, depending on where you live.
7. Toys! Not all mice are avid chewers...in fact, you might find plenty of mice not to be. But most, if not all, mice do like chewing--and should be able to--at least a little. Wood chew toys are generally not expensive, anyways, but if you wanted, you could get a skinny stick from outside, rinse it off, then toss it in the freezer for a couple of days to rid it of bugs. Your mice I'm sure may just really enjoy a real stick and might chew the bark off! Tender Also, toilet paper rolls are good, 'free' tunnels to go through, and your mice may enjoy chewing on those, too!

1. Nesting material - Kleenexes would work great! You can tear them up a little for the mice (though they'll probably enjoy doing that), or leave a few whole ones for them (even toilet paper or paper towels would work great, but I think Kleenexes are a favorite nesting material, as they're super cheap and soft).
2. Treats - oats, dry, unsweetened cereals, cooked pastas, corn, etc. are great, somewhat healthy treats that you probably already have in your pantry! Very Happy
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Mice are generally cheap pets, anyways, but these are excellent suggestions if you want to go even cheaper.
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Well, that's all! I hope you found this thread helpful, and enjoy your new mice (or mouse)! Mouse Wave


Last edited by Blessed on Fri 07 Sep 2018, 9:56 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Keeping Mice on a Budget

Post by CallaLily on Wed 03 Jan 2018, 3:03 pm

I've actually had the best luck with the cheap plastic water bottles from Wal-Mart. Laughing  As far as not leaking or stopping up goes.

I would move chews to a must. Their teeth continually grow so they need to be able to keep them trim. The good news is most mice really enjoy chewing cardboard and it works well and most people often have safe cardboard scraps in their recycle bin.

Not wanting to get too deeply into "good" food, but they should have access to food at all times. They have very high metabolisms so they need to be able to eat very frequent small meals throughout the day/night. Wink

Cleaning may depend some on number of mice, enclosure size, and bedding depth/type but I have found that even with only 3 mice in a larger enclosure with a good amount of bedding still needs to be cleaned at around 7-10 days. Just my experience.

Another thing to keep in mind is I think this forum is currently considering bumping up the minimum long-term housing size.

And finally I would ask someone thinking of keeping mice as pets to keep in mind that it's very likely that your mouse/mice will need to see a vet at least once in their life. Common health problems are respiratory infection, tumors, stroke, eye/ear infections, mites/lice. It's always a good idea to have a vet fund, look for experienced exotic vets in your area, and have a plan.

Just adding my 2 Cents Smile

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Re: Keeping Mice on a Budget

Post by River on Wed 03 Jan 2018, 4:07 pm

I'm on a budget myself right now too. I recently adopted a parrot who was a chronic egg layer with fatty liver, so I try to make sure my money stays where it belongs: the vet fund. Save what you can.

We've gotten by for over a year with 100% home made toys. About every month we buy $5 bedding and $6 food. We use a lot of paper, hemp craft twine, cardboard tubes, food boxes, and felt/fleece. Mice generally make pretty great budget pets if you're creative enough for it. A helpful topic to make.
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Re: Keeping Mice on a Budget

Post by Blessed on Wed 03 Jan 2018, 5:35 pm

I actually usually really like my cheap plastic water bottle, too. Though I think I liked it more the newer it was (I'm happy to say, my mice have never chewed on it). Laughing

I didn't know for sure if chews were more of a must, as since they have their hard food, I figured that was good; but thanks for tellin' me.

Yeah, I don't want anyone to follow that advice about only feeding them at night the way I do...it's just--been something I've pretty much always done. Razz

My two girls in their 10-gallon tank with Kaytee Soft Granules bedding, could probably last without a cage cleaning at least every two weeks? That's just my experience, just like you named yours. =D Last month, I cleaned their tank a total of three times, and I smelled nothing bad from their tank.

Oh, I didn't know that. Again, thanks for telling me. =)

That's smart advice to add that; thanks. Smile

I really appreciate your input, @CallaLily, and don't mind anyone else adding in their experiences in caring for their mice, too. Thumbs Up
--
That's very smart, @River. Smile
Yep, very true.
Thanks! I was hoping it would be helpful, but sorry for droning...I hope that doesn't 'bore away' potential new mouse owners. =P

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Re: Keeping Mice on a Budget

Post by CinnamonPearl on Thu 04 Jan 2018, 11:08 am

Just some notes.

1. Do not use cheap plastic water bottles. Use glass no matter what. The cheap plastic can leach toxins into the water over time and harm the mice. This is what caused me to originally switch to glass bottles.

2. Food should ALWAYS be available. New mouse owners, if you cannot afford to even keep food readily available, you probably cannot afford to have pets.

3. You generally dont want to give your mice things that came from outside. If you do, you either must bake it or use a SUBZERO freezer. A normal freezer will not do.

4. Clean the tank once a week. Without exception. Mice pee a lot, and after one week, the ammonia buildup will get bad for them. No matter what your budget is, do that.

5. Dont just buy the cheapest, biggest bag of seeds at walmart. Thr chancrs of it having the right ingredients and nutritional analysis are slim. Get a food with a correct variety of ingredients and 13% crude protein like Sunseed Vita or Vitakraft, or you risk your mice developing hotspots.

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