Proper Housing

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Proper Housing

Post by Peachy on Thu 07 Apr 2016, 10:22 pm

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The content on this page was first published on The Fun Mouse website and has been reposted with permission. Please do not reproduce in any way.
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on the best housing for your mouse.

  • Is this cage secure? Mice are active, love to chew, and can squeeze through small spaces. Make sure your cage is made of a chew-proof material and doesn't have any holes or bar spacing that your mouse can escape through.
  • Is there adequate ventilation? Plastic "starter" cages with tubes (such as CritterTrail cages) are often criticized for not having enough air flow, especially in plastic tubes and connections. Some debate about whether aquarium tanks allow enough ventilation also exists. The best cages for ventilation are wire cages, but suitable ones can be hard to find and expensive for mouse keepers in the US.
  • Is there enough space for enrichment? Mice get enrichment from each other, their owner, and the toys and activities in their cages. Male mice are territorial and will often fight with other males so floor space and out of cage time is an important consideration for them.
  • Is there enough space for adequate bedding depth? Many mice won't burrow as much as other small pets burrow. Most do enjoy to dig, so we recommend a solid floor with 1-3 inches of bedding.
  • Is it easy to clean? Mice will need to be cleaned every 5-10 days depending on the number of mice and the size of your enclosure. It's important to consider the time and effort that you'll need to put into cleaning your cage.


Cage Sizes - and a note on minimums

There is no minimum or recommendation that will be suitable for every owner and their mouse, so we leave it up to you to evaluate all the housing possibilities and judge for yourself what is best. You should continue to assess whether your mice are coping well in their cage and make changes if necessary.

Cages that are too small or too large may cause or perpetuate a number of undesirable behaviors. In a cage too small, you may find that your mice are bored, inactive, or depressed, often leading to health concerns. A cage that's too big can cause mice to become stressed, territorial, and flighty. To reduce anxiety and aggression and help keep your mice at their happiest in a large space, strive to take advantage of your enclosure's floor space as well as its vertical space, avoiding large open spaces. Everywhere your mice go there should be an activity. The largest open space in a mouse's home should be the nest, which should only be slightly larger than the mice next to each other.

*The cage calculator on this site (found here) allows for approximately 65 square inches per mouse. This is a **minimum** amount of space for your mice, and we strongly recommend providing your mice with as much space as you can. This is especially important if your mice are larger or more active than average.

*Please note that a 10 gallon tank (and its equivalents in floor space) is recommended by the cage calculator as the smallest cage that you should use to house any mouse. The maximum number of mice that an enclosure this size can house is either one male or 2-3 females. Many of us prefer to upgrade our pet mice to a 20 long tank (30 inches x 12 inches) for long-term housing.


Common Enclosure Types


  • Aquariums and Reptile tanks
    Pros: Spacious, chew proof, easy viewing. Mesh lids allow fairly adequate ventilation, and secure lids create the smallest risk of escapees or wild visitors.
    Cons: Depending on height, ventilation can become a concern. Sometimes pricy; larger ones can be heavy and difficult to move and clean.

    Size: 10 Gallon Aquarium

    A 10 gallon is in line with the minimums presented by many other sources, however many pet keepers prefer to exceed this minimum for permanent, long-term housing. Good examples of short-term uses include: quarantine, hospital tank, nursing mothers, taming, timeouts, small introductions, etc.

    Toppers can be a fun accessory for 10 gallon tanks. You may also purchase (or build yourself) one for larger tanks. Some owners dislike toppers because they can be awkward and difficult to move and clean, make it difficult to get to the bottom level, and some mice are uncomfortable in toppers. If you decide to use a topper, double check that the bar spacing is appropriate so that your mouse can't escape, and make sure that essentials (like food and water) are on both levels.

    @River and @Peachy's 10 gallons with toppers.

    Size: 20 (long) Gallon Aquarium

    @AnonymousMouseOwner's 20 gallon tanks.

    These aquariums have the same height as a 10 gallon, but more floor space. This allows for more toys and hides without compromising adequate air flow.

    Other Information
    For more than 3-5 mice or for more space, you can purchase a larger aquarium. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes.


    A lid is needed to make sure that your mice remain safe in their aquarium. Mesh lids also allow you to hang things from the top for your mice to play with. These can include ropes to climb, hanging rope with bells, treat sacks, hammocks, along with many other things.

    There are many types of cage clips available to ensure that your lid is secure, such as these:
    Petco Reptile Screen Security Clips


    Reptile Tanks
    Alternatives to aquariums meant to hold water, are reptile tanks. The built in mesh lids make it impossible for a mouse to lift or move the lid to escape but may also make it more difficult to hang things.

  • Bin Cages


    Pros: Spacious, light weight and hard to break, portable, easy to clean, cost efficient, easy to add more (side) ventilation
    Cons: There's a risk of mice chewing out. May not look as nice or be as see through. Bins need to be modified in order to be appropriate.

    Plastic tubs/bins modified to house mice are known as bin cages. Unmodified bins are never to be used as they will suffocate the mice. There are many ways to modify bins and many tutorials available, such as this one: https://hammyhappenings.wordpress.com/diy-hamster-cage-bin-cage/

    There are many sizes and shapes to choose from. It's best to choose a bin with a relatively flat floor so mice don't have an easy time chewing out of it. Make sure any holes you make are covered with 1/4 inch hardware cloth/mesh.

  • Wire Cages

    @Peachy's Ferplast Hamster Cage
    Pros: Great ventilation, which is important for the health of your mouse. Bars encourage climbing and make it easy to hang toys, hammocks, etc. Detachable base makes easy cleaning.
    Cons: Inappropriate bar spacing will allow mice to escape. These cages can be messy if mice push bedding out. Bar biting can damage teeth. Wire floors and shelves may cause foot and leg injuries.

    Other Information
    When looking at cages, make sure the bar spacing is 1/4 - 3/8 an inch. This helps ensure that mice won't be able to squeeze through and escape. If your mice push bedding, etc out through the bars, try placing the cage in or on a barrier of some kind. Wire shelves, ramps, etc can be covered with cardboard.

    The wheels that come in these cages are usually less than adequate and often dangerous. For more about wheel safety, check out this link: https://www.petmousefanciers.com/t30-mouse-wheels

    Suggestions


  • Plastic Trails

    Pros: Expandable, eye catching
    Cons: Expensive, rarely large enough to house any mouse, may pose safety and escape risks, poor ventilation, break easily, difficult and time consuming to clean

    The space inside the cage is usually very limited, preventing you from adding many toys, hides, hammocks, etc. These cages often have very poor ventilation in the main house as well as all the attachments and can attribute to illnesses. Some attachments have been known to hurt small animals or allow them to escape by breaking apart. The attachments can also be very hard and time consuming to clean, especially the tubes. There are so many plastic pieces to take apart, clean, then reassemble. Cleaning can easily be an all day project.

    If you'd like to offer these types of trails, a good alternative to the small cages they come with would be to add them into another type of enclosure, such as a tank. Mice deeply enjoy trails and tubes. Mice love to tunnel, therefore they love running through the tubes. Building trails are just as fun for people as they are for the mouse! You can give your mouse a new design with each cleaning, giving them environmental enrichment.

  • Wood Structures

    Some really neat housing units can be made out of dressers, book shelves, armoires, etc. A large hole can be cut in the door and replaced with mesh, allowing for ventilation and access. When securing mesh, make sure the mesh isn't pokey as it can cause injury. Also make sure that the doors shut securely so there are no escapees. Shelves can easily be added to these. Possibilities for modifying these are virtually endless and they can look very nice in your home.

    It's important to remember that it is possible for mice to chew out of wood enclosures. A mouse can chew extremely fast, creating a hole to the outside world in less time than most people think. Wood also soaks up urine, making living arrangements extremely unsanitary and a health risk. Wood can be used if it's covered on the inside, in every place that the mice touch. The wood should be covered by something impossible for a mouse to chew through, it can't be a material that can soak up liquid, and it needs to be non-toxic. Note that mice can actually chew through cement. Mice can also chew completely completely flat surfaces as well. They don't need a corner to get them started. Wood structures can be used safely, if done properly. Covering and sealing the inside surface with Plexiglas is a good start.


Housing mice with other animals.

Many animals are mouse predators, making the outcome of housing them with other species very obvious. For instance, rats are natural predators of mice. Rats will usually kill a mouse if given the opportunity. This is known as muricide. The rat can not be blamed as it's instinct, not aggression.
Species that are not considered mouse predators should also not be housed with mice. One will still likely kill the other. Additionally, mice have different nutritional and environmental needs than many other species.

Housing domestic mice with wild mice is a risk that should not be taken lightly. Deer mice and white-footed mice can not breed with our domestic mice, and that combination does have a chance of successfully living together. It's not advised however, especially if the wild mice did not grow up in captivity. One main reason is that the nutritional needs of the two are very different. Wild mice tend to need far more protein than their domestic counterparts, for example.


Last edited by Peachy on Tue 09 Jan 2018, 10:43 pm; edited 20 times in total
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Re: Proper Housing

Post by Peachy on Wed 27 Dec 2017, 12:04 pm

Does anyone have a nice picture of their bin cage? Or a Crittertrail-like cage (I might have one of those somewhere)? Maybe a reptile cage set up for mice? I'm going to start working on this page and would love some nice pictures to go along with the types of enclosures, rather than boring stock ones. I've got tanks and appropriate cages, but you're welcome to send those too.

Any other suggestions also welcome. Smile

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Re: Proper Housing

Post by River on Wed 27 Dec 2017, 12:34 pm

The quarantine cage I have is similar to a crittertrail - it isn't suitable long term, though, so maybe that's not useful. It's a black barred cage with a yellow base.

I'm doing cage cleaning today and finally got a lot more toys set up in Graham's new habitat if that'd be useful. No bin cages here. I think someone might have had one in the past, though?
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Re: Proper Housing

Post by admin on Wed 27 Dec 2017, 12:42 pm

I may have had the same yellow cage. Razz I do have a Crittertrail picture, but it's blurry. I got rid of all those cages, now I wish I hadn't. Maybe I'll check my old Photobucket. (Edit- It won't let me log in. Grr.)

I intend to get into short-term/long-term housing a little bit. Feel free to share whatever you've got. I don't think it would be bad to fill this page with different options/comparisons and several great examples of each. I'd love a picture of the topper cage too!!

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Re: Proper Housing

Post by AnonymousMouseOwner on Wed 27 Dec 2017, 4:01 pm

What do you mean by "reptile cage set up"? My 20 long is a reptile tank, it has the sliding lid like one. I don't see how a reptile tank is any different than a normal one, though, besides the lid. Confused

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Re: Proper Housing

Post by River on Wed 27 Dec 2017, 5:20 pm

I PMed you. Hope it helps a little.

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Re: Proper Housing

Post by Peachy on Wed 27 Dec 2017, 7:06 pm

Thanks guys! Great setups. I'll PM y'all back later. lol

AMO, I was thinking more of the "terrarium" enclosures with doors but I have no idea if anyone here has one of those. I was sooo close to buying one, once.

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Re: Proper Housing

Post by Peachy on Fri 05 Jan 2018, 10:47 pm

Anyone feel like proofing this so far? I've read it so many times I couldn't keep it straight. (Also, let me know if I missed any l's or k's, because they don't work on my keyboard. lol)

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Re: Proper Housing

Post by CinnamonPearl on Fri 05 Jan 2018, 10:58 pm

It looks great to me!

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Re: Proper Housing

Post by CallaLily on Sat 06 Jan 2018, 6:59 am

Looks good to me too. The only thing I see is the link to the calculator is missing.

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Re: Proper Housing

Post by chiroptera on Sat 06 Jan 2018, 4:45 pm

@Peachy I PM'd you about bin cage examples!

Also, I'm a freelance editor so I can read through it more closely on my computer, but I did notice that in the first set of bullet points you used "their" rather than "there"

Edit: Also maybe add something about ASF's? I don't know a lot about them but I believe they are sometimes housed with mice.

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Re: Proper Housing

Post by Peachy on Sat 06 Jan 2018, 5:54 pm

Thanks guys! It's not done-done, I still have a small to-do list for it, but I need to step away from it. (Their/there mess ups is exactly what I was looking for... eventually you memorize it and start reciting rather than reading. Laughing My other laptop has a grammar checker but I have to find the charger.) Any more thoughts on it are definitely appreciated!

I don't know much about ASF's either. Will have to do some research. Smile

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Re: Proper Housing

Post by AnonymousMouseOwner on Sat 06 Jan 2018, 6:05 pm

Peachy, I also have some ten gallon setups and 20 high setups, would those pics help in any way? I also have one pic of a 40 gallon if you'd like to use that.


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Re: Proper Housing

Post by Peachy on Sat 06 Jan 2018, 6:22 pm

Sure, you can definitely send them!

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Re: Proper Housing

Post by AnonymousMouseOwner on Sat 06 Jan 2018, 6:34 pm

Will do in a bit! I'm on my tablet right now, but should be on my computer soon Smile


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