Easing Tension Between Male Mice?

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Easing Tension Between Male Mice?

Post by CucumberMouse on Tue 03 Apr 2018, 10:19 pm

So, yes, I know male mice shouldn't really be housed together. But, I was at Petco the other day and I found two of the male mice were fighting, and one had a slightly bloodied ear and tail, and the other was missing a large patch of fur on his side and had a scratch under his eye. There was also another male in the cage who was smaller than the other two, but had no injuries, and seemed fairly willing to be around the aggressor mouse (the one with a scratch under it's eye). The "victim" was obviously terrified. He would climb on the water bottles where the aggressor couldn't reach him. There was a pretty big drop of blood down the water bottle, as well as blood along the mesh back of the cage (the victim would scurry up the mesh back to get to the water bottle, flinging the blood from his tail across the back of the tank). An employee came over to clean the water bottle, and he noticed that I was watching the mice. We started talking and he decided to take both the aggressor and victim out of the cage and put them in the back to separate them. I told him I owned a mouse and he asked if I knew of any way to help male mice get along. I didn't really know what to say, so I suggested giving them a few more toys and more food. My question is, is there any specific way you could ease conflict between male mice in situation where they can't always be separated? I know the employee will have to put both the mice back in the cage eventually. Also a couple side questions: Would it be better to isolate the aggressor or victim in a case like this? Separating the victim could cause the aggressor to focus all his energy on the other mouse in the cage, and separating the aggressor would leave the victim with the other mouse, and they could end up fighting too after they mature a little. Also, do male mouse social structures, when only male mice are involved, follow a similar build to female mouse social structures? Like with a dominant, peace maker, and least dominant mouse? It really seemed like it in this case...
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Re: Easing Tension Between Male Mice?

Post by CallaLily on Wed 04 Apr 2018, 11:00 am

So of course the absolute best situation is to house them separately. Most male mice will fight once they start to reach maturity. There’s no getting around it. It’s just in their nature. You see, in the wild Mus musculus lives one male to a group of females. Other male mice, including mature offspring, will be fought and chased away. In nature they have plenty of space to get away so often get off with little injury. In captivity there’s no where to go so these fight lead to severe injury or even death.

In some countries they have very selectively bred bucks over many many generations to lower territorial behaviors. Even so, many times it still doesn’t work out! And it almost never works out for poorly bred mice, like the ones you mention here.

I would suggest the employer isolate the aggressor and keep him that way. And also for him to keep a close eye on the other males for fighting because if they’re not sold soon chances are they’ll be fighting soon too. Advising more enrichment can’t hurt. Pet stores often have very boring set ups. But it likely won’t solve the problem here. It’s instinct and even in the most amazing mouse house, bucks will almost always fight.

I’m surprised the guy plans to put them back in the main display tank. It’s my understanding that most of the big name pet shops will a)put the injured mouse in hospital to be checked out by their vet - later likely to be put up for adoption if injuries were severe and b) keep the aggressive mouse separate until purchase or adoption.

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Re: Easing Tension Between Male Mice?

Post by CucumberMouse on Wed 04 Apr 2018, 6:07 pm

Yeah, usually I hear that they will try and put an injured mouse in the vet, but this worker specifically said he'd "put it in the back for a day or two". Also, I've heard most Petco stores, including the store I was talking about above, specifically talk about how millet will "calm the mice" like some sort of sedative? I really don't think that's true, but I've never actually researched it. The employee tried to tell me the males were only fighting because the millet was taken out of the cage, but obviously that's not anywhere close to the whole truth. Kind of off topic, but is it true that millet "calms" mice.
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Re: Easing Tension Between Male Mice?

Post by CallaLily on Wed 04 Apr 2018, 8:22 pm

Millet is a regular part of most seed mixes and I’ve never heard mention of it being calming. Pardon Most pet stores feed lab blocks so I imagine a spray of millet is a great treat compared to their normal boring diet and setup.

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