Mouse behavior after a cagemate dies?

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Mouse behavior after a cagemate dies?

Post by Bthny on Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:14 pm

Hi guys! I have a female mouse named Cleo who's a year and 6-8 months old, and her cagemate passed away recently (they were kept in a pair). What behaviors are typical to see after that happens? I have two younger mice who I have introduced her to, but I noticed last night that she seemed stressed and wasn't taking her favorite treats, so I separated them to give her a break from all of the energy. This initially seemed to work really well, but Cleo's a bit slow and disinterested now and she's had a few clumsy moments. I have seen her eat today, and she seems to be breathing okay. I tried to bring the calmer of the two mice over to the cage to give her a friend for a little bit, and Cleo left her sleeping house but tried to exit her cage and crawl onto my hands. She tolerates being picked up, but she's always been a bit of a stressball about leaving her cage, and I've never seen her do it before. All three mice initially got along really well, so I'm not sure what to think. This didn't start immediately after her cagemate died, but is it just that she's missing her cagemate? Is there anything I can do to help? I don't think she's sick, but let me know if it sounds like it (her cagemate had some tumors, so I don't think there's an illness that was passed between them, and Cleo is acting differently than her cagemate was). The only other recent change that I can think of is that I moved the cage from the basement to my room since we were having humidity and bug issues down there.

I never saw the new mice being mean or them fighting, but they are younger with a lot more energy, which I was concerned about but told shouldn't be an issue. Could that be the problem?

She's usually more active at night, so it may be a bit premature for me to worry, but I can't help but be concerned given the circumstances. Thank you for your help!
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Re: Mouse behavior after a cagemate dies?

Post by essentiallysue on Sat Jun 18, 2016 10:42 pm

I had the exact thing happen to me. One of my pair of mice died, and I immediately put the remaining one in with four younger and very active mice. They seemed to like her, but she is fatter and much slower than any of them. I have been watching her for two days now. I made new houses and climbing things so as to accomodate a bigger and slower mouse, as well as the agile ones. Today, when I pulled up the house to have a peek, she was sleeping in the middle and the four smaller ones on top of her. I have seen her eat and run on the wheel a bit, so it looks like they are OK. I am sure you are watching yours as anxiously as I am watching mine. I wish I had advice to give you.

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Re: Mouse behavior after a cagemate dies?

Post by peas on Sun Jun 19, 2016 1:51 am


If they aren't fighting then keep them together.

Mice are more active at night, it's pretty common.


It just sounds like she's a bit bored/down. New toys and treats and plenty of attention should cure that. What size of tank do you have? Does she like to run?
You mentioned she stays in her tank, does she have a play bin or any bathtub play time with you? It's good for mice to get out to a new area, that is safe of course, every once in awhile.


What are clumsy moments?

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Re: Mouse behavior after a cagemate dies?

Post by Bthny on Sun Jun 19, 2016 7:10 am

I have a wire cage that's about a foot and a half by a foot. Cleo does like to run, but I've noticed the two younger ones tend to monopolize the wheel, so I was going to add at least one more.

I have a bin that I'll play with them in, and I have two cages that she's used to going between for cleaning.

There was one time she was climbing down the side of a hay teepee that was in her cage and just sort of tumbled down the last little bit. It wasn't really a fall, but once her front legs reached the ground it was like she couldn't control her back half. I saw it happen 3 times. I was starting to wonder if she might be hurt, but she was jumping up and down a two-level house in her cage, so it didn't seem consistent enough for that. I haven't seen any bite marks or anything like that.
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Re: Mouse behavior after a cagemate dies?

Post by scaredymouse on Sun Jun 19, 2016 8:53 am

As far as the clumsy moment, it sounds like he vision might be starting to go. I have a mouse that I'm pretty sure is blind, she's 26 months old but still hanging in there. She does really well except when I put in tall items and rearrange the tank to much. You might want to take that into consideration when you set the tank up every week. When I clean the tank, if I make any changes, I will sit and watch her navigate around to make sure she doesn't have any problems getting around.

As far as her behavior, how long ago did her friend pass? It has been my experience that they definitely go through a grieving process. Sometimes they want to be alone, sometimes not but they definitely grieve.

I would put the kids back in with her. She might act annoyed for a bit, that's okay. She needs friends. If there isn't any fighting, they will find a balance. I would add another wheel. I have two in with my girls. I hate to see my old lady on the wheel then some kid comes a long and starts spinning her around in circles, I cringe! I found that once my old ladies got used to the kids, not only do they sleep in cute piles, but they are also starting to be more active.

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Re: Mouse behavior after a cagemate dies?

Post by Bthny on Sun Jun 19, 2016 9:30 am

I didn't even think about her vision getting worse--thank you for mentioning it! It would make a lot of sense, so I'll be sure to be careful of it.

Her friend died late on the Monday the 13th, so it hasn't been very long. Is how she's acting typical for that? I'm pretty sure she knows that her friend died and didn't just disappear since we didn't remove her until after she died. Cleo also didn't start acting oddly until Friday night.

It definitely sounds like it's best to put them all back together. Cleo seems to be doing a lot better this morning too. She was moving around her cage like she used to and started playing with her treat toy right away when I put it in.

Another question- would it be good for me to give Cleo a little play time with me, but without the younger girls, even when they're all living together? I've always done playtime with everyone, but I was wondering if giving her a break from them could help her a little. I know that's suggested for cats and dogs, but I didn't know if it applied to mice.

Thanks to all of you so much! You've all been really helpful Smile
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Re: Mouse behavior after a cagemate dies?

Post by scaredymouse on Sun Jun 19, 2016 9:53 am

I would give her extra loving. She knows her friend died, and she's sad, but she will recover. My girls usually grieve for 1-2 weeks. It all sounds like normal behavior to me.

After an important mouse in my colony died, my two remaining mice built a fortress of solitude, a giant nest ball. They didn't want to be touched or seen for a week. I literally did not see them for a week. The food bowl keep going down, so obviously they were eating but they didn't run or play or anything. At the end of the week, I had to clean the tank. So when I took down the massive nest, they didn't rebuild and slowly got back to normal. And they had each other for comfort. I can't imagine how they would have coped alone.

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Re: Mouse behavior after a cagemate dies?

Post by MouseLover on Sun Jun 19, 2016 10:19 am

Mice can indeed get a bit heart broken when they lose a friend Sad The only way to deal with this is new friends, and distraction (i.e. toys, treats, playtime).

If she has been introduced to the other mice, they should be left together permanently (unless of course there are fighting issues). Swapping her in and out will cause her more stress, and delay her bonding with the other girls. Putting her with the other girls may be a bit stressful for her at first, some squabbling and chasing is not unusual, but in the long run it is in her best interest to bond with the others as soon as possible. Mice are not made to be alone, she will enjoy the company.

As for the clumsiness, keep an eye on it. If it seems like it was just a one off, then no worries. But if it seems like she is having issues getting around then a vet visit might be required.

Good luck with your girlies!

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Re: Mouse behavior after a cagemate dies?

Post by Bthny on Sun Jun 19, 2016 3:36 pm

I have all 3 in the play bin together, and everyone seems to be getting along well. Cleo will sometimes go off and huddle by herself, and she'll sometimes follow the other two, but she's not avoiding them, so it seems like everything's okay. She's being reasonably active and she's eating, so I'm going to try not to be an overprotective owner and let her bond with the new girls.

Thank you so much for all of your advice! All of you have been so helpful, and I can't tell you enough how much I appreciate it!
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Re: Mouse behavior after a cagemate dies?

Post by MouseLover on Sun Jun 19, 2016 9:23 pm

That sounds like they have a great chance of getting along then Smile It is hard not to be over-protective, I know what you mean, but just remember - even with humans, sometimes we argue with roommates or family, sometimes we want to be alone, or have a falling out. But in no way does that mean that we want to be completely alone! As social creatures, having a family/friends of some sort is essential for our health. It is the same for mice. Try not to panic if they have a squabble or two, or if Cleo would rather spend a bit of time on her own, especially when it's early days! They'll work out their hierarchy, they'll get to know each other, and then... happy days Wink

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