New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

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New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by Akrasia on Mon 10 Sep 2018, 6:31 am

Hi,

We're new to keeping mice and looking for advice, particularly on taming and feeding (we're in the UK, so thinking about UK food products). I know there's lots of really useful info here already, and I've read a lot of it, but hope you don't mind me asking some specific questions about our mice and what we're finding/doing/trying to do.

We have four female mice from two breeders, all getting along with each other well in a large Exo Terra terrarium. With their breeders they were relaxed and hand-tame, but moving house seems to have set them back a bit, so we're working on getting them settled in again and familiar with us.

Handling

We've had them for two weeks now. They're curious, and will approach cautiously to sniff/nibble our hands, but are easily triggered to run away. We were a little concerned by the nibbling behaviour, thinking it might develop into biting, but it definitely seems to be curiosity rather than aggression and if anything we're seeing less of it now.

They'll take food held out to them, but won't yet climb into our hands. They'll also crawl into a tube to be picked up and held, but are then quite keen to get back into their tank, and we're not trying to force the issue. Once back in, they've come to expect a sunflower seed reward, so they seem pretty trainable.

I'm not quite sure how much to push them out of their comfort zone in terms of holding them: having handled them when they were more comfortable with it before bringing them home I feel like we aren't starting from scratch so it shouldn't take too long to get back there, but I don't really know. I've read some threads about doing familiarisation away from the tank, so will perhaps think about how we can create an escape-proof place to do that and give it a go with the bravest.

Is it normal for a move to have this effect? Does this sound like where we should be after a couple of weeks, and what we should be doing?

What to feed?

At the moment we're feeding a mixture of Reggie Rat & Mimi Mouse Tasty Mix and a bag of a higher fat mix that one of the breeders gave us to transition her mice to their new diet. We've tried offering bits of various fresh fruit and veg, but they don't seem that interested. I've found a post suggesting a mixture of Reggie Rat & Mimi Mouse Tasty Mix, Supreme Science Selective Mouse Food, and some extra seeds makes a good diet, and that seems something we can get hold off easily enough. I'm wondering whether supplementing with dried mealworms too is a good idea, and if so how many how often?

How much to feed?

We've been feeding in a bowl so we can get a sense of how much they've been eating. We'll consider using scatter feeding more once we know we've got the diet/quantities right, but don't want to risk there being a problem we're unaware of at this stage. Initially I wanted to err on the side of giving them too much food, just while we were all getting used to how things work, as I'd rather have fat mice than dead mice. I've read ~3g/mouse/day, and that overfed mice have shorter lives, but that doesn't look like much at all; we've definitely been giving them more. Should we really be weighing ~12g of food each day for the four of them and restricting them to that? Surely then the more dominant mice would eat more and there wouldn't be enough for the others?

Training treats?

So far sunflower seeds are the only food we've found that they're always interested in, so that's what we've started using as treats to train them. I've read that these are fatty so should only be offered in moderation, but don't know whether that means no more than a couple a day, or a couple a week, or what? I've seen Cheerios as a suggestion, but would have thought they'd be too sugary, so would worry about how many it's okay to give. Rice Crispies sound better as an option to try, but other ideas of (UK) foods that are appealing enough, not too unhealthy, and can be given in large enough quantities to effectively reinforce the behaviours we want would be helpful.

I realise there's quite a lot there, so thanks for bearing with me. Any help appreciated!

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by CallaLily on Mon 10 Sep 2018, 7:55 am

Mouse Wave Welcome to the group!

It’s very normal for a change in homes to set taming back a little. It sounds like you’re in a very good place for just 2 weeks in to me. Keep up what you’re doing and with time and patience you’ll get there. Definitely I find it true that taming sessions on neutral ground go more smoothly than in their cage.

I really liked Supreme Science Selective Mouse Food to round out my seed mix. The ingredients are really good to the block I find here in the US and the mice really enjoyed them too, usually eating them first. Which is great because a good food means very little if they don’t actually eat it. I don’t have much knowledge on good seed mixes in the UK, but there is a stickied page here on the forum with some advice on products there if you haven’t found it yet. Mealworms are good. I think I remember reading something like 3 per mouse per day being a general recommendation. Most mice love them. You could also do crickets or calciworms or whatever feeder insect you have access to. I stuck with freeze dried, but live is ok too. And supplementing their main diet with small amounts of fresh veg/fruit at least twice a week is good.

Also, since these mice are from a breeder. Ask what foods they find works best with their mouse line.

Their main base food should never be restricted but to prevent them from only eating their favorite bits, I never refilled their dish until they’d eaten most of it. You might want to poke around for any stashes too and be careful not to mistake empty seed shells for a full dish. Pay attention during full weekly cage cleans. If you’re seeing a lot of food stashed around going to waste, cut back some on feeding. If you’re seeing hardly any extra food on cleaning day, step it up a little. It won’t be long before you’ve got the hang of how much how often.


I would limit sunflower seeds to just a few a day, assuming there’s no negative reaction to them (some mice react poorly with itchy hot spots). Walnuts are usually a fav treat. You can break them into small pieces, but I would also limit those to a few little pieces a day. Flax seed, hemp seed, rolled oats, millet, banana chips, coconut, nori, low/no sugar breakfast cereals, dog biscuits (check ingredients), dried feeder insects, whole grain crackers or bread - all were well received by my mice. Limit fattier treats to just a few small pieces a day. Sugar filled treats a bit less often, maybe a few times a week.

I hope this helps some. Smile



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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by Akrasia on Mon 10 Sep 2018, 8:17 am

Thanks for the reply. Some really useful advice.

Particularly pleased we don't need to weigh/ration food as I thought we might! Will do as you suggest and replenish their bowl only when empty.

It sounds like we haven't been overdosing them on sunflower seeds, which is a relief. Will also get some mealworms and keep experimenting with treats, especially other seeds.

Have found a good video of a bathtub taming session, and might try that this evening to see if neutral ground speeds things up for us.

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by Akrasia on Mon 10 Sep 2018, 6:33 pm

Lukewarm response to rice crispies and pumpkin seeds, but mealworms appear to contain some sort of mouse cocaine.

Thoroughly recommend taking a (dry) bath with new mice. Think we might have made a bit of a breakthrough.

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by MerciToujoursMaPetiteBoop on Mon 10 Sep 2018, 7:37 pm

For calorie-conscious training treats, you can break larger pieces into smaller, or just select things that come in smaller sizes to begin with.

A rolled oat (or wheat or rye or barley) flake is a pretty nice treat for a mouse.  Or a Grape-Nuts cereal kernel.  So is a sesame seed.  I used to save the seeds that fell off the bagels at work and give my little April some for treats.  She absolutely loved them.

Plain Cheerios are quite low in sugar, and you can easily break one "O" into four treat pieces.  If you have freeze-dried meal worms, those can be divided into pieces too -- although if you prefer something less graphic, look for freeze-dried mini-shrimps among the cat treats at the pet store.  Those are easy to break into smaller bits.

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by Mahjling on Mon 10 Sep 2018, 9:40 pm

I have a long post about feeding and diet Here, which I know is at odds with some opinions here because it doesn't recommend a loose seed diet as the full base of a mouse's diet, but which you may get some use out of anyway.

I've tried to keep any science and nutrition based jargon at a minimum to make it easy to understand!

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by Akrasia on Tue 11 Sep 2018, 4:28 am

@MerciToujoursMaPetiteBoop wrote:For calorie-conscious training treats, you can break larger pieces into smaller, or just select things that come in smaller sizes to begin with.

A rolled oat (or wheat or rye or barley) flake is a pretty nice treat for a mouse.  Or a Grape-Nuts cereal kernel.  So is a sesame seed.  I used to save the seeds that fell off the bagels at work and give my little April some for treats.  She absolutely loved them.

Plain Cheerios are quite low in sugar, and you can easily break one "O" into four treat pieces.  If you have freeze-dried meal worms, those can be divided into pieces too -- although if you prefer something less graphic, look for freeze-dried mini-shrimps among the cat treats at the pet store.  Those are easy to break into smaller bits.

Thanks for the advice.

You're basically telling me I need to share my hand-mixed muesli with them! Will see what they make of it next time out. Perhaps in due course we'll all be able to sit down to breakfast together.

Cheerios can be the back-up plan.

No issues with mealworms. We're not squeamish. Smile

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by Akrasia on Tue 11 Sep 2018, 4:42 am

@Mahjling wrote:I have a long post about feeding and diet Here, which I know is at odds with some opinions here because it doesn't recommend a loose seed diet as the full base of a mouse's diet, but which you may get some use out of anyway.

I've tried to keep any science and nutrition based jargon at a minimum to make it easy to understand!

Thanks for the link. I'm not overly keen on the lab block idea (I'm sure you get that a lot), but do understand the argument. Will see how things go and give it some thought.

Until yesterday, I was worrying that treats were such a big part of training that the base diet was becoming borderline irrelevant, but in the bath they weren't actually that interested in the food, more in exploring. So maybe we'll be able to dial back the treats a bit.

That said, we tried giving one of them something other than a sunflower seed after she'd let us pick her up via a tube, and got such a look of reproach as she flung it onto the floor...

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by CallaLily on Tue 11 Sep 2018, 7:23 am

Laughing Silly mouse. I guess you have no doubt as to what their favorite treat is.

I find taming goes just as well without treats during the session, maybe even better. Then I hide treats in their cage for them to find after the taming session. They quickly caught on to that and would excitedly run around to find them.

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by Akrasia on Tue 11 Sep 2018, 9:17 am

@CallaLily wrote:Laughing Silly mouse. I guess you have no doubt as to what their favorite treat is.

I find taming goes just as well without treats during the session, maybe even better. Then I hide treats in their cage for them to find after the taming session. They quickly caught on to that and would excitedly run around to find them.

Do you do taming sessions with all your mice at once?

A couple of our mice will sometimes snatch food from the others. We're doing taming stuff one mouse at a time at the moment, and it takes a bit of care to make sure the mouse that earned the reward gets to eat it in peace. If we were working with all of them then hidden treats could work though.


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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by CallaLily on Tue 11 Sep 2018, 12:44 pm

Yes, I pulled each group out for a turn for taming and play time.

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by Mahjling on Thu 13 Sep 2018, 4:31 pm

I do get that a lot, which is unfortunate because I worked with a biology + zoology major on writing it so the information is pretty solid and I was very proud of it at the time, but as long as it's not terribly unsafe, I just let people do what they like, my advice is only advice, not rule Laughing

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by Akrasia on Thu 13 Sep 2018, 9:06 pm

@Mahjling wrote:I do get that a lot, which is unfortunate because I worked with a biology + zoology major on writing it so the information is pretty solid and I was very proud of it at the time, but as long as it's not terribly unsafe, I just let people do what they like, my advice is only advice, not rule Laughing

I think the reluctance to follow the advice is the same reluctance that means I don't live on Soylent or Huel myself: an instinctive, not necessarily rational preference to keep things a bit more natural. But I'm sure the advice is sound; as I said, I do get the argument and appreciate the info. Not doubting you at all.

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by Akrasia on Sun 16 Sep 2018, 12:59 pm

The muesli mix is a big hit. Now have a range of treats that they like to use for training. Just need to be careful not to give them so much in training that the treats replace their base diet, I guess.

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Re: New Owner Advice: Taming and (Mostly) Feeding

Post by MerciToujoursMaPetiteBoop on Mon 17 Sep 2018, 7:15 am

Now you can call it your "mouse-li" mix.

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