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Advice Needed: Wild Mouse care

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Post by TheWonkyFox Sun 21 Jul 2019, 8:29 am

Hi,
I'm new to these forums... *waves* ... and I'm in need of advice around a few areas of mouse care, especially wild mouse care.

For the past 2-3 weeks I've been caring for an injured wild mouse who I rescued from a cat.
She's doing great... amazingly so.
Its a bit of a long story, but about 2 months ago or more I stopped a cat attack on a mouse. We have wildlife friendly woodland on our property & feral/farm cats are common around here. My background before moving here involved a LOT of volunteering at a wildlife rescue so I'm always saving mice, voles, shrews etc... which so far has just involved checking for injuries and popping them somewhere warm, safe & dark until they're over the shock danger period and showing normal behaviour/appetite... then I release them back outside where I found them. There aren't any wildlife rescues near me, and no vets that will treat mice... and I think minimal intervention is usually best... Wild animals belong in the wild.

BUT... this particular poor mouse looked badly injured - bleeding from the eye and nose area - but it scampered off before I could catch it. Felt awful as I didn't think it stood a chance without antibiotics as I am aware that septicaemia and shock are so common in mice after cat injury.
However...
A month later, I interrupt another cat attack on a mouse... and this time I'm able to grab the mouse.
It's the same mouse!
It's got obvious old injuries where the previous mouse had been caught by the cat. Eye had a bald patch around it and was a bit swollen still... but its poor nose was swollen, black, and hard... like it's bled inside the skin and hardened into a pea sized lump. It incredibly had avoided septicaemia or serious infection to make it that far

That was almost three weeks ago... the nose fell off not long after I caught her. Yes, completely fell off while she was grooming. The wound was nice and clean underneath... been applying an anti-fungal, antiseptic, animal safe/vet approved ointment onto her nose for her daily (which she helpfully rubs into her face for me) and its done beautifully, and healing up very nicely. The eye swelling has disappeared.. fur still hasn't grown back properly there, but it looks normal now.
But... without a proper nose... (she just has airway holes) ... I guess she has no sense of smell, which isn't gonna bode well for a life surviving the wild?

So I've been dithering about that problem since she arrived, wondering if she'll cope going back... (i mean, she got catted a second time)... or would it be kinder to care for her rather than doom her with a release.

And... I discovered last night... she's had a litter of babies! They can't be more than a couple days old (I am doing MINIMAL tidying/cleaning/handling, since I don't want to stress her.) I found them all together in the nest she built. (I had left the nest alone and not refreshed that part of bedding in case there was a good reason she was building it). She seems to be spending some of the time with them, I guess feeding them... and some of the time lying in a cozy wooly tunnel I made her getting some sleep...

Ok....

So...
Today I've ordered an upgraded cage... a glass terrarium one from Zooplus since I read pinkies can get out between bars. Mice enrichment things like nibble logs, tunnels, bridges... mouse food & treats..... a wheel to make sure they exercise... and I've contacted a man I know who makes outdoor wildlife habitat to ask him to build me a mouse specific soft release shelter/house as these little ones NEED to go back to the wild (if she doesn't cannabalise them)

SO my questions....

1. Am I right in thinking that a mouse without a sense of smell is doomed in the wild?
2. Am I right in thinking that a female mouse without a companion is doomed in captivity?

(Between those two points, there doesn't seem to be a good outcome for little mama mouse?)
3. What natural forage foods do mice eat... I wanna give them as normal a diet as possible, so they acclimatise quicker to the wild. I've been trying things like bramble/blackberry flowers and buds... clover flower and leaves... maple tree seeds... but any and all other suggestions welcome, so I can give maximum variation.
(which I am supplementing with seeds, nuts, fruit, veg, muesli)
4. What age do mice young tend to separate from their mother? Am I gonna have to separate males/females before release, or am I right in thinking that all of that territorial tension will come later, after they can go outside?
5. Moving mice from one cage to another... When is best to do this? And how? I don't wanna stress Mum out & cause her to eat or reject her young, but the temporary large plastic tub I have her in isn't suitable... It thought it kinda sufficed a 2-3 week temporary stay for one mouse, but definitely not ok now as the ventilation isn't great and too small for multiple mice... and it's a pain to clean without disturbing her. (it was due to be cleaned last night, and does whiff... but when I saw the babies, I stopped immediately)
6. Am I nuts? I've just spent over £100 on a wild mouse... ha ha... and probably about to spend another £40 on soft release housing... but... when I saw she was the SAME MOUSE that I thought had no chance a couple months ago, I just gotta help her (and her kiddos) have the best chance possible... She's a bit of a miracle mouse already....

Any insight or advice very welcome!
Whilst I've got a fair bit of insight into other wildlife... mice are not my forte. I don't think we had a single mouse or rat rescue intake at the wildlife rescue i volunteered at in the year or more I was there... but I'm gonna pop some questions over to the people who ran that, particularly about Mama's survival chances, as they've been doing rescue for 35plus years and hopefully will know or advise as its an ethical no-win conundrum as far as i can see.
But anyone who's been in a similar situation, would love to hear how you dealt with it too
Thanks

TheWonkyFox
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Post by CallaLily Tue 23 Jul 2019, 4:32 pm

It’s hard to say for sure which is in her best interest -keeping her vs releasing her. I personally would probably let her live out the rest of her life comfortably in captivity because she has no nose. Mice really rely on smell a lot. I have released most wild mice I’ve rescued from the cats but I did have one that I ended up keeping that would almost constantly spin. She did just fine. I think living alone in captivity, while not the best scenario for a wild mouse, is probably the better option in this case. If you can provide her with enough space and a lot of things to do, she should be ok.

Mus musculus naturally eats mainly grain, seeds, and insects while also taking full advantage of edible herbs, flowers, mushrooms, nuts, fruit, veg, and even occasionally carrion. It sounds like your mainly missing feeder insects in the diet you’re providing. Smile

I believe they’re fully weaned at 4 weeks. I wouldn’t separate the siblings but instead would release them together. Someone else may have a different opinion here though. The males will eventually go their own way once they mature, possibly taking a sister or two with them or seeking out another group of girls to snag.

I think it’s generally recommended not to move mom and babies over to a new cage until about 2-3 weeks of age? I’m not completely sure on that though. If the cage they're in isn’t secure enough or dangerous in some way, you could probably do it sooner but with as little disturbance to the nest as possible.

No, you’re not! You are amazing for caring so much and doing your best to help this poor little girl and her babes. Heart

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Post by TheWonkyFox Fri 26 Jul 2019, 3:20 pm

Thank you CallaLily for your reply, really appreciated <3

I've been giving her dried mealworms and little bits of cat kibble as well, which I forgot to mention, though I'm really not sure if she's eating them. It's hard to spot what food has gone missing, as I don't get to see her actually eat, she's usually tucked up warm with her babies or hiding under something.

I got some mouse specific food from the pet shop this week as well... one which has a seed mix as well as protein (dried shrimp?) and pulses... and also got some dried fruit mouse treats Smile But am still giving her fresh foods every day like baby corn, carrot, sugar snap peas, courgette, green beans, apple, pear, raspberry, cherry... and dried pasta as I read somewhere it helps keep their teeth ground down. And she's got a herb boredom buster today as well... lol..
She's definitely eating well though, going by the poop production.

An update on how they're doing...
I did move them to the new cage a couple days ago... and I think it went well.
I had a little fleece strip underneath where she had built the nest, so I just picked it up by the corners and air-lifted the whole lot across so the nest wasn't disturbed at all...
One very confused mouse emerged a few minutes later though to find that she was now in The Mouse Ritz... and she spent a few hours scampering about and exploring.... about the most active she's been since she arrived.

I have had to disturb the nest slightly since then though, as the babies are now in the habit of clinging on to her, and getting dragged around the enclosure, until they fall off somewhere. The first couple times she did it, I left her to it for a couple hrs hoping she'd pick it up and bring it back, but she didn't, and I got worried about the lil squeak, so I gently move baby back to the nest where she was. She saw me do it... (eek!) as she poked her head out of the nest. I had baby sitting on my finger and she reached out and grabbed it and pulled it into the nest where it immediately latched on. (aw!)

There are four babies... all now furred up... I actually think there were more originally, as when I first glimpsed them as pinkies the pile looked like it would have been more. But reading about mice and milk production, i found a study that said they produce optimum amount of milk for four or five babies.... if they have a larger litter, then they will produce a bit more milk, but it works out as less milk available per pup.
In natural settings though, there's often another female who will lactate and help with feeding so there's enough milk to go around... but since she's raising them alone, I guess any infanticide could be nature's way of making sure that whatever available resources are there will still produce a healthy family. :/
I'm pretty sure that any baby loss if it happened, happened before the house move... when i was cleaning the old tub out, I spotted some pink tissue bits, like blood stain... Sad Can't be sure it wasn't from the birth though.

They really needed to be moved as the other tub was so whiffy... and with a heatwave here this week, they badly needed something better ventilated. It had fleece strips on the bottom which weren't very absorbent and she seems much happier to be able to dig... and I'm able to make the place more comfy, with bits of food hidden around the place to simulate foraging.

Still not fully decided on what to do about soft release... whether to release Mum with her kids, or just the kids. It's a hard choice... but I am being swayed by the fact that I put a hanging rope bridge in there which she used to climb to the wire roof and started gnawing on the bars Worry so she definitely wants her freedom back.
I took down the rope bridge as I didn't want her damaging her teeth but I think Mousie is telling me she'd be happier if she goes with the kids. Crying or Very sad
*Sigh*... I gotta not get attached... or try not to.

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