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Change in behaviour after 1.5 years together!

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Post by Laurcran123 Tue 26 Jan 2021, 3:58 pm

Hi everyone,

Just thought I’d pick your brains at what I think I’ve seen in my two mice who I have owned for 1.5 years now. I’m a first-time mouse owner, and I’ve got to know their individual personalities and behaviours now. So we have cheese and beans, who are both female (no babies here!) and are from the same litter; cheese is more outgoing, very friendly and loves to take treats from me and will come to the top of the cage when she hears my voice!! Whilst beans is more timid, can be frightened easily and won’t come to the top of the cage when she can see/hear me but I can pick her up and handle her without trouble- in fact she’s quite happy in my hand! A few months ago I noticed beans had put on some weight and was weighing around 40 grams with cheese being around 30 grams; I panicked about babies but none so far! But as well as this, I also noticed she was chasing cheese around the cage (never ending in injury, just some squeaking), food was being taken from the bowl and stored in their bed and if I feed cheese a treat and step back so I can still see them, beans will snatch the treat off cheese! I’m not sure if this is just normal dominance behaviour or whether I should be concerned...

Both of them have similar routines, although I let beans run in a mobile ball for longer than cheese to try and keep her weight down. They both still sleep huddled together during the day, both use the wheel and I have seen both eating from their food bowl separately and both have a variety of food and vegetables/fruit as a diet. It is a good thing I can feed cheese by hand, as I worry that her weight might drop if she was not having enough food. Any suggestions or wisdom?!

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Post by SarahAdams Tue 26 Jan 2021, 6:57 pm

I'm no expert, but I wonder if putting two food bowls down maybe at opposite ends of their enclosure - might help with the food guarding/stealing? Lots of animals can come very protective of their food and a dominant one might drive other animals away from it.
Just a thought.

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Post by River Tue 26 Jan 2021, 8:11 pm

My girls would always drop the cheerio I gave them to steal one from their sister instead. Laughing 


The chasing is a bit weird, though. The occasional bicker I expect, but you never want them to be defensive over food or water. I'd scatter feed or add another bowl + make sure they have two water sources. 

If that fails, it may be worth considering adding more mice to 'balance' the group.

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Post by chiroptera Tue 26 Jan 2021, 11:44 pm

As has been mentioned, it would be a good idea to either offer two food bowls or to simply scatterfeed, to make sure neither mouse is being chased away from food. If you feel she might be guarding the water as well, then a second water bottle might be a good idea too.

As River suggested, it may not hurt to introduce another mouse, as mouse girls tend to do better in trios or slightly larger groups, however since your girls are rather old at this point, it might be a bit more difficult for them to adjust to having a new friend. That said, if one of your older girls passes away before the other, already having a third girl will prevent the remaining mouse from being on her own. Another thing to consider with that is whether you intend to continue keeping mice after Cheese and Beans pass on - if not, then introducing a younger mouse will be an issue down the line.

I would suggest keeping a close eye on the mouse whose behavior has changed recently, as a sudden behavior change in an animal could be due to a change in their health, although none of the behaviors you mentioned seem particularly troublesome to me. A vet trip would also never hurt if you're worried, though I would definitely not consider it necessary at this point.

Oh, I also would not recommend using exercise balls for out of cage time, as they tend to actually be more stressful for small animals than fun. Mice rely little on sight, and primarily on scent and sound, both of which are muffled by the exercise balls much more than vision is. Plus, there's little ventilation in those exercise balls.

Letting them free-roam (with supervision) on a desk, in a bathtub, or in a very safe room is much safer and really allows them to explore.

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Post by Laurcran123 Wed 27 Jan 2021, 2:06 am

Thank you for your suggestions, I will definitely try putting another bowl and water bottle in to see if that solves the issue- also I didn’t know about the exercise ball but I guess that makes sense! I often let them free roam around my bathroom when I’m cleaning their cage since it’s mouse-proof so I will do this more often! I have thought about what would happen when one of the girls passes before the other, and although I’d quite like to continue having mice I didn’t know if they would accept a younger mouse as they are now- I guess there’s no telling until you try to introduce them?!

Thanks again for the help Smile

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Post by SarahAdams Wed 27 Jan 2021, 5:47 pm

I agree about the exercise balls. I would never use them for the reasons indicated. They can't use any of their senses in them and have no choice to do anything but run, plus the thought of tiny toes and tail tips getting caught in the slots freaks me out.

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