Tips for an OCD Mouse?

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Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by despereaux on Tue Jul 12, 2016 5:44 pm

So a bit of background : I'm about 6-7 weeks into treating my mice for mites and 3 out of the 4 are doing great. They hardly scratch at all anymore and the thin spots in their fur have filled back out. But my other mouse, Clover, is not doing so well. If she's not eating or sleeping, she's scratching. It's to the point where she's scratched most of the fur off her cheeks and chest. I've tried changing their food and their bedding as well to see if she had an allergy to that, but she still continues to scratch. So at this point I'm fairly certain she's developed OCD and is simply going to be a chronic scratcher.

So my question is what kinds of methods and toys (preferably DIY) do you guys use to distract your OCD mice? She used to love her wheel but even that isn't doing it for her anymore. I do try to switch up the things in her cage as much as possible but I'm running out of ideas for things to make that she hasn't seen before or that will actually keep her busy past the few minutes it takes her to check them out. One thing that does seem to hold her attention is nest building and gathering scraps of newspaper/TP/etc. I've thought about messing up the nest from time to time to force her to spend more time doing that, but would that just upset them more than anything? Is there any hope I can get her to quit scratching long enough to grow some of her fur back? Any tips/input from you guys is appreciated!
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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by CinnamonPearl on Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:49 pm

The key word to helping an OCD mouse is: distraction. Distract, distract, distract. Make tons of new MESs, shapes and layouts Clover's never seen before, and change out toys every other day. If you don't already, start putting their food and water bottle in different places. If you clean on Saturdays, start cleaning on Wednesdays. Keep her guessing and keep her distracted by all of this new stuff. Heck, change their food if you can. Give lots of new fresh foods for her to try. Take her out for playtime multiple times a day and let her explore new things. If she has any wounds from scratching, put cortaid on it to help relieve the areas. And most importantly, if you see her scratching, stop her. 

OCD is tough. My Mabel has a case, and she never really got better. She goes after her ear and her eye, but she's not too bad, so I had to settle. Hopefully Clover will make a complete recovery, but usually when OCD sets in, it never completely goes away, and the mouse will be at risk of starting again their entire life. Best of luck with Clover.

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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by River on Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:00 pm

If I'm not wrong, there's an active user on here with an OCD mouse, but I've forgotten who - it might have been Cinna's mable, but I've forgotten!
I would guess that 'boredom breaker' or 'activity' toys would work best for her. You can look at storebought ones and try to make them yourself? Make everything you can on the MES and free toy page, and look around for free hamster/mouse toys on YouTube.
I do think messing up the nest so they must remake them at least once a day is nice. It promotes activity - just either put new bits of toilet paper, or muss it up a bit. I personally mess my nest up daily, just to prevent eye irritation, and I think my girls actually have fun building the nest, so you might want to do that.
I've heard of people making the bedding deeper than usual on one side of the cage. Is she treat motivated? You could hide some treats in there to see if she digs around, or just leave it be if she likes digging anyhow.
I did some research and also found that some people say to 'ditch the food bowl' - give the same amount, but instead scatter it around the cage so they have to search for it, and it'll distract them. Though, I wouldn't recommend this for blind or older mice. Uh...the only other thing I found with good results was using athletes foot powder, which I wouldn't trust the safety of, so I don't recommend it.

Viovet is a wonderful brand if you want to either recreate or buy store bought options. I think if you're good with Popsicle sticks, you could recreate most of these? Just search 'boredom breaker'. Rosewood pet products has some amazing boredom breakers you can probably recreate as well; like the Activity Assault Course, the Activity Climbing Tower, the Activity Suspension Bridge, etc.
http://www.rosewoodpet.com/search/boredom%20breaker


How often are you rearranging the cage?


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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by CAPSLOCK on Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:38 pm

I (thankfully!) haven't had to deal with OCD mice.

However, some good "boredom busters":

-Hay! They love it - nibble at it, drag it around, make nests, etc.

-Make a "sandbox" to dig for some / all of their food or treats - take some pellet type bedding (ie, yesterday's news, or even shredded paper), put it in a container (egg cartons work great for this, but any little short container will do) and sprinkle the food in so they have to dig through to find it.

-Along the above lines, if you take a poptart box or similar box, load it with a bunch of shredded paper (or hay), and then sprinkle treats in (and kind of shake them so they fall down through a bit), you've got a fun foraging box!

-Cardboard drink holders work as fun ladders if you tie them vertically in the cage (and if you tie one corner to the mesh top, they are just the right height for a 20L aquarium)

-Bird millet is another fun treat that takes a while to eat. And can be hung in fun places, so it's a bit of a workout too.

-Each night, add a little more nest material in all sorts of places around the tank. Up on ladders, in TP tubes, etc. So they have to find it, and then drag it back to their nest.

-Random awkward shaped cardboard is especially fun. Electronics are often shipped with fun little cardboard "spacers" that are designed to keep the electronics still - but they work as great little mouse obstacles.

-Take some paper towel, or newspaper, and crunch it up around a tasty treat. She'll have to either chew into it or unbunch it to reach the treat. Once she has mastered this, cram the whole shebang into a TP tube so she has to extract it and then work on getting the treat out.

-Put the food dish somewhere that takes some effort to get to (ie, make a MES that requires climbing and put it on top, or make a ladder to a box that's mounted up somewhere in the tank and put it in that box).

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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by CAPSLOCK on Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:43 pm

Also, have you seen any of the photos of tanks / cages using those fleece braided ropes as bridges? I'm going to be making some soon, they are super easy and don't take that much fleece - just 3 long slender pieces, braided together. Then the rope can be rearranged as often as you like into different bridge configurations. New pathways around the tank to explore = fun! Adding a few TP tubes to the rope bridge setup adds extra bonus fun.

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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by Peachy on Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:06 pm

In the first post of the Housing Pictures thread, there's a link to over 50 more pictures with some fun ideas from the old forum, if you haven't seen it. Smile

There's also a Totally Free Toys thread... somewhere. lol


My newest girl, Pearl, has been scratching her face for months. It gets better and next thing you know she's made a mess of it again.

I actually love all of CAPSLOCK's suggestions, but a couple other things that have kept Pearl busy:

Line the tank with paper towels and make her shred her own bedding to build a nest.

Hide the food in pinatas. You can wrap the seed in tissue or a muffin liner and then tie a string around it. Pearl likes to continue shredding the muffin liners so she can add them to her nest. Or something like this:

Pearl liked the egg carton thing too, but when it had seed in it she spilled it pretty quick. That's actually a picture from Pinterest. I'd love to try it with millet if I ever decide to buy it again. lol

I hope Clover starts feeling better soon! My first girl broke her OCD habit with a new friend. My first OCD boy never got better and passed away, but my second OCD boy stopped scratching once his ear was gone. Shocked
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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by River on Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:27 pm

Jeez abeona, that's a lot of OCD mice! I don't know how I'd handle. I hope my girls don't develop that. The ivermectin is taking what seems to be ages to arrive, though - I'm hopeful.

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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by Peachy on Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:53 pm

I know. Worry The first girl's only friend died and her new friend bullied her relentlessly. Once they were really together they were best friends, but it took her a couple months to leave her ear alone. That was 2011.

The first boy was born at a shelter and was 7-8 months when I adopted him. That was 2013.

It took Yoshi from 1/2015 to 8/2015 to get rid of his ear. I think it was mites that started it, and then he was just so irritated. He actually has hair missing on his shoulders from scarring.
And Pearl was alone at the shelter for a couple months before I got her in May. I hope she'll come around.

Hopefully your ivermectin will arrive soon! Best wishes to you and your girls. Smile
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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by CinnamonPearl on Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:54 pm

I'm really lucky that Mabel's case isn't bad. Compared to what I've heard OCD can do, her case is quite mild. She has scratches around her eye and in her ear, but she's never made herself bleed heavily or anything. I'm very lucky.

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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by CallaLily on Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:45 pm

abeona wrote:
There's also a Totally Free Toys thread... somewhere. lol

It's in the Mouse Products section. Smilehttp://petmousefanciers.forumotion.com/t46-totally-free-toy-ideas

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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by scaredymouse on Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:22 am

When Gilly developed OCD scratching, it was pretty severe, I thought she was going to scratch her eye out. There were several times where I would find her face covered in blood. It was awful. I was very close to putting her to sleep. But, I broke her of the habit. During my waking hours at home, I put her in a little critter keeper and kept her on my lap or at my side for a few weeks. I also handled her a lot. And every time I saw her scratch, I either physically stopped her or tapped the tank to make her stop. I also tried to make her tank as interesting as possible. I use a food bowl... but I also scatter feed, so they always know where to find food but they can also root around for surprises around the tank. I would tie cheerios to a string and hang it from the lid. And I gave them lots of stuff to shred. After about a month of my intensive care, Gilly was cured of her OCD. That was over a year ago, my Gilly is now nearly 27 months old. Not everyone has the time to put into that kind of mouse care, but that's what I did and what worked for me.

Distraction is important but so is interfering with their routines. And don't give up.

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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by MouseLover on Wed Jul 13, 2016 8:37 am

No OCD experience, but my mice love cardboard egg cartons. I open it up chuck some various treats inside and then close it back up and put it in their cage. Also you can put treats inside a toilet paper roll and then wrap paper around it, wrap the ends tightly (almost like a sweet wrapper) so they have to work their way in. My mice also seemed to have a great time when I put in a toilet paper roll that still had a few sheets of paper on it, dunno why but they got so excited by it. Good luck.

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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by CAPSLOCK on Wed Jul 13, 2016 7:35 pm

@MouseLover wrote:My mice also seemed to have a great time when I put in a toilet paper roll that still had a few sheets of paper on it, dunno why but they got so excited by it.
Mine too - hamsters also love this.

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Re: Tips for an OCD Mouse?

Post by despereaux on Thu Jul 14, 2016 6:27 pm

Wow - thank you to everyone who replied! I didn't expect such a great response. I'm definitely going to try out all these ideas. I never thought to use scatter feeding as a way to distract her, but I think all the mice will really love that. I'll rig up a few things tonight and take their food bowl away and see what they make of it. Thanks for all the support, I'll keep y'all updated! Smile

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