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Meet Derek & me

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Meet Derek & me Empty Meet Derek & me

Post by Kirinsara Sat 09 Oct 2021, 4:14 am

Hi!

I'm Sara, a new user and decided to join here in case I'd need some opinions on keeping mice! I've just gotten my first mouse, a siamese point-coloured male named Derek. He is still kinda skittish, spending most of this time under a cereal box in the cage when I'm around, but I've started to try to get more contact with him since he seemed to be used to handling with the breeder. You've got good instructions for taming here in the forum!

I do have a question, though: Derek's cage has got two shelves/platforms he can climb to, but I notice I have bit hard time coming up with enrichment items I could put there to make him feel like less "out in the open". Some kind of rope could be good I suppose?? Anyway if you guys have suggestions I would be happy to listen. Here's a photo of the setup:

Meet Derek & me Dereks10

I had to use duct tape to keep the water bottle secure, I hope it's not a problem...

Anyway, I'm from Finland, am in my late 20s and my other hobbies include writing and drawing. Nice to meet you all  Smile  My avatar is a photo of Derek, hoping to get more photos when he gets more used to me!
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Post by Dee67 Sat 09 Oct 2021, 6:11 pm

Hello @Kirinsara and Derek and welcome. Derek will come around as he gets more and more used to you. Have you tried gently scooping him up in a toilet paper roll and then letting him run on you while you sit in the bathtub (plug in)? That's a good way to get acquainted.
He definitely could use more enrichment, the cage should basically be stuffed full of ropes, ramps, ladders, toys, hides and lots of bedding. They don't like empty space, so I imagine he's feeling rather exposed. You can make lots of things with popsicle sticks, little ladders, ramps, houses...there is a DIY toy section on this forum. Also look online at other people's mouse set ups and you'll get lots of ideas.

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Post by Kirinsara Sun 10 Oct 2021, 1:27 am

Hi @Dee67, thank you for your input! One cannot really see the bottom of the cage here, but I have managed to fill it pretty well without open space - Derek seems to enjoy digging/burrowing so I'll try to keep amount of bedding quite high and use hay to help him support his tunnels, and there is other kinds of enrichment too. But the shelves are an issue, so I'm thankful for these tips. I really love the "Housing pictures" thread in this forum.

I haven't dared to take him with a toilet paper roll yet, because he seems to be insistent on hiding when I try to put my hand in the cage, and doesn't want to come out. But perhaps when I clean the cage I'll have a chance to do it since he has to come out by then.
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Post by SarahAdams Mon 11 Oct 2021, 11:37 am

Hi there! Derek IS so cute! I had a Siamese rat once and love the colouring.

Anyway, with mice  - cardboard is your friend! So many little hides and houses you can make it with it quite easily. There are a bunch of how-to videos on YT, but you needn't be so elaborate. Mice prefer to not be in the open without the security of a nearby hide. More hides = mouse more confident = more trusting and willing to come out.Smile

My mice have no fear of me at all, but still like their boxes and tunnels.

Here's the link to a list of DIY stuff:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=how+to+make+hamster+toys+with+cardboard+

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Post by Kirinsara Mon 11 Oct 2021, 1:20 pm

Hi @SarahAdams, thanks for the tips and video playlist, I'll definitely take a look once the school glue I ordered arrives! I also got some of those popsicle sticks, so time to get crafty then. I decided that for now I fill the shelves with tp rolls/other hollow cardboard things so that he can move on them without being too visible.

Derek is certainly interested in me, when I sit next to the cage, he might come out and reach to sniff me, but the hand is still lil scary for him. Baby steps! I don't know when mice are usually active (I know they are crepuscular/nocturnal by nature) but Derek seems to wake up around the time I go to sleep, and I worry we don't have much time to bond without me forcefully waking him up... Sleep

I also really love his colour! He is actually blue point siamese, though the photo makes him look like siamese with a warm colour scheme.
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Post by MerciToujoursMaPetiteBoop Mon 11 Oct 2021, 4:54 pm

As for enrichment on the platform levels, mice don't need fancy toys.  Nest-building is usually Grade-A-Number-One fun for them.  You could do something as simple as providing some mostly empty "nest boxes" in a few spots (secured in place so they can't fall off a platform, if you put them there) and supplying hand-torn pieces of facial tissue in a way that requires some mousie ingenuity to retrieve them to fill the nests with.  Sometimes you can just hand them through the bars from different locations (but you may have to postpone bedtime, or get up early, for that one).  Or you can construct a tissue wall, by punching small holes in cardboard and poking tissue bits partly into the holes so they look like little poms all over the cardboard wall, and then standing the wall up against the outside of one side of the cage so Derek has to climb from level to level and maybe even sometimes up the cage wires to retrieve his stuffings.  Every once in a while you can surprise the little fellow by putting an oat flake or other treat into one of the cardboard holes for him.

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Post by Buggirl13 Tue 12 Oct 2021, 10:03 am

Derek is adorable! Siamese is one of my favorite variants of mouse! Smile I would suggest filling up the base of your cage with as much bedding as possible, mice love to burrow! You should also remove those shelves, they take up space that could be used for ladders and ropes and more enriching things. Other than that, your cage is great!

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Post by Valmias Tue 12 Oct 2021, 11:16 am

Derek's dark little nose is so great : )

I read that mice prefer hides/nests that have two exits, so they can slip out the back door if a predator is waiting at the front. It was a bit counter to my own human instincts (looking for a closed off cave with only one door to guard), so I thought I'd mention it. Egg cartons with openings cut into them are great for this.

And I'll definitely second the idea of scattering good nesting material around along with seeds for foraging. Sometimes I think of it like designing a video game level, with spots to explore and hidden rewards for getting to tricky places, like a pinch of his favorite seeds at the bottom of a tube or a bit of pasta on top of a hide. They like to keep busy!
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Post by Kirinsara Tue 12 Oct 2021, 12:59 pm

Hello and thanks to everyone for your helpful suggestions, they mean a lot to me!! Kiss

@MerciToujoursMaPetiteBoop That's a lovely idea, I will definitely try that after I clean his cage tomorrow! Tissue seems to be superior nesting material to mice, at least Derek doesn't care for the hay he has laying around in the cage but stuffs his hide with paper.

@Buggirl13 I agree that the shelves feel bit cumbersome - luckily they are quite easily movable to I can try different set-ups, I think in ideal situation the shelves and climbing enrichment would form a coherent maze for him to move in! I did buy some jute rope today and tied it to the bars with some cardboard, let's see how he feels about it. Derek does have a "climbing net", but I've never seen him use it. He really loves burrowing, though!

@Valmias I have actually noticed that when observing Derek: I bought him a ceramic hide with only one exit, and he doesn't want to sleep in it, but chooses to use the big cereal box instead, as he can make himself multiple exits.

I've been scattering the seed mix in his bedding with leaving some in his food bowl, but I've been trying to come up with ideas to make it more challenging to him so he has to use his tiny brain  Smile  Hiding it with the nesting material sounds like a good idea, I could make small pouches with tissue and tie them in his climbing net.

Meet Derek & me Dereks11

Here's how his cage looks now as a whole. I'll do some renovation tomorrow after changing the bedding, and hoping to get my craft supplies soon that I can make even more stuff for him  Very Happy I should probably sweep the disk though, he just kicks the aspen there while digging...
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Post by SarahAdams Tue 12 Oct 2021, 6:10 pm

@Kirinsara wrote:Hello and thanks to everyone for your helpful suggestions, they mean a lot to me!! Kiss

@MerciToujoursMaPetiteBoop That's a lovely idea, I will definitely try that after I clean his cage tomorrow! Tissue seems to be superior nesting material to mice, at least Derek doesn't care for the hay he has laying around in the cage but stuffs his hide with paper.

@Buggirl13 I agree that the shelves feel bit cumbersome - luckily they are quite easily movable to I can try different set-ups, I think in ideal situation the shelves and climbing enrichment would form a coherent maze for him to move in! I did buy some jute rope today and tied it to the bars with some cardboard, let's see how he feels about it. Derek does have a "climbing net", but I've never seen him use it. He really loves burrowing, though!

@Valmias I have actually noticed that when observing Derek: I bought him a ceramic hide with only one exit, and he doesn't want to sleep in it, but chooses to use the big cereal box instead, as he can make himself multiple exits.

I've been scattering the seed mix in his bedding with leaving some in his food bowl, but I've been trying to come up with ideas to make it more challenging to him so he has to use his tiny brain  Smile  Hiding it with the nesting material sounds like a good idea, I could make small pouches with tissue and tie them in his climbing net.

Meet Derek & me Dereks11

Here's how his cage looks now as a whole. I'll do some renovation tomorrow after changing the bedding, and hoping to get my craft supplies soon that I can make even more stuff for him  Very Happy I should probably sweep the disk though, he just kicks the aspen there while digging...

My mice don't care for the hay either, but I still add some of the soft kind. I tried using Aspen bedding, but there are large slivers of wood in it and I was afraid they would hurt themselves.

For the last year, I've used only paper bedding (there are many kinds but I get Boxo). It's nice and soft and easy for the mice to use for piling up and making little tunnels to enter their tea-box hides and the elaborate nests they made for themselves with bedding, tissues, and brown paper bags I ripped up for them. So cute. Meet Derek & me 1f604

Agree they need hides with two ways to come and go or else they feel trapped.

Just a tip: When you clean Derek's cage, make sure to put some of the used bedding back with the new. If it's all new, males will mark in earnest, creating a bad smell. If they still smell themselves in the cage, the marking is minimal especially as time goes on.

To get him used to you, try putting your hand in the cage and leave it lying on the bottom, maybe with a little treat on it. Mice are very curious, so hopefully he'll come to see you as a harmless provider of good things and get right on your hand!

Have fun with this adorable little guy!

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Post by Kirinsara Wed 13 Oct 2021, 1:53 pm

Paper bedding seems good in the sense that the mice have lots and lots of the soft nesting material they love! I'm going to experiment with different bedding types to find out what suits mine & Derek's needs best. Paper bedding isn't actually very popular here in Finland, and I think one cannot buy it from the local pet store unless it's paper pellet type thing. But through web stores there are stuff like Carefresh available.

I handled Derek for some time today when I took him out to playpen while cleaning the cage. He seemed nervous but rather fine, so I'm hoping he will be more comfortable to explore my hand in the cage too. I'll try to snatch the occasional dog kibble in this food mix and feed it as a treat, that seems to be his favourite Laughing
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Post by SarahAdams Thu 14 Oct 2021, 8:18 pm

Glad to hear that Derek is coming around and learning you are not the Mouse Murderer! Very Happy

Carefresh is good bedding. Nice and fluffy!

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