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Doing the honorable thing for the mice in my house - Help

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Post by Chesterspal Sun 16 Jan 2022, 5:35 am

Background:

I have a cat and a dog who get along just fine. Field mice get into my home on occasion and go up to the attic. On occasion, they fall down between the walls and end up on the floor. Bingo, my cat, will then find them. He's more interested in having another playmate than killing them so I can usually scoop them up. In nice weather I can take them outside and let them go on their way.

Now... what to do with them?

It's freezing outside and I do not have the heart to just toss them out. My plan was to "hold" them until the good weather then let them go free.

The first two I saved ate through the plastic box I put them in and took off for parts unknown. Since then I have made a housing out of 1/4" steel mesh and wood. It's 36" by 18" by 18" high.

So, here are some questions I hope someone can answer for me:

Can I put them all together as I may catch them? I assume they are all from the same "family" so will they get along... males and females?

If not, how do I tell one from the other?

Will they get used to seeing the cat around or must I put the enclosure where Bingo cannot peer into it?

Are field mice that much different from "fancy" mice and do they have special needs I need to be aware of?

Appreciate the help on this.

George

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Post by scooter :D Sun 16 Jan 2022, 6:46 pm

im not sure on most of this but i do have some insight on the males & females question, in the wild groups of mice have one male and several females so the males can get pretty agressive toward eachother if you keep them together. as for how to sex them most of the time it is relatively easy since the males have pretty big. Balls. but i can find and link a good video on how to sex mice if that could help. i hope all goes well until it starts to heat up, thank you for being so kind to them.
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Post by Chesterspal Mon 17 Jan 2022, 5:44 am

Thank you for the reply. Yes, I'll take all the help I can get to make this work.

When I was at the pet store the other day, I noticed they had the male white mice in one enclosure and the females in the next.

How is it the males get along in this case?

Is it because there is no female for them to fight over?

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Post by cerial Mon 17 Jan 2022, 6:20 am

OK first off lets start with a better mouse trap.
Here is how to build a 2 liter live mouse trap.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABffYDM9EwU

I built one that is a bit heavier duty. But is the same basic design. It has caught over 12 deer mice(house mouse) over a 2 year span.

I will say that most mice are resistant to getting out of the 2 liter and it is better to grab a glass "jelly or pasta sauce"  jar and hold the 2 liter above it and the mouse will eventually drop down into the glass jar for you to put the lid on. This makes releasing them much easier.

Then you just clean the 2 liter, reset the trap, and place a bit of food inside.  

It is really best to just release field mice right away. I normally drive a few miles down the road near a junk barn in a field to release them.  During the winter I try to release them over a weekend or into my shed. If you do keep them a few days then will really stress the entire time jumping and chewing trying there best to escape before giving up and then they will just hide only coming out for food.

A 10 gallon tank with a mesh lid is highly recommended if your going to keep them a few days.

Make sure you give them a few places to hide they need places to hide as well as bedding. You want to have a food and a water dish. You can remove this while they are sleeping. just be quick and quiet about it before putting the lid back on. I caught a very skinny field mouse 2 weeks ago and kept him feeding him for a few days before releasing him into my shed 100 feet from the house with a bit more food laid out.




I decided I enjoyed the field mice and bought 2 fancy mice placing them in a 10 gallon. Then I stacked the one 10 gallon with 6" of the bottom cut out on top of another 10 gallon. That eventually turned into a 55gallon long tank.

Then I had a male mouse I named Tom with a distinct missing part of his ear. I caught Tom 3 times releasing him into the shed 100 feet from the house during the winter. This little smart guy would trek through my footprints in the snow and back into the house. So after the 3rd time releasing Tom I decided if I caught him a 4th time I would keep him. 2 days later I had what I thought was Tom and placed him into his own 10 gallon tank. The next day "Tom" gave birth to pups.

Well I cant release pups in the winter so I kept them in the 10 gallon tank and the mother was ok with how things worked.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79AvpInXUCk

I was catching the mice using the below mesh cup method during cleaning.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mb9BXB5f94

I would place the deer mice in a 10 gallon tank with a lid on it while the house mice went into a tote. It did not take me long to realize I needed to have a separate tank setup so I built a larger tank out of windows with a short radiator hose connecting the two. I can hush them from one tank to the other and block the hose to easily clean one tank then hush them into the clean tank to clean the other.

Now the mother died after a month and I have trained my pups. I have lost a few and gained a few others. The main thing I taught them is to stay inside the cage if the lid was on or not. It took a lot of watching and knocking them back in a few times as well as catching one or two dare devils. But eventually they learned.

The tank setup is all these pups have known which is why my unique setup works. They are still a bit fearful of me which is a good thing. I do have a few who know I will give them treats if them come and know to carefully grab food from me. It took months to get a few mice to this point.

Now wild mice are wild. They can and will bite so use gloves. You really can't handle deer mice. Deer mice are  extremely fast. The one to three month olds are the ones you need to be the most careful around. After 3 months they slow down a bit. Deer mice are also fearless and will run up your arm and jump off your shoulder within a few seconds if they wanted to. Now I do have males and females. But they are all grew up together. I have had 2 liters and think I am to the point I don't see a 3rd happening. They also will not breed with the fancy mice. Deer mice are very tough and tend to get along when in a family.

Fancy mice on the other hand are slow, fearful, have more health issues, and in some cases twice the size. But they are more aggressive both to each other and to deer mice.  I will catch my submissive fancy mice running into a group of deers for protection when a dominant mouse if being a bit aggressive.
I have caught my dominant fancy mice stalking the deers. The deers can easily out maneuver the fancy. But it shows you differences right away.


Now onto the topic of males. If you place a male deer mouse with a male deer mouse of another family then one WILL kill the other. My males are from the same family and tend to play "tag" chasing after each other and tapping on the butt. This is far different from what the dominant fancy mice do which is butt pulling/biting/pinning down.

I have no need for male fancy mice and highly recommend you get females if you want more then a single mouse. 2 males from the same liter in a cage by themselves may get along. But I would not risk it and it is best to just get females.






So build a live trap
Release them as soon as possible preferably during the morning hours.

If you want to keep them for a few days during temperatures when the ground is frozen a 10 gallon tank with a 10 gallon mesh lid is recommended.

Deer mice are highly adaptive. You can get a old birdhouse or plastic box and set it somewhere out of the rain with some bedding and a bit of food and that will be plenty for them to get by for a few cold winter days until they find something better. Just don't be surprised if that something better is your house once again if the thing is not placed far enough away.

Deer mice can dig deep and can also climb high. Climbing vertically in some cases going up trees and such. Actually a tree such as a pine tree with the needles touching the ground is a great place to release a mouse during the winter. The ground will be warmer near the trunk and it will offer them both protection and easy nesting material. If they encounter a predator they can easily climb up the tree. They won't eat the pine tree. But it will provide them great protection until they can find a better spot.

I would search out to find some pine trees a few miles away to release the mice during the winter on those days when it is above freezing preferably.

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Post by Chesterspal Mon 17 Jan 2022, 6:47 am

This is very helpful and will need to digest all of what you have written.

My main concern now is these mice carry disease that can kill me and my pets. I did not know this until this morning.

How do you handle this aspect? Do you take precautions using thick gloves and wear a face mask or respirator?

BTW: your soda bottle trap is ingenious!

Thanks!

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Post by cerial Tue 18 Jan 2022, 12:11 pm

All mice should be treated like they have Hantavirus.

That means caution when cleaning the cage and washing hands after handling.


All my deer mice except for the mother were born in cages and never left my cage. I also dont handle the deer mice.

The bedding is very important. I use alot of bedding and change it every 2 weeks. Between the bedding and cardboard I fill two 13 gallon trash bags up.
I have sticks throughout that I change every 2 to 4 weeks.
Everything else is plastic or metal and cleaned with soap and water.
The 10 gallons tank is filled completly and the walls /floor of the 55 and 130 gallon I use diluted glass cleaner on.

I buy books at thrift stores that have a bit "waxy" paper to them like dictionarys, cook books, etc. I shread around 3000 pages of these books then fill up a trash bag 1/2 the way full and shake it. I do this 3 times and make a layer of bedding around 4" thick. I spray the bedding with a bit of 1/5 ivermectin and stir it a bit before adding new boxes, sticks, etc.

The whole cleaning takes around 1.5 hours and the mice are just moved from 55 gallon to the 130 gallon then back into the 55 gallon once that is cleaned so the 130 gallon can be cleaned. When they are all in the 130 gallon I cap the hose and clean the two 10 gallons.

I of course clean myself afterwards and give the mice a treat.

I don't handle the fancy mice that much. I may let them explore a desk or something. But after 5 or so minutes most are ready to go back. Squeaks still likes to explore. But I will catch her sitting in one spot after 20 minutes ready to go back.

Munk loved to explore. I named her Munk because she was dumb and fearless. She would do things like climb to the tops of curtains, jump off desk, climb down cords, and if the chair hit the desk she was on she would climb from the desk to the chair.
Munk fell on her head and hurt her neck about a month after I got her so her head was a bit crooked. But she was in good health and still really active, a year later she got into the habit of scratching, then she had 2 tumors hit her around 2 years old and thats what finally got her. She was always happy as a puppy coming and ready to explore.

Several of my deer mice have got to the point they will come to me for treats and such. This has made it rather hard to get the newer mice comftable with being picked up. I can't place my hand in the cage and have them get use to it on there own because I don't want one of the deers to climb onto my hand and up my arm.

I cant tell the diffrence between a wild deer mouse and my deer mice. So if they were able to get out of the room I have set up for them I would not be able to reintroduce them. The chance of catching a diffrent deer mouse and having the group kill it is just to risky. I don't even know if they would allow a outside female at this point.

So I avoid touching the deer mice and don't play with the fancy much because its not fair to the deer mice who at this point would climb into my hand to be petted if I let them.


The best thing you can do with a wild deer mouse is release it.

I only kept the ones I currently have because they were pups and it was winter. They have never been outside my cage, it is all they know and I trained them not to want to leave.

A wild deer mouse will escape a cage in under a minute if given a chance.

The wild deer mice really don't like to be kept. The first few days is very stressful. You will see them jumping for hours, chewing at the plastic edge of the tank, and exploring every possible way out before finally giving up and hiding.

Even if your doing something like feeding one who is extremely skinny like I had 2-3 weeks ago. They should be released after a few days. It is perfered to release them within a few hours of catching them in the 2 liter trap. Good chance they have been sitting in the trap for hours without water and just want to get back outside.

Holding the bottle up and having them drop down into a glass jar makes releasing them easier. I have had a few who just refused to leave the 2 liter sticking there head out then going back inside and sitting. With the glass jar you can give them a small toss into the grass and your not sitting there for 10+ minutes waiting to get the empty 2 liter.


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Post by Chesterspal Tue 18 Jan 2022, 2:15 pm

It's clear to me now, this is a bad idea... on many levels.

Taking a chance of my getting sick (or worse) or that same thing happening to my beloved dog or cat over shines my good intentions.

Your statement "The best thing you can do with a wild deer mouse is release it" make sense to me, now.

You have this down to a science and I applaud you for your efforts. The time and care you place into your mice is commendable...but, I am not you.

I have enough to do taking care of just two pets.

Thanks for the help and advice.

George

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Post by Wolfie65 Fri 28 Jan 2022, 6:40 pm

I feed the house mice under the kitchen sink, in exchange, they stay out of my pantry. 1 tiny baby food jar with water, 2 hamster bowls with fresh greens and grains.
My cat is a VERY enthusiastic mouser and quite the serial killer, but occasionally, if the mouse is VERY tiny -almost still a baby - they get out of her jaws alive and in one piece, if stunned, and I have several small cages converted into mouse habitats by attaching 1/4" hardware cloth to the outside. So if one gets away from kitty alive and I can scoop it up or one walks into one of my humane traps, the get to spend the rest of their days alone but safe from having their necks snapped.
The cages are, of course, equipped with toys, hideouts and such and get cleaned once a week, which can be quite tricky.
If you put more than one mouse per cage, you need to make sure - good luck with that....- they are all females, and even they often fight. If one's a boy, you will have a LOT of mice in a hurry.
I did that once in a converted storage bin, put 2 mice of unknown sex together and the next thing I knew, I had half a pet store in there and had to release them into an outside bush.
Did you know that theoretically, mice can live for up to 5 years, assuming they don't get eaten, crushed by machinery, poisoned or other mishaps ?
Pet store mice are lucky to see their first - and often only - birthday.
As for 'Hantavirus', I'm in the 'hot zone' and not worried.
Virtually unknown to the rest of the world prior to 1993, the dreaded disease has since - allegedly - managed to kill a grand total of 15 people worldwide.
Look into the history of germ theory, Louis Pasteur vs. Antoine Béchamp, review the recent history of swine flu, bird flu, zika, ebola, not to mention the Kung Flu, of course and draw your own conclusions.....
While you're at it, give Dr. Kary Mullis, creator of PCR a listen. Very revealing.

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Post by j.n379 Fri 28 Jan 2022, 7:17 pm

Yeah personally I would be way more worried about the mice and their mental health in captivity than hantavirus. Although if I got bitten by any mouse from any place I would obviously keep a close eye on it, and probably get antibiotics if it was a wild mouse before letting it get anywhere that it looks iffy (though I've only had one "iffy" bite after ten years with mice, they were all pets so a bit easier to feel safe and they don't usually bite nearly as hard as a scared wildie)

They are highly likely to die from stress within the first week or so of captivity, even without any injuries or illnesses in them. Once they make it out of that danger zone yes they usually get a significantly longer lifespan in captivity than they would've in nature, but the initial mortality rate pretty much renders it an unfair decision in my eyes unless they're very seriously unlikely to make it out in the wild for some reason (injury, baby, orphaned, bitten by cat and needs antibiotics, etc) but even then I would be reluctant to take that on myself and would probably call a wildlife rehabilitation place.


The only time I've ever had a wild mouse in my house, I caught him and let him go across a creek so he couldn't get back in, only had him in the carrier cage for mayyyybe fifteen minutes to make my choice and get him over there, and he was clearly miserable and throwing himself against the roof of the cage over and over until I opened the lid for him to pop out. Hand raised babies aren't as miserable in captivity but also don't end up with the survival skills to live out there so they're a bit different situation, if they give birth in a place I need to move them from in the winter I would consider it but clearly mice do live through the winter everywhere they exist because otherwise where would the spring and summer mice come from? So any adult would go right back out there, at least a mile away if I could or like I said, when I put him on the other side of the creek and he had already met my 3 cats and been surrounded by them when I noticed him I figured he wouldn't come back anyways lol
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Post by Wolfie65 Fri 28 Jan 2022, 8:58 pm

As for trying to rear babies - pet or wild - I highly recommend watching Creek Valley Critters on YouTube, quite possibly the best mouse videos ever.

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