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Food aggression?

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Post by Inaiyau Tue 01 Feb 2022, 5:34 pm

Hi y'all!

I've got another issue regarding my girls.

About two months ago, I got two new mice. Rhyme and Thyme.

Rhyme has turned out to be a bully (Chyme had several bleeding wounds and Thyme had many saliva marks), so she's waiting on her own cage at the moment.

Chyme and Thyme get along great. Unless there's food involved...
Everytime Chyme gets near the food dish Thyme tackles her and chases her off.

What can I do about this? I don't have room for a third cage, and Rhyme can't be housed with other mice.
Is there anything I can do to stop her? Do I just have to hope they can sort it out?

Chyme is really, really submissive though. She won't do anything to stick up for herself, she just cries and runs off.

I guess my questions are, is food aggression possible in them? And what can I do to stop it?
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Post by cerial Wed 02 Feb 2022, 2:24 am

You need a dominant, in your case less dominant, and a submissive. If you take the most dominant away then the next dominant will become more dominant.

Now I find if you put the mice in a empty tank with the lid on (10 or so gallons is enough for 3 mice here for this to work). Have nothing in the tank but a single small empty box around 4x6 and under 2" high(so they cant lay on excessivly groom each other). There instincts kick in and they will start to freak out looking for places to hide. You may have a bit of fighting for a few minutes. But seperate them pushing them apart and never remove them completly from the tank.

After 5 minutes leave them alone. Leave the room or be out of sight. All 3 of them are going to be within that box within a hour and if you leave them for 3 hours they will fall asleep next to each other.
Once they get back in the cage after a day they will start to fight again. Someone needs to be the boss. But if you do the box in a tank thing once a week(also when you clean your cage) they will eventually get along.



You need to do the above before doing the below. You need to lessen the dominance as much as you can.

Onto the food thing it could be territorial or dominance. First try moving your food dish around or eliminate the dish for a while and sprinkle food.

Another thing that works is using a large community treat. A whole piece of bread works great as it is to soft for them to pull. Or use other large treats bigger then one mouse that one mouse can not carry off by itself.

You may have the dominant mouse sitting on the thing. But they will allow the sumbissive(s) to eat from the sides.

Back to your normal food. Have a varied mix. Your one mouse may not like or be allergic to a type in your current mix. Or maybe they just love almonds like mine do and there are only a few.

Last thing is to hand feed food that is also a rare item in your mix(like cut almonds). It will have your mice coming up to you and will keep a mouse that is not eating fed.

I have 8 fancy and 23 deers and while there is sometimes butt pulling (with the fancy) or a bit of head hitting standing on back legs (mostly males trying to sleep with a group). I have not had any blood drawn in over a year. Now I do have Cocos who is not only big she is very territorial about keeping every mouse but her two sisters out of the 55 gallon.
I am working with her to have her less territorial and less agressive.


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Post by Inaiyau Wed 02 Feb 2022, 10:16 am

Hi!

Thank you for replying!

I'll remember that for next time I have issues. There's still some arguing, as expected (?), but there's been no bloodshed between them two yet. Just squabbles and chasing. And it's only when Chyme gets near the food.

I'll change it to just sprinkling it around then.
And, what kind of bread do you use? Is any good? Should home made be used?

Also. Thyme started getting protective of the actual cage itself. I had taken the second story out so there was more room but she kept chasing Chyme back up onto the bars. I added the second story so Chyme didn't tire herself out perching up there but everytime she heads to the bottom level with bedding Thyme cases her back upstairs.
When I originally introduced them, there were no issues. I had done it on a clean, scentless towel. And I had washed the cage before I put them in there.

Is there anything I can do to help her be less dominant for that? Or does that need to be waited out?

Sorry for all the questions.. Thank you so much though!!
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Post by cerial Wed 02 Feb 2022, 2:35 pm

I just use a piece of white bread.

Chasing is normal. One may chase and catch the other then that one will chase back. But stalking, butt pulling, and excessive grooming is something to look out for.

Now light butt pulling followed by the submissive mouse being humped is normal dominant submissive behavior. The humping last a few seconds then they move on just to let the submissive know who is in charge.
This happens with mice that get along perfectly fine.

If you have excessive grooming after the humping or ear biting thats something to be concerned about. If you have mice tumbling where one can bite the front of others neck that needs to be closly watched.

The dominant mouse may sometimes get carried away with the butt pulling if the sumbissive runs. But will always try to pull just the fur. If the sumbissive has noticable bites (dark spits on the fur) from butt pulling that broke the skin you should watch them. One or two is going to happen until the submissive stops running. But they heal fast and it will stop soon. If it continues for more then a few weeks with the skin being broken then you may need to look at seperating or introducing a sumbissive. Sometimes reintroducing the more dominant will have the most submissive going to that one for protection.

Doing the box thing really keeps things under control. Your always going to have a dominant and submissive. Even have the roles switch from time to time. If you dont have blood or patches of missing fur just be patient and work with them.

Try to mix up the stuff in your tank. I clean my tank every 2 weeks cleaning everything plastic/metal and throwing all the cardboard, sticks, and bedding away.
The first day everyone is extremely hyper and exploring every inch. By the 3rd day they start moving the bedding around. They can make some large nest or tunnels. 6 or 7 days after cleaning I add a few handfulls more bedding to help them build up there nest. Around 10 days I add a new cardboard boxs for enrichment which has them hopping around and moving the bedding around for another day.

They never completely get settled in which keeps the enrichment up and territorial habits down. Some perfer diffrent spots to sleep and they all have a pretty firm schedule. They are most active from 12 to 1230 with everyone up and moving. A bit of showing dominance here. Nothing bad just everyone testing and playing . By 2 they settle into groups and they start to wake up at 630. Between 7 to 730 they are up for the fresh food and exersize for a bit before going back to sleep. Around 3 they wake up and are active again till around 6. Then they sleep till around 11 starting to wake up.

It happens everynight like clockwork at this point. Unless I wake them up.


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Post by Inaiyau Wed 02 Feb 2022, 7:22 pm

I'll try the bread thing then, thanks!

I clean mine every week, but do it like how you do. I have a lot of toys for them and I switch it out so it's something different every week.

Thyme keeps going after her tail, and when she butt pulls she grabs Chyme and tries to hold her there. When Chyme runs she continues to chase her and keeps trying to grab her.
She also keeps just randomly charging at Chyme. Chyme can be cleaning herself in a corner and Thyme will just run over and start grabbing her.

Is that too much? Is there a point before drawing blood that I should call quits?

If she doesn't work out with Chyme, would you recommend trying her alone with Rhyme? Thyme stuck up for herself against Rhyme and the most she had was saliva marks (no fur missing or dark spots), I also watched her turn the tables on Rhyme a few times. So I'm not entirely sure how that would play out if it was just them two.
Chyme and several bleeding wounds and her one ear is decently torn from Rhyme, so I'm afraid to try her with Rhyme again.

Thanks for your patience. The last two times I've introduced mice I didn't have any of these issues and they got along great. Learn as you go I guess, huh.
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Post by Inaiyau Wed 02 Feb 2022, 7:32 pm

Chyme has a few slightly bleeding wounds on her tail now, just walked over and said hi to them and noticed.

Should I separate? And just leave Chyme to live on her own?
Would you recommend trying Rhyme and Thyme? Or should I just admit defeat and keep them all separate?
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Post by Peachy Wed 02 Feb 2022, 9:18 pm

If blood is present, separate. But don’t lose hope!!

How big are your enclosures and how tame are these mice? Are they all about the same size? How long did you wait before introductions and how did you go about introducing them (size, time, any toys or food or bedding present, did you clean everything before hand, etc)?


I know it’s a lot of questions. My first introduction was a disaster but I got everyone happy… one mouse, Demeter, repeatedly drew blood from her friend, Athena. By the end of the introduction process they were BFFs.
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Post by Inaiyau Wed 02 Feb 2022, 10:46 pm

Hi!

Thank you for responding, and the questions are no bother!

I have separated Thyme and Chyme (for now?). Chyme has several bleeding wounds on her tail.

I got them from a feeder breeder who handled them here and there.
Chyme is pretty tame. I got her from a pretty rough pet store (badly mishandled) but she's great at being handled.
The other two are okay but they start freaking if they're handled too long. I've been working on it though with daily handling sessions. But they'll both readily climb into my hands and allow themselves to be lifted.

Rhyme is pretty big. I'd almost think a young rat if I didn't know better. Thyme is almost her size, just a bit smaller, and Chyme is pretty small compared to them two.

Enclosure size. The one cage is 12 (w), 20 (L), and 14 (H).
I've got a second enclosure coming since I've kinda just planned on Chyme living alone now and it's just a few inches smaller at most in dimension compared to the one I just described, it is a few inches taller though.

The first time I had a clean, unused towel on the floor and one of those small pet gates (they had my constant attention). I kept them together for easily four hours before putting them in the cage, which had been completely cleaned out, washed and everything, fresh bedding, and new toys that held none of their scents.

With Thyme and Chyme this time I kept them together on a clean, unused towel, with the gate, for about three hours. I then placed them into the cleaned cage and a few small toys that had been washed beforehand.

I think I hit all the questions?? Let me know if not!

And did I do anything wrong? What can I do to retry them? Or at least retry Thyme and Rhyme, kinda worried about retrying Chyme with them..
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Post by Peachy Fri 04 Feb 2022, 7:35 pm

I’m sorry for the late response! Wednesdays are my Fridays. lol It sounds like you did everything great! Here’s what I would do next:

Keep everyone separate for three weeks. Keep working on taming. You’ll be a friend, but generally there’s no real replacement for a mouse friend so end goal would be to have everyone happily together. Three weeks will give everyone time to heal, decompress, and start missing their mouse friend.

A few days before you plan to start the reintroductions, start swapping toys and bedding between the cages. This helps the ladies get used to each other’s scents. After you’ve done this a few times you can completely transplant the mice into each other’s cages. Rhyme goes in Thyme’s cage, Thyme goes in Chyme’s cage, Chyme goes in Rhyme’s cage. Mix it up.

When you reintroduce, do it in a big empty bin with no bedding and no toys. You can put a towel down if you wish. I like to use the bathtub, minimal chances for escape and it gives everyone space to come together on their own. Watch them for 15 minutes. If they draw blood, send them all home and try again the next day. If they’re still squeaking and bickering, send them all home. Repeat until you can make it to 30 minutes without any fighting. You want to see relaxed mice that snuggle and groom each other. I think this process took me 3-4 days before they finally spent the night together.

When you make it to the point where they’re snuggling and grooming, try a clean cage with two water bottles and scattered food. The smaller the cage the better… I like to use 10 gallons for this step. No toys or hides yet. If they’re doing well after a couple hours you can offer a plain box for them to hide in. If they’re doing well after a few days you can SLOWLY start adding in toys. A toilet paper tube, something to climb on, a wheel. The point is they have to learn to share the essentials before they get the fun stuff.

When they’re all reintroduced, expect squeaking and chasing and humping and slapping and bickering. All normal. They need to work out their hierarchy and you should not intervene. I would encourage going ahead with introducing Chyme because the relationship between two mice can be intense, a third can be a peacekeeper/distraction. If blood is drawn again you’ll want to separate the aggressor, but this method has always worked for me and has helped many other members with difficult introductions. Let me know if you have any questions!
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Post by Inaiyau Mon 07 Feb 2022, 7:01 pm

No need to apologize! I wasn't much better about responding.. Lol

I'll try that method with them. Thank you so much for all the help!!
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