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Post by Loving.pests Fri 30 Dec 2022, 5:21 pm

Hi, I'm just a pet owner who got into mice through trapping and releasing mice in my house. I live in Toronto, and the winters are long. The mice that come in are house mice, so I house them all winter, and release them in the spring.

After my first release I went out and bought a trio of fancy mice. One of those mice was so friendly, and we fell in love. She was always happy to see me, and actually loved running around in a ball, which I later learned was the exception and not the rule when it comes to mice, but it was super cute. She would come when I called her name, Maxine (actually Maxy Max in reality). Maxine was also the alpha in her group (Queen Maxine). She was a very loving alpha. She always surveyed the grounds after cage cleaning, and during free-run, but she never was aggressive with the other girls. She actually let them take food from her! She was the least food driven. She maintained a toilet corner, and also removed poop from surfaces she didn't approve of. The others looked up to her though and learned from her. They also had their unique personalities. Patrice, who tragically passed at only eight months was the biggest and the main nest builder, and Francis was a little princess. She was more frightened than the others and they both took care of her. She seemed to get the most grooming. She also got first dibs on the best picks of food, and she was picky! Rummaging through the food when I first put it in, discarding unwanted bits for Patrice!

The second winter that wild mice came into our house one of them was pregnant when we trapped her. We named her Isabel because she was with us so long, but we released her in the spring. Her babies became completely tame, and we added 3 boys and a girl to our family, Little Lucy, Frankie, Joshey and White Tip. Eventually the boys needed their own home, but Little Lucy moved in with Maxine and Francis. Patrice sadly had already passed.

The following year, we added 4 new girls to the trio, Fluffalupagus, Kasha, Justine and Harriet. The two groups weren't together long, because Maxine passed only shortly after the intro, and Francis went a few days later. Maxine had a tumour and was sick so we knew she would pass, but Francis was apparently healthy. We think she was just heartbroken. That was very sad.

Fluffalupagus became the new alpha. She's a funny long haired mouse. She was actually the smallest and youngest of the new group, so a very unlikely alpha, but she was spunky! She didn't take Censored from any mouse. She was definitely not as loving a leader as Queen Maxine (probably because the other girls had a hard time taking her seriously). It was difficult to integrate Little Lucy, because I think she wanted to be the new alpha (being the oldest, but unfortunately for her, the smallest). There were lots of squeaks for a few weeks, but no injuries, and now they get along splendidly. Lucy escaped for a few days last summer, and the reintroduction was the cutest thing ever! Everyone was so happy and groomy to be reunited.

This past fall I found a hand-raised deer mouse girl also named Lucy at a rodent foster. I thought she could be introduced to one of my boys Joshey for some company, but it didn't go well. He wasn't aggressive with her, but he harassed her all the time and wouldn't share his nice things (like his wheel and hammock tower). Also, she groomed him, but he never groomed her. His bachelor lifestyle had destroyed his manners!

I let Lucy 2 live alone for a few weeks and then introduced her to the girls, starting with Justine (my most mild mannered girl). It was an interesting introduction. Lucy 2 was scared because of her bad experience with Joshey, but Justine was persistent in meeting and completely unaggressive. The meeting was awkward though. It was clear that they were different species and didn't have the same body language. The first time Lucy 2 groomed Justine, it looked like it was all going well, and then they both got spooked and jumped straight up in the air. A day later, I introduced Lucy 2 to the other mice. Fluffalupagus, surprisingly didn't give her any flak, but Little Lucy and Kasha (now the smallest mice) chased her around a bit before things settled. I think they were vying for bottom in the ranks. But I don't think Lucy 2 really cared, because I think deer mice are less territorial. Now they are all living happily, four fancy mice, one house mouse and one deer mouse!

A month ago I purchased two African Soft Furred Rats (ASFs), named by the breeder Madame Galette and Madame Strudel because I read that they could make good companions to male mice without breeding. I will be introducing them to my most friendly male, Frankie in a few days. If it goes well, I'll get a couple more for Joshey, and try again. I think the reason it went so badly with Lucy 2 is because she was only one, so Joshey harrassed her too much!

 Just to clear up any confusion about ASFs because I've seen a lot of it, they are more like mice than rats. They are bigger than mice, but not more than twice as big, and their behaviour is closer to mice. In my experience so far, they are much slower, less curious and more scared of humans than mice, but I've heard that their behaviour has a broad range depending on their breed. One more thing. We finally solved the mouse problem in our house this winter, so we won't have anymore wild residents. We've been looking for the main entrance since the first winter, but there were many holes. It's already almost January, so we know we found the last one! Housing wild mice isn't nearly as fun as housing fancy mice because you can't get to know them. Our wild babies are a different story, but that's a very unusual situation. Anyways, that's the story so far. Hope everyone is well. Glad to be here:) Pictures of my mice here:


Last edited by Loving.pests on Fri 30 Dec 2022, 5:30 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : put in paragraph breaks.)

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Post by animalgirl555 Sat 31 Dec 2022, 4:46 pm

Hi! You seem to have a lot of experience with mice Smile Just one thing, you shouldn't put mice in plastic balls, as they provide little ventilation, the mice cannot use their whiskers as they naturally would, and they can get their paws or tails stuck in the air holes. Plus, they can't stop the ball easily, which makes them bounce off of objects, and that doesn't seem too fun. Anyway, welcome to the Pet Mouse Fanciers Forum Very Happy
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Post by Loving.pests Mon 02 Jan 2023, 1:07 pm

Thanks for reading my story so carefully. The more mice I care for, the more they show me. But they are very quiet and very small, so I have to pay close attention. When I got the running balls I hadn't read any of the opinions about how they are bad for mice/hamsters ect. I was a newbie. I thought that since they are sold in pet stores they are good for mice. I've since learned that pet stores don't really care about mice and hamsters because most people get them thinking they are easy and cheap pets, and if something bad happens it's no big deal. They won't complain.

However, Maxine unequivically loved the ball. That's what I meant when I said she was the exception to the norm. After trying it a couple times, almost without fail, if she saw the ball open, she would jump inside. She was the similar about people rides. Sometimes she wanted the ball more, sometimes she wanted my shoulder more. The other 2 domestic mice I had at the time (Francis and Patrice) didn't like the ball. After one or two tries, they were not having any of it. I never put any of them in the ball (even on the first try). Mice are just curious. They all went in on their own. Francis and Patrice just clearly didn't like it and Maxine did. They told me that, by either choosing to go in or not to go in.

That's when I started to read about the problems. After that, I was much more cautious with Maxine's time in the ball. Of course, I didn't try with the other two at all because they clearly didn't enjoy it. I had already been checking in with her every 10 minutes because I had my own concerns about overheating. The ball is a little weird and I intuited that might be a problem. I would get her out, and usually she would try to go right back in. She sometimes went for 30 minutes with breaks every 10 minutes after which I didn't give her an option to go again. The ball she ran in was a 7" ball with big air holes, and it didn't heat up when she was in it. She was also not overly hot or breathing heavily when I took her out. After reading the articles I checked all of these things. I also looked for an actual study on the subject, but couldn't find any. There are sometimes studies on mouse enrichment these days because scientists don't get good results from poorly adjusted mice. It's sad that this is the reason. Since there is nothing conclusive about running balls being bad for mice, I concluded that I should consider the dangers (overheating, being kicked, falling down stairs ect.) and ultimately let the mice tell me what they want. Maxine really seemed to love it and since I already had a ball I wanted to give the other mice the option.

Only one other mouse since my first trio really liked it. The hand raised wild mice who became tame distinctly HATED it. As soon as it started rolling they freaked out! They jumped out when I opened the lid and withdrew from me for a whole day (one mouse withdrew for two days) after the experience! The other mouse who really liked it was Fluffalupagus, the alpha female in my second group. She had a similar reaction as Maxine. When it became a thing she knew was an option, she got obsessed. I think they like staking the territory of the entire apartment. They are probably peeing all over the place!

The reasoning against the ball that mice "see" mainly with their whiskers, and smell is their primary sense so the ball doesn't engage those totally makes sense to me. I think that this is part of the reason why most mice really don't like the ball. Francis and Patrice had red eyes, and so had worse eye sight than Maxine and Fluffalupagus. They disliked the ball much more than the others in my second group (who all have black eyes). I've read that red eyes = poor eyesight and I've definitely found this to be true. Based on behaviour and response to visual stimulus I think Patrice was fully blind and Francis was mostly blind. I actually think Maxine's good eyesight was what allowed her to bond so well with us. It's easier to bond with another species if your senses align more closely.

All of the mice in the second group seemed a little interested in the ball after a few tries, but Fluffalupagus was the only one who was obsessed with it. Since it has so many risks and questions associated with it, I tend to just offer it to Fluffalupagus since she is obsessed. Fluffalupagus is less of a people lover than Maxine was, and sometimes she just wants to run in the ball and not come on my hand. She doesn't really hang on my shoulder at all, but sometimes enjoys pets.

Mice can definitely smell through the ball though. Their sense of smell is well beyond human comprehension. Fluff would always go and check out all the mouse stuff that was nearby first, and then the kitchen. Sometimes she'd pull things through the holes into the ball with her to chew! Both Fluffalupagus and Maxine got really good at moving in the ball. They would intentionally bump into things to turn corners. This seemed to freak all the other mice out, but Maxine and Fluff always demanded to go back in the ball after their 10 minute stints, and really seemed to get "good" at ball runs.

I totally get why pet owners who care would be concerned. I also think it's not the best toy in general. There are many better ones. I think the ball is a truly dangerous toy for most pet owners because it requires you to REALLY pay attention to how your animal is doing to make sure that they are safe. Beyond not kicking it or let it fall downstairs, you have to make sure it the animal isn't overheating. And you should never force them to do anything they don't want to do. It seems like the ball is asking for this. It's totally possible to PUT a mouse or a hamster in a ball because they are small and helpless and they usually don't bite. I can imagine a little kid with a hamster or mouse, shoving it in the ball. That's bad enough by itself, but then without proper attention the animal could fall down the stairs or even just get totally exhausted and overheated. The kid would have no idea this is happening and the parent probably wouldn't care. They got the pet because it was cheap and easy. It takes a lot of attention to understand the needs of tiny animals, and that's not why most people get small pets!

I really spend a lot of time trying to understand my mice and I'm pretty sure my alpha girls actually love running in the ball. I think in a world that cares about small animals though, it should be sold with a warning label though!!!!! or not at all. It's not really necessary. But Fluff and Maxine have gotten a lot of fun out of it, and they demand a lot of enrichment so it's been good for us. Thanks for your concern though:)

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