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Facilitating playtime with a flight risk...

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Post by ph08fhf Mon 29 Aug 2016, 7:54 am

Collin is settling in well after finding and adopting me. (more information on that long story here)

he first week or so I was getting him settled in and used to my hand and smell. I had to catch him (he is a pet/fancy-type mouse - not a wild one), which was pretty traumatic for him and he bit me pretty hard in fear (which I know means he must have felt *very* scared). He now seems very confident and happy in his small cage (we will be upgrading to a 40 gallon soon!) and is even climbing onto my hand. I think it's time to start proper, long play sessions with him but I'm not entirely sure how to do this. I'm a new mouse parent and I still consider him a flight risk. If he were to escape I'd never forgive myself!

Can anyone give me advice, especially on the following:
i) what's the safest way to play with Collin such that he still gets adequate exercise and interaction with me?
ii) how often/how long should I be trying to play with him (he is a lone mouse)
iii) do mice usually retain the instinct to run away from their house or does there come a time when they are likely to return to their cage?
iv) toy recommendations?

Thank you all in advance!
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Post by Rodents rock! Mon 29 Aug 2016, 8:37 am

I know a lot of the mouse parents here talk about bonding time in the safety of the bathtub. Block off the drain and lay a blanket in the tub, then you and Collin get in and Collin can run on you and you guys can play and bond knowing he is in the safety of the tub. Very Happy
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Post by MouseLover Mon 29 Aug 2016, 8:55 am

1 - If you have a bath tub - you can use that (when dry) with a blanket down as a safe play pen that he can't escape from. You can either set up a play area for him (with toys in) or get in there with him and let him climb all over you, to get used to you. When he's no longer a flight risk you can play with him in different ways, or let him hang out in your shirt/hoodie hehe.

2 - We say that play times shouldn't be longer than 30 minutes - because the mouse shouldn't be without water for longer than this. Playing with him at least once a day is ideal, if you have the time.

3 - I think it probably depends on the mouse. Mice are homebodies, but they also have a strong desire to explore. Over the past 8 years or so of keeping mice, I have had 3 incidents where someone (family member or boyfriend) has left the cage door open overnight - all with different groups of mice. Two times the mice were still in their cage - so either never left, or came home. The other time the mice had escaped, but thankfully were found (the room had the doors closed so they couldn't go far). So I think it depends on the individual mouse.

4 - If you want to make toys, you can make things out of popsicle sticks and glue (non-toxic kid's glue or glue gun) - check out the MES section if you haven't already (MES = mouse entertainment system lol). Sisal/hemp/jute are safe strings for making toys. You can make climbing frames, hides, hanging bridges, ladders. Mice LOVE to climb. They also love cardboard boxes, cardboard egg boxes, paper towel rolls, or toilet paper rolls.

If you want to buy toys - look in the small animal section but also in the bird section. Anything good for climbing, chewing, hiding inside, or for ripping apart/destroying is a big hit with mice. Hope this helped!

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Post by CinnamonPearl Mon 29 Aug 2016, 10:14 am

Don't worry too much about escaping. Mice aren't wild creatures that will try to run as far as they can, as fast as they can the instant they have an opportunity. I once accidentally left my girl Lilith out on my desk for hours, and when I came home, she was taking a nap in that exact spot. Obviously be careful, but you don't have to be hyper cautious. So long as you are good to your mice, they will want to stay with you.

That being said, the bathtub is the best place to do taming sessions. When I first get mice, I always make a bathtub session the first thing we do. But I rarely do them more than 3-4 times before just taking them out on a sofa or my desk with me. Most of my mice have come home tame, lucky me. Some more scared boys might need more. A good rule is that you know he trusts you when he will sit and groom in your hand.

And I'm with Mouselover. Popsicle stick MESs are the absolute best toys for mice. You can buy toys, but I find that they appreciate the cheapest home made stuff the most. You can look in the DIY section for a thread with tons of examples.

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Post by CallaLily Mon 29 Aug 2016, 3:12 pm

@CinnamonPearl wrote:Mice aren't wild creatures that will try to run as far as they can, as fast as they can the instant they have an opportunity.

This isn't exactly true for all mice. My Hazel was dead set on jumping and running away when I first got her. I was terrified of losing her. I gave her some time to adjust to her new surroundings and then started taking her out for playtime every day. At first I had to coax her into a hide or box to transfer her from the main tank to the play bin - something that I could close off so she couldn't take off. Once in the play bin I found she was a bit less jumpy but I still had to be careful. After some time of slowly introducing my hand to her, she warmed up. Then from there it took some time to get her used to being moved while on my hand. She's still easy to spook but has come a very long way and I'm much more confident that she won't just jump and run, like she would in those first few weeks. It just takes time and patience and moving at your mouse's pace.

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Post by AnonONIagent Mon 29 Aug 2016, 11:34 pm

@CinnamonPearl wrote:Don't worry too much about escaping. Mice aren't wild creatures that will try to run as far as they can, as fast as they can the instant they have an opportunity. I once accidentally left my girl Lilith out on my desk for hours, and when I came home, she was taking a nap in that exact spot. Obviously be careful, but you don't have to be hyper cautious. So long as you are good to your mice, they will want to stay with you.

That being said, the bathtub is the best place to do taming sessions. When I first get mice, I always make a bathtub session the first thing we do. But I rarely do them more than 3-4 times before just taking them out on a sofa or my desk with me. Most of my mice have come home tame, lucky me. Some more scared boys might need more. A good rule is that you know he trusts you when he will sit and groom in your hand.

And I'm with Mouselover. Popsicle stick MESs are the absolute best toys for mice. You can buy toys, but I find that they appreciate the cheapest home made stuff the most. You can look in the DIY section for a thread with tons of examples.
Oh, some mice will run at the first opportunity when not tame. Selina did, and still will under the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) conditions. That said, as long as your mouse doesn't bolt away from you when startled, you shouldn't worry much. But if they do, then as others have said, the bathtub is an excellent place to interact with your mouse.

Personally, I handle my mice on my bed while using my laptop. Only one time has a mouse jumped off, and that was Selina before she was (mostly) tame.

As for toys, mice love anything they can climb on, hide in, or chew on. I used to have a great little wooden jungle gym that I bought on Amazon that was a big hit with my girls, but my sister's friend stepped on it and broke it. The great thing about popsicle stick toys is that you can custom design based on what your mouse enjoys.

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Post by ph08fhf Fri 02 Sep 2016, 9:50 am

I had a really good playtime with Collin. I actually took his whole cage into the bath with me (well one half of it) and opened the door to let him come out. He seemed excited and interested and climbed on me. After that I was even able to pick him up for a short time-he crawled into my hand and I lifted him out of the cage.

A further question-in the mornings he will often come up to the door of the cage, especially when I come into the room or walk past. He has also started biting at the cage bars during this time. What does this behaviour mean? His he frustrated? Stressed? Or does he want to play?

We will soon have his new house and I love send pictures when that happens.

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Post by Peachy Fri 02 Sep 2016, 9:59 am

Yay! What good news about Collin.

My boy does that to his bars, too... he wants to come out and play. If he could talk, I think he'd be yelling, "Let me oooouuuuut." It's like jail in there! Razz
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Post by MouseLover Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:08 am

Yay! That's adorable! Sounds like you're making great progress Smile

If he's mostly doing it when you walk past, or are in the room, I'd imagine he's trying to get your attention cuz he wants to come out and play!

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Post by AnonONIagent Fri 02 Sep 2016, 3:11 pm

Sounds like he wants to play!

I'm so glad he's coming out of his shell for you!

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My current mice: Sally (PEW), Selina (Broken Black), and Olivia (Broken Tricolor)

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Post by Rodents rock! Fri 02 Sep 2016, 7:23 pm

That is great news!! Sounds to me he wants your attention! Bouncy
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Post by ph08fhf Fri 02 Sep 2016, 8:13 pm

I just had SUCH a great playtime with Collin! I was able to transfer him to the bath just by waiting for him to crawl into my hands and then slowly lifting him and carrying him to the bath. He didn't freak out and actually got quite excited! He crawled all over me during play time and used my legs as a little safety cave. He even groomed my feet a little!

Thanks so much for all the advice!

I've attached a bunch of pics because I'm so excited. Hope that's ok!

Facilitating playtime with a flight risk... Img_3310
Facilitating playtime with a flight risk... Img_3311
Facilitating playtime with a flight risk... Img_3316
Facilitating playtime with a flight risk... Img_3317
Facilitating playtime with a flight risk... Img_3318
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Post by CinnamonPearl Fri 02 Sep 2016, 8:29 pm

Squeee! His little face! What a cutie!

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Post by Peachy Fri 02 Sep 2016, 8:36 pm

He is so cute! That third picture is just the sweetest. Love
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Post by Rodents rock! Fri 02 Sep 2016, 8:52 pm

Oh my gosh he is a handsome little man! Glad things are going so well! Thanks for posting photos Very Happy
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