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tips for first time mouse owner?

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Post by beba Thu 20 Oct 2016, 11:50 pm

Hey all

Picked up a mouse today, been considering getting a small pet for a while, at first was considering a Guinea pig, but mice are smaller and easier to spell (also, there was this adorable lil black and white one at the pet store that i just had to have.... her name is Oreo Smile ) so i wound up going with one of those (also down here, for whatever reason, you cant buy Guinea's from a pet shop, you gotta go to a licensed breeder, all of which live out in woop woop)

anyways, i got the mouse, i have a nice big cage for her to run in (and so far she seems to be adjusting to it nicely) i also bought her food pellets and "bedding" (basically hemp and hay to line the bottom of the cage)

so have all the essentials, just wondering what else i can feed her? i know small pieces of carrots and some greens are good, is there anything else? this may be a dumb question, but i was raised by tv so forgive me, is feeding mice cheese a thing, or is that just in cartoons? if so what kinda cheese? for some reason im imagining you can only feed it the firm cheeses (like cheddar or swiss) but not hard (like parmesan) or soft (like brie), but have nothing to base this on (other than, again, cartoons), so any info on that would be much appreciated

also im a little worried about her water situation. the cage i bought came with one of those drip water bottles (similar to the one pictured here http://www.petmountain.com/photos/product/giant/114420S512309/small-pet-waterers/lixit-clear-mouse-water-bottle.jpg )

just curious, i havent actually seen her drinking from it yet, operation seems basic enough. theres a ball bearing at the end of the metal tube, mouse pushes it with her tongue, small drop of water comes out, ball bearing falls back down, rinse and repeat. the enclosure the pet store had her in may have used a similar one but i dont remember. Just wondering, do i need to teach the mouse how to use this or do ya reckon she'd already know how?

Also at this point in time im keeping the mouse in the living room til i make some space in my room for her cage. I wanna keep her in my room because we have a cat here as well (long story but its staying at my housemates mothers place for now, should be moving back with us in a week or two) and im worried that the cat will try to get into the cage while we're not around. so, since i dont let the cat in my room anyways (she sheds too much fur and makes a mess), i figured my room would be the best place for the mouse. Just wondering though, is there much of a small factor with the cage? would it stink up my lil room? or should i be fine?

and finally, what about toys? the pet store had a few lil toys for mice but i honestly dont see the point, the mouse has a wheel in her cage to run on (i might actually invest in a better wheel because theyre cheap anyways and the one that came with the cage is kinda crap). but is there anything else that would be worthwhile looking into? i bought her a small plastic ball that she can get into and walk around the house in. Figured itd be good if she wanted to explore (also would be a great place to put her while i clean out the cage), so i think thats all i really need?

any other info that might help would be greatly appreciated,

thanks guys

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Post by MouseLover Fri 21 Oct 2016, 6:00 am

Welcome to the forum and congratulations on your first mouse!

First things first - are you certain about that your mouse is a female? Because if she is, she will need a couple of cage-mates. Female mice are highly sociable and can become depressed without the company of their own kind.

Mice probably do like cheese, but it's not healthy for them so it's probably best to avoid them. If you want to give your mouse a treat, they love pumpkin seeds, cheerios, dried mealworms. There's a list of some mouse-safe foods here http://petmousefanciers.forumotion.com/t2-safe-foods?highlight=safe+food+list

As for the water bottle, she will likely have used one before, but if not - mice are very intelligent, and I am sure she will figure it out.

As for smell - if she is a girl, as long as she has plenty of bedding, and her cage is cleaned once a week, you shouldn't have too much of a problem. Male mice are smellier.

And toys... despite their size, mice are actually super clever. They are very curious and love to investigate new things. They can become very bored without toys. I try to put as many toys as possible in my mice's cage, and I change things around after every cage clean to keep things interesting. Toys don't have to be expensive, or even store-bought. Mice love cardboard boxes, the tubes from inside toilet paper rolls, cardboard egg boxes, or things made from popsicle sticks. If you take a look around the forum I'm sure you'll find inspiration!

We've all been a first-time owner at some point, so don't be shy - ask as many questions as you like!

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Post by CinnamonPearl Fri 21 Oct 2016, 6:03 am

I'm gonna start by saying that if you have a girl, you gotta get more mice. Girls should not and often cannot live alone. A lone girl can get depression and literally die of a broken heart. So you need to get two more girls to keep her company! If you're not comfortable with that, boys can and must live alone, so you could consider switching to a boy. But otherwise, you need to build a colony of three.

What type of food exactly are you feeding her? By food pellets, do you mean lab blocks? If so, I would switch her to a healthy seed mix. The nutrition of each is equal, but lab blocks aren't stimulating for mice. They can get a lot out of being able to choose and shuck their food. I recommend Sunseed Vita Conure mix or Vitakraft Parakeet. Some will recommend Brown's Tropical Carnival Hamster and Gerbil, but I'm not a fan of this one.

Your bedding sounds fine, but careful with the hay. It can carry parasites. Paper based bedding a like shredded newspaper or Carefresh are the best for mice.

You should give her fresh vegetables twice a week. No cheese; mice are lactose intolerant.

If the pet store had a water bottle, she'll know how to use it. But test it to make sure it's actually working. You do not want to have to deal with a dehydrated mouse. It can happen very quickly and can be lethal.

If you have a cat, keep her in your room, door closed at all times. You also need to make SURE you're keeping her in a glass tank with a METAL screen top and locking clips. Otherwise if something goes wrong, the cat can get into her tank. The top must be metal and firmly secured. She'll be 100% safe then. Girls usually don't smell too bad.

Mice are very intelligent creatures who NEED toys in order to thrive! Just try giving her lots of toys and take them away to see the difference. Pet stores don't give nearly enough. The standard on this forum is homemade toys. We make MESs out of Popsicle sticks and cardboard for mice to play with. If you go to the Pictures section of this forum, you'll find a sticky full of examples. You can use hot glue or even elmer's to build them. She'll also need an appropriately sized wheel to run on.

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Post by beba Fri 21 Oct 2016, 8:34 am

Thanks for the advice guys I really appreciate it. Will look into filling the cage with toys first thing in the morning.

I'm worried now that I know the female is lonely. No one at the shop mentioned anything. You guys seem sure I need three? Could two work? If not I might have to swing by the pet store and see if I can switch for a male. Because I don't think I can handle 3 (not even sure about 2). And my housemate is upset because he thinks it won't work well with the cat. Don't think he'd appreciate me buying more.

If I go with a male how much worse would the smell be? Would the cat be able to smell it through a closed door?

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Post by CinnamonPearl Fri 21 Oct 2016, 8:58 am

Yes, females absolutely need friends. Two can work, but it's a big risk. Two mice is not a complete colony, which can cause instability in their relationship and bullying. So if you only get one more, you might be forced to buy a third down the line.

Males have a more distinct smell than females. My one boy smells more than my five girls ever did. But there are measures you can take to lessen it. I've heard that hemp bedding is incredible for odor control but is hard to acquire. So long as the door is closed, the cat shouldn't be a problem whether they can smell the mouse or not. My cat doesn't actively try to get into my room just to see the mouse, but if he's in my room, he likes to sit and watch Henry. Just make sure to leave the door closed and get a metal tank top.

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Post by River Fri 21 Oct 2016, 9:37 am

Honestly, two works fine. I've never had troubles keeping a colony of only two, and I've done it multiple times. The "three" rule is sort of exaggerated here. Three is ideal, but two is the minimum.

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Post by CallaLily Fri 21 Oct 2016, 9:47 am

The reason 3 girls is recommended as a minimum here is because it completes the group* and if one suddenly passes away, the others still have each other and therefore can cope with the loss better.

*Having only 2 girls can often mean one is taking the brunt of the alpha's attention (good and bad).  Adding a 3rd balances this out more and one mouse tends to become a "peacekeeper."

Edit: Though I should mention there are instances where it just doesn't work out. For example, with my first group of girls my aim was for a group of 4. It never worked out, ending with blood every time, so I ended up having 2 groups of 2. When the first one passed, and they were older and calmer, I was able to put the remaining 3 together successfully.


Beba, I see others have pretty much already covered your questions but I wanted to say welcome to the forum! hello2

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Post by CanadianExport Fri 21 Oct 2016, 10:33 am

With regards to dealing with the cat and keeping your mice safe there are a few options for you, depending on where you live. If you live in North America a tank with a screen lid like Cinnamon pearl described is best because it is heavy enough the cat can't knock it over, a bin cage with the mesh BOLTED on is also secure enough to keep a cat out but you will need to place it on a non slip mat because they are very lightweight. If you live in Europe or the UK you also will probably have access to this tank style cages with the barred lids and those would probably work as well.

With regards to smell if you wash the wheel regularly, provide 2 to 3 inches of bedding, and clean the cage once a week, the smell (for females, never had males) is barely noticeable. I have my four girls right next to my computer where I spend the day and the only time I smell them is if I haven't cleaned the wheels.

With regards to toys, mice LOVE toys and from a selfish stand point mice are so much more fun to watch when they are provided with things to climb and play with. If you give them levels, and ropes to climb, and places to dig, they are HILARIOUS to watch. Look around through the pictures and ask all the questions you want we have all been in the position of being new mouse owners. Welcome!
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Post by CinnamonPearl Fri 21 Oct 2016, 11:33 am


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Post by MouseLover Fri 21 Oct 2016, 1:44 pm

Lots of people here own both mice and cats without any issues, so long as the mice are safe in the correct type of cage/tank.

I have had a couple of groups of 2 mice in the past and haven't had problems with it. But 3 is better for the reasons already mentioned.

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Post by AnonONIagent Fri 21 Oct 2016, 2:24 pm

Three females is best. I have kept two before without issues, but at least three is really the ideal scenario. If you have only two girls and the alpha ends up not playing nicely with the non-alpha mouse, I imagine it could get rough without a third mouse to keep the peace. Plus, if one mouse dies, sure you can always get another, but the surviving mouse will have to be all alone while the new mouse goes through quarantine. And being alone while mourning the death of a dear friend is hard, and mice do indeed grieve.

As long as you have at least a 10 gallon aquarium or something of equivalent size, you should be able to house three girls no problem.

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Post by beba Fri 21 Oct 2016, 9:20 pm

Thanks for all the great advice guys. You'll all be happy to know I picked up a new mouse this morning and the two got along great! They started sniffing each other for a bit. Got a bit worried when Oreo (the first one) started jumping on Misty but she didn't seem to mind.

First thing misty did when I put her in the cage was find a way out (which is why I named her after Misty Lee, an escape artist), so I got a more secure (and bigger) cage.

Overall the mice seem fine. Oreo seemed much more playful with a companion. But a lil while ago I heard some squeaking coming from inside the lil house they like to hide in. Oreo came out afterwards but Misty stayed inside. After a bit I was worried that Oreo had killed her so I pulled apart the cage and they were both fine.
I am a bit worried though, as I was typing this post I heard some more squeaking and the house shook a bit. Are they fighting? Is it normal or should I do something?

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Post by scaredymouse Fri 21 Oct 2016, 9:32 pm

Well, any new mice that come into the house should go through a 3 week quarantine period for several reasons: to make sure they aren't sick and/or contagious, to make sure they aren't pregnant, to tame them up and let them get used to their new environment before stressing them out by plopping them in with a stranger. But it's too late for all that now.

So moving forward.... squeaking, chasing, humping and running around are all common. If you see any blood, they need to be separated immediately. Some mice get along great from the start and others scream bloody murder when they meet. But as long as there is no blood, there is no problem.

Regardless of where the mice came from, all female could potentially be pregnant. So, keep an eye on them. If anyone suddenly starts looking really round... let us know and we'll help you through it. Gestation is 23 days, so if you pass that, you're safe.

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Post by beba Fri 21 Oct 2016, 9:37 pm

Oh, also in regards to getting them to bond with me. I'm having a bit of trouble

Whenever I open the cage they hide in the little house and won't come out. I read an article saying that if I cut a hole in a sock and wore it around my arms for a few days it would pick up my scent. Then they could nest in it and associate my scent with safety.

This seems to make sense and I might try it, but was wondering. They seem to like to play with tissues. I put a few in the cage and Oreo dragged them into the house). I'm thinking what if I put a few tissues down my shirt for today/tonight and then put them in the cage tomorrow (would also be taking out the tissues that are already in there).

Do you guys think this will do the trick?

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Post by beba Fri 21 Oct 2016, 9:41 pm

Thanks scaredy mouse, man I wish the pet store was more helpful. All they said was "no refunds or exchanges", "if they fight that's your problem " and "I've been in the industry 30 years and I've never heard of female mice needing companionship " (she said the last two twice)

Would've been great if she would've told me about quarantine but I guess that wasn't meant to be. Oh well, hopefully it works out

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