Mice Care: Species Overview
- Common Names: Mouse, house mouse
- Scientific Name: Mus musculus
- Adult Size: 5 to 7 inches (including tail), weighing up to 2 ounces
- Life Expectancy: 1 1/2 to 3 years
Mice are low demand pets, easy to care for, and entertaining to watch. They can be a bit skittish, but they can learn to take food from your hand and, if trained from a young age, can be held. Mice are nocturnal animals and will be active at night and sleep through the day.
Mice Care: Habitat Set-Up
- Choosing a cage size depends on the number of mice you’re keeping together. The most crucial point is to make sure they have enough space. Keep in mind, mice like a cage with multiple levels because they like to climb.
- Wire cages with horizontal bars provide lots of climbing opportunities on the sides of the cage. Adding furnishings, platforms, and toys to the sides of the cage is simple. Make sure the bars are no more than 1/4-inch apart, mice can escape (or get stuck trying to escape).
- Mice need a deep layer of substrate in the cage, like aspen shavings. Avoid cedar and pine shavings due to the potent oils released from these woods. Also, provide nesting material like strips of facial tissue, soft paper towel, or hay. Mice will shred it and build their nests from it.
- A nesting box is necessary for the cage. Clean out the nesting material every month or two (frequent changes may be too disruptive).
- Exercise wheels and toys keep your mice happy and healthy. They love running on wheels, tunneling, and playing with toys. Be sure to provide your mice with an exercise wheel and toy options.
- Mice like to mark their territory. Do a thorough scrubbing and disinfecting only when necessary. When cleaning the cage, leave a few old shavings or litter, which keeps their scent, preventing them from becoming stressed.
- To make taming easier, place the cage where there is a lot of human activity. Keep the pen out of drafts, away from direct sunlight, and out of reach of other household pets.
About the Mouse
Mice Care: Temperament
Mice are social animals and like living in groups. A pair of females is the most straightforward arrangement, although larger groups are excellent if you provide the cage space. Do not let pairs of males to live together unless they were littermates, never separated, and have a large enough cage that they can have their own space. Unfamiliar males are very likely to fight. Avoid keeping males and females together unless you want lots of mice in a short amount of time.
Most pet mice will become tame over time, but mice that haven’t been held may bite. They need time to adapt to their surroundings. Once mice are comfortable in their cage and familiar with your voice, start offering millet or sunflower seeds by hand. With patience, the mice will become tame.
Once the mice are taking treats from your hands, they may start walking on your hands or let you pick them up.
Diet and Nutrition
- Feed your mouse a diet of commercially prepared rodent mix, or a hamster diet. Pellets are available for mice and are completely balanced. Or for more interest, grain and seed-based loose blends provide variety.
- Feed 2 tablespoons per mouse per day. You can feed it all at once or spread it out between two feedings daily.
- Supplement pellet food with small quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables (1 teaspoon per mouse) with greens, apples, and carrots a couple of times a week.
- For treats, you can give cooked pasta, whole-grain bread, or crackers with peanut butter. Commercial treat sticks make tasty treats.
- Always provide a clean source of water for your mice, and refresh it daily. Cage water bottles work well because they are easy to keep clean and sanitary. You can also use a shallow dish for water until your mouse learns to drink from the bottle.
- Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite or scratch (especially when stressed).
- Supervise children around pets.
- ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
- Adults should assist children with handwashing after contact with a pet, its habitat, or aquarium water.