How do I care for my mouse?

 
Toys

Give your mice toys designed for hamsters, such as wooden chew sticks, tunnels and ladders.  Many wooden toys made for parakeets and parrots are also safe to use with your mice.  Wood chews keep mice busy and active and provide a hard surface on which they can gnaw, which helps to keep their teeth in good shape.  However, wooden objects will also absorb urine and other odours and will need to be replaced when they become smelly and old.  If you pets are housed in an aquarium, you can increase the area available for your mice by adding ladders and platforms.

Mice will enjoy playing with almost anything you put in their cage.  The greater the variety of toys, the more fun your mice will have and the more fun they are to watch.  Mice enjoy running on exercise wheels and you should provide one for your pets.  Freestanding wheels made of either plastic or metal are available for use in aquariums or wire cages, or give your mice the cardboard rolls from empty toilet paper or paper towels.  You can partially bury these tubes under your pets’ bedding and create a system of tunnels for them to explore.  Be creative, and connect multiple rolls and make multiple entrances and exits.

Mice are agile climbers.  A network of ropes strung through your pets’ cage will provide hours of play.  Cardboard egg cartons also provide entertaining play for mice.  






Where to Keep the Cage
Your mice should be part of your family.  Place their cage in a location where you can watch and enjoy them.  Make the cage a pleasant part of the room.  Place the cage on a dresser or table with some attractive fabric beneath it.  The floor is not an ideal location, as the temperature near the floor is often cooler that on a dresser or table.  On top of a high shelf is also not ideal, since it will be too high for you to enjoy your pets.

Do not place you pets’ cage near a heating or air conditioning vent, a drafty window, or in direct sunlight.  Mice are susceptible to over-heating, chills and drafts.  Mice can tolerate a house’s normal variations in room light, temperature and humidity.  However mice do not like bright lights and strong lights can actually damage an albino mouse’s pink eyes.  The optimum room temperature for mice is between 15 and 19° C with a humidity of 30-70%.  Mice that live in homes or cages outside these ranges will be stressed and are likely to become ill.  Do not keep your  pets in the garage.  Not only is it an unhealthy environment due to car exhaust, but the temperature is also more extreme and variable, and your pets are more likely to be neglected.

Your pets’ cage should be place out of the direct view of the family cat and dog.  Your mice will be nervous and stressed if a dog or cat can constantly sniff and stare at them.  Mice are also sensitive to the ultrasonic sounds produced by computers and televisions.  Do not place your pets home near either of these machines.  Some experts recommend that you turn off a computer in a room housing pet mice when it is not in use.  Doing so will further reduce any potential disturbance to your pets.  Mice are enthusiastic gnawers.  Do not leave any items such as clothing or papers on or near your pets’ cage because anything that can be pulled into the cage will be chewed and destroyed.


Cleaning the Cage

A clean cage plays an important role in keeping your mice healthy.  Plan on cleaning your pets’ cage once or twice a week.  The more mice kept in a cage, especially a cage that is relatively small, the more often the cage will need to be cleaned.  If, however, your pair of mice is housed in a very large cage, then it is reasonable to consider cleaning the cage less often than twice a week.

Mice are known for having a strong odour.  Males in particular have a “mousey” smell.  A mouse’s small, hard droppings do not smell bad, but their urine can develop  pungent ammonia smell.  Ammonia is a severe irritant and is detrimental to the health of mice.

To clean you mice’s cage, completely change the bedding in the cage and replace it with fresh, clean bedding.  In between cleanings, you can do a partial cage change.  Some mice will designate a corner of their cage for a toilet, but other mice will go everywhere.  Try placing your mice’s food dish, water bottle and nest box at one end of their cage.  This will help your mouse to establish a toilet area away from their sleeping and eating areas.  If you pets do use a cage corner for their toilet area the bedding in this area can be replaced every few days or so.  Doing so will help reduce odour and keep the cage cleaner and more sanitary.  Each week, replace the nesting material in the mice’s nest box.  Less often you will need to wash or replace some of your pets’ toys and their nest box when they become chewed and tattered.

Some mice become upset and frantically run around their home after it has been cleaned.  While pet owners find the clean cage refreshing, mice are not often as enthusiastic.  They like something with their scent on it and will often become quite busy marking their home again so that it smells better to them.  Partial cage cleanings, such as replacing some, but not all of your mice’s bedding and nesting material and not washing all of your pet’s toys can satisfy your pet’s need for something familiar.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed with the weekly task of cleaning and thus postponing it, try using a kitty litter scoop to quickly remove and replace some of the soiled bedding.  Doing so can allow the cage to remain sanitary a few extra days.  Another way to make cage cleaning easier is to buy large quantities of bedding so you always have some around for a quick change.

Once a month, do a thorough cleaning.  Wash the cage with hot, soapy water (specialist cleaning products are also available).  Be sure to rinse and dry it thoroughly.  If necessary disinfect the cage with a bleach solution.  Immersing a cage for at least 30 seconds in a bleach solution, consisting of one-tablespoon bleach for each gallon of cold water, will kill any germs.  Allow the cage to air-dry afterwards.  Wash the water bottle, food dish and any plastic toys.  Wood toys can eventually splinter is washed in water, so scraping them clean with a file is effective.  Scrape or file off any grime that might have accumulated on the bars of a wire cage.

You will need to place your pets in a secure container, such as a plastic carrying cage while you clean their home.  Some mice owners put their pets in their nest box in the bathtub during cage cleaning.  The nest box provide a secure hiding place and the slippery sides of the bathtub are usually too steep for mice to jump or climb out.