Mouse care

Black mouse

The domestic mouse, not to be confused with the kind you can find in a field or attic, has been kept as a pet for centuries. Mice can be found in a variety of coat colors and types, including curly and shiny to cinnamon color. When well cared for mice typically live one to three years.

Mice are curious and charming animals that tend to be active at various times of the day. They are very social with each other, and females do especially well in a group setting. Males can be kept together if introduced at a young age and given adequate room. Introduced as adults, they will aggressively fight. Do not house males and females together since mice breed quickly and often produce large litters.  

Medical needs

Common signs that something may be wrong with your mouse include sneezing, coughing, chattering, excessive scratching, difficulty breathing, weight loss, and lethargy. Mice are susceptible to external parasites such as lice. If you notice any symptoms of illness or parasites, contact your veterinarian promptly.

Diet

Mice do well on a diet of commercial rodent food, which can be found in either block or pellet form. Look for one made up of at least 16% protein, 18% fiber, and a fat content no more than 4%. 

A small, bite size amount of fresh vegetables and fruit is recommended two to three times a week. Appropriate vegetables and fruits include: peas, bananas, carrots, apples, broccoli, zucchini, and cucumber. Introduce new foods gradually and remember to clean up any uneaten food before it spoils. Do not give your mouse cabbage, corn, onions, uncooked beans, chocolate, candy or junk food.

Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Use an inverted bottle with a drinking tube that can be attached to the cage. Change the water daily. 

Housing

Up to four mice can be kept in a 10 gallon aquarium with a wire mesh cover. The enclosure should have several different levels or items for your mouse to climb on and investigate. Some plastic habitats designed for hamsters also work well for mice.

Make sure the enclosure has a secure mesh top from which the mouse cannot escape, but also provides adequate ventilation. Keep the cage away from direct sunlight, drafts, and other pets such as dogs and cats. A quiet location is best, as mice are easily frightened by loud noises.

The inside of the enclosure should be lined with several inches of absorbent bedding. Bedding such as Carefresh (made from soft white cellulose fiber) or aspen shavings are appropriate choices. Avoid pine or cedar shavings — the fumes and oils from these woods are harmful to mice. Remove soiled bedding, droppings, and stale food daily. Thoroughly clean the cage with warm, soapy water once a week. Male mouse urine tends to produce more odor than females', so their cages may need more frequent cleaning.

Mice enjoy cardboard tubes, PVC pipes, branches, ladders, and exercise wheels (solid, no rungs) as these provide them with opportunities to run, climb, hide, and burrow. Mice need to chew to keep their teeth from overgrowing. An untreated, unpainted piece of hardwood, twig or even a hard plain dog biscuit is an appropriate chew toy. Avoid anything made of soft plastic. Your local pet supply store will also have safe chew toys for mice.

Mice like small enclosed spaces to sleep and hide such as a small box, igloo or flower pot. 

Handling your mouse

To get your mouse used to being handled, start by hand feeding your mouse small treats. When they seem comfortable with taking treats, pick them up by scooping them into your hand. Talk to them quietly to get them used to your voice. Gradually increase the time they spend in your hands. Mice are jumpers, so be careful when taking out of the cage or carrying them. Never grab a mouse by the middle or end of the tail.

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