Don’t forget that mice are gregarious animals, so you must own at least two mice. Here are some indications on their lifestyle in captivity.
The mouse is a small animal, 7 to 10 cm long, weighing 30 to 35 grams and having a life expectancy of about 2 years.
Where and how to buy a mouse?
If you decide to acquire the animal in a pet shop, the latter must comply with strict hygiene rules, under penalty of supplying sick animals. So be sure to look at the state of health of the animals (coat, liveliness, eyes, nose, paws and claws…), the ambient smell, etc… Rodents should not be too numerous in a cage, should not be too big, are generally playing, and their cage should be clean.
You can also buy a mouse from particular breeders, which is preferable. The breeder must have a certificate of capacity and an authorization from the departmental veterinary services to sell this type of animal. Don’t forget to wait until the mouse is weaned before choosing it, so you can better observe its character.
In both cases, a certificate of sale must be established, because a guarantee is possible.
Habitat of the mouse
Choose a cage that is high enough and spacious enough to allow the mice to climb and organize their space. Indeed, these animals are very orderly and arrange their space with a nest, a “living room” and a pantry. For a couple of mice, a 50 x 40 x 30 cm cage is already nice. Metal cages are preferable, because mice are rodents and can damage plastic. The bars must be horizontal, so that the mouse can climb, and spaced 0.8 cm at most so that the mouse cannot run away. Don’t forget to have a well-closed cage, because mice are runaways. Finally, the cage must be easy to clean.
The cage should be placed in a quiet, airy, draughty place, away from light/direct heat (not near a window or radiator). The ideal air temperature is 19-21°C. As the mouse is very active, especially at dusk, it is advisable not to place its cage in your room, otherwise you will fall asleep late! However, mice enjoy the company of humans, so during the day they should be able to distract themselves by observing your comings and goings. It is therefore advisable to place the cage high up so that the mouse can observe you and be in an airy atmosphere.
The litter must be changed and the cage cleaned once a week, even if it does not smell. The litter must be absorbent and insulating. It is recommended to use bedding made of hemp, flax, corn, beech wood, de-inked and compressed paper, apple pulp or cotton. The layer must be thick and soft, so that your pet will enjoy its contact and can roll in it to clean itself. The litter also serves as a game for mice, since they can dig galleries.
The drinking trough usually consists of a water pipette attached to the bars of the cage at the right height. This system is preferable to a bowl of water, quickly soiled or spilled. The water should be changed daily. The feeder must be fixed at the right height, to prevent it from overturning and the mouse to relieve itself inside.
It is also essential to make a shelter for the mouse, in which it can make its nest. This place is used to isolate itself, sleep, and a part is dedicated to the storage of food. You can buy this type of shelter in a pet shop or make it yourself.
It is also necessary to provide toys for your mice, such as the classic plastic wheel. You can also buy many other toys at the pet store or make them yourself (plastic bottles, paper towels, etc.). Be careful, however, the toys must not be a source of injury or intoxication! Don’t forget to regularly clean all your pet’s toys. Finally, the best game is still the company of Man!
What food for a mouse?
The mouse is not a difficult animal in terms of food. It is however advised to propose him a rich and varied diet, including hay, dry seeds, fresh vegetables, fruits, and from time to time bread, cheese and granules.
Hay must always be fresh, odourless and not mouldy, otherwise it may be toxic. It is usually deposited in addition to the bedding and is also a game for the mouse. It is therefore left at will.
Dry seeds are the staple food of the mouse. You can buy them in pet stores (wheat, corn, oats, barley, white or black sunflower, red millet, etc).
Fresh fruits and vegetables should not be distributed in too large quantities, otherwise the digestive flora will be disturbed. Carrots, radishes, green beans and fennel are among the most common vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be served at room temperature. Dried fruits can also be given sparingly (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts), the mouse will enjoy playing with them before tasting them.
Dried bread and ripened cheese can complement the mouse’s seed-based diet. You can also give him pellets sold in pet shops. However, be careful to respect the dose to be distributed, as they are very energetic foods. Exceptionally, you can give your mouse milk or fruit juices, it will love them! But don’t overdo it!
It is important to clean the cage daily from food scraps, so that they do not rot. Be careful, the mouse often hides a lot of food in its nest! Water is provided at will. Generally, tap water is suitable, unless it is too chlorinated, in which case you will have to resort to mineral water.
It is advisable to give the mouse a light meal in the morning, and a larger meal at the end of the day, so that it can have the necessary energy for its twilight and night activities.
The diet should not be abruptly changed, otherwise the digestive flora will be disturbed.
Caution: Mice generally like everything, even what is bad for them. Thus, do not give him sweets (candies, sweets), French fries, bitter almonds… In general, do not give him salty, sweet or acidic foods. Chocolate is also very toxic for mice (as well as for cats and dogs). Cow’s milk should also not be given to mice because they cannot digest it. Prefer soy milk or kitten formula. Coffee and tea are also not allowed.
What care for a mouse?
Normally, the mouse takes care of its own grooming. Its coat should be dry and shiny. If necessary, you can wash it with a slightly dampened cloth. Some mice moult at the change of season. Do not worry about this, unless the hair falls out suddenly or at specific locations.
It is important to regularly check the teeth for proper wear, as rodents are animals whose teeth wear continuously throughout their lives. If the incisors are too long, the mouse should be taken to the veterinarian, who will file its teeth. Also check that no teeth are broken.
Claws can sometimes grow too much in captivity, so it is important to cut them off (be careful not to cut the vessel that irrigates them!). The ideal is to provide the mouse with a rich enough environment (toys, etc.) for the claws to wear themselves out. In this case, you won’t have to cut them!
The eyes should not run. You can clean them from time to time with saline and a compress (no cotton that frays).
You should also regularly look inside the ears to detect infections as soon as possible.
If you have any doubts, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian.