A Mouse for Fun!
If you haven’t much room and don’t want to spend a fortune on buying and feeding an animal, then mice may be just the right pets for you. Mice and rats make absorbing pets and are gentle, social creatures. Rats in particular make excellent pets, soon becoming accustomed to handling, show lots of affection and being easy to train.
Mice and rats can be housed in different types of homes. One of the most important features of their home is that it be made of strong material that will resist the attempts of the mouse or rat to chew through it. Mice will rarely return to their cage if they escape, although rats often do.
Metal or strong plastic cages are ideal. In cooler climates, not generally in hotter states such as Queensland though, an old aquarium can make a good house, as the mouse cannot climb the glass walls. However, if using an aquarium be sure that it is well ventilated. Mesh cages are also suitable; however the floor must be solid as mesh floors tend to hurt their feet and may even fracture the animal’s legs.
Although mice are very social creatures, male mice will fight if housed together. Males should be housed in separate containers. Male rats, on the other hand, are more tolerant of each other however unless they are desexed, single sex housing is recommended.
Bedding should be provided for the rodents and this can be paper, untreated wood chips, shavings, or sawdust. Whatever the bedding used, it should be absorbent, clean, be free of and dust and changed regularly to prevent smell and promote hygiene. One to three bedding changes per week is the general rule of thumb depending on the number of mice you have.
Mice will eat almost anything including grains and meat products, however for pet rodents, commercially available rodent pellets are the most reliable and fuss-free diet.
They can also be fed a variety of seeds, grains and cereals, and lucerne hay. For a homemade gourmet meal, try a selection made up of rolled oats, plain biscuits, mixed bird seed, bread soaked in water or milk, and fresh vegetables.
To keep their teeth in good shape, give them something to gnaw on such as a piece of raw rib or shank bone.
Pet mice may develop a range of conditions and diseases similar to those seen in our dog and cat friends. The most common of the serious conditions from which they can suffer are tumours and severe cases of gastroenteritis.
They can also suffer from external parasites such as mites and even ringworm, a contagious fungal infection of the skin that is easily transmitted to other mice in the same colony. This fungal infection can be transmitted to humans.
Diarrhoea is not uncommon in mice. It is usually due to poor care of the rodent. Poor husbandry leads to infections with bacteria or viruses, and worms or infections with other bowel parasites. If it persists, or you are concerned at any time, veterinary attention should be sought quickly.