Caring for pet mice
They may be small, but like all animals, mice need an interesting environment, appropriate housing, and your time and attention. If you keep mice as pets, here are some of our tips to help them thrive. You can also read our advice on what to feed your mice on our Knowledgebase.
Mice need company!
Mice are highly sociable animals, so you should keep at least two of them together. It would be best if you avoided housing undersexed males together, however (as they tend to fight), and also avoid housing undersexed males and females together.
Because of this, keeping female mice or desexed mice together is generally best. It would be best if you tried to introduce mice to their environment together to avoid fighting.
Also, make sure you give your mice plenty of enjoyable human interaction! To enjoy human handling, mice need to become accustomed to it from a young age through gentle and frequent handling. Make sure you support their entire body when you handle them (don’t pick them up by the tail! ), and closely supervise children around mice.
Mice can be housed in a range of different types of enclosures, and you should provide a space that’s as large as possible, well-ventilated, and easy to clean. Once a week, it would be best if you washed the entire enclosure with warm, non-fragrant, soapy water once a week, change the bedding material for new, fresh, clean bedding, remove any soiled nesting material, and top it up with fresh materials. Plastic or glass tubs or aquariums are not suitable – they are not adequately ventilated – and wooden enclosures are also not ideal as the wood absorbs urine and can’t be nicely cleaned.
Mice need to have places where they can hide and feel safe, such as small cardboard boxes, shredded paper, and cardboard or PVC tubes. They should have ready access to multiple areas where they can quickly get under cover if they are startled; these hiding places should be large enough to allow the mouse to turn around and have multiple exits.
The floor of the enclosure should be solid and covered with newspaper or toweling. Wire or grid flooring is not suitable as it can damage mice’s feet and legs.
Mice also need plenty of bedding to cover the bottom of their enclosure – suitable bedding materials include wood chips (non-aspen), cellulose-based chips, or shredded filter paper. The bedding should be at least 2-3 cm deep so the mice can dig. Don’t use fine sawdust, wood shavings, or bedding made from aspen – these can lead to health problems – and also avoid bedding that is fragrant or colored. You should remove any soiled bedding each day.
Mice also need to build nests and burrow; this is a natural behavior and also helps them regulate body temperature. So, they also need nesting material in addition to their bedding, such as hay, shredded paper, paper strips, and paper tissues. It is important not to use materials that can separate into long, thick strands (e.g., cotton wool or other fluffy materials) as these can be a serious risk to the health and welfare of mice if they eat the material or become entangled.
The enclosure should be in an area that will provide your mice with natural daylight but not direct sunlight (the temperature should be between 18 to 30 degrees), not near loud noises or ultrasounds (including telephones, electrical equipment, and the kitchen ), and not near animals they’ll perceive as threats like cats and dogs.
An interesting environment
Like all companion animals, mice need an interesting environment with lots of different things for them to play with or hide in,
It would be best if you chose or make an enclosure with plenty of mice-appropriate toys (whether purchased or home-made, such as toilet rolls, non-toxic, un-treated hardwood branches or twigs, and paper); different levels and climbing surfaces (but not so high that your mice could fall and be injured); and, hiding places).
You can provide your mice with a play area outside of their home enclosure for supervised outings, but make sure this area is safe and escape-proof.