Basics – Keeping Mice

How big should a cage for mice be?

You should get as large a cage as possible for your mice so they can get plenty of exercise. It should have different levels so that the mice have opportunities to climb.

mouse cage

Where should I put the cage?

The cage should be indoors, out of draughts and direct sunlight. It should be away from busy or noisy areas, such as near a TV or music system, as noises and vibrations are stressful for the animals. The temperature should stay steady between 18° and 22°C. Take care to protect mice from predators, such as the family cat. The cage should be well secured so that the mice can’t escape.

mouse flooringWhat type of nesting material should I use on the floor of the mouse cage?

The cage floor should be covered with a suitable material such as woodchips, shavings or sawdust.

Do my mice need a nest box?

Yes. Mice need a quiet and secluded nest box where they will sleep during the day.

pet-toysWhat type of bedding should I give my mice?

Shredded paper (e.g. clean white kitchen roll), or cloth-based materials, should be provided as nesting material. Avoid newspaper because the ink can be toxic. Cotton wool shouldn’t be used because it can cause dangerous blockages if eaten and can become wrapped around legs, causing constrictions.

How often do I need to clean the cage out?

The cage should be thoroughly cleaned once a week. It is recommended to leave a small amount of their old bedding (unsoiled) behind at each cleaning so that their familiar scents aren’t completely removed during cleaning.

Do mice need company?

mouse with babiesMice need the company of other mice. It’s best to keep female mice together as males can fight, unless they grew up together. If possible, females should also have grown up together as littermates to reduce the likelihood of fighting.

It’s strongly advised not to keep males and females together as they will breed and it can be difficult to find homes for the young.

Mice become sexually mature between six and eight weeks of age, and produce an average litter size of between 5 to 12 babies. So it is important to separate mice of different sexes before they are six weeks old, to avoid unwanted litters

Do my mice need toys?

agility for micemouse tire jumpAs well as plenty of exercise, mice need things in their cage that they can climb on and explore. They should have an exercise wheel – but make sure it doesn’t have spaces between the rungs, as their legs or tail can get trapped and injured between the gaps. They also need suitable toys such as cardboard rolls and boxes, as well as those made specifically for small pets.

Ladders, ropes, plastic tubes, seesaws and untreated apple-tree branches are all available to buy. It’s particularly important to provide shelters and hiding places, as mice get frightened easily.

 seasaw against block mouse

A gnawing block should be provided because this helps your mice wear their teeth down.

Scatter some of the food for your mice around the cage and hide some in tubes, to encourage interest and activity.

mouse wheelShould I give my mice several different toys at the same time?

You should offer different toys in different weeks so your mice stay stimulated and don’t get bored.

When a particular toy isn’t being used one week, this also gives you a good opportunity to clean it.

What’s the best way to handle a mouse?

handling miceMice should be carefully handled from a young age so that they become used to being handled and aren’t scared by it. This will reduce the chances of their biting someone.

Always be gentle. Both hands should be used as a scoop, and the mouse should be held low over a flat surface. Even a small fall can cause serious injury.


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