Temperament: inquisitive and sociable
Cost: low – medium
Lifespan: 2-3 years
Maintenance: $2.00 -$6.00
Recommended for: children over 5 years, apartments
Domesticated mice are descendants of the house mouse (Mus musculus).
Although the wide range of pet mice available these days appear completely different to your average brown house mouse living in the pantry, they are essentially the same.
Mice are one of the cheapest pets you can buy, plus you don’t need to exercise them. They’re not noisy and they’re low maintenance. They really are great value for money.
The pet mouse comes in a variety of colours and the body will usually fit into the palm of an average sized hand. The tail is usually slightly longer than the body, around 20-25cm from nose to tail tip.
Due to the low cost of fancy mice, they can be easily kept as pets. They come in a myriad of colours, patterns and coats. Ironically most of the variations are named after the same variations seen in the cat world.
They include white, brown, black, bluey grey, Himalayan, Siamese, Burmese, long hair, long hair rex (curly), short hair rex, normal short coat, hairless, tailless (Manx), fox (white stomach), tigers or brindles, ticked, roan (white hair tick).
To get started you will need a medium sized glass tank or clear plastic container with a secure lid. Mice are great escape artists so be very careful. Inside you should you use some kind of substrate, such as recycled paper in pellet form as it is non toxic. Add a drip feeder or a little dish for water and some toys like a wheel or tube. All you need then is some mice. Two of the same sex is the best way to go. Male mice do smell a bit more and can be territorial but they can be kept together, although girls are usually preferred.
Toys are very important and a mice wheel is sure to be a big a hit. Simple household items like toilet rolls or little boxes are also a great idea. Mice love paper towel as they will build little nests with it.
Maintenance and feeding
Once a week the cage material must be removed and replaced and any other waste cleaned out. Wash the whole enclosure out once a month. Mice will always have one corner of the enclosure they will use as the toilet.
Feed the mice basic mice cubes and the odd bit of seed, fruit and vegetable. Mice need to gnaw to keep their teeth worn down. Any chewable substance placed into the enclosure should be non-toxic. Mice cubes do suffice as gnawing material and will help keep the teeth down.
Mice breed very fast. The average litter is about six to eight kittens (baby mice). Males and females should be separated at around three weeks after a litter is produced otherwise the female will become pregnant again.
Health and Lifespan
Mice will only live two to three years. Common health problems include respiratory infections and tumours. Respiratory problems usually occur when the mice has been left in a cool draught or the enclosure has become damp. Tumours are lethal and can sometimes be removed by vets. The mice enclosure should not be kept in direct sunlight.
Pet mice are a cheap pet, costing between $2.00 and $4.00 (usually $4.00/pair). Fancy, show quality mice can cost $6.00 -$10.00.
Setting up is simple. All you need is a cage (a small one costs about $12.00), some paper based substrate to line the bottom, an old cardboard box as the bedroom and a couple of sheets of toilet paper for their bedding. You can use the old toilet roll as a toy and some lids for food and water. If you want to spend more money, there’s plenty of toys and large tanks are available from pet stores. Upkeep is no more than a couple of dollars a week.
Mice are pretty adaptable and will live anywhere with anyone. They are a great way to introduce children to the responsibilities of pet keeping, though children under five should not handle mice without supervision.
When purchasing mice look for animals that are not hunched up or fearful.
The coat should be clean and soft with no bald patches. There should be no bite marks on the mice and no broken whiskers. The eyes should also be bright. If the mouse looks unhappy don’t buy it as it may be unwell.
Male mice do stink. Two females are a good start for the new owner.
We filmed this segment with members of the Australian Rodent Fanciers’ Society. For more information on mice (and rats) contact the Society.
NSW Rodent Fanciers Society
Phone: Club Secretary (02) 9698 7542
Australian Rodent Fanciers’ Society – ACT
Phone: (02) 6231 7077
Australian Rodent Fancier’s Society Qld
50 Lay Street
Mt Gravatt, 4122
Phone: (07) 3272 8949
Rat and Mouse Hotline 0408 339 905 or 0408 712 778
West Oz Rat Fanciers
Phone: 0412 482 085
Australian Rat Fanciers Society Vic (AusRFS Vic)
PO Box 15
Heidelberg West ,3081
Phone: (03) 9743 9887 or (03) 9440 7710 or 0410 538 234