This article is from the WSSF 2005 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Breeding & Stuff
By Helen Pembrook
Elie Bernhardt, e-mail
QMy newest mouse is pregnant, and I have read the books but would like to know if I need to get special supplements or treatment. Here’s what I am doing now: she is in a separate cage from my original two, a plastic one (about 12x6x7) with CareFRESH™ bedding, a ceramic food bowl with food bricks, and a bit of mixed seed, a drip bottle with filtered water, timothy hay, a paper towel tube, a wood chew, and a metal wheel. Do I need special foods and a nesting box? Should I take anything out?
ADon’t feed her too many treats as they will pick what tastes the best and not what is the best for them. You might supplement with a little bit of cat or dog kibble until the kits are weaned at 5 weeks of age. I would take out the wheel now until the kits are at least 4 weeks old as a wheel can be an accident waiting to happen. I’m sure she would like a nesting box, but it is not necessary as long as she has stuff to make a nice nest out of. Throw in some tissues or a shredded napkin for more nest making options. When you do clean, put a little of the old nest back into the newly cleaned cage so the scent is still there to reduce stress on both mom and kids.
UPDATE: Thank you for your advice. I took the metal wheel out of the mom’s cage and will start just giving her the food bricks as the main staple. How much kibble should I give and how frequently?
I tossed in a tissue for now; we’ll see how she likes it. Are pregnant mice supposed to be a little sluggish? Of course I don’t usually see her at night, but when I do peek she’s resting a lot.
AJust one or two kibbles a day. When the kits get to about 10 days old, increase the kibble a little. Moms are usually a little sluggish. She may also blow up like a balloon before she gives birth—just when you thought she couldn’t get any bigger.
UPDATE: Thank you for all your advice and support. Unfortunately, the pregnant mouse passed Saturday night. She got the shakes on Friday and went down hill from there. I buried her under a bush in my front yard. I bought her from a small pet shop that had mostly feeder mice, so I think the stock/breeding was bad. I know they don’t live long but to know one is sick and you can’t do anything about it. I was looking forward to babies. Anyway, I’ll get my mice from the bigger stores like Petco next time—that’s where I got my first two.
Thank you again, and I’ll just keep on keeping squeeks—they are very persuasive little fuzzballs.
AI am sorry to hear about your mouse, that is too bad. Just be careful when you buy your next mouse that you don’t bring home any illnesses from the pet store. Petco gets their mice from brokers who get the mice en-mass from multiple commercial breeders. The animals are then all lumped together and cross exposed, and while not every batch actually gets sick or has an illness to spread, it does happen fairly frequently. The Petcos that we have out here in southern California are abysmal as far as the rodent and small animal sections are concerned, and I have seen many sick or parasite infested animals up for sale. Hopefully, it is better wherever you are. I am not saying that you can’t get healthy mice from Petco, just check all of the cages to make sure every one is healthy looking before you make your purchase. PETsMART is better—they quarantine all of their animals before sale and are trying to sell them as pets and not food. They also separate the males and females so there are no accidents.
If you are going to raise mice as a hobby, you might try and contact another hobby breeder for your initial stock. Search out the various clubs (AFRMA has some links to other clubs). If you can’t find any mouse breeders, contact some of the rat breeders close by as they may know someone. There are also hobby lists on Yahoo Groups and there are many rat lists elsewhere—I don’t know about mice, but if you contact the rat groups, they may also be able to help you.
Most hobby breeders take health and longevity into heavy consideration when they breed, so the instance of tumors is greatly reduced (though not completely) and the life spans are usually a few months longer.