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Housing Your Pet Mice

It’s important that your pet mice have appropriate housing. This means a tank large enough for them to have space to exercise, somewhere for their food and water, and somewhere to sleep. I would recommend having a cage as large as you can possibly manage with the space you have available to keep it safe. There are three main different types of housing to choose from, they are:

Plastic Cages

Pros

  • Inexpensive in comparison to the other cage types, also readily available on the second hand market.
  • Lightweight construction, easy to move around.
  • Easy to clean.

Cons

  • Can break or crack easily if heavy objects are placed on top.
  • Must be placed somewhere secure, can be easily knocked over.

Metal Cages

Pros

  • Plenty of air flow through all of the metal bars.
  • Ability to pass food and interact with mice through bars of cage without removing a lid.
  • Strong construction, not easy to break.

Cons

  • Metal is prone to corrosion over time and mice tend to chew on the bars.
  • Doesn’t always look very modern or attractive by design.
  • Can take longer than a plastic cage to clean.

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Glass Tanks

Pros

  • Good visibility of what the mice are up to in the tank.
  • Strong construction.

Cons

  • Heavy to move around and manage while cleaning.
  • Prone to smashing if any accidents occur.
  • Expensive to buy from new.

Taking into account all the pros and cons from the above housing options I would recommend a plastic cage. This makes it easy to pick up the cage and move it when needed, making it easy to carry out cleaning and emptying all the old bedding.

What Should You Include inside the Cage?

Food Bowl – This is an obvious one, mice need to eat so a food bowl to keep their food in is required. Don’t worry if the mice take most of the food out and bury it all around the cage, this is normal behaviour.

Water Bottle – A fresh supply of water should always be available. You can use a water bottle or a bowl, but unless the bowl is on a separate shelf within the cage the mice will end up throwing bedding into the water bowl.

Exercise Wheel – Mice need to exercise, like any small rodent they will use an exercise wheel if it is available. If you have a very large cage with several obstacles you can do without a wheel.

Obstacles – Lots of cardboard tubing makes the best obstacles. Mice love running in and out of tunnels so any tubes will do.

Bedding – You should put a layer around an inch think of toxic-free wood shavings from a pet store. Also some shredded paper or kitchen roll for the mice to nest in too, mice love to make nesting holes to burrow into.

A House – A small house will provide somewhere the mice can make a nest to sleep in. A plastic or wood house from a pet store will do just fine.

Cleaning out the Cage

Generally speaking you will need to clean out the mice cage once a week. This means putting the mice somewhere safe and out of the way for a few minutes. Next you need to take out all the items in the cage, empty all the old bedding and clean out the inside of the cage. You can use warm water with a little washing up liquid to clean the inside of the cage, or use a shop bought anti-bacterial spray.

Next clean out the water bottle and food bowls along with any other accessories you have in the cage. When everything is dry add new bedding and place all of the accessories back inside the cage. Try to put everything back in the same places you took them from as mice appreciate routine.

Housing Mice Together

Unless you intend on breeding mice you have to keep males and females in separate cages. Mice breed at an alarming rate, you will end up with problems having to care for litters of baby mice within weeks of mixing males and females together.

When housing males together, if they are from the same litter or are introduced from a very early age it’s very likely they will coexist without a problem. Once a group of males are established and do not fight with each other it is important not to separate any of them for any length of time. When cleaning out their cage for example they should be kept together. You may fight they start fighting each other if they become separated for a while.

Male mice will fight occasionally, this is not cause for concern if it happens rarely and is not a sustained attack. If it becomes regular however, and even blood is drawn from an attack then you will need to separate the mouse causing most of the problems. This should be done in extreme circumstances because once you have separated a mouse it can never be re-introduced.

Female mice will rarely fight in anyway and certainly have a more passive attitude. People often prefer to keep female mice for these reasons, plus they are slightly smaller and have less odour. Female mice are a little harder to handle however, they are much more fidgety then males and will run around a lot more.

When introducing female mice into the same cage together you still need to keep an eye on them for a few days after. You will notice mice do have different personalities, so putting a timid female into a cage with a couple of boisterous females may well be a collision course.

When introducing mice into a same living space regardless of sex it is always important that you have a large enough cage. Having separate areas for eating, drinking and nesting will help minimise the chance of clashing due to overcrowding and fighting over small amounts of territory.


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