A mouse is a small rodent with a pointed nose, furry round body, large ears and a long, often hairless, tail. There are hundreds of types of mice. Mice come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Some common mice colors are white, brown and grey. Some are very tiny and others are around the size of a baked potato. Mice typically grow from 1 to 7 inches (2.54 to 18 centimeters) in length and weigh about 1 ounce (30 grams). These measurements do not include tail length. Some mice have tails that are as long as their bodies.
Mice are hardy creatures that are found in nearly every country and type of terrain. They can live in forests, grasslands and man-made structures easily. Mice typically make a burrow underground if they live out in the wild. Their burrow helps protect them from predators.
Mice are nocturnal, meaning they like to sleep during the day. This is why pet mice or house mice can be heard playing or foraging during the night. Most wild mice are timid toward humans and other animals, but they are very social with other mice. Domestic mice are very friendly toward humans and can make good pets for children.
If you believe what you see in cartoons, you would think that mice eat cheese. Actually, they like to eat fruits, seeds and grains. They are omnivorous, which means they eat both plants and meat, and the common house mice will eat just about anything it can find. Mice have voracious appetites. They eat around 15 to 20 times per day, so they build their homes nearby places that have readily accessible food sources.
When homes are infested with mice, humans will often find chewed up wires, books, papers and insulation around their home. Mice aren’t eating these items, they are chewing them into pieces that they can use to make their nests. This is because mice nests are made from whatever the female mouse can find.
At around 4 to seven weeks old, a female mouse will mate and have young. She will carry her young for 19 to 21 days and give birth to four to twelve babies. Mice can have a new litter of babies every three weeks. Pet mice can live up to six years, while wild mice usually only live around 1 to 2.5 years. Mice have unusual names. Females are does, males are bucks and babies are called pinkies because of their bright pink color. Baby mice are also called pups.
Mice are complex, unique beings with the capacity to experience a wide range of emotions. As highly intelligent as our canine friends, they’re natural students who excel at learning and understanding concepts. Much like us, mice are very social creatures. They become attached to one another, love their families, and enjoy playing, wrestling, and sleeping curled up together. Mice are clean animals who groom themselves several times a day.
Mice as Pets
Mice can make great pets, particularly for children as they rarely bite, are inexpensive to keep, do not require a lot of space and can be easily handled and cared for.
Cages can be made out of a variety of materials, but it is important that they are well ventilated (so aquariums are not really suitable) easy to clean and not made of any material that can be destroyed by chewing or digging. The cage floor should be solid but easy to clean. Bedding should not produce dust (rodents have very sensitive respiratory systems), should keep animals clean and dry and should frequently be changed.Mice should also be provided with the option to retreat from light into a dark burrow when desired.
Playtime with your Mouse
Toys are also important as they work to exercise your pet, keeping it happy and healthy. This includes exercise wheels, hammocks, rope ladders, hanging mats, ‘critter rollers’, hollow balls, tunnels and and see-saws. Ideally rotate the toys every few days or weeks to stimulate your pets curiosity! Of course, the young mouse owner can use a little imagination to kit out their mouse house. Cardboard tubes, small branches and jars can also be used, but just check they’re clean and placed safely. Food treats (though obviously in small quantities) are another good source of environmental enrichment.
Feeding your Mouse
If you imagine cheese is the ideal meal for a mouse, think again. It’s high in fat, so only tiny amounts should be given as a special treat. A healthy diet includes fresh vegetables, oats, uncooked rice, bread crusts, sunflower seeds, and you can buy pre-packed mouse food. Mice have a high metabolic rate and need to have fresh food and water on hand 24 hours a day. A water bottle is an essential item in the cage and it should be freshened daily.
Mice are rodents and need something to gnaw on to avoid the problem of overgrown teeth. Dog biscuits, pieces of beef bone, small pieces of untreated wood or chew toys can all keep teeth in check.
Training your Pet Mouse
Mouse owners can become mouse trainers. With a bit of patience, it won’t be long before your pet is literally in the palm of your hand. To train your mouse to climb into your hand when you call it, start by building up trust – handle it gently, picking it up slowly and holding it by the base of its tail. Mice rely more on their sense of smell than their eyesight, so it’s important to allow your pet time to get used to your scent.
Lure your mouse into your hand by holding treats in your palm – if your mouse is nervous, lay your hand inside its cage when you do this, so the environment is familiar. Once it trusts you enough to eat the treats from your hand, start to make a distinctive sound each time you give it a treat. Try a whistle, click or kissing noise. Be patient, and gradually your pet will come to associate your sound with treats, and will approach you whenever you make the sound.