Move the babies
The mother may possibly avoid you because in a couple of weeks
time she could have more babies. If she is in the area around
the nest when you stick your hand in, she will be scared and
most likely bite you. With this in mind, only touch the nest
with your hands if you are sure that she is away. Do not be
afraid to touch the mice with your hands. If they were ill, they
would most likely already have died. You should use
antibacterial wash on your hands as the mother would have been
licking them. As soon as you have your baby mice, it is very
important to keep them safe and warm. To contain them you can
use a small pet carrier, large plastic tub or any other suitable
box. Layer the bottom of the container with a towel and place
the mice on top. Then use another soft material cloth to gently
cover the mice, such as fleece. Place the box in a warm place or
place a hot water bottle covered with a dish towel for
protection at one end, this way they can crawl away if they are
too hot. If they get to hot the mice will become dehydrated. A
heat source on the lowest setting may be all that is needed to
keep them warm. Test the towel the mice are laying on by
touching it making sure it is nice and warm.
Feed the babies
If the baby mice are less than 14 days old they will need
feeding with a milk substitute until they are weaned. Feed them
using an IV catheter or you can also use a small syringe. It may
take a couple to a few days for them to get used to the new tool
that is feeding them, but after, they will eat with more ease.
Feed them on puppy or kitten milk with kitten milk being the
best option, or baby formula as a last resort. Don't feed baby
mice cow's milk as it will give them cramps and they will die.
They will normally open their eyes when they are just about
weaned and able to eat by themselves.
Before that happens, you will need to feed them every 2 to 3
hours so you should be prepared to get up during the night. It
is believed that during the night a mother mouse would be away
looking for food and may only return to the nest once to feed
her babies. With this in mind you should use common sense. If
you can manage a few night feeds when they are very young, you
better their chances of survival.
Kitten milk is readily available to buy at most pet shops. Once
the milk is prepared, store in a sterilised glass jar and keep
in the fridge until needed. When feeding the mice, take a
quarter of a cup of the milk and warm it up. This can be done by
pouring it in a small jug and standing it in a larger container
of hot water. Using a dropper or baby syringe (you can get these
at the chemist) feed them 1 or 2 drops of the milk at a time,
dripping the milk into the baby mouse’s mouth. When the mice are
very young, they might not open their mouths. Be careful not to
get the milk up their noses. If you do they will splutter and
cough and it can also be dangerous for their health. The main
purpose of the small drops of milk often is to keep them
hydrated with a little drop at a time every couple of hours.
Once the baby mouse has been fed, you need to stimulate a bowel
movement. To do this grab a small bowl of warm water and a
cotton bud. Wet the cotton bud then place between the baby
mouse’s back legs and gently turn the bud around. You should
find a little brown staining on the cotton, that is faeces. Dip
the other end of the cotton bud into the warm water and gently
stroke the baby mouse’s body with it. This emulates the mother
licking them. Once finished, place the baby mouse in the soft
bedding and place in a warm spot again. This is the basic
routine that needs to be repeated every couple of hours during
the day and at least 2-3 times during the night, especially
around 1am and 5am.
When the babe mice start to open their eyes or start peaking,
they may also be taking in a lot more milk and starting to move
around a little. You need to be very careful as one fall is
enough to be fatal. By placing them in a larger container such
as a shoe box lined with newspaper and leaves, you can provide a
safer and more natural roaming area. The growing mice will enjoy
stretching their legs and taking their first steps. It’s
important that this happens as it helps build up and strengthen
When the babies start to bite your fingers quite firmly when you
feed them, they may be ready for some solid food. They should
also be starting to open their eyes around 12-14 days old.
For their first solid food, try some baby fruit puree to start
or natural rice pudding. The food should not be chilled. Feed
them by letting them lick the food off your finger. Placing the
purees onto a dish for the mice to feed from is a bad idea as
they can get messy and end up with matted fur. This needs to be
avoided. Some other foods to move on to are porridge, banana,
tomato, dried oat flakes and strawberries.
Continue to provide a safe space for the mice to sleep and once
they are weaned, they will come out at night to feed. Place a
little dish near their bed so they can feed during the night.
Continue to offer them milk during the day and provide some
water for them. Wild mice will still have some mothers milk up
to 4 weeks of age.
Now you have to make the decision to keep them or release them
into the wild. I don't know how well mice survive in the wild
once hand-reared and released but I would think it unlikely that
they can survive.
If you did your best and mice died, don't feel bad as the
chances of survival in the best of conditions with their natural
mother are still low. Enjoy the experience you've had with them
and the opportunity to get a glimpse into their little lives.
A mouse can be annoying where mice can be a bigger problem!
Getting rid of mice can be done in many ways such as the use of
traps that kill or catch and poisons. Controlling mice in and
around your home must be taken seriously as they can introduce
illnesses to your family as well as transfer fleas to pets.