Baby Mice

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If you discover a mouse nest with pups in it, or your own pet mouse has given birth, you must be very careful not to touch the babies, that is unless you plan on taking hands on care of them from that point on. If you touch the babies or the nest the mother will more than likely kill or abandon the babies. Please be aware that even in the wild, mice have a 50% chance of surviving beyond 5 months of age, given a normal upbringing. The mice that do make it can live up to around 5 years if healthy. A pair will have a better chance of survival than a lone mouse. Here are some more practical tips on how to care for baby mice.

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 their legs.
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.

  • Mice will normally sleep for over 12 hours a day.
  • Mice eat, or at least chew anything that is softer than their teeth.
  • Mice are very neat as they will sleep, eat and defecate in different places.
  • Mice do not like rats as rats are known to prey on mice however in the wild they do live together.
  • Mice can jump straight up to about 18 inches and are also very good climbers and swimmers.
  • A male mouse is called a buck.
  • A female mouse is called a doe.
  • The offspring of mice are called pups or kitten.
  • A group of mice are called a family, horde or a nest.
  • A wild mouse will live no longer than 1 year.
  • A pet mouse may live for between 2 and 3 years.
  • A mouse’s tail is almost as long as its body.
  • Mice do not see in colour.
  • Mice are nocturnal creatures.
  • Mice can and will chew through anything softer than their teeth.
  • Mice cause more than 1 billion dollars’ worth of damage in the US alone each year.

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