Mice Breeders

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If you intend to breed mice you must have a plan, think ahead and ask why you are breeding mice? Do you have homes planned for the off-spring? Do you have a pet store that you can possibly sell to? When breeding mice you need to make sure the breeding pair are in good health. If either of the breeding pair or even both are in poor health they will produce unhealthy offspring.

When caring for the breeding pair you must make sure that they have fresh clean water every day and are fed appropriately. If you decide to introduce more mates, quarantine is very important to prevent any illnesses affecting what you are trying to achieve. Strict quarantine and isolation for all newly acquired mice for at least 4 weeks will help prevent disease among your pet mice. This is very important when it comes to rodents as the severity of certain diseases they may carry without showing signs of illness.

Breeding mice are more successful when bred in preferable age ranges. This can vary between strains, but a broad generalization can be made. Males can normally be mated from six weeks of age and have a reproductive lifespan of 12 to 18 months. Females on the other hand can be mated a little younger than males at only five weeks of age. Pregnancies may occur earlier with it being rare so should not be relied upon in a breeding program. Females may continuously mate up to 10 months and sometimes longer with the size of litters produced diminishing after 7 or 8 months of age. Virgin female mice that are not mated before 3 months of age often have diminished fertility and may breed poorly or not at all.
A female mouse will reach sexual maturity and begin cycles at around 35 days of age with inbred strains of mice reaching sexual maturity a little later than outbred strains. As a result of this, many labs begin breeding females at 5-6 weeks of age.
Male mice mature slightly later than females and are normally placed for breeding at 6-8 weeks of age. The age at which male mice are weaned may affect their ability to successfully mate. It’s recommended that inbred male mice intended for breeding are weaned at 28 days to improve their reproductive performance.

Reproductive Facts

  • Gestation time: 19 - 21 days
  • Age at weaning: 3 weeks
  • Age at sexual maturity: 6 - 8 weeks
  • Approximate weight at birth: 1g
  • Approximate weight at weaning: 8 - 12g
  • Approximate weight at adult: 25 - 35g (male > female)
  • Lifespan: 1.5 - 2.5 years
  • Average litter sized: 4 -12
  • Total number of litters per breeding female: 4 - 8
  • Useful breeding life of females: 6 - 8 months
  • Useful breeding life of males: 18 - 24 months

Systems of Breeding

  • Monogamous
  • Polygamous
  • Inbreeding
  • Out breeding
  • Line Breeding
  • Cross Breeding
  • Backcrossing

Monogamous breeding involves one male and one female selected and paired together for the length of their breeding life. This system streamlines record keeping and lends itself well to sustaining inbred or outbred colonies.
Polygamous, also referred to as harem breeding is where one male is kept with two or more females. This results in a large number of young from the least amount of breeding animals. It is the most economical and used method of laboratory animal production.
Inbreeding uses Brother/sister or parent/offspring mating for a minimum of 20 generations. This type of breeding is used to produce animals that are very genetically similar. The reproductive performance and behaviours can vary depending on the strain.
Out breeding, also referred to as random breeding avoids the mating of close relatives and produces the maximum amount of genetic heterogeneity and large litters. Mice of the same stock are mated, producing a more energetic mouse by maintaining genetic diversity. Precise records are essential to prevent breeding animals that are related to each other.
Line breeding is where mice are breed to produce specific traits. This will normally be done to produce mutant or transgenic lines or for a trait needed for research.
Cross breeding is where mice of different breeds or strains are breed and are also called hybrid cross.
Backcrossing is the breeding of successive offspring to pure otherwise known as wild mice giving you a mutation or phenotype on a “pure” background. Pure background mice are only so, when at least 20 generations has occurred.
Density of cages
Overcrowding of cages can result in estrous cycle suppression and trampling of new born mice. Overcrowded cages will also become soiled faster and may lead to harmful levels of ammonia and other waste gas accumulation within the cage resulting in poor mouse health.
To help reduce overcrowding of cages, litters should be separated by sex at weaning. If they are not separated by sex at weaning, you may end up with unwanted pregnancies, unnecessary new born losses and overcrowding.
Housing Requirements
Male mice are normally housed alone as more than one male together are likely to fight, or with one or more females for breeding. Male mice from the same litter may be housed together however fighting will often occur as they reach sexual maturity. As soon as a male mouse has been used for breeding, he should not be returned to another group as fighting will often ensue and can also result in the loss of another valuable breeding mouse. Before breeding, a male mouse should be placed in his own cage for a few days before females are introduced to allow the male to mark the cage and establish his territory.
Health
Keeping your mice healthy and in a healthy environment is very important as there are many infectious agents (bacterial and viral) that can cause decreased reproductive performance, neonatal mortality or result in unhealthy pups.
Mice Sex
The best way to determine the sex of mice is by comparing the distance between the anal opening and genital papilla. The distance is shorter in females and longer in males. An advantage of mice over 12-14 days old there is an absence of fur in a band across the anogenital (relating to the region of the anus and the genitalia) space. Sexing of very young mice can be difficult for beginners and it is often helpful to compare a number of littermates to one another. In older mice, the presence of nipples indicates a female as male mice do not have nipples.
Possible weaning variances
Pups are weaned at around three weeks of age. At about three weeks, the mice should be fairly active with their eyes open and eating food, however they may still be suckling. An easy test to see whether or not they are ready to wean is their reaction when the lid is removed. If they stay perfectly still then they are still too young. If they poke around during this test like normal then they are old enough to be removed. If pups are weaned too early they will not survive. It’s important to make sure they are removed at the correct time and not too early. If you discover a runt or otherwise underdeveloped mouse, there is a benefit in removing other mice that are ready so that the remaining mouse has time to get better. It’s important to make sure pups are weaned by the time of the next litter. This will prevent “double littering”, and the risk of older pups trampling the younger litter, competition for milk and undesirable ammonia build-up.

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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