MICE & RAT Pet Care
"Sniff, sniff, scurry, scurry!" ...MICE & RAT
General Care Information
- Mice and rats are inexpensive pets and easy to care for
- Mice and rats do a good job of grooming themselves, but will need to have their cages cleaned once a week.
- Never grab a mouse by the end of the tail as this can cause injury
- Mice and rats are always looking to escape – use caution when cleaning the cage or handling your pet
- Provide your pet with a sturdy chew toy to help keep teeth at the optimal length.
Handling your pet mouse or rat
Mice and rats are generally docile when handled, but can become aggressive if they are not handled appropriately or if they feel their space is being violated. Research shows that pet rodents that live with other pets of their kind, become less territorial and therefore more docile and well adapted to handling.
When picking up a mouse or rat, never pick it up by the end of its tail – the weight of its body can cause injury if grabbed at the end of the tail. Also, be aware that your mouse or rat may try grasping the cage with its claws to avoid being picked up – pulling the rodent too hard to break its grip can cause injury not only to the tail, but also to the claws.
Picking up a mouse
To pick up a mouse, grasp the mouse by the base of the tail, close to the body. Place the mouse in your opposite hand and gently secure it by cupping your hand around it. If you prefer a bit more control over the mouse, gently grasp the mouse by the skin on the back of its neck, while securing the tail with your pinkie and ring fingers.
Picking up a rat
To pick up a rat, is more safely done by grasping the rodent around its midsection and placing in your arm, cradled up against your chest. Rats can be picked up by their tail, but should always be picked up by the base of the tail (close to the body) and only momentarily.
MICE & RAT Feeding Information
Mice and rats should be provided a constant supply of fresh food and water. The best diet for these rodents consists of commercially available rodent pellets found at your local pet store. While water dispensers with sipper tubes work well at keeping the water away from cage contaminants, they should be cleaned every couple of days to keep the water clean and fresh. Food dispensers are highly recommended because they minimize waste and protect the pellets from contamination – if your mice are raising a new litter, be sure to use a food and water dispenser that the smallest of the litter can reach into.
Supplementing a regular diet of rodent pellets with various seeds and nuts is not necessary and can actually cause health problems for your pet. While your pet may seem to enjoy seeds and nuts as treats, they are loaded with fats. High fat foods can cause obesity, leading to a variety of health issues. Mice and rats can benefit from occasional table scraps such as tuna, chicken, whole wheat breads and fresh fruits and vegetables. Use these items as supplements to the regular pellet diet, rather than as daily dietary staples.
When feeding your pet rodents, you can expect mice to consume proportionally more food than a rat, due to its high activity rat. Rats are typically not as aggressive of eaters and can be picky about what they choose to eat.
MICE & RAT Grooming
Mice and rats, like other members of the rodent family, do not require bathing or any additional grooming. They are fastidious groomers and will keep their coats shiny and clean if they are kept healthy. If you pet’s coat does appear to be untidy, this may be a sign of disease – consult with your local veterinarian to determine if your pet is suffering from an illness.
Just like other members of the rodent family, this rodent’s front two teeth – the incisors – will grow throughout its entire life. Because these teeth are always growing, if they are not worn down naturally or clipped occasionally they will curve into the mouth preventing proper eating resulting in starvation.
If your pet mouse or rat is provided chew toys, they will be able to keep their teeth at a healthy length. Chew toys can be purchased at your local pet store, but a block of hardwood will also meet this need.
MICE & RAT Housing
Mice and rat cages should be spacious and secure. While male mice and rats can live comfortable in a medium sized cage, breeding females require a larger area to raise her young. A well equipped cage would have an exercise wheel, nesting boxes and tunnels for the your pet to climb through (credit michael). A deep pile of wood shavings, shredded paper or processed corn cobs will give rats a comfortable place to nest and hide, as rats prefer to burrow more than mice. Fiberglass cages allow the pet owners to observe their pets, but also serve as a secure area for mice and rats that are more apt to escape than stay in their cage. Rodents will chew through cage materials constructed of plastic, wood, and soft metals.
To choose a location for your mouse or rat cage, find a quiet, out of the way place that experiences minimum temperature changes and minimal air drafts. Mice and rats can become frenzied and stressed if exposed to sudden or prolonged loud noises and do not adapt well to sudden temperature changes.
Rodent cages should be cleaned weekly by changing out the wood shaving bedding and by washing the cage with hot water and a non-toxic disinfectant. Water and food dispensers should be cleaned daily. When choosing bedding for the cage, avoid cedar chips – cedar produces an odor that is toxic to rodents.
MICE & RAT Exercising
Mice and rats require plenty of regular exercise. Mice in particular crave exercise as much as they crave food. Mice are certainly more active than rats and can be completely satisfied with an exercise wheel, but mazes and toys are also good ways keep your pet in good shape. Whatever activity or area you provide your mouse or rat, make sure it cannot escape.
The best exercise wheels are solid surface wheels that attach to the side of the cage. Wire wheels are not recommended as it may cause injuries.