Before buying a mouse, it is probably best to do a bit of homework on them. Find out such things as different breeds, what housing they will require, what kind of food they eat and how to care for them generally. Asking pet shop staff is a good idea or looking up information on the internet.
There are also lots of books that may help. Check your local library and ask the staff there to direct you to a good informative pet book.
If you already have other pets, it might be a good idea to find out whether a mouse would fit in. Ideally, it would not be a good idea to buy a mouse if you have a cat, unless you are able to constantly keep an eye on your mouse and cat and separate them. But then there may be some of you out there who do have both a cat and a mouse and they get on fine. Every situation is different. This applies to buying any sort of pet, the more you know prior to buying any animal, the better equipped you are.
Buying your mouse from a reputable breeder is probably the best option. However, if you do not know of one in your area, then the local pet shop will usually have a mouse or two for sale. The advantages of buying from a private breeder is that they will have planned the new breed, know their date of birth and would have handled them from being born. You may also have the opportunity to see the parents.
Early handling is quite important because the mouse quickly learns to bond with humans and develop a tame temperament. This will make it easier for you to get to know your mouse quickly and easily. If handled gently and carefully, they will gain confidence in you and you will have a friend for the rest of the mouses life.
If you are buying from a pet shop, here are a few things to look out for:
Never buy from a shop that is untidy, unclean and disorganised. If the pet shop is tidy and clean, it shows that the shop owners take pride in the store and are most likely to have the same attitude towards their animals. If you do visit a pet shop and you are not satisfied with what you see, then walk away and search for another one. Do not settle for a pet that has been commercially bred and have no care and attention. These can be a little temperamental and will nip. You could also end up with a sick pet or one who may be pregnant, then you will end up with more than you bargained for. Also beware of large pet super stores. Although most are clean and animals are cared for, always check the animal you are buying is not pregnant.
If you did purchase a pregnant mouse, it would be your preference whether to keep it or take it back. You would have to consider whether you would be able to accommodate more than one mouse and you would have to consider the cost of feeding more than one mouse. Mice are easier to feed than Guinea Pigs incidentally.
As far as housing a mouse is concerned, there are many pet stores that cater in pet housing including cages, wooden boxes, toys and pet wheels which can be purchased. However, if you are any good at DIY, you can always build your own. If you decide to do this, make sure the habitat is safe. No wood should be splinted. No nails sticking out and no sharp edges in which the mouse may injure itself on.
If you do discover a really bad pet shop that you feel is not adequately supplied to cater for animals, apart from leaving and finding another pet shop to buy your mouse from, you can report the shop to an Animal Welfare organisation or your local authority if you feel the conditions warrant it.
Caring for mice as pets
Although mice do make brilliant pets, with their inexpensive keeping and requirement of little space, they are not as popular as hamsters, rabbits or even guinea pigs. It can be difficult to find them in pets shops today.
Mice do not take much upkeep at all, they do not really smell (apart from the males – males smell more than the females), they regularly clean themselves or each other. You cannot really keep two males together as they will fight ferociously – it is best to keep two females, firstly they get on better than males would, secondly, they do not smell as bad and thirdly, they would provide good company for each other.
Mouse housing is very simple, a wooden box or small cage is adequate, however, make sure their is plenty of ventilation. Place newspaper down on the base of the habitat, this provides insulation and makes it warmer for the mice and then sprinkle plenty of sawdust down to help soak up urine. Put plenty of hay in their sleeping areas for them to snuggle up in. Please avoid cedar shavings and fluffy bedding as both of these can be dangerous to pets. Clean your mouse habitat out at least once a week, particularly in the winter when damp habitats can be cold for the mice.
Mice love to play, so be sure to place empty toilet rolls or eggs cartons in their play areas, not only to chew on, but to toss around and run through. Many pet shops sell small animal toys, but you can provide your own as long as they are safe. Mice also like to run on wheels, it is fun and gives them plenty of exercise.
When handling your mouse, never pick it up by its tail (the same applies to rabbits – never pick them up be their ears). Hold it firmly but gently and stroke and talk to it calmly. Like any pet rodent, mice are quite nervous.
Feeding mice is simple. Seeds, a little hamster food, dried bread, oats and grain will be sufficient. As always, provide fresh drinking water daily and for nursing mothers, milk will be appreciated. If you mate your mouse, you could expect a litter of about 12 babies. Mice are born pink and blind. You should not disturb the nest of new born, however, if you want to handle them, remove the mother, press your hand into the nearby sawdust to leave your scent and remove one gently. At around 6 days old their fur will begin to grow and at 10 days their eyes open, this is probably the best time to handle them, although handling them as soon as possible will make them grow up tame and used to humans. One final interesting fact is that female mice will actually nurse babies that are not their own.
Here is a list of advantages of having a pet mouse:
Minimal shedding and allergies
Entertaining and affectionate
Clean (contrary to popular belief)
Socially self-sufficient (when in a group of other mice)
Mice are quite intelligent given their size
Here is a list of disadvantages:
Small and quite fragile (not as easy to handle as a dog or a cat)
Frequent eye infections under stress
Easily subject to disease when without optimal care
Short life span
The males urine gives off an unpleasant odour
A pet mouse can live for about 2 – 3 years. Wild mice have a shorter life span of about 3 months. This is mainly due to predators such as cats, snakes and birds that feed upon them.