The Fun Mouse: Mouse Info: Bringing Your New Mouse Home
Before Getting A Mouse
Before deciding to add a mouse to your family, you should have already read everything you could about them. Insure that a mouse is the right pet for you and fits your personality best. You should know about general mouse care, including mouse keeping and medical care. You should have general mouse supplies and an emergency kit prepared. You should have a vet picked out (make sure they take emergencies) and monetary savings in case you need it. You should have found a good breeder to get your mouse from, if at all possible. If a breeder isn’t within reach, try rescues.
Before bringing your new mouse home you should have their new housing enclosure prepared beforehand. Doing so helps avoid longer periods in their transport carrier. This will minimize their stress. Keep their new home where it will be normally, as long as that area isn’t too rambunctious. There is no need to place it in a quieter area if their normal area is fit for them. It is actually best not to put them in an area that they are not going to be in permanently. Changing homes is stressful to begin with, without being in one area of the home for a short while and then changing to a higher traffic or louder area later. They should be placed and remain where they are going to be permanently.
When selecting a carrier, you should choose something small, though well ventilated. Mice do better in smaller areas where they feel more secure. TFM recommends small kritter keepers for short trips. You can use tanks, but we recommend against them mainly for your safety. If, heaven forbid, you get into an accident, a glass tank turns into a dangerous projectile. Unless your trip is extremely short and the mouse will be well supervised at all times, never use a cardboard box as mice can chew out of this quickly. Inside what ever carrier you chose, add plenty of bedding. You should use at least 2 inches of bedding, but more is better. You can use any mouse safe bedding, however TFM recommends bedding that the mice can easily burrow in, such as Carefresh Ultra mixed with shredded paper as this will give optimal absorbency and easy tunneling. A lot of bedding that is easy to tunnel in gives the mice a place to burrow and feel safe. Also provide them with a light weight house. A box works great, but anything light weight, small, and secluded will work. The house should be as secluded as possible, with only a hole to get in and out. An open bottom is fine as well. You want something light weight so that if there is any shifting during travel it will not hurt the mouse. It is also recommended that you add something moist for them mouse to eat if your mouse will be in there for longer than an hour. If the mouse is used to fruits or vegetables, you may use that. You should stay away from tomatoes (some tomatoes are toxic as well) and other acidic foods. If the mouse is not used to fruits or vegetables prior to travel, it is best to use an alternative as they can give the mouse diarrhea (mice are prone to diarrhea during travel as it is, without adding to it with fruits and vegetables). You can also use moist cat food, KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) mixed with cooked rice or oatmeal (mixed into paste form), monkey chow, etc. KMR and rice or oats is the least likely to cause tummy upset if your mice have not previously been exposed to these things. Transporting mice is stressful in itself so it is best to avoid food that could potentially upset their tummy more. The moisture in the food will keep them hydrated without giving them a water bottle. Water bottles in travel often leak. A leaky bottle can cause mice to become ill very quickly, especially in high-stress situations such as travel. You can try a spring loaded bottle to help prevent leaks, however, many mice are not capable of pushing the ball hard enough to get water. If your trip is lengthy, you should also stop every 2 hours to replace their moist food (food should not sit out longer than 2 hours) and offer them water. Mice will generally come out to take a drink as soon as you offer them a water bottle. Other than what is absolutely necessary, you should not include anything else in their carrier. It is best to minimize anything that can shift and hurt the mouse. Never give them a wheel of any kind. That is very dangerous. Mice should not be given a hard food dish either. When offering them moist food, a paper cupcake holder often works great.
Besides what was mentioned earlier (changing food and offering water on long trips) you should not bother your mouse during transport. Travel is very stressful on mice, therefore it is best to leave them alone. It is very exciting to get a new mouse, but remember that the best thing for them is to minimize stress in every way. While mice are NOT biters by nature, they will bite if they are over stressed. This is only natural and the mouse can not be blamed if it happens (you are). If the mouse is taken out during transport, it can also cause behavioral problems once home as well because you have broken the trust of your mouse by making a high stress event worse. A nervous or scared mouse will not adapt well to his or her surroundings either.
When you arrive home, you should place the mouse directly in their new tank. Also place anything in there that the breeder may have sent with the mouse as it will have the mouses’ scent on it, in turn helping them feel more at home. You should not handle your new mouse very much when you first arrive home. They need to get used to their new surroundings and settle in. Holding them or playing with them will only stress them out more, making it harder for them to settle in and harder for you to tame. Place yourself in your mouses shoes, so to speak. You’ve been ripped away from everything you know, ripped from all your friends you’ve ever known, thrown unwittingly into a new home that you know nothing about, with new surroundings, smells, and new “hand monsters” (people). It can be very terrifying. While it is very exciting to get a new mouse, it is in both your best interests to give your new friend time to adjust. Pushing the mouse may cause behavioral issues. If you have a breeder mouse, it is best to wait 24 hours after arriving home before you start handling them. If you have mice from a pet store, you may wish to wait a week. However you also shouldn’t wait much longer either. After the adjustment period, you can start bonding with your new mouse. To have a good, lasting, and loving relationship you need to build up trust. This takes time, but it absolutely worth it in the long run as it ensures a lasting bond. Start by finding a comfortable spot to sit with your mouse while he or she is the tank. You need to get comfortable because building up trust can take quite a bit of time. Next, place your hand in the tank so the mouse can come to you. Eventually curiosity will win over your mouse and he or she will come out to you, pending the mouse is good to begin with (such as mice from a good breeder). If the mouse is more timid, it may take longer for him or her to come out to investigate. Give it time. It may take several sittings, but their curiosity will eventually win them over. We recommend against treats most times as it is best to have the mouse come to you for attention and not because you are a treat dispenser. Additionally, it’s not good to have your hand smell like food as the mouse might accidentally nip if it thinks you are a treat (remember, mice have very poor eyesight). If needed, you can remove some things from their tank, such as the wheel, if they are too distracted by it. Always leave the house for security though. Never, under any circumstances, chase your mouse around the tank. This will make a mouse nervous and he or she will not bond with you- ever. Don’t push the mouse. Let them come in his or her own time. Again, trust is the key. If the mouse wants to get down or get away, let him/her. Once mice learn that you will not hold them against their will, they will want to be held for longer periods of time as trust is built over time. Using these strategies will help insure a great bond between you and the mouse. There are also more taming tricks on this site, in the Taming section.
If you are unable to pick our mouse up without stress or chasing, try using a TP or paper towel tube. Offer the tube for them to get into under their own free will. This will allow you to move your mouse without a chase and without breaking their trust.
Good luck with your new addition!