Meet the Mice: A Mouse Profile
Pet Mice - A Popular Pocket Pet
Mice are small, delicate pets that are low maintenance pets with personalities varying from extremely outgoing to very skittish. Mice can be very entertaining pets that take up a very small amount of room, making them great pets for apartment dwellers or anyone looking for a less-then-pint-sized buddy.
Mouse History: The Origin of the Domestic Mouse
Pet Mice have been recorded as early as 1100 BC where they were mentioned in the earliest extant Chinese dictionary, the Erya. In the early 17th century, the well established domestic mouse began to gain popularity in England where breeding began with the introduction of stock from Japan. Artifacts found from ancient Egypt also depicted spotted mice, indicating they were likely also kept as pets.
In 1895 the Fancy Mouse Club was established by Walter Maxly in England. Mice have also been used extensively in laboratory testing, and are the most commonly used research animal. In 1909, Clarence Cook Little created the first genetically near-identical strains of laboratory mice. Mice are often used in laboratory work as it is possible to monitor studies over several generations in a relatively short period of time.
Just the Facts: Mice in a Nutshell
Mice live on average for 1.5 to 2 years, although lifespans of up to 4 years have been recorded. They reach adult size at 8-10 centimeters with males being (slightly) larger on average. Domesticated mice generally display nocturnal behavior (awake at night, sleeping during the day) and are moderately adaptive to the schedule of their human family. Mice are omnivores with their diet consisting primarily of plant-based foods, but they can also benefit from the addition of meat and eggs in their diet. Their teeth grow throughout their entire lives. Female mice can be housed in social groups, and are generally receptive towards the addition of new mice. Male mice can be kept together if raised together from a young age, though some male mice prefer to live alone.
Female mice come into heat every 3-5 days and generally have an 18-24 day gestation period. While the average litter size is 8-12, litters of up to 20 babies have been born.
A Bad Rap for Boy Mice?
Male mice often have a harder time finding homes then their female counter-parts due to their tendancy to not appreciate room mates, and the stronger smell of their urine. For a pet owner looking for a single mouse, a male mouse can be a great option. There are steps that can be taken to reduce the smell of mouse urine inbetween a weekly cage cleaning.
Reserving a bit of soiled bedding from a mouse's cage during cage cleaning, and adding it back to the cleaned cage can help cut down on your male mouse's urge to scent mark and identify the areas of his home. There are also a variety of supplements that can be added to your mouse's water, such as Marshall's Bi-Odor, that can also cut down on the urine smell. Surgical neutering will also drastically cut the odor of a male mouse's urine.
The Social Mouse
If you are looking for a social group of mice, many female mice will live happily with one or more other female mice, or neutered male mice. If you are looking for a single mouse, many male mice do not necessarily appreciate the companionship of other male mice and can be kept alone.
Female mice are often receptive throughout their lives to the addition of new female mice into their colony, but it is recommended that male mice either come from the same litter or be introduced before 3 months of age to cut down on the risk of territorial aggression.