Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How To Care For Wild Mice

Wild mice live in areas that we frequently pass by without knowing they are there, they will have babies in dark, quiet places that we come across at times. Places like car engines, pipes, lawn mowers and sheds are all places you might find wild mice and their babies (pups).

If you are an animal lover like I am, when you come across a family of wild mice living in your shed or garage your first thought isn't going to be how to get rid of them but how to make them more comfortable.

There are several things you can do if you notice wild mice are living among your belongings and you don't mind that they are there. First thing to remember is that they are wild mice and not pets. They should never be caught to bring home as pets, unless you find orphaned pups that will die without your care or a sick or hurt animal that needs medical attention.

Although a lot of veterinarians will not take on wild mice as patients you might be able to find one in your area that will. Contacting your local ASPCA, mouse rescue or animal shelter may be another way of finding a vet that will treat wild mice.

Making wild mice comfortable:

Find small boxes like Kleenex or other tissue boxes and cut small wild mice size holes in the sides of the boxes so the mice can walk in and out of the box easily. Put a few shredded paper towels in the boxes for their bedding. Get a bag of mouse food at your local pet store and leave a couple of small piles along the wall near the boxes. This way you will be able to tell if they wild mice are using the boxes without actually looking in the box. If the piles of food you left have been disturbed then you know the mice are eating it.

Also get at least two plastic lids, leave them near the food with a little water in them. You will need to change the water in the lids every day because mice will run through them and get the water dirty. Make sure the lids are small, like from butter tubs so the mice can easily access the water without drowning or getting stuck in them.

What to do if you find orphaned wild mice:

The first thing you should do if you find newborn wild mice is leave them alone. Don't touch them or move them because the mother might be out looking for food and she could be coming back, but she might refuse to take of her pups if you handle or move them.

You can leave a small pile of mouse food near the babies and check back in a couple of hours to see if it's been disturbed. If it has the mother mouse is probably back and taking care of her pups.

If after a few hours it doesn't look like the mother has come back, you can then bring the pups in your house to take care of them. Newborn wild mice will be pink, have no hair and their eyes will not be open. They will need to be kept warm and eat every two hours in order to survive.

The best way to keep them alive is to find a mother mouse that is nursing her own babies and add the new mice to her nest. If you have friends that have mice ask them if any of them have had babies recently. You can also find nursing mother mice at pet stores, mice rescues, and animal shelters. Your local veterinarian's office may also be helpful finding a nursing mother mouse.

How to add orphaned wild mice to a nursing mother's nest:

If you are able to find a mother mouse who is nursing her own babies, you need to know adding the wild mice babies to her nest doesn't always work and she may eat the babies. But there's a good chance if done right she will accept the pups and raise them right along side her own.

A mouse knows her own pups by their smell, so in order for the new mother to accept the orphaned wild mice you will need to make the new pups smell like her own babies. To do this you should wear gloves so your smell isn't on the babies and all she smells in her pups.

Put on the gloves and give the mother mouse a treat of some kind, a piece of fruit, yogurt drop or pudding. Anything that will keep her occupied for a few minutes so you can add the wild mice pups to her nest. First thing you should do is pick up a hand full of the bedding in the cage and rub it all over your hands, then carefully handle the wild mice and try to get the smell from the bedding on the pups.

While the mother mouse is eating, get her pups and a handful of the bedding they were sleeping on and add the wild mice pups to the other pups in the nest. Gently rub all the pups with the bedding from the nest and put the nest bedding and all the pups back in the nest where the pups were.

Most mother mice will let you handle them and when she is done with her treat you should pick her up and hold her, letting the smell that is all over your gloved hands get all over her. Then put her back in the cage and watch to see if she accepts the pups. Most of the time she will accept the pups and raise them as her own with no problems. If there aren't any problems within the first few minutes of her returning to the nest then things should be fine.

If the mother mouse does not accept the wild mice pups, you may have to care for them yourself.

How to care for wild mice pups yourself:

There are a few things you will need to do in order to keep the pups alive. Feed them, keep them warm and clean and help them go to the bathroom. Keeping them warm is easy as getting a heating pad, setting it on low, wrapping it in a towel and placing it under the cage. This will keep the bottom of the cage warm where the wild mouse pups will be sleeping without getting them too hot which could lead to dehydration.

Next thing you need to know is baby mice cannot defecate or urinate without help. A mother mouse would lick their genital areas to stimulate them into defecating and urinating, but you can do this two ways. Either by using a wet cotton ball and gently rubbing it on their genitals or using your finger and doing the same thing. You will need to do this after you feed them each time and they should urinate most of the times you do this but only defecate once every third time.

Keep the wild mice pups clean by using a wet cotton ball, warm water only to gently clean them. There are several different kinds of formula you can get to feed the wild mice pups. Most veterinarians can give you several choices but if you can't find a vet that will see the wild mice pups you can buy dog, cat or even baby formula. I would suggest getting several different kinds because the wild mouse pups may not like one kind while they love another.

While you are waiting to get the formula you can use diluted sugar water so they don't get dehydrated. Make it by using 1 cup on warm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Use a small eye dropper or plastic syringe to give the wild mouse pups the sugar water. You can also dip the end of a paper towel into the solution and let the pups suck the sugar water from it. This will only work for an emergency and only for the first day while you go and get some formula.

Most pet stores or veterinarians offices will have dog formula, nipples, bottles, or small eye dropper syringes. If you cannot find dog formula the next best thing to buy is soy baby formula you can get right from any grocery store. I would suggest getting powder formula so you can mix it as needed and it won't spoil. Every two hours you will need to mix 2 teaspoons of water to every ½ teaspoon of powder. Feed all the wild mouse pups every two hours, you may need some help if there are a lot of pups.

At a week old the wild mice pups will start to get hair and at two weeks their eyes will open and they will be able to start eating other soft foods. But will still require you to feed them formula also. You can supplement the formula feeding at this time with baby food, soft vegetables and fruit.

At three weeks old they should have teeth and start eating other solid foods such as mouse food, as well as fruits and veggies. They will not be weaned yet so you should still be offering formula a few times a day. At this time they will be more active and if you have been keeping them in an open box, they should be transferred to a cage so they don't run away and get lost or hurt.

At four weeks the wild mice pups should be completely weaned and eating mouse food without getting formula feedings. You should still give them bits of fruit and vegetables but make sure to remove any leftovers that night so they don't spoil which can make the mice sick.

All mice even wild mice are social animals, meaning they should be kept with other mice. Orphaned wild mice pups that have been hand raised should be kept as pets since they won't have the proper education to take care of themselves and haven't learned how to get and find food from their mother.

Mice usually live between 1-2 years. The hard part is over now you can have fun with your new little mouse family.