During and After Birth
During/After Birth Instructions
The female will not need help while giving birth. Please do not disturb her while she is in labour. You will know when the babies have arrived when you hear squeaking coming from inside the nest box. Do not bother your mummy mouse or her babies for at least two days, although you can fill the food bowl and make sure the water bottle is full. If you bother the babies or the mum before the two days, there is a possibility that she will feel threatened. This is one reason that female mice eat their babies. She will also eat a baby if the baby is too ill to live. It seems bizarre, but it is mouse nature. I do recommend that you start to handle the babies after about four days or at least before their eyes open (around 14 days old). At this time you can get an idea of how many boys and how many girls you have. The females will have nipples, but male mice do not. This will help you later when you need to separate them.
Mum (Minstrel) feeding her pups in her sleep!
My Mouse Just Gave Birth - What Do I Do Now?
If you DID know she was pregnant, the best thing for you to do now is to leave her alone for at least eight hours. If your female is very outgoing and likes to be with you, you may be able to peek after this time. If she is extremely skittish I wouldn't recommend peeking quite yet. After a day, you really should be ok with just looking, but if you want to be extremely cautious wait two days to look and five days to touch. However if you are confident in your female's trust in you then you can go ahead and handle the babies. You should keep a very sharp eye on the mother though - watch her for any signs of stress or anxiety but don't get too worried about squeaking or normal mothering behaviours.
Babies are very squeaky and they often squeak when being cleaned. If the mother isn't actually drawing blood she isn't harming them. I have heard of mother mice grabbing the babies and taking them out of people's hands, but if she does this it doesn't mean she is going to eat the baby.
Mother mouse (Eve) in the nest with her young babies
After a week if you haven't started handling the babies yet, go ahead and start handling them. You should handle them as much as you can, but less than an hour a day until they are at least two weeks old. When handling the babies it is best to remove the mother when she voluntarily leaves the nest so that she does not get distressed. After you have removed the mother, rub your hands in the dirty bedding so you smell a bit more ‘mousy’ before gently picking up or touching the babies.
Once they are around two weeks old, they will be opening their eyes and beginning to jump. When they are in their flea stage, you will need to be EXTREMELY cautious when handling them - it is entirely possible for the babies to jump or fall from a height (such as your hands) and die. If you want to handle them in the flea stage, just put your hands in the cage with them, but still keep a close eye on them: they may jump high enough to get out. Or if you really want to take them out do it on the floor or on a table with some kind of wall all the way around it (books, or cardboard - something that will keep them from jumping off of the edge). Also, do it in a carpeted room just in case they manage to jump.
At around four weeks the mother will be weaning them and you don't need to do anything to help with that. When the babies reach four and a half to five weeks the boys should be separated from the girls. You should handle them all this time for well-socialised pets. At six to seven weeks you can adopt them out.
|©2003-2006 Cait McKeown Home Email|