Home: Housing

Cages/Tanks & Housing

By Cait McKeown

I would always suggest getting the largest tank that you can afford for your mouse. The mouse will need enough room to run around without knocking over items in the tank. Those who keep pet mice will enjoy watching their mice run on an exercise wheel, and it will also help to keep the mice healthy and prevent them getting bored.

Left: Buck running on his wheel. Right: Young does playing on their wheel

Proper housing is a major factor in the maintenance of healthy mice. Mice can be housed in plastic or glass tanks. These materials are preferred because they resist corrosion. To house your mouse a plastic cage is most suitable - mice can easily squeeze out of a cage. Another good option is a glass tank with a wooden-framed wire mesh lid, although these can be harder to clean due to the weight. Wood and similar materials should not be used in the construction of enclosure walls/floor because they are difficult to clean and cannot withstand the destructive gnawing of rodents. Avoid using cages with wire mesh floors - solid flooring is a lot easier on the mice's feet and will prevent a painful condition known as ‘bumblefoot’.

The enclosure must be big enough to allow the mice to engage in normal movement and breeding activity (if the latter is desired). Visual security (a place into or under which the mice can retreat for privacy) should also be provided. For a nest you may want to buy a 'house', but a large heap of bedding material or a homemade house, as long as it is well-ventilated, is also suitable. What the mouse wants from its nest is a safe, quiet and preferably dark place to hide and sleep. If you have shelves in your tank then a pile of bedding in a dark corner under a shelf may be appropriate.

The tank should be out of drafts, away from direct sunlight and out of reach of other household pets. Enclosures should be easy to clean and adequately ventilated. Bedding must be clean, non-toxic, absorbent, relatively dust-free and easy to replace. Shredded paper, aspen and hemp are preferred bedding materials. If you are breeding your mice then avoid the cotton wool-like bedding sold for small animals, as the babies can get caught up in this and even strangulate a limb or themselves - instead use shredded paper.

A deepish layer of substrate should be provided in the tank. Cedar and pine shavings should be avoided as the aromatic oils in the wood are toxic to animals - hemp bedding is a better option. Never use sawdust or sand! They are dusty and can harm the mouse's eyes and coat. The shredded paper of the type produced in offices by shredding documents also makes suitable bedding for the nest area.

Aubiose horse bedding (made from hemp) is good for use with mice

Pet mice seem most comfortable when they are spared exposure to excessive noise, needless excitement and confusion, and other similar or perceived stresses. Sudden environmental temperature changes should also be prevented because pet rodents do not tolerate them well.

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