What NOT to Feed Mice and Why
By Cait McKeown
When feeding greens (i.e. fruits and vegetables) make sure that you do not give your mice too much as this can cause them to get diarrhoea. Crunchy vegetables like carrots and fruit like apples do not tend to cause this problem. DO NOT feed your mice lettuce - it can make them ill. Most other fruits and vegetables are ok, but always check if you are unsure. Citrus fruits are another thing to be avoided as they tend to give mice the runs - there are plenty of alternatives, so use these instead. When feeding greens remember that they are best fed raw to preserve the vitamins and minerals, but always wash and peel them before giving them to your pets - in other words, prepare them as you would if you were going to eat them. If your mouse has diarrhoea then a couple of days of abstinence from greens may clear this up.
If you are feeding bread to your mice you may want to let the bread dry out first. This is because some breeders say that their mice react badly to the enzymes in the bread, giving them spots. However many owners frequently feed bread to their mice with no problems, including myself. If you want to give extra nutrients to a sick mouse, bread soaked in stock or gravy may be a good solution.
It seems to be a generally held belief that chocolate can be toxic to mice and rats, although I have never seen any research to support this. But it is best to be safe, so if you want to give your mouse a treat, use special mouse chocolate drops or another kind of treat.
Mice Can't Be Sick
Mice cannot physically be sick so it is impossible for them to get rid of bad food if they happen to eat any. This means that it has to go all the way through their digestive system and will do whatever harm it may be able to do on the way. This is also the reason why rat/mouse poisons work - once the animal has eaten the poison they can't get it out of their system and it does its job. Because of dangers like this, mice usually eat a small amount of a new food and then wait a while to see if they feel ill before eating any more. If after a while they do not feel ill then they can reasonably assume the food is safe to eat and go back to it.
There has recently been some worry about giving mice and rats too much corn in their diets. The reason for this is that corn can contain certain contaminents that may cause illness in rodents - see the RMCA article on the subject for more information.
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