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Food Related Problems and Obese/Fat Mice

By Cait McKeown

Facts About Mice and Their Food
*Mice need to have food and water available at all times, even fat mice. They have a very fast metabolism and can actually begin to starve if they can't access food for as few as eight hours (or less!).
* Mice can die of dehydration in as little as eight hours, emphasising the importance of water to them.
*A diet too rich in protein can cause hot spots, open sores on the skin, which can be fixed by putting the mice on a diet of bread, oat groats and vegetables for a while.
*Mice, like most animals, are lactose intolerant so there is no point in giving them milk.


Allergies and Food Intolerance

Many foods cause allergies in humans: from shellfish to strawberries and the all-time number one, nuts. Suffering from a fairly serious (and unpleasant) nut allergy myself, I can vouch for how painful and uncomfortable the symptoms can be. It is for this reason that I urge anyone who suspects their mouse might have an allergy to its food (or anything else) to act straight away.

I have had a mouse with immune deficiency disorder who seemed to do better when I took certain allergy stimulating foods out of his food mix. Kiefer had weeping sores and was itchy too sometimes: he had scratched his ears to shreds although they did not look sore. I found that omitting nuts, higher protein products (like cat food) and all wheat from his diet and giving him higher proportions of 'safe' foods like oat groats seemed to make an impact. I would recommend this for those of you who have mice with allergies that have not responded to other methods, like changing bedding types or stopping using hay.

This can be the result of an allergy or intolerance

First of all, try a fairly simple mix but try not to make it boring. If you feed fresh vegetables you may want to cut down slightly and not feed any new foods for a while. When you do feed new foods, only do so if you do not think it will provoke the allergy, and in small amounts at first. Here is a recipe for my 'allergy' mix:

*Oat groats (largest proportion), flaked peas, mixed corn, yellow millet, egg flake, puppy biscuits, sunflower seeds, corn flakes, safflor seeds, dried meat and locust beans.

What to do if You Have a Very Fat Mouse

As with humans, some mice are prone to obesity. Often the top half of the mouse looks fine whilst the belly spreads out underneath. Obesity will shorten the mouse's lifespan and make it more vulnerable to cancer and respiratory trouble so it is important to try and control your pet's problem.

From normal size mouse (left) to obese mouse (right) - this genetic condition, which did not show until after Cadbury had weaned her litter at the age of four months, has also been passed on to her pups

If you need to put your mouse on a diet cut out the fatty elements in its diet. These are oily seeds (sunflower seeds, peanuts, millet etc), dairy products, fatty treats (e.g. chocolate drops, egg) etc. If possible keep the mouse on a home-made diet and supplement this with fruit and vegetables and/or stale/soaked bread. If you feel the need you can also give the mouse vitamin supplements to make sure that the change of diet is not leaving her with any deficiencies.

Treats and Leftovers for Fat Mice?
Table scraps and alternative foods can be offered to pet mice, but these should be limited to healthy items (whole-wheat bread, non-fat yoghurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources such as tuna, chicken etc) and should not exceed 15% of what the mouse consumes daily. If feeding recommendations are followed, malnutrition and related problems are very unlikely among pet rodents. Vitamin or vitamin/mineral preparations and salt blocks (licks) are generally unnecessary but can be given at the discretion of the owner.

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