Home: Feeding

Food and Water Dispensers

By Cait McKeown

How to Serve Food
The food can be ‘dispensed’ from a specially designed container that provides a generous depression into which the dry food is supplied and through which the food can be eaten by the mice. This food-delivery system obviously depends upon the animals' ability to easily reach the food by standing on their hind legs and is therefore not recommended when there are juvenile rodents within the enclosure preparing to wean. This food-delivery system is most often used in laboratory situations. It has two major advantages. One is that there is much less wasted and discarded food. The other is that there is little opportunity for fecal (stool) and urine contamination of food. Metal ‘hoppers’ can be used for dispensing food or it can simply be placed in heavy ceramic bowls (preferred because they cannot be easily tipped over) or similar containers. These are available at most pet shops but if there is any difficulty in finding one, try a cookware shop as small bowls or ramekins may be suitable.

This is one of the high-sided heavy ceramic bowls I use

Water is most easily made available and kept free from contamination by providing it in water bottles equipped with ‘sipper’ tubes. The tubes can become clogged with debris such as wood shavings, so they must be checked daily. The dispensing end of the tube must be accessible to the smallest rodent within the enclosure. Before juveniles are fully weaned, they begin drinking water and eating solid food, so these essentials must be accessible to them at this time. Many deaths involving very young rodents of this age are due to starvation and dehydration.

Water can be given in bowls, but these quickly get dirty and contaminated with substrate, bedding, urine and faeces. A bottle is much healthier and safer for your mice: I have heard of young mice drowning in their water bowls. If you are buying a new mouse it is essential to note or ask what type of drinking arrangement the mouse is used to. A mouse that is not used to a bottle may have trouble working out how to use one and can literally then die of thirst. In a case such as this you may want to provide a water bowl for a short period as well as the normal bottle until you see that the new mouse is confident drinking from the bottle.

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