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Hairless Mice

There are many genetic mutations that cause hairlessness in the mouse, many of which are not readily available to the public, if at all. The hairless mouse is generally used in laboratories for research, although it is possible to get hold of animals privately. If you are looking to buy a hairless mouse, always make sure you get as much background information from the breeder as possible, including family history and ability to breed/raise young (if you intend to breed the animals). It is often said that hairless animals are not good at raising their young, with mothers killing babies or not being able to lactate sufficiently or at all. While this may be true of some mutations, the mutation that I currently breed has neither of these problems.

PEW hairless buck bred and owned by Humbug Stud

I believe the mutation in my hairless mice is the ‘fu’ or ‘fuzzy’ gene, which causes sparse hair to grow on the body. The mice also have whiskers and eyelashes unlike a ‘true hairless’. A true hairless has no hair at all, while my mice began as very fluffy specimens that I selectively bred to look bald. The advantage in this is that you have a practically hairless animal that doesn’t develop the problems associated with a true hairless.

Some people believe that with little or no hair an animal will develop abscesses frequently but this has simply not been the case in my mousery. The hairless mice have so far proved themselves to be hardier than my show mice and are perfectly happy living outside in the garage with the rest of my mice. They have a heater in winter and fan in summer and this seems to be an adequate arrangement for them. One difference seems to be that in proportion to their size they eat a little more; I attribute this to the need to maintain their body temperature.

Temperament-wise the bucks often seem happier than ‘normal’ mice to live in groups in adulthood. Whether this is due to a liking to stay close to other warm bodies or whether it is just an individual characteristic of my particular strain I cannot say. The babies are sometimes skittish when young, but soon calm down with handling in the same way as any other mouse. There is no problem introducing hairless mice to ‘normal’ furred mice and the two are quite content to live together.

Himalayan hairless buck bred and owned by Humbug Stud

The litter size range in my strain of hairless mice has been between four and 12 babies. The average is eight to ten, with all babies being cared for and raised by the mother. I have not found a higher incidence of hairless mothers killing their young than furred mice and they have proved to be good mothers in my experience. Litters sometimes contain babies with a fairly broad spectrum of fur covering, from quite bald to fluffy. Selective breeding of the balder specimens helps to limit the occurrence of this over time.

The actual care of a hairless mouse is not very different to that of a normal mouse. A hairless mouse will require a little more bedding in winter, but if it has a nest box there will be no problems. Food should always be available as with any mouse, since the hairless mouse may eat a little more. Other than that, care is the same. My hairless mice have not had a higher incidence of tumours, respiratory infections, abscesses or any other illness than my furred mice (in fact at the time of writing they have shown a lower incidence of these things). Some people have asked me if moisturiser is necessary to use on their skin, but it is not. The mice do not get skin problems and keep themselves clean as with all rodents.

BE self hairless buck bred and owned by Humbug Stud

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