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Learn How to Give Your Mouse a Check-up

By Cait McKeown

A lot of people are not quite sure how to check their mouse’s health, but it needn’t be a worry. Giving your mouse a check over is quick and easy and shouldn’t be stressful for either of you. Obviously mice will get used to being checked the more often you do it but I find that even baby mice are fairly obliging. When looking at your mouse you can make a visual assessment before you even pick them up:
  • Are they hunched up?
  • Do they look miserable?
  • Are their eyes bright?
  • Is the coat shiny and flat? (not sticking up or separating)
  • Do they have any scabs or wounds that are obvious?
  • Do they have any obvious lumps?
  • Are they eating /drinking?
  • Are they still grooming themselves?
  • Does your mouse sleep more than usual?
  • Are the mouse’s ears flattened to its head?
  • Has the mouse’s skin taken on a pallid or greyer tone than usual?
  • Does the mouse ever have fits/seizures?
  • How are other mice treating the mouse you are assessing? (has it suddenly gone down in the hierarchy, are the others bullying it?)

To do a quick physical exam, pick your mouse up as usual and let it sit on your palm. Gently take the base of the tail between your thumb and forefinger and lift the mouse up slightly so you can take a look at its rear.

  • Is the back end of the mouse free from dirt, debris and faeces?
  • Are there any swellings/lumps/bruises/wounds etc?
  • Are there any protrusions from the anus or genitalia that are unusual?

Whilst you are holding your mouse you will also be able to assess some other important physical signs. These include:

  • Has your mouse’s weight changed? (whether dramatically or not, whether it has increased or decreased – although it will usually decrease with illness)
  • Is your mouse unusually inactive? Does it seem to be more ‘hyper’ than usual? Has there been any change in activity patterns?
  • Does the mouse seem cold?
  • Has the coat lost sheen or changed texture?
  • Will the mouse still take its favourite treat from you or is it not interested in the things that normally excite it?
  • Can the mouse hold itself upright/posture correctly?
  • Is the mouse able to walk around properly?
  • Does the mouse appear in pain, especially when lifted or touched in a certain place?

Gently stroke the mouse's fur against the direction of growth along its back and head so that you can see the skin underneath.

  • Is the skin a normal colour for that mouse?
  • Can you see any scabs or feel any rough areas?
  • Can you see evidence of mites/lice or see the actual creatures themselves? (look for tiny red dots that move)

Obviously if you are worried you must take your mouse to the vet. However, these questions are also going to be asked by the vet so it will be better if you know the answers already to as many as possible. You know your pets better than a vet and should be able to offer background information wherever possible. Regular health checks including the above will help to catch illnesses early and may even save your pet's life in some cases. That is not an overly-dramatic statement, since mice have a fast metabolism and any illness can progress rapidly: your vigilance may give your mouse that extra chance it needs to get early treatment and recover.

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