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How Long Do Mice Live?

The lifespan of mice is hard to predict and varies depending on their ancestry. Usually a mouse lives to be approximately one and a half years, sometimes even three. As a rough guide, between one and a half and two years is a typical lifespan, although by giving your mice a good diet and lifestyle you may be able to give them some extra time. Occasionally mice live to three or more; the world record holder lived to seven according to one source! You will probably come across many different estimates of the average mouse lifespan; some veterinary and laboratory manuals state that it is three years, but I have never seen any research to support this. Once an estimate (which may just be one person's guess) makes it into print, other books will use it as a reference and so pass on any inaccuracies. My estimate above is based upon my own experience, and upon conversations with other mouse breeders. Personally, I have two does over the age of two years at the moment who are still going strong and have no health problems.

The age that a mouse lives to will inevitably be affected by its surroundings, treatment, exposure to stress (and noise) and numerous other factors. It also depends on its genetics and health status. For example, some strains are more prone to getting ill than others and due to a weaker immune system their average life expectancy tends to be lower. Those prone to tumours and other illnesses (such as immune deficiency) obviously have a disadvantage as far as lifespan goes. But where you, as the human caretaker, are concerned, you do have some influence. The best way to increase a mouse's lifespan (or prevent yourself shortening it) is to:

  • Keep your mouse out of direct draughts and sunlight
  • Make sure the mice are in a room that is warm enough, usually the average room temperature of 21 degrees celsius is fine.
  • Do not expose your mice to loud noise and/or stress
  • Do not overfeed your mice or give them too many fatty foods: as with humans and other animals, obesity puts a strain on the heart and shortens lifespan.
  • Feed a balanced diet and supply water soluble vitamins if necessary.
  • Always seek appropriate vet treatment at the earliest opportunity for any problems. Make regular health checks to make sure your mice are well.
  • Make your mouse's life fun! This could be with toys, other mice companions, and of course you!

It is important to check your mouse's health daily. Mice are relatively short-lived animals and their illnesses break quickly. A mouse that is fine and happy in the evening can be ill and hunched up, with coat standing up, sitting in the corner of the cage the next morning. A simple way to tell if your mouse is healthy is simply to have a good look. The mouse should have bright eyes and a glossy coat as well as an interest in its surroundings. Another way to check a mouse's health is to put the mouse on the palm of your hand and gently lift it up by the tail so you can check if its back end is clean and free of dirt.

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