Mice breed early and reproduce quickly
Question: My daughter wants pet mice, but I'm worried about getting two and ending up with too many! At what age can they start breeding? And how do you tell the girls from boys?
Answer: Males and females are sexually mature at 6 and 8 weeks respectively. Baby mice are weaned from their mothers after 18 to 21 days, and just two to five days later the female is ready to reproduce again. An average litter size ranges from seven to 10.
It is possible to determine the gender of a mouse soon after birth (males have a greater distance between their anus and genitals, and pale testes are visible through the abdominal wall). By the time they're about 2 weeks old, females have more prominent nipples than males.
Keeping two or more mice will meet their need to play and interact, but adult male mice housed together are incompatible.
Q: How do I properly care for mice?
A: Timid, social and nocturnal, mice can make lovely pets for an owner who understands their special needs.
Families with children especially need to know that a mouse's life span is only two to three years. Mice have poor eyesight and are easily startled. So before attempting to pick one up, make your presence known by talking to the mouse and letting him sniff your hand. Handle mice as you would a kitten, and never pick up a mouse by its tail.
Food and water (stored in a hanging bottle) should always be available. Pellets found in pet shops are a mouse's basic main meal. Hard fruits and veggies like apples, carrots and sweet potatoes add variety and fresh vitamins.
Mice need plenty of exercise. Toys can range from cardboard paper towel tubes to ladders for climbing and wheels for running.
House your mouse in a screen-topped aquarium. Place your mouse house away from direct sun and drafts, as these animals are sensitive to environmental extremes. Shredded tissue paper, paper towels or unprinted newspaper are recommended bedding.
The Hawaiian Humane Society welcomes questions by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
. Indicate "Pet Ohana" in the subject line. Or, write "Pet Ohana," Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., Honolulu 96826.