What are fancy mice? Fancy mice ("fancy", in this context, means "hobby") are domesticated breeds of the common or house mouse. The terms fancy and feeder mice are often used interchangeably by retailers, and are in fact the same variety of mouse. They come in a variety of colors and even different hair lengths.
Are mice expensive? A regular fancy mouse is quite inexpensive in fact. It’s easy then to get three or four females. Cages can be as simple as a ten gallon aquarium with screen cover, a water bottle (mice cannot be given water from a dish as they will fill the dish with bedding and then have no water) and food dish, a wheel, a house of some sort (wooden or plastic) and something to climb on or play with.
What do mice eat? Pet mice will eat many foods, however, not all of them are good for them and many should be fed only as ‘treats’. A good pellet food specifically for mice and rats is recommended. Treats can include, seeds, rice cake, cereals (without sugar), multi-grain bread (always dried first) and other healthy foods (some baby ‘finger foods’ for example are very good. Dried fruits and vegetables are also good for them as treats. Interestingly, cheese is not very good for mice and should be avoided. Too many treats will cause overweight in a mouse, shortening life span.
What kind of care do mice need? Mice need room to run and play. They like to burrow and they need to gnaw (their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives). Mice are very social and need other mice for company (male mice usually fight unless raised together – and sometimes even then). Female mice are generally more peaceful, but some are aggressive. They need clean bedding (never pine or cedar – the oils are bad for them), fresh water, places to hide, things to climb and something to run in. Mice are generally healthy but can be prone to respiratory illnesses which require treatment with antibiotics. Temperatures should be carefully monitored and drafts avoided.
Does a mouse need a wheel? Mice love to run. However, not all wheels are safe for them. There are many kinds of wheels. Metal wheels can catch a foot or tail and cause great damage and pain. So can ‘enclosed’ wheels as they have a gap between cover and base that can shift back and forth while the mouse runs, catching a tail or foot in between. The safest wheels are those with mostly solid pieces and no sharp edges or rough areas (such as Super Pet’s © Silent Spinner).
Are mice stinky? Mice are not stinky, however, as with all creatures, urine does have an odor. Females are less stinky than males. Keeping mice on the proper bedding and regularly cleaning the accessories can reduce the odor to almost nothing. A base of corncob, covered with aspen, for example can reduce cage odor greatly. Mice, in general do not use a potty area (other small animals, such as hamsters will). Mice also ‘dribble’ (some more than others) and may consider you no different than their cage. Frequent handling seems to result in less ‘bathroom issues’ with some mice.
Is it hard to tame a mouse? If you purchase a mouse from a retailer, chances are it will be at least somewhat wild. There is a lot of advice regarding how to tame your mice. It’s likely that you will need to try various methods to find the one that works best for each mouse. One suggestion I found suggested putting the mouse inside a loose shirt and allowing it to walk around on you. This seemed to me to be a good way to get bitten, depending on the mouse. I have since used this method, but only after sufficient handling of the mouse to be fairly confident it wouldn't bite. In general, simply catching and holding the mouse carefully, feeding it treats (however, be aware that feeding treats by hand in the cage or through the bars can result in the mouse biting you when you reach in because it’s expecting a treat.), and talking to it often seem to go a long way toward taming them. Some tame much easier than others. Some will never fully tame. It’s best to be patient and to understand not all will be the ‘perfect pet’ but they will still be fun and entertaining. And at least one will be that special ‘perfect pet’ in time.
Is a mouse a good pet for a child? Mice are actually very delicate little creatures and only a child who is responsible and gentle should have mice as pets. It is also very important that a mice not be grabbed by its tail except at the very base because it is possible to tear off part of the tail simply by the weight of the mouse. It is sometimes necessary to hold the tail at the body to prevent a mouse from leaping out of your hand and injuring or killing itself. Thus, only children who are old enough and mature enough to be gentle and safe with mice should have them as pets. Mice are rodents and they have sharp little teeth if they decide to use them. Most mice never bite or bite hard enough to hurt, but it’s best to be sure a child understands how to handle them so no one is injured, mouse or child.
Is it fun having mice as pets? Yes it is. Sometimes frustrating, sometimes puzzling, but always fun! We enjoy our mice very much. They are endearing little creatures full of personality and curiosity and we find them endlessly entertaining. Mice do not live a long life (2-3 years is normal) so there is loss, but the rewards are many.
This FAQ in no way attempts to answer all questions or give specific advice. There are many places online and in pet stores and veterinarian’s offices to get complete, expert advice. It is recommended that you consult several to get a good overall idea of what it is like to own mice before becoming a responsible mouse owner.