Breeding Mice: a Satisfying Hobby for the Mice Owner
Mice are understandably one of the most popular live foods
for carnivorous pets, as they are fast and easy to breed,
and can be fed to pets from the newborn pinky mice to full
adults. Here are some suggestions from experienced mice
breeders to help you grow your own.
Breeding mice is fairly simple.
Keep a pair or more of mice in the right environmental
conditions: adequate food and water, not too hot or too
cold, and they will breed ...and breed. Mice reach breeding
maturity at six weeks old for the females and eight weeks
for males, and have three to twelve pups per litter after a
gestation period of around twenty days. The babies will be
weaned at about three weeks old and the female mouse will be
able to breed again not long afterward.
How can you tell male mice from female mice?
If you need to find the gender of your young mice, the chest of female
mice are usually visible after they are about two weeks old,
and the distance between the external genitals and the rear end
is longer in males than females. If the mice are not white
mice, the males will also have a spot of color over the
You can give a male mouse up to four females, and you should
have new babies every three or four weeks, with young of
various ages usually available. But don't put more than one
adult male in a cage, the strange males will fight and may
kill each other over the females. More than one male in a
cage may also end in injury or death to the females and the
males may eat the baby mice. Your mice will also smell
worse, since male mice produce a musk scent as a method of
Buy your breeder harem all at once because a new mouse
introduced into an established cage may be killed as an
intruder by the resident mice. Also, your females will breed
better and care for their pups better if their housemates
are familiar to them.
Be sure to give the mice enough bedding that they can build
nests to their liking, and when you know a mouse has pupped,
don't disturb the bedding at all for at least the first
week, despite the temptation to check on the babies, or the
female may abandon her young. Also try to keep your mice
from breeding with their close relatives to avoid genetic
and birth defect problems.
After your babies are three weeks old, you'll need to take
over their care from the mother. Care of mice from weaning
is basically the same as caring for their parents, but you
will need to make sure there is plenty of food in the cage
at all times, as young mice are growing and eat fairly
constantly. You will also want to separate the males from
the females before they are seven weeks old to prevent
To handle your mice in a way that is safe for you and for
them when transferring them from cage to cage, gently pick
up the mouse by the tail and slide your other hand
(preferably gloved) under the mouse to give it a secure
resting place. Move in a slow and relaxed manner and the
mouse will probably relax as well.
If you end up with more mice than you need or can use, you
are breeding mice for specific breed characteristics, or you
simply need to put your elderly mice down (mice stop
breeding well once they are eight months old and seldom live
longer than a year or so.), you will need to cull them. The
recommended humane method of culling mice is to put the
mouse into a container that can be tightly covered, and
flood the container with CO2 from a tank. Keep the mouse in
the cage for at least five minutes. The mouse simply goes to
sleep and never wake up.
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