American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2008 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Beginners’ Corner

Legal Species of Rodents in California; Introducing Mice; Needs to Board Rats; Male Mice Getting Along
Legal Species of Rodents in California

Q I have been to other states and see all kinds of rodents in the pet shops (zebra mice, dormice, degus, gerbils, pygmy mice, spiny mice, etc.) but I don’t see them in California pet shops. Where would I find them? Do you know of any breeders?

A California has strict laws on the possession of various rodents and all the ones you mention are illegal to have as pets in the state of California. Also included in the list of animals not permitted are field mice, voles, muskrats, woodchucks, European hamster (Cricetus cricetus), jirds (relatives to gerbils), chipmunks, squirrels, Gambian giant pouched rats, prairie dogs, flying squirrels, Natal rat/multimammate mice/soft-furred rat/mouse (Praomys/Mastomys natalensis), and other exotics such as short-tailed opossums, sugar gliders, and hedgehogs.

The only rodents you are allowed to have as pets and bring into the state are domestic rats (Rattus norvegicus), mice (Mus musculus), Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus), all the dwarf hamsters—Campbells (Phodopus campbelli; commonly known as Russian dwarf), winter white (Phodopus sungorus; a close relative of the Campbell and originally thought to be a sub species), Roborovski (Phodopus roborovskii), Chinese (Cricetus griseus; restricted–must have a permit to own)—and Chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera). Rabbits are lagomorphs not rodents (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and cavies are Cavia porcellus of the suborder Hystricomorpha. Karen Robbins

Introducing Mice

Paul & Linda Barrette, e-mail
Q Do you have to introduce mice?

A Depends on what mice you are trying to put together. Males will never need to be introduced since they don’t get along and must be kept separate. With breeding mice, the female needs to be put in the male’s cage. When adding new females to existing females, you need to thoroughly clean the cage they will all be living in including wheels, houses, water bottles, food dishes, etc., so there is no scent of any mice. Put in fresh bedding and place all the mice in the cage together. If there is any severe fighting, the one doing the fighting must be separated. Usually there isn’t much, if any, fighting. If you do find one mouse constantly picking on the others, the one doing the picking needs to be separated, unless there is one mouse all the others pick on, then the one being picked on needs to be separated. Make sure the cage size is adequate for the number of mice you will be housing in it and give them lots of houses, tubes, hay, etc.

They are not like rats where you need to put them together in neutral territory to see how they get along before housing them together. Karen Robbins

Needs to Board Rats

Jeanne Park, e-mail
Q I live in Los Angeles in Koreatown, but don’t want to trust my three female full-grown rats to just anybody when I leave to go on an overseas trip. My husband and I don’t know any other rat fanciers here in Los Angeles, largely because most of his friends are Korean (rats are freakout material to them) and my friends are just business acquaintances, on whom I can’t wish a month of rat-cage cleaning.

Do you know of reputable, nice pet store people here or serious rat owners who might board my rats for 3 weeks? I only know of Petco and one or two other stores. I wouldn’t trust Petco for anything, and the other two stores just don’t have space for that. I need someone I can really trust. It would break my heart if anything happened to them. I also don’t want them to come back sick. Any ideas??

A Have you looked into pet hotels or pet spas where they board any indoor animal? Many times a local vet will board for a fee. Have you looked for “pet boarding” or “pet sitters” in your local phone book? Sometimes these types of places have notices up in vet offices or pet shops. Sometimes the person you bought your rats from will do pet sitting. You can also check the Internet for “pet sitters.” There is a new site called that offers pet sitting among other things. You would have to contact the pet sitter to see if they have any experience with rats. Wherever they go, you are looking at a fee for service. Dale Taylor, a.ka. Hattie McRattie

Male Mice Getting Along

Kelli Boka, Santa Clarita, CA, e-mail
Q Do you have any success in housing bucks together? One of my mice and his brothers are buddies. I hope this will last a while.

A Since the English are a lot calmer than the pet shop mice, I find I can keep males together longer than normal. They usually start fighting at some point so will have to be separated. I did have two brothers live together all their lives and only fought once after a cage cleaning. When I have males living together, I will just clean the pee corner so there is less chance of disturbance and them fighting. They do need the entire cage cleaned at some point and that is when the squabbling will happen, but usually a couple squirts of water and things are fine then. When they start fighting and won’t stop, is when they get their own accommodations. Karen Robbins *

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Updated March 7, 2014