American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2012 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Breeding & Stuff

Orphan Field Mice

By Karen Robbins

Kimberly Martin DeVolld, Facebook
QNeed some mouse experts input. We are the proud owners of two baby field mice. They have been feeding on kitten replacement formula for almost 1 week now and are doing really well. Their eyes have been open for about 3 days so they must be over 2 weeks old. My first question is finding a water bottle small enough that will be safe for them. Any suggestions? Next, I read Karen’s advice on orphan mice. I know that we need to start introducing solids? What cereal do you recommend? Baby rice cereal? I read where spinach will give them diarrhea—what baby foods would be best at their age? We are planning on keeping them as pets. They have really bonded with us and love to roll around and play in our hands. They also love to have their bellies rubbed. Thanks for any input.

AGreat job raising these orphans! They should be able to use any type of water bottle. There are glass-tube bottles to the ball-point-sipper-tube with plastic body bottles. Bottles range in size from 4 oz to 8 oz that would be suitable for mice.

For mice at this age they are able to eat millet, whole grain breads, oatmeal, rice cereal, etc. You can add the cereal, bread, oatmeal, and lab block powder to the milk in a dish (I use a jar lid) a couple times a day to get them eating solids. Also, leave millet, oatmeal, bread, and lab blocks in the cage for them to eat in between the milk feedings. I’ve been able to successfully raise orphans that lost their mom right after their eyes opened on just giving them the milk mixture with added goodies in a dish a couple times a day and making sure there are the other items in the cage for them to eat at any time. Millet is high in B vitamins and small enough for them to eat easily and oatmeal is high in protein. If you give them these items, they won’t need baby food added. Some other treats you can give to your mice when they get bigger are dog biscuits, dry super-seeded healthy wheat breads, canary seed, wheat, barley, bits of sunflower seeds, plain puffed cereals, small bits of apple, carrot, sprouts, washed pesticide-free dandelion leaves, kale, thawed frozen peas, cooked whole grain or veggie pasta, pumpkin seeds, mealworms (from the pet shop), and healthy no/low-sugar cereals.

Update: Thanks so much! This is really helpful. I had a little scare. The formula I started them on was Hartz kitten replacement. I ended up at a different store and bought some KMR. I noticed the milk seemed richer. One of the babies is a piggy, and I think between changing formula and overeating he developed some loose stool and belly ache. One of the vet techs at Petsmart raises mice and confirmed this too. So, I have managed to get them to eat baby rice cereal mixed with formula and today for two feedings I gave them milk replacement at half strength. Tonight there doesn’t seem to be any belly aches and the poop is thickening up again.

We were scheduled to go out of town (overnight) so they rode in my lap in their traveling cage and I packed a cooler with all the baby supplies. My husband (who is very attached to them) is laughing at me packing for two little mice. Their bag is bigger than ours. I still have the heating pad under their little cage because the motel room is cool. When we get home I am going to place some of the above items in their cage and start water bottle training.

Another question. One of the babies appears to be aggressive at times and tried to bite my husband. She is a mover and shaker and likes to zoom around. Is this a phase they go through? She is a bit of a bully at the feeding dish too. At times I thought she had grabbed her siblings ear but instead it looks like she is trying to nurse off of the other mouse.

AIs the biting one getting her fill of the foods? Perhaps putting in 2 small dishes of the milk/food mix will help. Usually, once the eyes open on the wild mice/rats, they show they are wild animals by biting, not wanting to be handled, jumpy, etc. Normal pet mice will sometimes go through a popcorn stage for a few days shortly after their eyes open where they are super jumpy and run around the cage when you try to get them—they will outgrow this. The wild ones won’t have the temperaments like pet mice even though you have been hand-feeding them for several days.

Wild Mouse in Wheel
Here’s a picture of one of our baby girls! Her sister looks just like her except she has a fine black line over her eyebrows—it looks like she took a makeup pencil and made eyebrows—its my Maybelline mouse. Photo from Kimberly Martin DeVolld.

Update 2 days later: Both are starting to nibble around at the oatmeal rice cereal mixture and pieces of apples and carrots I have placed in a small dish. Today I added a few Cheerios and dry vegetable puff snacks for toddlers.The little blocks of mice food are still a no go even though I broke them into smaller pieces. They still turn their nose up at water. I placed a little dish (lid of the baby food container) with water and introduced the water bottle. The two have different personalities. The one loves to squeak and let my husband tickle his belly. The one who bit my husband (not hard) loves to curl up on my chest with my hand cupped around her to nap. She chewed on my fingernail and took my finger in her teeth once. I gently blew in her face and she let go. She (I think) is getting stubborn about drinking just the milk mixture but will absolutely gobble the milk with the baby rice/oatmeal mixture. They have been vocal about feeding time. Both love to crawl in our hand and be held. The popcorn phase is exactly what we have observed. My big concern is them taking a liking to water especially since the ornery one likes her milk only with the baby rice/oatmeal cereal. I think we are heading into age 3 weeks+ and I read they wean by 4 weeks. Thanks for all your input. *

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July 8, 2015