American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2011 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Breeding & Stuff

Orphan Mouse Won’t Eat; Mom Rat Won’t Take Care Of Babies

By Karen Robbins

Orphan Mouse Won’t Eat

Matilde Bartoletti, facebook
Q I found a baby orphan mouse but he is not eating the kitten milk replacer that I bought (“PetAg” KMR). He hides from it. Should I shut it in his mouth? I am just dropping milk in front of his nose with an eye dropper. Should I use a syringe? Should I try a different milk or powder instead? He is so tiny; I am scared I’m going to hurt him just by touching him. Please help! I don’t know what to do.

A We have an article on raising orphan rats and mice on the web site that goes into the type of milk to use to making a suitable feeder to caring for the little ones. There are also other articles on the web site you may want to read: “Amount to Hand Feed Orphan Baby Mice” and “Amount to Hand Feed Orphan Baby Rats”.

You need to get the milk in his mouth, so attach a piece of tubing to the syringe or eye dropper so it will be small enough for the baby to suck on. The advantage to powder is you can mix up just the amount you need each day, where the canned formulas will expire before you use very much.

You will not hurt him by holding him while you feed him. This is foreign to him and that is why he is avoiding the milk. Once he figures out it is food, he will gladly take the milk.

UPDATE from Matilde: The mouse pooped! I don’t think it looked good though (at least the first part). I was able to attach a tiny tube to the eye dropper so I can fit it into the mouse’s mouth and actually leave some drops in it. The mouse still looks like he don’t like it.

7 days later: The mouse 2 days ago opened its eyes. He poops and pees OK now (I think) but I have hard times feeding him and I am getting very frustrated. So if you have any advice, I’d really appreciate it.

As soon as the mouse smells the milk he looks so hungry and he literally jumps on the eye dropper to suck everything, biting it until he finds the hole and starts sucking, but after getting himself all soaked in milk, after a few seconds he stops and won’t eat anymore. I try to insist and even force it, then wait to try again after massages, but he still doesn’t really eat anything. What am I doing wrong? Is it the eye dropper—I try with or without a tube attached to it? Is it the milk—I even tried to change it? The mouse is smaller now than a week ago when I found him and since he weighs 4.3g now, he should eat 2cc of milk but he doesn’t even eat a quarter of that. It takes me like 45 minutes to feed him every time (every 2 hours), and that’s really tiring. Sometimes he also ‘bites’ me. I guess out of frustration after trying to suck the milk out of my skin, and I hope not to get a real bite someday. I am planning on freeing him when he’s ready to eat solid food . . .would he make it on his own? I am trying to save him now and I don’t want to kill him freeing him. Thanks.

A It doesn’t take much to fill up a baby mouse’s stomach (when they don’t have fur you can see the stomach through the skin—it is on their left side, middle of their body and will look like a white patch when it has milk in it—so you can tell when they are getting milk and are full).

Now that he has his eyes open, you can start adding solid food to his diet, e.g. take bread and soak in the milk; you can add lab block powder, baby cereal, oatmeal, etc., to the bread and milk. Give him other foods such as millet, oatmeal, dog/cat kibble, plain bread, seeds, dog biscuits, lab blocks, etc. At this time you will need to also add a water bottle in the cage. Congratulations on raising a tiny mouse to this age—it is hard to do! Now that he is old enough to eat solid food, he should grow quickly.

UPDATE from Matilde 2014:I thank you for including my story here and for the help you gave us. I have 2 videos of my baby mouse if you care.
Finding him:
Releasing him in our back yard:

Topo, Orphan Mouse

After the release he made a hole underneath our rosemary bush and we kept putting food for him for a while and just to check on him...I hope he had a good life.

Mom Rat Won’t Take Care Of Babies

Telisa Overton, e-mail
Q I have a Dumbo Rex female that’s about 24 weeks old and I tried to breed her with my friend’s Russian Blue Hooded male. I had a successful breeding but she wouldn’t take care of the babies. I was thinking about putting her in a shoebox cage so she couldn’t really get away from the babies but I’m afraid that she would become stressed and kill them. I don’t have any little bottles to feed them with. Is there anything else I could do?

A Yes, it sometimes helps if you can put a new mom that doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with her litter, in a smaller cage such as a 10-gallon tank, lab cage, or carrier. If she still won’t take care of the babies, then fostering them to another nursing female or feeding them yourself are your options as there are occasionally new moms that are just not good moms. Our Orphans page has several options on the kind of “nurser bottle” to use to feed orphan rat/mouse babies that work well, e.g. a baby bird feeding syringe with a fine curved tip, a very small doll baby bottle, a piece of absorbent string, a piece of small plastic tubing, or a store bought hand-feeding syringe for small animals. *

Updated February 18, 2015