According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet mice and other small rodents may carry the salmonella bacteria in their digestive tracts. The bacteria is passed out through the digestive system in their feces, or droppings, and can pose a significant health hazard to humans. You need to practice good hygiene when handling your pet mouse in order to avoid becoming ill with salmonella poisoning.
Mice and Salmonella
Your pet mouse can be carrying salmonella bacteria even if he seems perfectly happy and healthy. It's normal for mice and other animals to have bacteria in their digestive systems and feces without actually becoming physically ill from the bacteria. The CDC reports that 42,000 people become ill every year due to salmonella, and you could become part of that statistic if you aren't careful about how you handle your mouse and dispose of his droppings.
Mice are Clean Animals
Mice are actually fairly clean animals, so you may be wondering how your pet mouse could be harboring dangerous bacteria. The fact of the matter is that when your mouse uses the bathroom in his cage, or anywhere else, he releases salmonella into the environment. When he walks through his cage or crosses over his own droppings, he can pick up that bacteria. If he grooms himself while sitting on bedding that has come into contact with feces, he may wind up with salmonella on his coat, despite his efforts to keep clean.
Preventing Salmonella Infection
Regular cage maintenance is key in preventing a mouse-related salmonella outbreak within your own home. Clean up droppings, waste and old food every day and do a full cage cleaning and disinfect everything at least once a week. Never let your mouse loose to explore in your home. If he uses the bathroom and you don't immediately notice and clean it up, you are putting yourself at risk. Always wash your hands after you handle your mouse or if you touch anything inside his cage. Never eat or drink while playing with your mouse. Do not touch your mouse and then touch your eyes or lips. Do not allow your children to handle your mouse unsupervised and make sure they follow proper hygiene when they do handle the little squeaker.
Wild mice pose the same salmonella threat that domesticated mice do. If you have mice getting into your home they will be attracted to your eating areas and may pose a significant threat to your health. Always make sure to seal all food items away in mouse-proof, air-tight containers with lids. Call an exterminator if you find mouse droppings or a live mouse in your home. If you notice mouse droppings, you should clean them up immediately while wearing gloves and then fully disinfect the area as well as everything that came into contact with the droppings.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.