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White mice are the most common type in pet stores. These sociable little rodents typically live just 1 to 3 years even if they're raised and cared for properly. They weigh an ounce or less, they get stressed out easily, and they need to be handled gently -- so they're not ideal for young children who lack the understanding and even the motor skills to treat them delicately. If you do have young children, supervise them at all times when they interact with your mice.
Acquire multiple white mice of the same sex to raise together. They're sociable, and they need company of their own kind. Stick to same-sex populations or you'll learn firsthand just how prolifically rodents reproduce.
House your white mice in an appropriately sized aquarium or wire cage. A 10-gallon aquarium suffices for up to three mice; four or five mice need an aquarium of at least 15 gallons, six or more need at least 20 gallons. Make sure it has a mesh top for ventilation. Coated wire cages with solid plastic bottoms also work. For up to three white mice, get a cage that's at least 2 feet long by 1 foot wide.
Keep your white mice in a temperature-controlled room maintained at 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Position their habitat away from direct sunlight and sources of heat, cold air and drafts. Also, don't expose your mice to bright light.
Cover the bottom of your white mice habitat with several inches of aspen, pelleted paper or hardwood bedding.
Accessorize the habitat with a solid-bottom exercise wheel, a small house for each mouse, untreated wood for your mice to gnaw on, cardboard tubes, toys, a sturdy food dish and a sipper-tube water bottle. Rotate toys to prevent boredom.
Feed your white mice a commercial pellet or block rodent food nightly. It should be at least 16 percent protein, 18 percent fiber and no more than 4 percent fat. Supplement daily with a few morsels of fresh fruit or vegetables. Confirm the fresh foods you intend to offer are safe for mice with your vet or another reputable source. Keep the water bottle filled with fresh water at all times, changing it daily.
Offer chunks of dog biscuit or branches from fruit-bearing trees for your white mice to chew on. Their teeth grow continuously, and gnawing is how they keep them in check.
Maintain a clean cage or aquarium. Remove droppings, leftover food and soiled bedding daily. Replace all bedding when you do a thorough cleaning of the enclosure once per week. Wash the cage with warm water and a disinfectant. Rinse and dry thoroughly before putting new bedding and your mice back inside.
Talk to your white mice and hand-feed them every day so they become familiar with you. When they're comfortable eating from your hand, pick them up one at a time. Hold them for just a few seconds at first, gradually increasing the time you hold them each day.
Allow your white mice time to play out of their enclosure every day. Secure them in a rodent playpen. Supervise them. Also, talk to them, pet them, play with them and hold them individually to maintain and strengthen your bond with them.
Take a mouse to the veterinarian as soon as you notice something's wrong. Some signs of common health problems include coughing, sneezing, bleeding or other discharge, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, difficulty breathing, aggression and other behavioral changes.
Items you will need
- Aquarium or wire cage
- Exercise wheel
- Cardboard tubes
- Food dish
- Water bottle
- Rodent food
- Fruit and vegetables
- Dog biscuits or branches
- ⚠ Wire cages with multiple levels allow for more movement and exploration, but don't get one that's too tall; mice easily fall and can get hurt.
- ⚠ If a human can stick a finger through the bars of a wire cage, a young white mouse can probably squeeze through.
- ⚠ Never use cedar or pine bedding -- they're toxic to rodents.
- ⚠ You'll probably hurt a mouse if you pick her up by the end or middle of her tail; scoop her up from underneath. If you have to catch one quickly, you may safely pick her up by the very base of her tail.
- David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images