Mice can be great pets – as long as you know exactly what you’re getting into.
While mice are often advertised as inexpensive and low-maintenance, this isn’t always true. They do require some care, and their cage and other environmental costs can add up substantially.
They aren’t necessarily the best option for children, either. Most children assume that they will interact with their mouse, but this usually isn’t the case. Mice can be pretty nippy when they are scared, and they can be hard to manage for small hands.
However, they may be a suitable option for those looking for a pet to watch.
Do Mice Make Good Pets for Children?
When children start asking for pets, it isn’t uncommon for parents to look for a smaller (and cheaper) option. Most people know that cats and dogs take a decent amount of work, which children cannot do at this age.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet, you may decide that a mouse may be a good option. However, mice do require some care. Their cage needs to be cleaned regularly, and they have specific dietary needs. Plus, their cage and other equipment can add up quickly.
Pet mice can be handled – after they are tamed. If they aren’t tamed when you get them, the parent will have to make an effort to tame them before the children can handle them.
Every child is different. Some may be gentle enough for pet mice – but others won’t.
Mice are an excellent option for kids that want to watch their pet but not necessarily handle it. A group of female mice can be a great option. Many children can contribute to their care at least somewhat. However, you should never assume that your child will contribute to a pet’s care extensively.
In the end, it is still the parent’s job to ensure the pet is taken care of.
Also, it is vital to remember that mice have relatively short lifespans. They likely will pass away while your child is still young. In some cases, this can be educational for the child and help them handle future deaths.
However, each child is different, so you should consider your kid’s emotions.
The 8 Things to Know Before Adopting a Pet Mouse
1. They Are Social Animals
Mice are pretty social. They need companionship to thrive, which often means adopting multiple mice at the same time. You shouldn’t attempt to keep males and females together – or you’ll end up with many mice. Males will often fight with each other unless they’ve been castrated.
Instead, we recommend keeping groups of females together. They get along quite well, and you won’t end up with a bunch of babies.
2. Mice Will Mark Their Territory
Like many mammals, mice will mark their territory. Usually, this is only a problem with males. Because they’re kept in their cage, they typically won’t make a mess around your house. However, their urine can still be smelly.
You can neuter mice to prevent this. However, it is also relatively easy to clean their cage and replace their bedding. This should control the smell, but it does increase the amount of cleaning you’ll need to do.
3. They Have Specific Habitat Needs
Mice are not necessarily easy to house. They are minimal and can fit through extremely tiny spaces. Wire and glass cages are your best option, but be sure that they are specifically designed for mice. Otherwise, the wires may not be close enough together to prevent an escape attempt.
4. They Require Mental Stimulation
Mice are pretty smart. They require a great deal of mental stimulation, which must be accomplished through toys and social interaction. If your mouse is kept with others, it will meet some of these needs this way.
However, you will have to invest in some toys and switch them out regularly. A bored mouse is easily stressed, which can lead to health problems.
5. They Chew On Everything
As rodents, mice have teeth that never stop growing. Therefore, they have to do a lot of chewing to prevent their teeth from growing too much. They will attempt to chew on just about everything. If their teeth aren’t ground down, they can become overgrown and cause health problems.
You will need to provide your mouse with plenty of chew toys to ensure that their teeth remain an appropriate length. Cardboard and wooden toys are a standard solution to this problem. Be sure to change the toys often as they get worn down.
After all, they will get worn down eventually.
6. Their Diet Is a Bit Particular
With cats and dogs, you can feed them a commercial diet. However, mice are a bit more complicated.
Their primary diet should be comprised of mixed mouse food. These diets are specifically designed for mice, so they meet most of their dietary needs. However, they also enjoy fresh foods, like seeds and grains.
Scattering food can provide some mental stimulation, as these animals are natural scavengers in the wild. Many people will scatter their mouse’s food around the cage and leave some in their bowls as well.
7. They Are Delicate Animals
Mice are incredibly delicate, even though they’re often advertised as hardy creatures. They can easily be harmed when being handled, which is why we don’t recommend handling them very much. They are more of a pet that you watch – not one that you interact with.
8. They Are Primarily Nocturnal
These animals are primarily nocturnal. They will interact with you sometimes during the day, but they are mostly awake during the night. Therefore, you likely won’t interact with them that much. Most of the time, they will be sleeping.
Can Mice be Friendly?
Yes, a mouse can be “friendly”, in a loose sense of the term. However, this requires taming – which usually involves regular handling.
Mice you purchase from your average pet store aren’t always “tame.” Instead, these mice usually aren’t handled very often – which means that they aren’t extensively tamed. Even if they were handled before they get to the store, they typically become untamed when they are adopted.
You can’t skip handling your mouse for weeks at a time and expect them to be still tame either. Instead, they often need to be handled regularly to stay tamed and friendly.
The main point of taming is to get them used to people. Once they know they won’t be eaten, mice are usually a lot chiller about being handled.
Do Pet Mice Like to be Held?
Most mice don’t like to be held. After some time, they will get used to the idea. However, they will likely never enjoy it like some other pets.
A much better way to interact with them is in a playpen, where they can run around on your hands. Generally, no mouse is going to enjoy being man-handled.
Mice can make good pets, but it largely depends on what sort of pet you’re looking for. They are not pets in the same way a cat or dog is. However, they can be tamed and held.
Usually, they are more watching pets than animals you directly interact with. They are not always suitable for children, as they can be challenging to handle. They are a bit fast and nippy for little hands.
As long as you know what you’re getting into, mice can be fun pets.
You may also be interested in:
- Where to Buy a Pet Mouse? (Plus an Overview Of The Best Places)
- Do Pet Mice Hibernate? What You Need to Know
Featured Image Credit by Pixabay