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Mice behaviour

Behaviour logo © RSPCA publications and brand 2010

 

Ensure your mice are able to behave normally
 

Mouse in nest © iStockphoto

Mice need:

  • Vertical and horizontal dividers in their cage (shelves and climbing facilities) to increase its complexity and allow them to confidently move about.
     
  • Opportunities to exercise, forage, play, interact with their cage mates without aggression, climb, investigate and control their environment within within their home-cage. Mice like to stay in physical contact with upright surfaces and can find barren open spaces stressful.
     
  • Sufficient space within the home-cage to provide suitable enrichment whilst still allowing generous space for them. Wild mice are extremely active animals, travelling many hundreds of meters in one day.
     
  • To clean and groom themselves properly otherwise they can become frustrated, and it can affect their ability to cope with their environment. Mice have a strong motivation to groom and spend a large proportion of their waking time grooming.
     
  • To burrow. Wild mice burrow and build complex tunnel systems. You can do this by:
    - Providing them with bedding material deep enough to allow them to burrow and seek a darker environment, but that does not totally stop you being able to check on them.
    - Give them cardboard tubes with multiple exits which are large enough so they can turn round and not become stuck and/or help them avoid any confrontation with cage mates.
     
  • Their home-cage located somewhere quiet and undisturbed away from the main activity of the home. This helps ensure they’re disturbed as little as possible during the day, when they rest and sleep. Mice are crepuscular and nocturnal animals, this means that they are active at dusk and dawn and throughout the night.
     
  • You to be familiar with them and how they normally behave. Any change in this could indicate they’re unwell or suffering. See: Health and Welfare section. Changes in types of behaviour and how long mice spend doing particular behaviours can indicate that a mouse is in pain, or distress, or is suffering.