fancy-mouse

Housing mice for beginners

I’m not gonna go in depth to terrarium sizes in this post. As a general advice I recommend that you read your country’s animal keeping laws to find out the minimum sizes for mice and get something much bigger. In my opinion 50x40cm (floor area size) mini duna is the minimum for 1-3 mice and for bigger groups you should get something larger. But in some countries 50x40cm is too small for even one mouse in law, so be sure to check that out carefully before buying anything.

Generally I think that the best housing options for mice are terrariums (plastic and glass), duna boxes, cages and bin cages.

Terrariums and aquariums
doesn’t have to be water proof
+pretty
+come in various sizes
+you can get a used one for cheap
+most chew proof
-you will most likely have to build the lid yourself
-difficult to wash and move (glass ones are especially heavy and can break)
-new ones can be expensive
can get hot in the summer so don’t place in direct sunlight

Duna boxes
basically a plastic terrarium in two parts
+easy to wash and move
+don’t take much space when not in use
+ready to use
-not so pretty. You can’t see through the bottom half.
-not chew proof
-if you don’t use a water bottle that hangs outside the duna, you will have to cover the hole for one
-new ones can be expensive
usually come in three different sizes that vary depending on the manufacturer: mini duna, medium duna and maxi duna

Cages
Make sure the bars are tight enough! The space between bars should be less than 1cm. Mice can get through surprisingly small gaps when they really want to.
+good ventilation
+good for hanging climbing ropes, ladders and branches
+ready to use
-generally not pretty. You will have to look at your mice through bars
-bars are more difficult to wash than plastic or glass and can rust if they are bad quality
-mice will kick the bedding out of the cage and cause a mess outside
-the bottom is not chew proof
-mice can get a bad habit chewing bars, which can ruin their teeth
-your mouse is less safe from cats or dogs
-mice climbing bars can be noisy

Bin cages
A bin cage is a plastic bin modified to suit the animal’s needs.
+very cheap
+you can stack them on top of each other if you make one of the larger walls out of mesh
+many sizes
+easy to wash and move
+when not in use you can still use the bin as a bin if it’s not too heavily modified
-you will have to modify them yourself
-not always chew proof
-not very pretty, if the plastic is not see through
-if you make one of the walls mesh, mice can kick bedding out
Pretty much all the pros and cons are dependent on how you modify the bin

What to put in it?

Must have
-water bottle
-hides (card board boxes and toilet paper rolls are good)
-dustless bedding
-food (you don’t need a cup)
-nesting material (cheap toilet paper and hay are good)
-activities!

Activities?
-climbing ropes, ladders, branches, hammocks etc
-stuff to chew such as wood and cardboard
-digging space (either a thick layer of bedding&hay or a digging box/tower filled with bedding and nesting material)
-If you want a wheel, get a big one.. 20cm minimum, but big enough so the mouse’s tail doesn’t bend over their back. Get a solid wheel. Bars are bad for the feet. Keep an eye on your mouse’s wheel behavior so they don’t get addicted.
-food will be a fun activity if you hide it around the terrarium instead using a cup

No!
-No small running wheels, no bar wheels
-No plastic tubes that go outside the terrarium wall. Your mouse might escape by chewing the tube open and they get very dirty very fast. I would avoid plastic tubes in general.
-Avoid anything that has soft plastic, as your mice are more likely to chew it
-Nest wool, can cause choking and other physical harm for young mice, babies especially

Also!
-Get a quarantine terrarium/etc if you have more than one mouse. You should be able to separate your mice on a moment’s notice in a different room if they get sick or injured.
-Get enough transport carriers to move all your mice at once if you need to. You can also keep your mice in them while you clean their terrarium.

3

Penny is hard to photograph because she is very nervous in her tank. She almost always has to be herded into a toilet paper tube to be picked up. She’s such a pretty girl though. If her temperament was better I would have wanted to breed her, but I don’t want to risk passing on her skittishness.