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Care of Wild Baby Mice
If for some reason you have placed a wild baby mouse in your care, I have included some tips on care and feeding to help you give them a chance in life. Please note that even in the wild, mice have a 50% chance of surviving past 5 months of age, given normal development. Rats that make it can live up to 5 years if they are healthy. A couple will have a better chance of survival than a mouse.
Once you have your baby mice, it’s important to keep them safe and warm. You can use a small pet, large plastic tub or any other suitable container in which to put them. Cover the bottom with a towel and place the mice on top. Then, use another soft material to cover the mice as smooth as wool. Put the box in a warm place, make sure it is not hot; otherwise the mice will become dehydrated. A heater on the lowest setting may be all you need. Test the towel that the rats are laying on and it’s nice and warm on your hands.
If the baby mice are less than 14 days old they will need a dropper fed with milk replacer until they are weaned. They usually open their eyes when they are just weaned and can feed themselves. You will need to feed them every 2 hours so be prepared to get up during the night. Set your alarm. When I was keeping wild mice, I was getting up every 2 hours to check on them. I have since read that at night the mother mouse will go in search of food and may return to the nest only once to feed her young. Use common sense, if you can manage a few night feeds, all the better for the babies’ chance of survival, especially in the early days.
Kitten milk is available to buy at pet stores. I have used raw coconut mixed in the top and strains. It should be 1 cup of coconut to about 2 and ½ cups of water. You can also use blanched almonds to make almond milk using the same proportions. Make sure the fruits are natural and plain. Once you have made the milk, store it in a glass jar that has been rinsed with water and keep it in the refrigerator until needed. When you go to feed the mice, take a quarter of a cup of milk and heat it by placing it in a small bottle and standing it in hot water. Use a baby syringe (you can get these at the chemist) to feed 1 or 2 drops of milk at a time into the baby mouse’s mouth. When rats are very young, they may not open their mouths. Be careful not to put the milk up their nose, they will splutter/cough if you do. It can be dangerous for their health if you do. The way I feed the rats is to lay a cloth on a table and put a rat on it. Then you can gently hold the baby’s head while feeding the milk with the cup. You’ll get the hang of it with a little practice. The baby may seem to be drinking a lot of milk, don’t worry. Small children may need to take a drop or 2 in their mouth/tongue until they accept more. The main purpose here is to keep them watered with a little water at a time every two hours.
Once the baby has eaten, you need to increase bowel movements. To do this, put some hot water in a small bowl and put a cotton ball in it. Then, put the cotton bud between the baby’s hind legs and gently roll the bud around. You should see a little brown stain, that’s their poo. Put the other end of the bud in the water and gently stroke the baby’s body, this imitates the mother stroking them. After all this, place the baby in a soft soft bed and place it in a warm place. This is the basic procedure that needs to be repeated every two hours during the day and at least 2-3 times during the night, especially around 1am and 5am.
As you can see, it is very caring, caring for baby wild mice. But, there is also great reward in caring for them and the closeness you will feel as a caregiver.
When babies start to open their eyes or at least get a head, they can drink a lot more milk and start to walk around a bit. This is when you need to be extra careful; One fall is enough to be fatal. You can make a little safe walking area in the bottom part of the pet’s cage or shoebox/basket. Line it with newspaper and leaves to exercise a local area. Youngsters will enjoy stretching their legs and taking their first steps. This is important, as it will build up their muscles and strength.
Once babies start biting your fingers firmly when you feed them, they may be ready for some solid food. They will also start to open their eyes (12-14 days) Start slowly with this. Try some baby fruit puree to start or natural rice pudding. Food should not be cold. Let them lick it off your finger. Avoid putting purees on the dish for mice to eat from, because they can be messy and end up with matted fur, which you need to avoid. Some other end of school foods are porridge, bananas, tomatoes, dry oat flakes, strawberries. Just go really easy with the food and make it simple and easily digested to begin with. Luck! It’s actually done to the weaning stage, which is something with wild baby mice.
Continue to provide a safe place for the mice to sleep and once they are weaned, they will be able to come out at night to eat. Give them a small snack near their bed so they can eat at night. At least you can get some sleep now! Continue to provide milk during the day and provide some water for them. Usually, wild mice will still have some milk mothers up to four weeks of age.
Now you have to decide whether to keep them or release them into the wild. I don’t know how many rats have been successfully captured by hand and released into the wild. I would think it unlikely that they could survive. However, you have done a little and if they seem strong and healthy and active, it may be possible to release them. Or, you can keep them as pets.
Finally, if you do your best and the mice die, don’t be sad. The chances of survival in the best conditions i.e. with their natural mother are also low. Just enjoy the experience you have with them and the chance to get a glimpse into their little lives. They are little bundles of love and it’s wonderful to at least give them some love when otherwise they might have perished.
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