The life of a mouse is placed under the sign of speed. Indeed, to ensure its survival, this species has chosen to reproduce very early. The period during which a mouse is a baby is therefore very short, but it is a small fragile being that must be taken good care of. Here’s everything you need to know about the top 3 things to do to keep baby mice alive.
When can you take care of a baby mouse?
At birth, a baby mouse weighs only 2 g. He is completely naked, has a very pink skin color and is therefore unable to regulate his body temperature on his own. He is also deaf and blind. A newborn baby mouse is therefore totally dependent on its mother.
If you are attending a farrowing, you must not intervene: the mice did not wait for us to reproduce! If the mother was disturbed too often, she might even abandon the whole of her litter. It may happen that a baby wanders away from the nest without the mother noticing, because she is very busy. In this case, do not hesitate to put it back in the nest, provided you have previously put on a pair of clean, odorless gloves so as not to impregnate the baby with a foreign smell. Be aware, however, that before 3 or 4 days of life, babies are very fragile and their handling can be fatal.
If you are certain that a baby mouse has been abandoned – which means that you have been under observation long enough to see that the mother does not reappear – you can take care of it. But even motivated and caring, keeping young mice alive turns out to be extremely delicate and the younger they are, the greater the risk of death. Moreover, it is quite a time consuming activity, especially at the beginning. Note that around the 13th day of life, young mice tend to jump without warning: it is therefore a good habit to handle them systematically over a cushioning support.
Warm up a mouse
The little ones are only able to maintain their body temperature after 14 days of life. In the meantime, they must be provided with an appropriate source of heat: the nest must be constantly maintained at a temperature of 28 ° C. A baby mouse quickly goes into hypothermia and becomes dehydrated just as quickly. This is why it is essential to obtain a stable temperature.
Several techniques can be used:
- the heating mat or pad,
- the incubator,
- the hot water bottle.
The skin sensitivity of the mice is very great and a burn can quickly occur. It is therefore not necessary to put the little ones in direct contact with the heating object. It is essential to measure the temperature with a thermometer by placing it in contact with the surface covering the heating object – if this is the chosen method -, without relying on the sensations taken with the hand, because its sensitivity is not at all comparable to that of the skin of mice .
For making the nest, you can use handkerchiefs or toilet paper. The paper towel is too coarse and the cotton fibers promote suffocation. If the baby mouse is alone, be sure to wrap it up. If he has siblings, they should be placed against each other. The nest space should be carefully ventilated to prevent condensation from forming. This is especially valid if you use a plastic or glass type container. Since cardboard is a hygroscopic material, condensation is less to be feared. Also make sure that the air is renewed enough for the mouse to breathe properly.
Feeding a mouse
The ideal is to feed the mice with powdered infant formula for kittens, sold in pharmacies. If the brand specifies “kitten, rabbit and rodent”, even better! The dosages are generally indicated on the packaging according to the species concerned. To replenish the milk, it is best to use bottled water, previously lukewarm. As with human babies, it is important to test the temperature of the milk before giving it, otherwise you risk burning the baby.
It is not easy to find bottles of a size suitable for the smallest mice. To breastfeed a baby mouse, you can then use a small needleless syringe (which can also be found in pharmacies or at a veterinarian), a catheter (sold in pharmacies), or a hollowed-out criterium. The device should be tested beforehand to check the amount of milk that comes out.
The number of feeds varies depending on the age of the baby. To evaluate it, you must search the Internet for images that can help you in your estimate. Take this opportunity to make sure it is a mouse. There may be confusion with the shrew which is insectivorous. Here is the frequency of feeding generally observed in a baby mouse:
- from 0 to 7 days, he needs a feed every 2 hours, day and night,
- from 8 to 14 days, he needs a feed every 3 to 4 hours, day and night (know that mice open their eyes from 13 days of life),
- from 15 to 21 days, he needs a feed every 4 to 5 hours. You can add a little plain bledin to the milk (found in the baby department of a supermarket or in pharmacies), to thicken the milk while making sure that it remains fluid, as well as a little vitamins for rodents. Pay attention to the dosage! From this age, you will also begin to leave water in free access,
- from 22 to 28 days, the baby mouse only needs 2 feeds during the day. Milk is always supplemented with bledin and vitamins. The young are usually weaned after about 21 days. If it is too small, it is possible to continue feeding it for 2 to 7 days. If the baby grew up with its mother, it is at this age that it can be taken to be sold or given away,
- beyond 28 days, the mouse goes to a completely solid diet, seeds, vegetables and fruits, cut into very small pieces.
The portions are very small. When giving milk, if you see a bubble coming out of his nose, stop feeding immediately because the flow is too fast or the stomach is full and he may drown in the milk. When the baby mouse has no hair yet, it is possible to see the stomach full of milk on one side of the belly. Older, he may turn his head to signify that he is full.
Help a baby mouse to defecate
This last action is as important as feeding and maintaining temperature. The mice are indeed unable to urinate and defecate on their own. In nature, the mother licks their behind after each feeding. As a replacement, but also after each feeding, you will pass a cotton swab moistened with lukewarm water over the genitals and anus of the baby pup. The stool is first liquid and becomes solid around the 13th day. To complete, it is advisable to clean the rear of the mouse, always using a cotton swab moistened with lukewarm water. You must not soak the mouse, otherwise it will catch a cold.