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Care of Wild Baby Mice
If for some reason wild mice are placed in your care, I have included a few tips on care and feeding to help you give them a chance at life. Please note that even in the wild, mice have a 50% chance of living beyond 5 months of age, given normal rearing. Rats that do it can live up to 5 years if they are healthy. A pair will have a better chance of survival than a single mouse.
Once you have your baby mice, it’s important to keep them safe and warm. You can use a small pet carrier, a large plastic tub or any other suitable box that you can put them in. Line the bottom with a towel and place the mice on top. Then, use another soft material to lightly cover the mice like fleece. Place the box in a warm place, make sure it is not hot; otherwise the mice will become dehydrated. A minimum space heater may be all that is needed. Test the towel the mice are placed on so that they feel cool and warm in your hand.
If the pups are less than 14 days old they will need a dropper feeding formula until they are weaned. They usually open their eyes when they are about to be weaned and can feed themselves. You should feed them every 2 hours so they are ready to wake up at night. Set your alarm. When I looked at wild mice, I woke up every 2 hours to look at them. I learned a long time ago that at night the mother mouse was not out looking for food and she would return to the nest once to feed her babies. Use common sense, if you can manage a few meals at night, all the better for young children’s chance of survival, especially in the early days.
Colostrum is available at pet stores. I have used raw coconut that has been blended and grated. It should be 1 cup of coconut in about 2 and ½ cups of water. You can also use soaked almonds to make almond milk using the same ratio. Make sure the nuts are natural and light. After you make the milk, store in a clean glass jar and keep in the fridge until needed. When you go to feed the mice, take a quarter cup of milk and heat it by pouring it into a small jug and standing it in hot water. Use a dropper or baby syringe (you can get these at the pharmacy) to feed 1 or 2 drops of milk at a time into the baby mouse’s mouth. When rats are really young, they may not even open their mouths. Be careful not to get the milk up their noses, they will gag/cough if you do. It can be dangerous to their health if you do. The way I fed the mice was to put a face cloth under the table and put one mouse at a time on it. Then you can gently hold the baby’s head while delivering the milk through the dropper. You’ll get the hang of it with a little practice. The baby may not seem to be drinking much milk, don’t worry. Very young babies may only need a drop or 2 in the mouth/tongue until they take more. The main goal here is to keep them hydrated with a small drop at a time for a few hours.
After the baby is fed, you need to stimulate bowel movement. To do this, put warm water in a small bowl and add a cotton bud to it. Then, insert the cotton bud between the baby’s back legs and gently twist the bud. You should see a small brown field, this is their pasture. Dip one end of the bud into the water and stroke the baby’s body gently, simulating a licking mother. After all that, put the baby in a soft bed and put it in a warm place. This is the basic method that should be repeated every few hours during the day and at least 2-3 times at night, especially around 1am and 5am.
As you can see, it is a big commitment to take care of wild mice. But, there is also great reward in caring for them and the bond you will feel as a caregiver.
When babies start to open their eyes or at least take a nap, they can take in more milk and start moving around a bit. This is when you need to be extra careful; One fall is enough to kill. You can create a small safe space to roam in the bottom of the pet’s cage or shoe box/bowl. Combine it with newspaper and leaves to simulate a natural environment. Youngsters will enjoy stretching their legs and taking their first steps. This is important, as it will build their muscles and strength.
When babies start biting your fingers firmly when you feed them, they may be ready for small solid foods. They will be starting to open their eyes (12-14 days old) Start very slowly with this. Try baby fruit pudding for starters or natural rice pudding. Food should not be cold. Let them lick your finger. Avoid putting purees in a dish for mice to feed on, as they can contaminate and end up with matted fur, which needs to be avoided. Other foods that you can win are porridge, banana, tomato, dry oat flakes, strawberry. Go easy on the food and keep it simple and easy to digest to begin with. Congratulations! He even reached the stage of weaning, which is the case with wild mice.
Continue to provide a safe place for the mice to sleep and once they are weaned, they will be able to go out at night to eat. Give them a bowl near their bed to eat at night. At least you can sleep now! Continue to give them milk during the day and provide them with water. Normally, wild mice will have their mother’s milk up to 4 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 hand raised and released into the wild. I think it is impossible for them to survive. However, you have done your thing and if they seem strong and healthy and very active, you are more likely to release them. Or, you can keep them as pets.
Finally, if you did your best and the mice died, don’t feel bad. The chances of survival in the best conditions i.e. in their mother nature are still 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 is wonderful that you at least give them love otherwise they would have perished.
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