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How to Care for Baby Mice

Updated on February 16, 2016

A Wee Ounce of Wuv

Minnette during a feeding.
Minnette during a feeding. | Source

How I Found Myself Taking Care of Three Blind Mice

I once worked for a great company called Novedge, that sells computer graphic and CAD software online. One day my boss took me and our Italian intern at the time to a secluded beach so that the intern could enjoy the Pacific ocean, and I could have a break from work.

We had a great time frolicking around and investigating the beach. There was a lot to see and do. There were old sea shells to scrutinize (they were chiseled into the cliff in a cave), bristling cold water to run into and out of, the squawk of gulls overhead, the salty air and biting sand, beautiful views of ocean and clouds and sun, and, as the hours wiled away and we were leaving happy and exhausted...

There were three blind mice sprawled helplessly on the sand.

Gray Guy at our first encounter.
Gray Guy at our first encounter. | Source

A Dilemma

The gulls threatened. The cold air was rushing in. There was no nest in sight. No mother, no food. These little guys were helpless on a vast beach, weary and cold, blind and vulnerable. If they did not become bird food, they would simply die from exposure.

Where did they come from?

The most we could tell was they might've fallen from holes in the cliff.

A soft spot in my heart tugged.

"Let's go," said the others. They wanted to leave and thought getting involved with helping the mice not worthy of much thought.

I made a sudden and decisive decision.

"I'm taking these guys home," I said.

So that's that.

That decision being made, I fit all three little guys into my coat pocket. They were small and their eyes were sealed shut. They were babies.

My coworker and boss were surprised to say the least. But they humored me.

I had no idea what I was going to do or what I was getting myself into, but I had committed.

I wanted these little guys to have a better chance at life than certain destruction.

A Quick Cram Session

As soon as I got home I did a Google cram session. What should I feed the mice? How should I care for them? Was this safe?

I worried about Hantavirus. I worried they would die. I did research and here is what I found out...

Baby Mouse Feedings

A pippette helped me feed the baby mice.
A pippette helped me feed the baby mice. | Source
Infant Soy Formula is a baby mouse's best friend.
Infant Soy Formula is a baby mouse's best friend. | Source

Precautions and Feeding

The mice I would now care for were baby mice. They were days old and their eyes had yet to open. The risk of Hantavirus, a very dangerous virus that could be caught from wild mice was likely small because of my location. Although I did not rule that out and took precautions by washing my hands after handling them and avoiding getting them or my hands while handling them near my face.

The best thing to feed them at this early stage, I found out, is human baby soy formula. This formula is closest to the correct balance of protein and other nutrients that their bodies need.

At first I fed them using an eye dropper. The drops of formula were too big for their little mouths, and they would sneeze and cough when the liquid went down the wrong pipe. So I would dribble a little pool of formula on my hand and they would lap it up. This was a little messy but it worked. I worried they were not getting enough formula this way. I invested in some pipettes, which are very small plastic tubes with bubbles at the end. You can draw up a little bit of liquid and then dribble it in tiny droplets. This worked a little better for getting the mice more quantity of formula, although one had to be very careful because even the tiny pipette tube was too big!

That first night I had to wake up every two hours to feed the mice. Being very passionate about saving them, I didn't mind. It encouraged me that soon after they had the formula they became much more active. At the first feedings the way they went after the formula made me happy that I had rescued them, instead of leaving their survival to the harsh circumstances of the beach where I'd found them.

For quite a few days I fed them every few hours. They got plumper and more active. They looked like healthy blind mice. :) Before I knew it I was able to resume a regular sleep schedule. Overall, the time that the interruption in my sleep cycle lasted was so short, I hardly remember it now.

Three mice in their travel carrier.
Three mice in their travel carrier. | Source

A Mouse Temporary Home and Habitat

When I first got the mice, I simply put them in a shoe box. It was all I could find. I included some tissue paper to keep them warm.

I got all into taking care of them though. That's my nature. I went to the pet store and invested in a carrying cage for them that was clear plastic with ventilation on top. I soon invested in a 10 gallon mouse aquarium, which included a vented top and a water bottle. I bought soft hamster padding for them and some toys and a wooden bedding which acted as a little nest for them.

Later I would learn not to purchase that type of wooden nest. There could be mice mites in the wood and that's what happened. Luckily these mites do not transfer to humans but they cause the mice hell. My mice hid from me and scratched so much their fur was missing in spots. I became very concerned and researched what I could do to help the mice.

I got rid of the wooden nest and instead bought a little plastic home for them. I treated them all every day with a mite killer that was made for dogs and cats until the mice stopped scratching themselves. I couldn't find a mite killer for rats or mice but the dog/cat mite killer worked. I had to put a bit on my finger and rub it into their fur. I worried because they would start to lick it off, but it was the best I could do to kill those mites. I also cleaned out their cage bedding regularly and disinfected their cage with a mixture of mostly water and bleach. Soon the mite problem was a thing of the past.

Another thing I invested in were mouse wheels. The mice loved them. Wild mice run around 7 miles or so every day so to not purchase a little mouse wheel for them would be a bit cruel in my mind. Since I had three mice, I bought two mouse wheels for them to share. I also put items for the mice to climb up in their cage and empty toilet paper rolls for the mice to crawl into and through.

Because mice need to chew to keep their teeth in good shape, I included little wood blocks that I purchased at the pet store. These might have been treated with something, I think, and didn't pose the threat of harboring any mice mites breeding in them. As the mice grew and were able to eat real food, I also included carrots in their food bowl so they could nibble on those too.

What Did I Feed the Mice as They Got Older?

Once the mice's eyes opened and they were able to eat regular mouse food, I decided to go the healthy route with them. During the transition period I made sure the human baby soy formula was also available to them, but I provided what became their regular diet. I fed them vegetables, fruits, seeds, and greens in a little bowl in their mouse aquarium. I tried to keep their diet varied and included such things as (uncooked) kale, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, chickpeas, apples, corn, (raw uncooked) sweet potato, (cooked) brown rice, sunflower seeds, and a bird seed mix. There is rodent food you can purchase at pet stores but I didn't bother as I'd read it's better for them to eat fresh real food. Since I am a vegan and eat a lot of fresh veggies, grains, and starches myself, it was easy for me to share my food with the mice.

The Mice Grow Bigger

My mice were a pleasure to watch. I delighted in them. Let me tell you, if you haven't seen a baby mouse yawn, you haven't lived. I found them more entertaining than television. I enjoyed caring for them and learned as much as I could during my time with them. However, even though I loved the mice I cared for, I am not sure I would call them ideal pets. For one thing they require a lot of care, as I've described above. They are also small so you must take a lot of precautions or you may end up with a lost mouse in your house which could end up meaning a mouse problem! One or two mice in a cage are fine, but I'm sure you don't want your home run over with mice.

That was the other problem which led to some changes in the little mice arrangement I had going.

I had three blind baby mice to start with, and I named them Gray Guy, Thimble, and Minnette. Gray Guy was the "alpha" male ~ larger than Thimble (the other male) and of a gregarious, spirited nature. Thimble was slender and more of a regular mouse guy. Minnette was her own joyful personality, as feisty and strong willed as a little female mouse is want to be. Yes, all three little mice had their own separate personalities, and that made caring for them an enjoyable experience.

However there came the day ~ I knew it would happen ~ when the "birds and the bees" came to visit my mice. They were still so young but I saw it happen ~ Gray Guy attempted to mount Minnette!

Oh dear. Taking care of three mice was an exhilarating experience, a labor of love. But there was no way I was going to take to caring for more than three.

A Short Few Weeks...

No sooner had I gotten used to the mice's nocturnal hours, running on their little wheels and galavanting about their aquarium, and the endless cleaning regime, than I knew I had to do something quick before I ended up with a little pregnant Minnette mouse. I quickly purchased another whole mouse aquarium for Minnette alone, and separated her from the boy mice. I included all these attractive mice toys and tried to make the habitat as lovely for her as her first home.

But I quickly saw something was wrong. Minnette hated me. She hid in her little plastic home and actually hissed at me! She didn't like being alone. After some quick research, I realized the problem. Mice are social creatures and used to living with other mice. They develop little mice relationships that are just as dear to their little hearts as my friendships and loves are to me. Just as it would be cruel to force another person to live in isolation, it was cruel of me to put an end to Minnette's natural inclinations. I felt very bad for interrupting Minnette's social life and soon also realized, sadly, that introducing a little "domestic" female friend mouse from the pet store to stay with her would not be the best idea either. Just as cats from different litters can live in the same home but never become friendly, so to with mice.

This, along with all the work required to care for the mice ~ the regular cage cleanings, the worry about mice mites and Hantavirus ~ the feeling that these wild mice deserved to explore the wider world ~ led me to the decision to release them into the wild.

As they did not have a mouse mother to help them learn the ropes I felt badly about releasing them, but I also felt it would be unfair to them to keep them caged. It was a decision I struggled with but which I finally decided would be the best thing for them and for me. They required so much work to take care of, and I was still worried about Hantavirus. It is too bad there is such a thing as Hantavirus. I am lucky I never got sick because of the mice. To this day I cannot be sure that they did not have it because of my location out of the Hantavirus hotspots or if I was just lucky. I think if I lived in an area where Hantavirus is more common in wild mice, I wouldn't risk taking care of them in the way that I did.

I took them to the wild section of a park nearby and spread all the birdseed and food around quite an area. I tipped over the cage to release Minnette first. She ran away with a skip in her step! Good riddance to me I guess. Thimble and Gray Guy were scared. I coaxed them out and eventually Thimble began exploring. Gray Guy was in so many ways terrified. I expected him to be the brave one. I had not played much with these mice in my hands out of fear for the Hantavirus. I pet him with a finger and we crouched looking at each other. It really broke my heart to do this to him, but I didn't want him to lead a life alone in a cage and never have the opportunity to mate or explore the world. For a very long time we were frozen and then I stood and went away. I came back to check later and all the mice were gone. It made me cry but I felt I did the best thing.

I am glad I saved the mice. I learned a lot. I think the thing that stays with me the most is how much life there was in them, despite their small size. They did so many cute and adorable things that it made me appreciate how precious life is. Even a tiny little creature wants to clean its face, curl up to sleep, or play with others. Taking care of the little mice was a wondrous experience.


Comments: "How to Care for Baby Mice"

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    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

      Voted up, will be back.

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you Pollyannalana! Hope you enjoy the article :)

    • bluebird profile image

      bluebird 5 years ago

      Wow! This is precious, I loved it! A true animal lover if there ever was one! Thank you for sharing and thank you for loving enough to care for even the smallest of God's creatures! What a kind heart you are - I feel connected to you already.

      Good job - voted awesome!

    • bluebird profile image

      bluebird 5 years ago

      P.S. Love the names you gave them, they are so cute. I've taken care of many a baby bird fallen out of the nest, that was delightful and had several ducks for pets. They are such fun too!

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you! I felt I couldn't just leave them, been an animal lover all my life. Thanks for your vote too! Look forward to checking out your hubs (at work right now though!)

    • profile image

      Zoe 4 years ago

      I am up at the early hours of the morning finding myself with the same story as you..I also have 3 baby orphan mice, lets hope they all servive..being a mum of 8 lovely children I can't just leave them to die.

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Good luck! I hope you have success with them. :)

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Precious story. Thank you for caring for the little darlings. I know what a heart-wrenching decision it must have been to release them, but it was probably for the best, as you pointed out; you don't want a houseful of mice, so that they become a problem instead of pets.

      Voted up, beautiful and awesome.

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Awe, thank you DzyMsLizzy! :)

    • profile image

      Marilyn 4 years ago

      It is wonderful people like you that keep my faith in humanity. With so much media focus on atrosities being done to animals....I know you story will uplift those of us who care! Thanks for being a compassionate human!!!!!!!!

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US

      Years ago my husband caught a mouse on a trap by its tail with didn't kill it of course and it was so adorable I put it in a cage and by the next morning it was gone. Or else the husband took matters into his own hands I am no sure. Even rats are cute as babies aren't they?

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you, that's sweet of you to say.

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Definitely, and I hear tame rats make very entertaining and affectionatepets.

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

      Awwwwww... these mice are such darlings. Thanks for sharing! :)

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks FullOfLoveSites. Glad you feel the same way I do. :)

    • profile image

      Lioness 4 years ago

      Wow! Good for you :)

      Personally, I kill mice without a second thought - except when I found a litter of baby mice. I didn't want to kill them, but my Dad came and did the deed before I could say anything about it.

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Dear me. I happen to love cats also, and here they go and gobble up cute little mice all day long. Lioness, I wish you well.

    • profile image

      Lisa 4 years ago

      I find myself in the same position as you are, while walking through our storage building, a board fell and killed mother mouse, leaving 4 fuzzies orphaned, as much as they grossed me out at the time, I felt it wrong to just leave them to certain death. Scarface, The Dude, Wednesday, and Scratch are the loves of my life now. 6 days in and I learn something new everyday with them, they all have different personalities, grow at different rates, and have different little sounds they make. Some are fussier eaters, some are a dream. None the less, the night feedings are driving me a bit to exhaustion. I never expected to be able to keep all 4 alive, and every time I go to feed, I feel blessed they are all thriving. They are still blind, but becoming more active (the now refuse to stay in their nests, and have cliqued into 2 groups of cuddle buddies), overslept a little bit and missed 1 feeding, woke up to my babies being a little dehydrated, never again. I dread the day I attempt to release them, as my home situation is probably not going to support 4 mice around the house, nor will my cats. But for now, they have completely stolen my heart, and you are so right, you have no lived until you have watched a baby mice yawn.

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Awe. I wish you luck Lisa with them. They grow so fast I hope you'll get through this exhaustive beginning phase soon. I hope you have a good time with them and can find a safe place for them to live when you're ready to set them free. I know it hurts but if you can't keep them what else can you do? I love the names, I'm sure they fit their personalities too.

    • profile image

      Sierra 2 years ago

      I found a baby mouse about to be eaten by a cat in the middle of the road! This article helped me a lot, and I am planning on releasing it to the wild when it's big enough! You are such a nice person and I lovedddd reading your article! :)

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 2 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you, so good to hear this article helped you! Thank you for letting me know and good luck with the mouse!

    • profile image

      Diane 2 years ago

      I'm in the same situation, was digging in some sand to fix a rain pipe extension and came across the babies, at first I thought it was a grub, then looked again and it's two baby mice. If you read this I need some info, I couldn't leave them there to die, I've been feeding them and waiting for their eyes to open. When do I let them go back to the outside world? They have fur but no opening of the eyes yet. Still very small about the size of my thumb. Please if you read this I would love some insight from you. Were the same, couldn't leave them to die. Thanks, Diane

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 2 years ago from San Francisco

      I would say wait until they're about 6-8 weeks old. Their eyes will open soon and you'll find they grow fast. You'll know when. Watch out they can jump high also. Take care of yourself and get enough sleep -- the early days you might lose some. Also be careful of hantavirus. If you are in one of the hotspots I don't think it's worth it -- it's a fatal disease to humans! Good luck Diane, I wish you and the mice well.

    • profile image

      delete 2 years ago

      Hi peoples I live in whiteriver AZ but was in Cbq AZ an I found two babes mice , eyes are still close an there are veary tiny mice we found out side

      Of my boy friend mom's house an we keep them don't know how to take care of them so we need ur help on feeding ... Please help with any way you could .

    • profile image

      see 2 years ago

      Hi peoples I live in whiteriver AZ but was in Cbq AZ an I found two babes mice , eyes are still close an there are veary tiny mice we found out side

      Of my boy friend mom's house an we keep them don't know how to take care of them so we need ur help on feeding ... Please help with any way you could .

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 2 years ago from San Francisco

      You should be careful if you are in the hantavirus zone because you can get sick with hantavirus. If you are in a safe zone, just follow my recommendations in the article. Soy formula to feed them. Good luck!

    • profile image

      bob 11 months ago

      thanks

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      Casey 9 months ago

      What a wonderful story I Came Upon yours well looking on the internet because I found a baby out in the garage there was a baby now that I found out in the garage no other no nothing looked on the internet what to do I just went through that with the kittens somebody through from the car I witnessed and ended up taking it to the vet that died so I just don't know what to do with this little Mouse my heart is bigger than it should be but I really enjoyed your story

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 9 months ago from San Francisco

      Good luck with caring for the little mouse!

    • profile image

      Husom 8 months ago

      My brother found a baby mouse and recently gave it to us to care for.It's been great until recently,she was very active lastnight,just opened her eyes yesterday.But,This morning when I found her,she's barely moving,still breathing,and barely eating.Help please,If anyone has any advice to help us keep her going.We all have grown very found of her and willing to do anything for her,so far Ive been tring every hour to work with her.It's almost though she's gone,but she's breathing.Ive been gently blowing in her face,then she sucks a little of milk,but it's been a tough love.I don't wanna loose my baby"(

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 7 months ago from San Francisco

      Good luck. Make sure you are using a soy based formula with baby mice. I hope she makes it! Kind of you guys to take care of her.

    • profile image

      Justin Green 7 months ago

      Please people seeing this story. Do not release them after having them live in a cage where food was simply provided. A mouse can not live in the wild after being raised like that. Would you survive long be dropped in the woods with your skill set?

      I am not trying to rain on your taco here man. Just hope to get the word out so others will not release them. If you take them in you need to keep them or find a home!

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 7 months ago from San Francisco

      I did not think of that at the time I raised them nor when I wrote this, but I do feel the same. They are a lot of work though, and at the time I released them, I thought they would be OK. But I think you have a good point and if I did it over, I'd just keep them or re-home them.

    • profile image

      Kim 6 months ago

      Just found 3 little mice myself Friday. One was already dead, one was weak but I had hopes for the strong one. I had a very tinny dropper which I used to feed them but one passed on Saturday and the strongest just passed on today; Monday morning. I wished I had found your article earlier. I was not feeding them as frequently and I was using Almond milk which seemed to me to be very thick and fatty. I guess it was not the right nutrition for their little bodies. Feeling sad. They were so tinny they hardly had any hair. It was a lot of work for those few days though for sure. The strongest did open his eyes. I just hate telling my son when he comes home from school this afternoon. Thank you for the info and I will try baby formula next time.

    • Marcella0822 profile image

      Marcella0822 6 months ago

      I could read you ALL DAY!! Anyways I just found an orphaned (?) baby and having a heart like yours, there's NO WAY I was leaving it on my garage floor to die so guess who's off to the store to buy soy baby formula? Maybe I'll come back and let you know how this goes, say a prayer perhaps? Again I thank you for an awesome article and great step by step advice.

      Sincerely,

      Marcella

      Antioch, IL

    • Marcella0822 profile image

      Marcella0822 6 months ago

      Sadly Mickey didn't make it through the night but I'll be better prepared for next time....if there ever is one ;) Again, thanks for informing us.

      Marcy M.

    • profile image

      Jude 6 months ago

      Hi! I know this is an old thread but I'm in the exact same situation right now, I read your whole story and I'm doing everything to the dot with what you did for the baby mice I have but they're starting to look ill. Do you think transferring them to a larger tank helped once they opened their eyes? My guys are still in a shoe box and I'm debating letting them go so they at least have a chance in fresh air and with seeds in the forest, but they're not weaned yet. I don't want them to die from being stuck in a box :( any advice? Thanks!

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 6 months ago from San Francisco

      10 gallon aquarium with lid (they jump!) and some fun stuff in there for them - stuff to climb, crawl on, hide under, and/or a little mouse wheel). Once their eyes open they can eat real food - domestic mouse food, also fresh vegetables, grains, and seeds. If they get sick I would try to find a vet, but that can be hard to find. The human soy formula about 2 hour intervals with feedings as much as they like to eat in the mean time. Also give them a mouse water bottle dripper (find at a pet store) once they are eating solids. When first weaned I also left a tiny bowl of formula in the cage for them. A pet store employee who knows mice can offer good advice too. Good luck, hope they do well!

    • profile image

      tiger-lilly 3 months ago

      hey,

      i just wanted to say i had just about the same thing......

      my dad was outside doing a new driveway, i was in the room at the time when my dad came in with a tiny baby with his adorable ayes closed, and thats when i put him in a comfy, bed in a small basket and ran outside....unfortunately the nest had been ruined, and our two dogs misty and rusty were already in the nest, fortunately i scared them off with anger, not meaning to be mad at them, it wasn't their fult it was just a game to them....anyway in the end i managed to rescue 3 gorges baby's, 2 boys and a girl, the first boy was the smallest ( who was the one my dad showed me) i named him tiny, the second boy was the big boy who i named solo and i named the girl Lola. And i quickly went online and did some research... i had them in a small-ish ( well big enough for them at the moment..) tank. through the time i had them, i had learned so much. And you the feeling like your their mum,and you feel so proud of yourself, watching them day by day grow stronger, and watching them play and make the cutest sounds. But it was the end of the holidays and i had to go to school, ( being 13years old) and they had to be fed regularly... i had no choice but to leave the job to my step-mum, and i came home that afternoon with a friend who was so exited to see them, but they went themselves, they looked sickly, i despetly went online to see what i could do, nothing..... i tried to feed them but they refused...i went to my step-mum, and i now understood what had happen..... :( she couldn't find their milk so she gave them watered down cows milk.....they cant digest cows milk and being so small they soon passed away 10mins later..... i cant blame my step-mum she didn't know.......i wish i told her... i was so upset....( my friend was still there, she was staying for a sleepover) for the next few days i was very upset...things were going so well, until now......i went online, and looked at other breeders, rescuers,and they all said that 'sometimes things happen, and the best thing you can do is know that you tried your very best, and did something that others wouldn't of cared about.....' i felt bad as many new they would die as i was inexperienced and only 13.... many people had doubt with me...and said mean things...

      that was at the beginning of the year, i now may be getting 3 babies domestic mice for Christmas...

      thank you guys!

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 2 months ago from San Francisco

      That was sweet of you to take care of them. I'm sorry to hear what happened, that must've been very hard for you. As you've been told, these things happen, but I'm glad you showed them love and caring. You picked cute names for them. Wish you well with your future pets too :) Happy New Year!

    • profile image

      Jake 7 weeks ago

      That's cool.

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