I hold a master's degree in English. I like writing about various topics.
Do Pet Mice Smell? Mouse Odor Prevention
Mice mark their territory, like dogs. However, while pet dogs stake their claims outdoors, a pet mouse doesn't have that option. Mouse odor overpowers air fresheners and can fill a room quickly. Although they make friendly and playful pets, this stink can be off-putting to their owners. If you find yourself choking on your pet's scent, I can offer several suggestions to freshen the air back to normal.
Don't Clean the Cage
This may sound counter-intuitive, but it makes sense to your mouse. He doesn't get a lot of territory, so he feels very strongly about his cage. If you expect to battle the smell by frequent cage-cleanings, your pet will combat your efforts by marking every last corner as soon as you set him in a freshly scrubbed home. When he can't smell himself, his first reaction will be to get busy with the scent glands. As a result, pet mice often stink more immediately after you clean their cage.
Instead, let the cage sit for a week or two--depending on how many mice you have—even if it's a little unpleasant. Some people will even save old bedding and sprinkle it around a cleaned cage. This pre-marks the territory for the mouse, and he won't feel the need to draw lines in the sand right away.
People put open boxes of baking soda in their refrigerators to absorb the smells. The same trick works with mice. It wouldn't be wise to stick an open box full of powder into the cage with your pet, but after scrubbing and drying, spread a liberal amount of it over the floor. Then put the bedding over that.
Animal-Safe Store-Bought Deodorizers
Other people have had this problem. So many, in fact, that there are ways of chemically treating your mice to weaken the power of his stink glands. A good pet store will carry at least one brand of deodorizer. They don't cost much and can easily be mixed into a water solution, which makes it easy to apply to the mouse.
Corn Cob Bedding
This method may cost slightly more, but the benefits more than offset the price. Its main virtue is that it lowers the levels of ammonia—the chemical that makes pee stink--in the cage. Also, it's cleaner, so bacteria and fungi are less likely to develop and harm your pet.
Research scientists are legally required to use this on their animals because it is considered more humane and healthy than other types of bedding. Because of this, not only will your mouse smell better, but you probably won't have to clean the cage nearly as often as with wood shavings or paper.
Air Filters/Air Purifiers
This may challenge your wallet more than my other suggestions, but when used alongside the other methods, you won't even notice that mousy smell anymore. If you have allergies, it doubles its usage. It's not an option for everyone, but I highly recommend using one if you can afford it.
Don't Buy Male Mice
This may not help those of you who already have pet mice, but only males mark territory. Females couldn't care less. They also tend to be friendlier to humans. Some people tell me they can smell female mice, but when I've owned them without owning a male, I never noticed anything. Unfortunately, some pet stores only stock male mice, but females make better pets. If you haven't bought a mouse yet, try to find a girl.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2011 jplaj
wannamouse on July 03, 2020:
hi- i am really confused. i have seen a lot of comments that say that the baking soda could harm the mouse, but a lot that sat that it works and that it is fine. what should i do?
Ria on May 17, 2020:
Greta, though it may be a controversial topic to many mouse owners it is common knowledge that housing male mice together increases the risk of fighting. They are territorial little critters and although yes, people have had success housing them together (especially if they are littermates or have a lot of space), for first-time mouse owners I would recommend getting either one male or multiple females.
Greta on May 15, 2020:
I’m sorry what? Make mice do not kill each other. Mine don’t fight and can’t be separated.
Emma on January 23, 2020:
I recently got a pet mouse. His name is Carlos. He’s a good boy. I just wanna to brag about being the most lucky mouse owner ever
Vee on October 28, 2019:
Late reply, but Cass that's not true. I went there hoping to get two females and ended up with two males. It depends on the location. There was a PetSmart very far away from us that they said had males. They also told me that keeping males together was fine .. not true, don't do it. They will eventually kill each other. I separated mine.
Cass on August 09, 2019:
I know at PetSmart only carries female fancy mice so if anyones looking for some thats a good place to find them.
Antonette Barrett on March 22, 2019:
Your article was very helpful....however I wish I would have read it before we bought two male mice but luckily I only bought them 2 days ago so they will be exchanged for females!!!!
Mary on November 17, 2018:
Please don’t use baking soda. Infested that will kill a mouse
A for effort on June 08, 2018:
I hope this is a joke. If you want a clean smelling cage, spot clean everyday or every other day (it’s not that hard). If you don’t clean the cage, your pet will get respiratory problems or other illnesses. Small animals have externally sensitive
Barney on April 18, 2018:
Tiffany, you are absolutely correct. Thanks for the heads up. I tried corn cob bedding and it almost caused my 2 mice to be very sick.
Raven on March 17, 2018:
I just got 3 males, and they are so stinky... I've mostly had female mice so I didn't realize how strong the difference would be... and when I had a male before, he has to live by himself because he got picked on... so I never really noticed a stink from him.
I love my little boys but they just reek ... even my rats don't smell that strong (mind you, they're females)
I will definitely be trying some of these things out!
Berenice on February 19, 2018:
I wish I could of know that males are more stinky and I would of try getting a female or just one male. Their smell is so strong it upsets my stomach I'm going to try the baking soda method hope it works ....
marianne on February 18, 2018:
We have female mice and they stink!
Tiffany on October 05, 2017:
Honestly a lot of this advice is very harmful. Baking soda is known to kill small pets. Corn cob bedding molds quickly therefore creating health problems in your little one. And air fresheners nearby can severely harm their little respiratory systems
Dexi on May 09, 2017:
Riser on June 21, 2016:
i use a small bag of carbon for fish tanks in mine. i hangs out of reach in my males and my females cages.
Lyn on March 25, 2016:
Can you wash mice? Is it advisable?
????? on August 08, 2015:
jplaj (author) from Duluth, MN on July 01, 2015:
It's not a stupid idea, but I wouldn't put them in the cage with the mice. Most flowers will be harmless, but the bigger problem would be that the animals would be attracted to the sent and would probably destroy the flowers. Find something that smells nice and keep it near the cage, but out of reach of tiny little paws.
Sheila on June 29, 2015:
This might sound like a stupid idea, but pupurri or Flowers... would that be safe at all to add inside the cage or would it hurt my mouse?
jplaj (author) from Duluth, MN on October 03, 2014:
Douglas: Unless you're breeding them, you probably don't want to put dad back in. Alpha mice can get dangerous, and there's no guarantee he won't cause problems. If you are breeding them, I'd wait until the babies are in the popcorn stage--they don't quite walk yet, but they hop and jump in sudden jerky movements. They can eat solid food by then and take care of themselves, so I suggest separating them from mom, put the boys and the girls in separate cages and then put dad in with mom. Keep an eye on the males--any one in the room could turn out to be the alpha, and once you identify him, you'll want to put him in a cage on his own. The other males should live together without fighting as long as the alpha is nearby.
Gio: Baking powder is just a mixture of baking soda and corn starch (with a few extra things thrown in). I can't see why it wouldn't work, but obviously baking soda will be more pure and therefore cheaper and more effective.
Also, for females, you shouldn't need to recycle used bedding. The girls don't fight over territory nearly as much as the boys, so its okay if the cage is completely fresh each time you clean it--that should also help freshen up the room for you.
Gio on October 03, 2014:
Sorry - I just found out baking powder won't work - it has to be soda :(
This page is really helpful though, thanks again!
Gio on October 03, 2014:
My female mice (definitely female) are really stinky! I've been cleaning the cage once every six days, and putting in some used bedding so it still smells like them.
Anyway, I've bought some baking powder - do you know if it's safe to use? It's a bit different from baking soda, but I hope it's essentially the same.
douglas quinn on September 18, 2014:
When can I stick dad back in with mum n babies
Micefan on April 27, 2012:
Thank you! It took me ages to convince my mum to get me a prt and she said that if it stinks, she was going to give it away :( so this really helps. I was going to use cat recycled news paper litter too.
?????? on April 05, 2012:
I think this will help a lot thanx!!!
Maid on September 30, 2011:
I thought that what u said will be lots of help.