The best choices for housing mice include either a barred cage, an aquarium, a terrarium, or a self-contained system (like the expandable "Habitrail" range of plastic huts, tubes and play toys).
The mouse cage: These are readily available from most pet stores. Never buy a cage that''s too small.
Aquarium or Terrarium: Mice are best kept in aquariums or terrariums that are relatively shallow to allow adequate air circulation. Plexiglass aquariums are ideal because small holes can be drilled into the upper sides to improve ventilation.
The Self-Contained System: With an assortment of corridors, hide-outs, spinning wheels and other fun toys, a system similar to the Habitrail variety will provide mice with a never-ending assortment of gymnastic exercise. Such activity is healthy for the mice and, for the owner, fun to watch too.
The mouse dwelling is most suitably placed at table or eye level.
Preferred bedding materials are sawdust or wood shavings.
In the wild mice eat a range of starch-filled seeds, in particular rice, millet, grass seed, and other grains. Most pet stores stock a number of quality grain mixtures.
Don't neglect juicy fruits and greens; mice enjoy them, particularly tender, fresh grass. Other possible fruit and vegetable treats are dates, raisins, strawberries, raspberries, raw and dried figs, apples, pears, grapes, head lettuce, endive, brussel sprouts, carrots, cucumbers and boiled potatoes.
On average, feed each mouse the equivalent of a level tablespoonful into an eating dish or bowl in the morning and at night.
Surprisingly, mice only drink on occasion; nonetheless, always ensure that at least a small quantity of water is on hand at all times. A small, inverted water bottle saves space, eliminates the risk of contaminated or spilled water, and presents clean water on demand. A small bottle will suffice with a weekly fill up of fresh water. Remember to change the water daily during hot weather conditions.
If supplied with adequate food, water, care and a home, mice will rarely get sick. Like any animal, though, mice are susceptible to a number of ilnesses:
Deficiency Diseases: Mice will develop the symptoms of nutritional deficiency if their food is stale or infected through age.
Vitamin Deficiency: A lack of vitamin A in the diet of mice can lead to skin and fur disorders, eye impairment, and, in the worst cases, paralysis.
Deficiency of Trace Elements and Minerals: For a mouse to have good bone structure and a strong, healthy metabolism it will need to have ample amounts of minerals and trace elements in its diet.
Infectious Diseases: These can spread quickly given undesirable factors like a dirty cage, infected food or water, contaminated milk, soaked greens, being in the company of other sick animals, as well as flies and parasites that carry diseases.
Colds and Infectious Catarrh: Mice exposed to sudden changes in temperature, humidity and constant drafts will always be at risk of developing a respiratory illness. Minor colds will usually disappear if the temperature is steadied to approximately 20C. In addition, eliminate all drafts and feed a regular vitamin perparation.
Parasites: Unwelcome guests of the parasite variety include fur lice, mites, fleas and body lice. Some parasites cause annoying itching; others can damage fur, transmit infections or fatally weaken the animal with incessant bloodsucking. Any infected mouse should be treated with one of the special insecticide sprays available from vets and pet shops.
Fleas are always difficult to control, even with the usual sprays and powders. A better choice may be to use an insecticide strip. These emit a gas harmless to mice, large animals and humans, but that eradicates fleas, lice and other parasites. Strips should only be used in areas with sufficient ventilation.
Skin Diseases: Mites are responsible for most skin-related problems like inflammation, open wounds or eczema. Evidence of skin disease needs to be treated by a vet.
Hereditary Diseases: Inherited defects are mostly due to inbreeding and can result in erratic behaviour or malformation. Hobby breeders are advised to avoid inbreeding where possible.