This is the first Rat & Mouse Magazine blog post designed to give you a little Rat & Mouse fun to keep you going until the next issue. We hope to post once a week with a blog post, funny picture or some other way to keep you out of trouble!
We’re probably preaching to the converted here, but for our first post, we thought we’d take a look at what mice make such great pets. They’re not just super cute and immortalised in Disney fame. There’s a lot more to these tiny creatures than you’d think. So, let’s explore some of big pluses to being owned by mice!
The first and very obvious point is the cute factor. Mice have cute little face, huge ears and cuddly little bodies. There are some people who aren’t keen on their tails, but overall, mice have a huge amount of crowd appeal. With the likes of Disney on their side, mice have fared better in mass appeal than their larger cousins, the rats, and in my experience, saying you have pet mice is more easily accepted by others than announcing that you have rats.
Mice are also intelligent creatures. Considering their diminutive size, their brains pack in considerable power into such a tiny organ. Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy, was so enamoured with mice that his books’ mythology featured mice as the most intelligent creatures in the universe. That’s probably a stretch, but they do have some impressive problem-solving skills, and can be trained to do simple tricks. Indeed, if you read our feature on “Mouse Roulette” in Rat & Mouse Magazine Issue 4, you will see how trained mice were used in a show designed to raise money to fund a film project.
Anyone who has ever had pet mice can vouch for how entertaining it is to watch them go about their days. From lazing in hammocks to scrambling up levels, bars and branches to eating food clutched in their teeny tiny little front paws, they’re always up to something. Depending on your cage set up, you can raise the bar by adding cardboard “castles”, ropes and other funtertainment to keep both you and them amused. With mice for pets, who needs television?
Setting up a decent mouse environment shouldn’t be too costly. Once you’re set up with a good cage, the internal accessories are quite cheap, plus you can make a lot of things yourself. Throw in some shredded newspaper, small empty cardboard boxes, perhaps a kitchen roll tube or two and you’ll have a bunch of happy rodents. Provided you’ve got a decent sized cage or tank and the right substrate, ongoing costs are low. Even providing them with hammocks can be as simple as using scraps of fabric or cheap face clothes or tea towels from the dollar/pound shop.
Being small, mice really don’t eat a lot. A small bag of food should last a while, and providing fruit and other treats on top will not cost much. Even purchasing the top tier complete mouse food will still be quite economical (why not have a look at our “Most Wanted” feature in Issue 8?). Day-to-day costs – excluding any vet fees should you need them – are low, making mice great pets for many people.
Does all this sound rather idyllic? Well, yes, mice can certainly be the perfect pet for just about anyone. However, there are some drawbacks to keeping mice as pets. Sadly, these little stars burn brightly, and mice have relatively short lifespans, with a life expectancy of between 1 – 2 years. While this means that you’re not tied in to a long commitment, it’s very hard to say goodbye so regularly.
Despite the short lifespans found in mice, they undoubtedly make great pets, and they have many, many admirers the world over. Ensuring you are properly equipped with good quality, reasonably-sized housing and well-balanced food is essential, as is the number of a good local exotics vet (as it’s always good to be prepared and aware of a good healthcare provider for your pet).
If you’re considering getting a mouse as a pet – and we definitely recommend that you at least think about it – make sure you do your research first. Be prepared, read everything you can lay your hands on and try to find some other mouse owners to chat to. There are plenty of great, friendly online groups to join for helpful advice and cute pictures.
Where to next?
Here are some sites and groups we love for learning more about our furry friends.
All About Mice – a fabulous site run by an experienced mouse owner. It is no longer updated, but there’s a wealth of useful information there.
The AFRMA (American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association) – although set up as an organisation aimed at showing fancy rats and mice, it is a great resource for learning more about them.
Rat & Mice Are Awesome – a friendly and huge Facebook group full of pictures and rodent chat.
Black and white scampering mouse © Emilia Stasiak | Dreamstime.com
Three mice cuddling © Verastuchelova | Dreamstime.com
Four peeking mice © Karen Lesure (from the Issue 7 cover image)
Groovy! Scientists have found that living on islands makes various “chisel-toothed” rodent species reach epic proportions. Of course, desert islands don’t have that effect (in fact, individuals in dry, arid areas tend to become smaller due to the lack of resource), but on lush, well-resourced islands, many species such as the Deer Mouse can grow bigger than their mainland counterparts. This is a known phenomenon amongst researchers, and is known as the “island rule”.
I wouldn’t call it rodents reaching “nightmareish” proportions though. I’d call it more furry to cuddle!
Full article here.