A mouse is a small mammal which belongs to the family of rodents. The domestic mouse has become a popular pet to have over the years, and they are very social animals that are much happier if they have a fellow companion. Their main characteristics are a pointed snout, round ears and a long tail with few hairs.
Many may think that mice are typically white with pink eyes, however they come in many different colours such as black, white, chocolate, fawn, blue, champagne, lilac and other varieties such as 'dutch' — with darker patches over their eyes and down the bottom half of the body.
Mice are nocturnal, so are more active during the night and sleep during the day. They are ideal as a first pet (for older children), as they don't take up too much space and won't be affected if you are out of the house in the daytime. When they are awake, they can be very entertaining, active little things and very fun to watch.
Female mice reach sexual maturity at just five weeks old, and so breeding will start at this time if they are put with a male. They can produce litters every three to four weeks and can become pregnant just a day after they have given birth. So it may be best to avoid letting male and female mice near each other as you'll end up with lots of unwanted babies!
Male mice are more aggressive towards one another than female mice, so housing just females together is probably the safest option. Males are more likely to fight with each other, so some people prefer to house a male on his own — with plenty of human interaction and playtime to keep him happy.
Mice are sociable animals and find living on their own very stressful. Housing them with at least one other mouse of the same sex is recommended, as they will love the company and interact with each other. They will also be great fun to watch when they are together. Male mice are generally more aggressive, especially towards mice they aren't familiar with — don't house males with a female as they will breed and have lots of babies, and if a male is housed with another male this must start from a very young age. Females should get along just fine together.
Mice scent-mark their environment by urinating in different places to identify their territory in the cage and to communicate with other mice. They also need bedding which absorbs urine to help them dig burrows and feel safe, so their cage may become a little smelly! You will need to keep on top of cleaning their cage but always leave a tiny bit of old bedding so that they can still recognise their own smells in their home. This may help you decide where you position the cage.
Mice move very quickly, so when handling them always take care and be close to the ground in case they suddenly scurry out of your hand and fall. Young children may find it hard to keep hold of them so mice may be better suited to an older child that will be able to control them a little better.
Although mouse cages aren't too big, you will still need to allocate some space for it. You will also need to be able to put the cage in a place that is out of direct sunlight and free from any draughts. Because mice are prey animals, they get scared very quickly, so any loud noises, bright lights and contact with other pets will make them very scared, so try to avoid startling them, and keep dogs, cats and other larger household pets away.