I get sick sometimes. You get sick sometimes. We all get sick sometimes. It’s just a fact of life. And as much as I’d rather be sick than have my small pet sick (I know... I’m THAT pet mom), it’s gonna happen. Even with little tiny mice. Oftentimes though, when you’re talking mice, it’s much harder to tell if they’ve come down with an illness. They’ll often disguise their sickness so predators don’t see them as weak or easy prey. It’s in their nature, whether wild or domestic. So how do you know if your mouse is sick?
Mice are really a lot like us humans. Lots of the ickyness we pick up, mice can catch too. If you have the flu, unexplained vomiting, or any other contagious disease, wash your hands. All. Of. The. Time. Avoid sneezing around their cage. Or, if it’s possible, move the cage to a place you don’t frequent and have a friend or family member come to care for them while you’re under the weather.
Remember, too, that mice have MUCH tinier immune systems than we do, and if their body can’t fight off a human illness, it’s possible that they will die from it.
Mice don’t vomit. But they can have diarrhea. And dehydration can kill a mouse in less than 48 hours. Because mice don’t have the same complexity of mind as humans do, they don’t understand that if they have diarrhea, they need to drink more water to keep themselves hydrated. If a mice will not eat, it’s more than likely it’s ill, too. At this point, you need to get to your exotic vet for help.
What are some other common illnesses of pet mice?
Colds in mice are pretty similar to colds in humans and mostly clear up by themselves. Sneezing, watery eyes, shaking, and tiredness are all common symptoms. Fresh food and water should be available at all times (well, they should be available at all times, even when they’re not sick). Cages should be kept clean and dry. No drafts. A comfortable temp. Your mouse’s cold should clear up in less than a week. If it seems to be getting worse, visit your veterinarian… it could be a more serious problem.
Again, pretty common, and can present itself because of stress, too much fresh food, upset stomach, or even the final clearing of constipation. It’s nothing too serious, just remember: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Dehydration can cause death in only hours, so use a lot of caution. Diarrhea usually clears up on its own and is actually pretty common in older mice. But if it persists for more than a few days, it’s best to have it checked out.
Mice are prone to mites. Dirty bedding is usually the main culprit, so make sure you’re cleaning on a regular basis. If you’ve been outside in grass, touching other animals, etc., make sure you’re washing your hands thoroughly before touching your mice. If your mouse is doing the following, they may have those little buggers.
- Fur loss
- Raw or scabby skin
- Excessive scratching
- Mites visible
- Rubbing on toys
- Appearing distressed
You need to really go to the vet to have mites checked. You’ll probably get an ointment to treat. And make sure you’re cleaning that cage every day!
To answer the original question: "how do I know if my mouse is sick?" Well, these are just three of the main illnesses that mice can get. There are many more (really, there are). But as always, if you feel your mouse is feeling under the weather and you’re not sure what to do, take them into the vet. It’s always, always better to be on the safe side.