Nutrient requirements for the mouse are influence by genetic background, disease status, pregnancy, and environment.
Mice Health and Care Information
The cages should provide for the physical and psychological well-being of the mice. They must allow the mice to stay clean and dry while allowing them to maintain their body temperature. Unnecessary restraint and overcrowding should be avoided. Access to potable water and adequate food must be insured. Polycarbonate, polypropylene, and polystyrene “shoebox” cages are commonly used.
Bedding used in solid-bottom cages should be non-allergenic, dust-free, inedible, absorbent, non-toxic and free of pathogenic organism. Wood chips and recycled paper products are often used. To prevent the build-up of pathologic ammonia levels, bedding should be change twice weekly for full cages and weekly when 1 or 2 mice are present. Ammonia will damage the respiratory epithelium and predispose to disease.
Nutrient requirements for the mouse are influence by genetic background, disease status, pregnancy, and environment. Mice should be fed pelleted rodent diet ad lib. Do not give table scraps. Diet for maintenance should contain 4-5% fat and about 14% protein. Diets for growth and reproduction should contain 7-11% fat and 17-19% protein. Mice should have continuous access o potable water at all times, for lubrication of dry food and for hydration. Decreased water intake will decrease food consumption. Sick mice commonly drink very little water, so it is not advisable to administer medication in the water to sick mice.
Conditions Requiring Veterinary Attention
Mycoplasmosis - Mycoplasma pulmonis is a gram-negative bacterium which causes disease in many rodent species. Adverse environmental factors, such as high cage ammonia levels, and the acquisition of primary viral or bacterial respiratory pathogens activate mycoplasma infection. Early signs include nasal discharge, ear infection/head tilt, sneezing, sniffling, eye squinting, porphyrin (red) staining at nares and around the eyes, and uterine infection.
Tyzzer's Disease - This disease most often infects gerbils and mice, though rats also are susceptible. It is caused by the bacterium, Clostridium piliforme, which is usually transmitted by eating contaminated food or water. The bacterium may survive in spore form for extremely long periods in soil, bedding and feed and is, therefore, highly resistant. Signs of infection are often inapparent but may include lethargy, rough haircoat, and sudden death. Another form of the disease results in chronic wasting and death. Diarrhea may or may not be noted.
Numerous viruses can infect mice. Only few of the most important viral infections among them will be discussed.
Sendai Virus Infection - In many mouse colonies, Sendai virus infection is the most significant and how mild) should never be housed with or near a healthy pet mouse. There is no specific treatment for this disease. A commercial vaccine is available but it is only of practical use with large colonies of susceptible mice.
Sialodacryoadenitis: Sialodacryoadenitis is a highly contagious viral disease of recently weaned mice. Initial signs include squinting, blinking and rubbing of the eyes. Later, sneezing and swelling in the neck region are noted. As the disease progresses, swellings below or around one or both eyes, bulging of the eyes, red-brown tears, and self-trauma to the eyes are noted. Respiratory signs also may occur. There is no specific treatment for this viral disease. This virus is very unlikely to infect pet rats and mice unless they were acquired from a colony with this infection already established within its members.
Mousepox (Ectromelia) - Mousepox is a highly contagious viral disease of mice that was only recently recognized in the United States. The mouse is the only natural host of the virus. The acute (sudden onset) form of the disease affects the entire body. Clinical signs include lethargy, hunched posture, rough haircoat, diarrhea, inflammation of the eye membranes, swelling of the face and legs, and death. There is no specific treatment for this viral disease. This virus is very unlikely to infect pet mice unless they were acquired from a colony with this infection already established within it members.
External Parasite Problems - Pet mice and rats may be infested with a variety of external parasites. Mites, nearly microscopic, spider-like organisms, live on the skin surface and feed primarily on skin debris. They are transmitted by direct contact between infested and uninfested rodents. Signs of infestation range from mild scratching to severe hair loss and ulceration of the skin.
Intestinal Parasite Problems - Tapeworms and pinworms are the most common intestinal parasites of pet mice and rats. They often go undetected unless present in large numbers. Signs of infection may include weight loss, inactivity, inappetence, constipation, and excessive licking and chewing of the rectal area and base of the tail.
Overgrown Incisors - The incisor (front, gnawing) teeth of all rodents grow continuously for the life of the individual. The continual wear between the uppers and lowers usually prevents overgrowth of the teeth. Hereditary abnormalities of the jaw bones and/or teeth, abscessation of the incisor teeth, or injury to the jaw may result in malocclusion (improper meeting of the upper and lower incisors). Malocclusion, in turn, results in overgrowth of one or more of the incisors, with subsequent injury to the mouth. Mice and rats with this problem must have their overgrown incisors trimmed periodically by an experienced veterinarian or veterinary technician.
Tumors - Mice frequently develop tumors representing a wide variety of tissue types. The tumors may be external or internal. Leukemia (cancer involving the white blood cells) is quite common in mice as well.
Owners of pet mice and rats should seek veterinary attention at once after discovering a lump, bump or unusual mass protruding from a body opening, the mass can be surgically removed by the veterinarian and biopsied to determine its exact identity tissue type. Tumors tend to grow continuously larger and may ulcerate and become infected if they reach very large size. For this reason, it is always preferable to remove them when they are small.