Both mice and rats make excellent pets for adults and children. They are small enough to keep in even a studio apartment and can be wonderful companions. Like any pet, however, rats and mice require plenty of care. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with their needs before you get a pet, so that you know what to expect. Here is the list of the most important tips for caring for mice and rats.
1. Provide enough space for your pet
While rodents are small, they do need enough space to move about. If you have more than one pet, you’ll need a little extra space. Rats need about 2 cubic feet per rat, while mice will be happy with much less space. You can fit two mice in one cubic foot quite easily, as long as they have plenty to do.
2. Avoid drafts or direct sunlight
Rodents can be sensitive to extreme temperatures. It’s important to avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, particularly if you are using a glass aquarium as a cage. The glass walls can trap heat inside the cage and cause your pets to overheat.
Likewise, keep the cage away from cold drafts and open windows on chilly days and nights. Remember that your pets have been in captivity since birth and are not as hardy as wild animals. They are unable to put on a jacket or turn on the air conditioning if they don’t like the temperature.
3. Add some toys and entertainment
Just like humans, pets can become bored if they have nothing to do. Fortunately, rodents are pretty easy to please. They like to gnaw on things and climb, so you can tailor their toys to fit their interests. The hamster wheel may be cliché, but it is just what your pet needs to get plenty of exercise.
You can also add cardboard tubes and small boxes to the cage so your pet can hide out and climb into the new obstacles. Don’t forget to give your mouse or rat something to chew on, as well. A stick can be perfect for grinding down those sharp teeth.
4. Clean out old food once a day
Rodents tend to hoard food, so you will need to check the cage for stashes every day. While pellets and seeds don’t usually pose a problem, fresh food can become stale or even moldy if left and may make your pet ill. Check under toys and in mounds of bedding to find the excess food.
5. Keep the cage clean
Hygiene is an important part of keeping your pet healthy. Make sure to remove all the bedding and replace it at least once a week to avoid health problems. Bedding should be purchased from the pet store to ensure that you are not using something that could be harmful. Cedar and pine shavings, for example, can cause health issues.
The entire cage should be washed out with mild soap or disinfectant when the bedding is changed, to get rid of any grunge. Make sure the cage is dry before putting the new bedding down.
6. Provide food and water at all times
Your pets should always have access to food and water. It’s a good idea to use a water bottle instead of a water dish. Rodents tend to tip the dish over, wetting their bedding and themselves. You should clean the food dish on a daily basis and the water bottle will also need to be cleaned regularly.
7. Interact with your pet
A very important part of caring for your rat or mouse is spending quality time together. It’s not much fun having a pet that stays in its cage all day. Bonding can be as simple as letting your critter run over your hands or it may involve training sessions with treats. You will find that the more time you spend with your pet, the closer you will become.
8. Offer treats sometimes
While most people use treats for training, sometimes you might want to give your pet a treat just because. A sunflower seed or a little bit of cheese can be the perfect way to get your rodent to trust you in the beginning. Later, it can be a reward for a good behavior.
9. Give your pet proper food
There are several brands of properly formatted foods for rats and mice. It’s best to give your pet food that is designed specifically for its type. The food made for rodents will have the correct balance of fat and protein, as well as the appropriate nutrients for your pet.
Mice and rats tend to be low maintenance compared to a dog, but you will still need to pay attention to your little critter. Make sure your pet’s basic needs are met. It should have food, water and a clean place to sleep. However, you should also shower your pet with plenty of love and attention if you want it to thrive. Do you have a rat or a mouse? Tell us about your pet!