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Housing

The cage

  • Housing materials should be easy to clean, resistant to chewing and gnawing, and impervious to liquids so that they do not absorb urine and faeces. Commonly used materials include hard plastic, stainless steel, and glass. Check that the lid fits firmly.
  • Purpose-built cages of hard plastic are available from pet shops at reasonable prices. They usually provide a nesting/sleeping box and living quarters. Some provide for additional space if it is needed.
  • Wooden cages are not recommended because mice may gnaw them, they are difficult to sanitise, and they may absorb urine, which leads to unpleasant odours.
  • Mesh floors are not recommended because the mesh can cause foot injuries.
  • Ensure that the cage is big enough to accommodate both the mice and their furniture comfortably. A minimum size for two to three mice is 60 centimetres × 30 centimetres × 25 centimetres high.
  • Provide a sleeping box and good hiding places in the living area. For example, cardboard tubes provide good tunnels and are easily replaced, and opaque non-toxic jars can be cleaned easily.
  • Food containers should be gnawproof. Overhead-rack types are best because they reduce wastage and do not get contaminated by faeces. Containers that attach to the cage's sides are also acceptable because they reduce spillage.
  • Heavy-duty pottery containers may also be used, but as they can be more easily contaminated with urine and faeces, change the food in them daily.
  • Open water dishes are not recommended because of possible contamination by faeces, which leads to disease. The water in them can also be easily spilled, leading to dehydration in the mice and an increase in moisture in the cage. Sipper tubes and bottles attached to the sides of the cage work well.
  • Provide objects for gnawing, such as a small bark-covered log from an apple tree. Select logs carefully because many garden trees are poisonous.
  • Mice need stimulation, so include exercise toys, such as exercise wheels, ladders, plastic tubes, and different-shaped boxes.
  • Do not house male mice together because they may fight and severely hurt or even kill each other.

Bedding

  • Line the cage with untreated wood sawdust or shavings 2–3 centimetres deep, kitty litter, or shredded plain paper but not newspaper because printing ink may be harmful to the mice.
  • The sleeping box should contain shredded plain paper, such as paper towels or tissues, or cotton wool (although this is not suitable for breeding because it may entangle the limbs of newborn mice).

Cleaning

  • Clean the cage two to three times a week using rubber gloves, a scrubbing brush, dishwashing detergent, and water. Rinse it well and dry it.
  • If cages are not kept clean, such irritants as ammonia, moisture, and bacteria can rise to harmful levels, predisposing the mice to illness. Good hygiene practices reduce both the risk of disease and the smell.
  • Disinfect cages and furniture twice a month with a weak bleach solution (10–20 millilitres of bleach per litre of water), leaving them to stand for at least fifteen minutes in the solution.
  • Clean water bottles and tubes daily with detergent and water and disinfect them weekly with the bleach solution. Soak them for at least fifteen minutes and rinse them well.
  • It is difficult to eliminate the musky smell of mice, but strict cleanliness can help to minimise odours. Some people consider females to be less smelly than males.

Environmental factors

  • The optimum temperature range for mice is 18–29°C. Keep their cage out of direct sunlight.
  • Mice prefer a light cycle of twelve hours of light and twelve hours of dark, with low light intensity.

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