How to feed a baby mouse milk

How to Take Care of Baby Mice

By Lee Parker | Updated September 26, 2017

Caring for orphaned baby mice is not easy; many infant mice don't make it through the first week due to heat loss, lack of nutrition or sickness. If the baby mouse is a pinkie; that is, without any fur, raising him to adulthood is difficult, but not impossible. With feedings every one to two hours and plenty of warmth, he has a decent chance of survival.

Supplies to Have on Hand

Being prepared is the first step in the successful raising of an orphaned baby mouse. Items to have on hand include Pedialyte, a small syringe, a heating pad or hot water bottle and soft nesting material such as old T-shirts, blankets and small stuffed animals. Puppy milk replacement, found at most pet food stores, is also important, as this is the closest option to mouse milk available.

Where to Start

Inspect the baby mouse first for any wounds or signs of illness such as blood around the nose, or labored breathing. You also will need to stimulate the baby mouse to go to the bathroom; he cannot do this on his own. Mimic the mother's natural way of licking his genitals by using a damp cotton swap, or the tip of your finger. You will need to do this after every feeding until the baby mouse is able to void on his own.

Full Bellies Are Important

Feed the baby mouse by filling a small 1 cubic centimeter syringe with puppy milk replacement and slowly administering it into his mouth. Be careful not to press too hard on the syringe or the mouse will aspirate; you will see milk come from his nose. Position the baby mouse upright and belly down for his feedings. For the first three feedings, dilute the puppy milk replacement with a little water and watch for diarrhea. If the stools are mustard yellow, everything is normal.

Warm Nests Make Happy Babies

When using a heating pad for your baby mouse, never place the mouse directly on the pad and always keep the pad setting on low. A too-warm pad can dehydrate a baby mouse quickly. If he has other orphaned siblings, keep all the baby mice together and ensure one does not wander off on his own. Fill the mouse's enclosure with plenty of bedding, both under and above the baby mouse. Do not cover the mouse in an airtight container, but do keep him under wraps to trap heat.

Tips and Tricks

Warm the formula for the baby mouse by placing it in warm tap water for a few minutes. The baby mouse will indicate when it is full, but a helpful trick for expected formula amounts is to weigh him first. The mouse's weight in grams, divided in half, equals the amount of cc's he should be eating. If the mouse refuses to drink, try using Pedialyte before attempting formula again.


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Photo Credits

Orphaned Mouse Care | Chip Chloe Squirrel

What should I do if I find an orphaned baby mouse?

Determine if the mouse/mice are indeed orphaned.  If you have accidentally destroyed a nest with babies in it, build a makeshift nest using any of the nest remains in a small shallow container, and place it near the original nest site and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two to see if the mother returns to retrieve and relocate her babies. If any of the babies have already died, if they are lethargic or cold to the touch, or if you find one baby wandering alone, chances are that they have been orphaned.

Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling mice.

The risk of contracting disease is rare but increases if you live in the southwestern United States.

When you find an abandoned mouse, there are a few essential steps that should be immediately taken.

(Please note - these instructions are also applicable for other small rodents like orphaned voles and rats)

The first priority is to get the baby warmed up before attempting to feed it anything.   Baby mice with their eyes closed (and even for a week after eyes open) are unable to maintain their own body temperature without a supplemental heat source. Make a small nest using t-shirt material, flannel or fleece and place it in a secure container with ventilation (a reuseable Tupperware with vented lid works well) and place it on a heating pad set on low. Make sure it doesn’t have an ‘auto shutoff’. If you don’t have a heating pad, you can fill an old sock with rice, corn or another grain and microwave it for 30 seconds to use as a heat source (use good judgement to make sure it’s not too hot – you’re trying to mimic the mother mouse’s body temperature). This will need to be rewarmed every couple of hours to maintain the warmth.

While the mouse is warming up, use to locate wildlife rehabilitators in your area who may be able to assist in raising the mouse. Leave messages with as many as possible because you may not get a return call for several hours or days. Orphaned mice are VERY difficult to raise and require feedings every 2-3 hours around the clock for several weeks. Rehabilitators are already equipped with the proper tools, formula and knowledge to properly rehabilitate orphaned wildlife but they are very busy and usually overloaded with animals to care for, so be prepared to transport your mouse to them.

After warming, the mouse needs to be hydrated within a few hours of being found. Plain Pedialyte is the best option, but you can also make your own makeshift hydration solution by dissolving 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water. The best tools for feeding mice are small syringes with pointed rubber nipples (example here), but you probably won’t have those on hand, so you can try dipping the tip of a tiny paintbrush in the fluid and allowing the mouse to lick it off. Get as much fluid into the mouse as you can (0.2-0.5 mL), every 2 hours for the first 4-6 hours.

Mice with their eyes closed need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate after each feeding/hydration session. Gently rub the genital area with a q-tip or tissue in a motion that mimics the mother mouse licking the area.  Moistening the q-tip in warm water may help.  Do this for about 10 seconds, and if no results, try again after feeding some more.  You may not see any poop for the first few times, but you should hopefully see a few drops of urine unless they’re very dehydrated.

If you are unable to locate a wildlife rehabilitator after multiple attempts:
Baby mice can’t go too long without being fed, so if you’re not able to locate a rehabber within about 6-8 hours of finding the babies, you will eventually need to transition them from the hydration solution to a suitable formula. After 2 feedings of the hydration formula, you can start to feed watered-down formula, gradually making the formula to water ratio stronger over the next 3-4 feedings (for example, start with 5 parts water to 1 part formula powder, then 4:1, then 3:1 and finally 2 parts water to 1 part formula powder). For babies under 1 week old, I like to keep the ratio at around 3:1 or 2. 5 parts water to 1 part formula so it's easier on their digestive systems. Acceptable formulas are: Goat’s Milk Esbilac Puppy Milk Replacer, Fox Valley brand formulas (20/50 squirrel formula; Puppy Formula), or if none of those are available, you can make homemade formula (3 tbsp goat’s milk, 3 tbsp plain yogurt, 2 tbsp heavy cream, 1/2 egg yolk. If you can't find goat’s milk, double the yogurt.) 

Powdered formulas are preferred because you can mix a fresh batch each day for the needed amount, in comparison with liquid formulas which must be used within three days. Please contact me for advice if you are having trouble locating suitable options. DO NOT FOLLOW OTHER ONLINE RECIPES FOR MIXING YOUR OWN FORMULAS WITHOUT GUIDANCE FROM A LICENSED REHABILITATOR – these can result in severe malnutrition and issues like bloat that can lead to death. 

Baby mice need to be fed as often as once every two hours depending how old they are. (This chart can help to estimate age.) This means that you must be prepared for some sleepless nights.  A good goal is to feed every 3 hours around the clock, and for the mouse to ingest between 0.3mL – 0.5mL per feeding (up until eyes open) and up to 1mL for eyes-open babies until they gradually wean at 3 weeks of age.

You can use the same method of dipping a tiny paintbrush into the formula and allowing the mouse to suck it off. However – this is a very difficult method of feeding small mice and usually results in the mouse not getting enough food at each feeding. Please try to order the proper syringes and small pointed nursing nipples for the best results. 

After warming formula, gently hold the mouse between your fingers, with your index finger near the head, ready to prevent it from lunging forward and falling. Carefully and consistently apply pressure to the syringe plunger to administer 1 drop at a time and ensure that the baby is suckling and swallowing the formula. 

TIP: Mice like their formula WARM and it cools very quickly in such a small syringe so it’s recommended to fill 2 syringes and have one sitting in a cup of hot water so you can swap back and forth regularly while the other one keeps warm.

Be careful not to allow any formula to enter their lungs. You can check this by observing that no milk is bubbling from their nose. If milk enters their lungs, aspiration pneumonia may occur. The best way to avoid this is to keep the mouse upright when feeding it, never allowing it to rest on its back. If you do see a bubble form, flip the baby to a head-down position to prevent any more liquid from entering its lungs and wipe the nose with a tissue to absorb any liquid.

Overfeeding is also dangerous and can lead to bloat. Check to ensure that they are well fed by the emergence of a white patch in the middle of their belly, a milk belly. This should recede before the next feeding.  If you are seeing a full milk belly when the time comes for the next feeding, wait an extra half hour, and water down the formula to a 50:50 water to formula ratio for one feeding.  If your mouse experiences diarrhea, it is also likely a result of being overfed.  If this happens, or if your mouse is looking bloated, it’s ok to substitute Pedialyte/electrolyte solution for one or two feedings until the condition resolves.

Make sure to gently massage your baby’s abdomen and rectal area after each feeding to assist food in moving through the digestive tract and to help the baby eliminate waste. It’s almost impossible to reverse the effects of bloat once too much formula has backed up in the digestive tract, and this can lead to a painful death.

Baby mice begin to open their eyes at around 10-12 days of age.  They may need a larger enclosure at this point (acrylic kritter keepers work well), but still keep using the heating pad on low under the nest portion of their tank.  At this point, you can begin to add some dry oats into their nest and they will start to nibble on these within 1-2 days. Once they start nibbling solids, they will no longer require a nightly feeding – they can last from midnight to 6am without formula.

You can start to introduce other soft solids like spinach and other greens, fruit and crushed nuts. At three weeks of age, the babies will also no longer require the syringe for feedings and may begin to feed from a dish (jar lids work well as shallow dishes). Gradually make the switch from the syringe to a dish by leaving a dish of formula available between meals and spacing out feeding times to every 4-5 hours.

You can begin integrating foods such as baby food, fresh fruits and veggies, seeds and commercial mouse foods. Make sure to add a shallow dish of fresh water.

Mice are often very messy eaters, so after they finish their meals, it will be necessary to clean them up and replace soiled cage bedding often.  Plain paper towels make for easy clean up when used to line the cage. Alternatively you can use an unscented shredded paper bedding made for rodents.

By this point, your babies will be getting more active so you can move them to a larger tank – a large acrylic kritter keeper or 10 gallon tank with a tight fitting screen lid are best.  A wheel for exercise and some places to hide and things to chew on are also good for enrichment.

Mice can be released at about 4 weeks of age – about 1 week after weaning. However, it’s often better to keep them for an extra week if possible to allow them to put on some more weight.  To begin acclimating for release, ensure that the weather is consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and that there are at least 3-4 days with no rain forecasted*. A suitable release location should be an area with plenty of underbrush for shelter and nearby food and water sources.

It’s good to move their cage outdoors in a protected area at least a full day before release so they can adjust to the outdoor smells and sounds. Secure the lid so no predators can intrude overnight.  Mice should be released at dusk since this is when they are most active.  Gently tilt the tank on its side and gradually open the screen cover.  Continue to place food and water at the release location for at least a week, if not longer, while they establish a nesting site nearby.

*If the mice are old enough for release but it’s too cold outside or if heading into the winter months, you may need to overwinter the mice until spring.   Please visit the Adult Mouse Care page for further instructions.

Peculiarities of caring for young animals. Mice

Special care for young animals

Mice develop rapidly, 6–7 days after birth, their body weight doubles, and the size of the body also increases. The sex of animals immediately after birth is difficult to distinguish, but females grow more slowly than males.

After 3-5 days after birth, the ears of ornamental mice open, hair begins to appear on the body. The eyes of mice open at the age of 14 days.

After two and a half weeks after birth, during the absence of the female, the cubs can be taken out of the nest for a while. In this way, you can check their health, as well as determine what gender they are. At the 3rd week of life, the animals get out of the nest and begin to feed on their own, eating, in addition to mother's milk, other types of feed. At this time, you can transplant offspring from the female. nine0003

In the first weeks of life, mice grow very quickly and in a month reach a weight of 11–12 g. Body length at this age is 6 cm, tail length is 5 cm. Depending on the diet and conditions of keeping, the body weight of animals may vary slightly.

The sex of decorative rodents is determined by external signs. In females, for example, nipples are visible from early childhood. In males, gender immediately after birth is almost not expressed - the testicles are not palpable, since in the first days of the animal's life they lie in the abdominal cavity, and descend into the scrotum only in the second week of life. nine0003

Decorative mice grow and develop much more slowly than, for example, voles and other wild mice. The cubs reach full development in a month, by this period they have puberty.

It is important to monitor the growth of the young. Regular weighing of animals helps to control this process. The length of the body is measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail using a centimeter tape. When carrying out these procedures, care must be taken in handling mice, to prevent their anxiety. nine0003

Comparing the measurement results with those given in Table. 6 indicators, we can conclude how correctly the development of animals occurs. An increase in body weight and size is an indicator of normal nutrition. In case of deviations, it is recommended to approach the diet of rodents more carefully.

Table 6

Weight of decorative mice depending on age

It is possible to separate cubs from their parents after the manifestation of their independence. Males and females can be kept together in a common cage until puberty. At this time, young animals should be fed in the same way as their parents, paying attention to the fact that the diet includes as much vitamin food as possible (sprouted wheat, fresh herbs, fish oil, etc.). nine0003

During lactation, it is recommended to include oatmeal, boiled or pasteurized milk and infant formula in the diet of lactating females. The same products can be given as complementary foods to mice from 3 weeks of age. After some time, other types of feed are gradually introduced into the diet of young animals: bran, milk, dried fruits, crushed grain mixture consisting of oatmeal, sunflower seeds, corn and peas. New types of food are given in small quantities so that the body of mice can gradually get used to them. Green and succulent foods should be introduced into their diet very carefully so as not to cause digestive upset. nine0003

In the event that females do not have milk, newborn mice are transferred to artificial nutrition. They are fed from a pipette with 26% dry milk (diluted at the rate of 2 tablespoons per 0.5 cups of warm water), 2-3 drops 6 times a day. After about 3 weeks, they are transferred to 5 meals a day, and after another 1.5–2 months - to 2 meals a day. Feeding is done 2 times a day, morning and evening.

Young animals should be given limited amounts of water during growth and development. nine0003

Both with natural and artificial feeding of rodents, it is necessary to regularly give them types of feed rich in vitamins and microelements.

When artificially feeding decorative mice, it is recommended to carefully observe sanitary and hygienic rules. Drinkers and pipettes should be washed and boiled before each use to prevent disease.

Already shortly after giving birth, the female mouse is capable of repeated fertilization, since at this time she has the so-called postpartum estrus. Therefore, during this period it is better not to allow the male to her, since pregnancy that occurs during the period of feeding the cubs can greatly weaken the body of the female. nine0012

As mentioned above, artificial feeding is a very difficult task, and many cubs, despite all human efforts, do not survive. One of the reasons for this may be that the baby was born very weak or artificial feeding began too late for him. Another common cause of death for motherless babies is inhalation of milk. In addition, mice can die from infection, since no food other than mother's milk contains antibodies that prevent viruses and bacteria that are harmful to health from entering the animals' body. nine0003

Grown-up mice

Caring for young animals, while observing the basic rules of keeping, does not require much effort, especially if the female takes care of the offspring and does not refuse to feed. In addition to regular weighing, you should also pay attention to the general condition and behavior of the mice. This allows you to timely identify deviations in physical development and correct them.

Young mice are especially shy and should be gradually accustomed to human presence. When examining and feeding, try to avoid sudden movements and loud noises. nine0003

This text is an introductory fragment.

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HELP! Mouse found. Need advice - 51 answers

On a sunny morning, Wednesday, November 7th, I decided to take a walk in the forest and collect the last mushrooms. She came to her favorite mushroom meadow and began to carefully peer at the leaves in the hope of seeing a brown cap. I didn’t have time to collect it in a frying pan and suddenly I see a gray, motionless lump lying on its side ... a tail in the blood and a nasty slug sits on its muzzle. Alive, I asked myself????? nine0003

I took a thick blade of grass lying nearby and pushed the slug off my muzzle. The mouse moved slightly. I realized that he was still alive, tiny, his eyes were still closed. Where is mom? Why is he lying alone in the blood in the cold? Maybe the dog ripped the hole?

I could not pass by, wrapped the mouse in a napkin and carried it home, not suspecting how difficult and how touching it is to take care of such crumbs :) Mi-mi-mi.

At home, I started looking for advice on the Internet on how to be, what to feed, while putting the baby in heat. After a while, it was noticeable how the mouse was breathing, then he began to tremble. I gave him a drop of fennel tea. I was not sure that the baby would live until the evening. Then she acted more professionally, as advised on the Internet: a heating pad, cotton wool, a mixture (tea with fennel, kondensmilch (a type of milk), bio soy milk and a little bit of children's cereal flakes). As well as tummy massages. The whole family was fed every 3-4 hours. Every night I set my alarm and get up for the night feed. nine0003

I was constantly worried, I ate little, I ate a lot, whether the poop is watery, why I didn’t poop, whether I’m doing everything right. I have never had pets and have no idea how to take care of them, especially babies. But the mouse was not going to die. Every day he became more active, began to sit, crawl and even lick himself. After a couple of days, we noticed how the mouse's ass had grown significantly))).😄 Can we feed? The husband is kidding, says that the mouse needs a diet. Calls fette Sau (fat pig). nine0003

On the fifth day of life, an important event took place at our house, which clarified the situation a little. During feeding, at 2 o'clock in the morning, the mouse opened its right eye, looked at me, closed it and continued to lick the syringe. Then I realized that the most difficult phase was in the past, and the chances of survival increased for the mouse))). And he is about 12-14 days old!

The kid began to run actively. Feeding has become more difficult, but more interesting. This is such tenderness, as the baby sniffs out "milk", greedily grabs the syringe and tries to massage the air with its front paws. 😂

Today the baby ran up to her husband's arm and got into his shirt pocket 🤣. The husband did not even have time to come to his senses, how quickly it happened.

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