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Agressive African Pygmy Mouse

Hi all, newcomer here.

I acquired three African Pygmy Mice several months ago which I named Noodle, Chickpea and Butterbean. From the start it was quite clear Noodle was very dominant and picked on Butterbean who was very small and frail, but I never saw any blood being drawn so kept an eye on them and hoped it would settle down.

After a while it seemed to but then Butterbean started acting strangely and keeping away from the others. A few days after this I sadly found her dead. I didn't know what caused it but thought perhaps she had been ill and had isolated herself because of this.

A month later Chickpea is doing exactly the same thing. This time I managed to catch her in a glass jar and take a look. She's got what looks like a wound on her throat. Now I'm worried that Butterbean was killed by Noodle and Chickpea is in danger. I will probably separate them, but they're very social animals and I worry that doing that will leave them both depressed. Up until now as a pair they've been fine, always sleeping together and grooming one another.

At a loss here. Advice would be greatly appreciated!

Comments

  • AnnBAnnB Mouse
    Posts: 911

    Hi and welcome to the forum.

    I don't know anything about African Pygmy Mice unfortunately, hopefully Crittery will see this and be able to offer some advice.

  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,150
    Same here. I`ve only kept fancy mice but these exotic types can be more prone to attack one another even though many people will say they need to live in pairs/small groups. I would look at this as a separation scenario if you see them not sleeping together or tolerating one another. Little frictions like being territorial or the more dominant animal picking up weakness from the other can cause them to act on that weakness and try more to dominate.

    It`s a shame these things happen and only the mice know why it happens. If both mice are the same size, then they are usually equally matched, but size doesn`t always mean strength.

    One solution might be getting a larger cage/tank and making a fine mesh panel to spate them where they can still see and smell one another but without being able to attack? cage splitting is used with gerbils sometimes when they de-clan or a baby is being introduced to an adult male.

    Please let us know how they are and if you find a solution. But don`t hesitate to separate if you think Chickpea is in any danger from Noodle.
  • AthiriAthiri Lemming
    Posts: 12
    The tank they've got is huge for two tiny mice! This is the set up. I think a panel would be a good solution though. Is there any particular place that would sell mesh panels?
    FB_IMG_1483966305236.jpg
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  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    edited January 9 Posts: 1,150
    DIY stores. Are you in the UK? If not, you can look in your area for DIY stores that sell household wares and building supplies. You would need to look at making a wooden frame and then have a sheet of the mesh on either side, so that there was a `gap` between the mesh panels. This would be better than just a single sheet as the mice could still bite through a single sheet.

    Google search for `gerbil tank cage splitter` or `how to make a cage splitter`. Maybe look on YouTube too for some ideas, although some may be basic and not constructed well, so look for a good tutorial using proper materials and skills. The whole point of a plitter is to prevent the animals moving it or being able to get around gaps or holes!

    Nice tank.  
    :)
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,150
    Found this.Just to give you an idea although the tank used in this video is way smaller than I would use, but given you have a larger style tank, you may be able to construct something similar but without the same strength as tiny mice don`t have the same bulldozing strength as a determined gerbil!

    The video directly after this also shows another style of metal grid. Cure gerbils too!

  • AthiriAthiri Lemming
    Posts: 12
    Thanks, I am indeed in the UK. Not terribly confident in my DIY skills but I'll investigate materials and give it a good go!
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,150
    Maybe another tank would be the easiest answer! If you do need to separate them, that is.
  • AthiriAthiri Lemming
    Posts: 12
    At the moment they're in seperate tanks but Noodle's one isn't big enough to use long term and I worry how it will affect them being isolated. I'd get more APMs for Chickpea to be with (if I could find any!) but with Noodle I'm not sure I want to risk it again. But I think if I can manage to split the cage at least they'd can smell and see each other.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,150
    Good luck with that project. I`m sure it will be worth the effort. It`s sad that they end up falling out. I`ve had this happen with gerbils before and it`s a frustration when you want them to stay together forever. I`m sure little Chickpea will be safer not being attacked now though if that`s what was happening. Better to keep them apart for now than risk worse injury.
  • AthiriAthiri Lemming
    Posts: 12
    Just to update: I think the mark on her neck was self-inflicted. Over the last few days Chickpea started getting better and then yesterday when I got home she was really bad, all hunched up with her eyes barely open. Took her to the vet who thought it might be an infection. Have her antibiotics but when I went to bed she was lying down and her breath was very rapid. She passed away in the night. I'm thinking now perhaps it was a respiratory infection and she scratched her neck because it was irritating her.

    Now Noodle is all alone and I have no idea what to do about that.
  • AnnBAnnB Mouse
    Posts: 911

    I'm so sorry. Rest in peace little Chickpea.

    I wish I knew something about African Pygmy Mice so I could give you some advice. All I can suggest is that you don't rush into getting any more if it is an infection, as you won't want Noodle to pass it on. Can you rule out a wild mouse getting into the cage and harming Chickpea?

    Crittery (forum admin) has her own website so you may be able to contact her directly for some advice. http://www.crittery.co.uk/ 

  • AthiriAthiri Lemming
    Posts: 12
    Thanks for your advice. Definitely no way a wild mouse got in, it's a tank with only very small ventilation holes on the sides and a fine mesh top. I'd like to get Noodle some more friends now that it seems she didn't harm the others, but you're right it would be best not to right now as she could pass on an infection.

    I appreciate your speciality isn't pygmy mice, but would there be a particular time period to wait before I would know a mouse is not infected? I'll keep a close eye on her and if she shows any signs I'll be taking her straight to the vet.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,150
    I wonder though if the vet just suspected the wound she had was self inflicted due to scratching? If you are not watching them 24/7 (as none of us can) I would still have some suspicion that the mouse who has survived out of the original three could still be the culprit. Mouse bites can cause terrible stress, but usually when they are not getting on and a fight ensues, you would see a lot of chasing (very fast chasing) and attacking going on.

    I was interested in some harvest mice at one stage (can`t find any near me anyway) but reading up about them, I wasn`t convinced that they co-habited well without fighting. The bullying can be hidden in some ways too that we can`t see or feel.

    I`m so sorry for your loss Athiri. It`s really sad. I would advise talking to people who breed these mice and have more knowledge of their habitation and behaviours before looking for more. I know it`s tempting to look, I would be the same, but thinking ahead, yo need to be sure you wouldn`t be setting up another failure for yourself or the mice. Noodle will possibly be fine alone, but if you can get that extra advice from the right person, I`m sure it would help.
    :(
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    edited January 17 Posts: 1,150
    Found this YouTube video. Very cute, but for observation purposes, you do get the impression that these mice are territorial and you can see a few of them chasing and jumping away when another mouse approaches, as if it `knows it`s place`. Now if this is a breeding colony, it could me males and females in there. Soon enough in the footage, you can see that typical `get off my back`....`this is MY wheel not yours!`....just typical behaviours that can escalate.



  • AthiriAthiri Lemming
    Posts: 12
    Yeah one of the reasons I chose APMs over harvest mice was it sounded like there was a lot less aggression when I researched them, but I suppose I won't ever know for sure if it was Noodle so it might be best to keep her alone. I just feel like a bit of a failure! I've kept fancy mice and wood mice and never had an issue with aggression before so it's possible I didn't pick up on any signs.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    edited January 18 Posts: 1,150
    We read online that these mice are best kept in pairs or groups because they are social, but we also forget that these are captive animals and not living the same as they would in a wild environment and many dwarf hamsters owners make the same mistakes thinking a pair or trio of Roborovski or Russian dwarfs will be happy living together when most of them nearly always require separation. This isn`t the fault of the owner, but a clash of hostility within the limited space they have and the dynamics of the group in general.

    How is Noodle doing alone?
  • AnnBAnnB Mouse
    Posts: 911

    I would be tempted to monitor Noodle for three or four weeks before attempting to introduce any new mice.

    Racingmouse has mentioned the wound possibly being self inflicted due to scratching, and this may not be because of a respiratory infection but could be due to mites. I've kept over 50 Fancy Mice and never have I known a mouse to inflict a wound on its throat due to a respiratory infection (although I have seen a mouse rub fur from around its eyes when its had an infection). What I have seen on a few occasions is a mouse develop an OCD scratching behaviour and many of us on the forum have spent hours trying to work out the possible cause/s. One such cause that I have researched starts with a mouse scratching due to a mite infestation but then also developing a fungal infection (ringworm) where the skin has been punctured. The mouse scratches all the more, causing huge sore patches and you then need to treat for both the mites and the fungal infection. On top of that, you need to hoover regularly and possibly use a mite spray on the whole house (being careful not to poison any pets).

    So, welcome to the complexities of mouse ownership. If I were you, because two of your mice have died in similar circumstances and presumably they were not elderly, I would start to examine all possible causes.

    Were your mice male or female, could two males have been fighting over one female? Did an infection develop purely because they had open wounds?

    Did they show any signs of infection before the wounds developed? Any clicking noises, ruffled fur, hunched posture? Do you have other pets that could pass on an infection?

    Examine bedding and diet for possible causes.

    If you still have access to the person you got the mice from, might be worth having a chat with them.

  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,150
    It`s a shame these and other more exotic types of mouse can`t live in small groups without problems occurring. I would have loved a group myself just to enjoy and to have my passion for keeping mice again, but it seems all too often these problems come up and I don`t keep well due to chronic pain so I`m not in a position now to be making cage screens and splits or finding space for extra tanks/cages. Looking at that video, they could be so much fun otherwise.
  • AthiriAthiri Lemming
    Posts: 12
    It was difficult to exam her but the wound did not look open, it looked more like a patch of fur missing. She was rubbing her eye and scratching at the neck area quite a bit. She was also hunched up quite a bit towards the end, fur looked ruffled. I have no other pets and they were both female. Absolutely nothing changed or was introduced to the cage.

    I will definitely be keeping a close eye on Noodle. She's doing okay so far I think. I've been trying to keep her stimulated by hanging up different veggies so she has to climb to get them. Might see if any reptile shops will let me buy single insects at a time as apparently they enjoy catching them but I can't get a whole tub as she'd never get through them all!

    She did seem a lot more interested in me yesterday and was coming to the front of the cage when I called her which might mean she's lonely as she's never showed any interest in me before (the other two were much more friendly).
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,150
    That`s good that she seems interested and stimulated by your interventions. :) Are these mice like Harvest mice and like shooting up tree branches or hanging from suspended millet spray? I know it must feel awful to see Noodle alone now having lost two sisters or female companions, but as Ann said earlier, it could be high risk to introduce more into what she will see as her territory. Definitely something for the advanced breeder to give advice on I would say rather than just go with what others say online. Some online advice can be very good, some not so and actually harmful. So research is needed.
  • AthiriAthiri Lemming
    Posts: 12
    Thanks, they're not quite as agile climbers as harvest mice but they do enjoy clambering around and investigating.

    APMs are so rare right now it will probably be a good while before there are any more available near me, so plenty of time to seek advice from an experienced owner. If it does turn out she has to be alone I'll give her a good life and hopefully she'll bond with me a bit more.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,150
    That`s all you can do under the circumstances Athiri. Her natural curiosity will be enough for her to enjoy your attentions and enjoy her. It can be the same when keeping fancy mice and two die and one is left alone for a time, although female fancy mice are that bit easier to understand in terms of compatibility and co-habitation.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,150
    How is Noodle getting on Athiri?
  • AthiriAthiri Lemming
    Posts: 12
    Sorry for the late reply, she's been okay. I haven't seen her much. She seems just as uninterested in me as before but seems healthy.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    edited February 3 Posts: 1,150
    That`s good that she`s doing her own thing now. As long as she`s got a cage layout that`s interesting for her and she`s enjoying life, that`s the main thing. Does she acknowledge you if you sit by the tank or speak to her? Or is she the kind that prefers to run and hide?
  • AthiriAthiri Lemming
    Posts: 12
    If she's out and about she'll look in my direction and sniff the air for a little while when I speak to her, and very very occasionally she'll move closer, but if she's in one of her tunnels or houses she won't come out even when I leave a treat for her. It's frustrating when the others were completely different.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,150
    She may have been the bully instigator in the demise of your other two mice mainly because she`s more nervous or unwilling to share. Just a possibility. She will be content now having the tank to herself and hopefully you enjoy just watching her antics!
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