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Cagemates for a spiny mouse

I was unsure if this should go in Behavior or in this subsection. I apologize if I chose the wrong one - I really wasn't sure.

I've recently adopted a singular spiny mouse. She had sat in a little family run pet store for months, and had been alone since the day she arrived.

Now home, her behavior hasn't changed much. Like she had at the store, she sits in the corner of her cage all day. I don't think I've ever really seen her move anything other than her head, unless she was running from my hand when I was spot cleaning / changing water and such.

I'm worried she may be depressed? She has a few toys, not many [I really need to get her more], but like I said before, I've never seen her touch them [as she hasn't moved in general].

As they're social, I would think a cagemate would help her out a bit. But, she was the only one at the pet store, and I've never seen another else where.

Would there be any other rodents she could live with?
I would be worried she would kill a regular mouse. My friend suggested a gerbil, but then I would be scared it would overpower and kill her.
And there's not much else as far as rodent selection around here. Just some hamsters, gerbils, feeder mice and rats.

So while I rambled quite a bit here - all I'm really asking is:
What other rodents [that I have access to; listed above ^] would she be able to live with, if any?


  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,327
    Hi. In all honestly, I would wait to hear from someone who is best placed to answer this because spiney mice are exotics and I`m sure I have read somewhere in the past, that they can be volatile against newcomers, so caution is definitely needed. I have a small animal magazine that has a feature on spiney mice, so I will get back to you later on and let you know what the magazine feature says. :)

    Use things like cardboard egg boxes with holes cut into the ends. These are chewable too and easily replaced toys. Don`t listen to everything you read online either as some information may be misleading.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    edited June 2017 Posts: 1,327
    Hello again. The magazine article is quite long, but there are a few snippets I will quote here relating to habitat and behaviours:

    Social Nature: Spiny mice can be kept in single sexed groups of males or females or as small breeding colonies. As they are such highly social animals though, so they should not be kept alone as they pine for company. (Your mouse may have always been alone though unless the pet store told you otherwise?)

    The article goes on....If you have a single spiny mouse, you usually have an unhappy single spiny mouse. I have known spiny mice to be kept successfully with various other species, including mongolian gerbils and they often appear to live happily with fancy mice too. I have kept many species of rodent over the years but spiny mice rank as one of my favourites. They are incredibly intelligent, entertaining and interesting to watch.

    Housing: These rodents must have space to move and climb about if they are to thrive. If they are housed in overcrowded conditions, this will often lead to fights and potentially, lead to the death of the lower ranking individual within the colony. They are therefor best housed in large aquaria, the size of which will depend on the number of animals you wish to keep. It quotes a tank size of 12 x 12 x 18 inches would be suitable for a colony of 6 to 8 individuals. That sounds on the small side to me but then, I`ve never kept spiny mice!

    Spiny mice do not dig, so they only require a shallow substrate so not the deep substrate sometimes required for gerbils or dwarf hamsters. A suitable sized solid rodent wheel is fine. Clay or earthenware pipes are good for hiding in and adding branches from fruit trees are appreciated for gnawing and climbing.

    Spiny mice are intolerant of heat and cold, so normal room temperature is fine, away from direct sunlight or draughts.

    Feeding: Their main diet should consist of a mixture of various types of seeds, nuts, grains and biscuits. A small amount of cooked meat, fish or insects such as mealworms need to be provided once or twice a week, as can small amounts of fruit and vegetables. They enjoy apple, beansprouts, grapes, rosehips, dates and figs.

    Each individual will take different things, so do not be afraid to experiment within reason. AVOID salted nuts, chocolate and coffee beans.

    Handling: Although these rodents are not easy animals to handle, because their spines can hurt! they can become extremely tame with some time and effort and patience. They will happily sit on your hand coming when called to take a tit bit from you. If yo need to lift a spiny mouse that is not tame, do so gently with cupped hands.

    Never lift up a spiny mouse by it`s tail as they are fast moving and can panic if they are suddenly disturbed, being prone to jumping which can be dangerous in a confined space.

    The above information was taken from a magazine called small furry pets: and the magazine edition was autumn 2012.

    Hope this helps a little. 

    I would still be wary of introducing gerbils to a spiny mouse as gerbils can de-clan even with other gerbils, so fancy mice, or `feeder mice` would probably be best. But you also need to look at the gender of your spiny mouse and research whether fancy mice females or a single male could live with your spiny mouse if it was female. If it`s a male, it may try to breed with the fancy mouse females or even fight with a single fancy male, so you need to look closely at this aspect. Even though people will say they can`t/won`t interbreed, I would make sure. Ideally, these mice should never be sold alone, but your mouse was obviously alone when it arrived at the store for some reason. If it is a female, I imagine a male fancy mouse or a few female fancy mice might be worth looking into. x
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    edited June 2017 Posts: 1,327
    This is an image of the magazine front page. Spiny mouse on the right of picture! Sorry if the image is small! Click on the image to enlarge.

    326 x 408 - 42K
  • SarahnashSarahnash Lemming
    Posts: 360
    Hi, I'd never heard of this mouse so I am no good at all. Just joining in to say hi and hope you can find her an appropriate friend. Other people here are very knowledgable in curries so you should get some good advice here. Where do you live?
    Mum to ratties Bosley, Ruby, Emily and Jean, Teddy the hamster and George the gerbil.
    Never forgotten - my lovely fancy mice Jill, Kate, Eve, Kris, Sabrina, Dylan, Kelly, Abby, Tiffany, Natalie and Alex and wild mice Harry and Wills and Charlie the gentle-man Rat.
  • smallbrownwolfsmallbrownwolf Lemming
    edited June 2017 Posts: 8
    Thanks for all the info! I've looked online for information about spiny mice, and honestly have found barely anything. So even the general info will be a great help.

    I have my reservations about introducing a regular mouse to her, as I've read elsewhere that spiny mice will kill and eat fancy mice. Though I'm also reconsidering a gerbil, which was my previous choice, due to differences in needs [tunneling vs climbing, mainly].

    At this time, it looks like a fancy mouse will be my choice, even with my fears of her harming it. Not sure if I should go with a male or female[s], though. My original thought was male, but then I'm worried she would be annoyed with him if he kept trying to breed, causing her to hurt him. But then, wouldn't a power struggle be more likely if I went with girls?

    Just really unsure what to do for her.

    Hello. I'm in Florida.

    I've got to say, this girl has got a wicked bite. She's got me three times now, once tonight, and wow, do they hurt.
    I'm a bit worried I'll be unable to hand tame her, as she's shown little progress. Of course, it's only been two or three weeks, so too early to give up. But she just doesn't seem like the type that will be tame.

    She's been very picky with her food and seems to be picking out only sunflower seeds and some... I don't know what they're called. Maybe some smaller seeds I'm unable to see the shells of, too, but I'm not sure.
    And it has got me worried, honestly. Very scared she isn't getting enough nutrition and will eventually die due to it. So I'm hoping I can switch her over to a block or such, if there's one appropriate for her.
    Also going to see about picking up some mealworms for her tomorrow.
    Once I've got her eating appropriately, I think I'll be able to relax a bit more.
    She's really just been a source of worry, haha.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,327
    Hello to sunny Florida! You have done a nice thing smallbrownwolf by taking this wee lady on, even though she does sound bitey, which is probably due to a number of things, but possibly because she`s just unsure and hasn`t been given proper patience and much handling in her past.

    It`s fair to say that most sites will say these mice are better with company and we all agree on that, but sometimes you have to look at all the issues introducing another species might result in fights, separate caging, different depths of substrate/habitat/outlay, diet varying and also the anxiety that can cause you.

    Introducing even fancy mice can be a hit and miss outcome and can take time and sometimes it never works even using all the correct protocols, so dealing with an exotic mouse brings more head scratching. It would have been better if she`d had a companion already, or you could have access to other spiny mice and taken advice from a breeder or a store who had an assistant who knew a bit about the mice they are selling. Chances are, this little lady could live perfectly okay on her own if given a good cage layout, fruit tree branches, climbing opportunities, a birds nest (sold for cages finches) with things around the cage/tank for her to discover like small berries, hanging millet (sold for caged birds) and just left to her own devices and you being there for her.

    Sunflower seeds on their own won`t give her a balanced diet, no. Mice generally will like a variety of millet seeds and the variety I mentioned above. Health food stores sometimes sell dried berries, supermarkets varieties of nuts, but stay away from almonds. Crushing some nuts up and scatter them in various places in her cage.

    What cage do you house her in at the moment? Is it something you can place branches in or is it just a regular hamster cage?
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,327
    Two spiny mice playing! This cage is far too small for these mice as they are climbers, so although they have wheels to run on, I would be looking to keep them in a larger cage with levels and branches or ramps.

    I think they would get bored pretty fast in such a cage.

  • SarahnashSarahnash Lemming
    Posts: 360
    I had a look at and she also has quite a lot about spiny mice. Their needs appear very different to other mice (I have had fancy mice), especially with regard to food, temperature and cleaning. From my very limited knowledge I could see why they may be 'grouped' with gerbils. Take a look?
    Mum to ratties Bosley, Ruby, Emily and Jean, Teddy the hamster and George the gerbil.
    Never forgotten - my lovely fancy mice Jill, Kate, Eve, Kris, Sabrina, Dylan, Kelly, Abby, Tiffany, Natalie and Alex and wild mice Harry and Wills and Charlie the gentle-man Rat.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    edited June 2017 Posts: 1,327
    I would be interested to know though, why gerbils make a good companion for spiny mice as gerbils are burrowing rodents while spiny mice are climbers and don`t `seem` to be on the same wavelength as gerbils. It would be interesting to find out how these pairings came about and whether they were just gung-ho notions by owners who experimented and got lucky, or whether attempting such pairings might result in frustration or worse, injury. I`m on the fence really but would only attempt such a thing myself if I knew someone who had (a) done it successfully and (b) I could live with the consequences of my actions if it went wrong.

    It`s a nice notion to think going out buying a few fancy mice or a lone gerbil will fix the problem, but I fear it`s a bit more complex than led to believe. It`s fair to say it has worked well for people who have attempted it, but realistically, we just can`t be sure what the outcome would be.
  • smallbrownwolfsmallbrownwolf Lemming
    edited June 2017 Posts: 8
    She was never handled at the store, other than myself when I went in, so she's very unused to people, understandably.
    As far as I know, she'd been there a couple months, possibly longer. She was full grown since she arrived, I think, as I don't think she's grown any.

    Yeah, I realize the trouble that will have to be gone through if another rodent is introduced to her. I could care for another separately if it didn't work out, so the main concern is injury to one or both of them.

    Not sure if I mentioned it in a prior reply or the main post, but I asked the man who sold her to me where she came from, if there was a breeder or something, and he told me he didn't know.
    And he didn't even know what she was. I asked him, cos at the start I didn't realize she was a spiny mouse [honestly didn't realize until I touched her back and went "OH"] - he said she was a "church mouse".

    I can definitely work on getting her some play things and such for her cage. But I might just get a new cage altogether.
    She's in a bin cage, which I previously thought was decently sized, but maybe not. It's 23 3/4 x 16 × 13 1/2


    I think I've looked on there before. I'll take another look again soon.


    I originally saw a video of a spiny mouse and a gerbil running around together on YouTube, which made me think they could possibly live together. Then, I'm not sure if I found a personal post or what, but I thought I saw somewhere that they had similar enough needs to be together. But I was likely mistaken. Maybe thinking of a different rodent.

    Honestly, she seems to be perking up a bit. She was out chewing on one of her blocks last night - but promptly ran away to hide in her tube once she saw me. So maybe she won't need company, perhaps she'll be just fine with some new toys.
    But still not 100% sure.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,327
    Given the store didn`t know what species she was, her actual age or much history on her (which is shocking really as they got her from someone/somewhere?!!) all you can do for her now is make her life enjoyable smallbrownwolf and if she was mine, I would be looking to create a habitat that isn`t large, but big enough for her to be able to explore upwards and outwards, as well as having a safe solid wheel. Cage-wise, maybe look for something that is easy for you to clean and access as well as providing her with enrichment, so either something with narrow bars, or a tank/style aquarium with a fine mesh lid that`s easy to lift on and off (rather than a sliding lid as these can make a noise). A tank will hold branches and you can also place a half shelf of untreated pine on stumps or just experiment. Have a look at habitats for harvest mice online as these can have branches, straw nests, hanging teats could set it up before moving her into it and also put in her existing shavings or nesting to make any new housing smell familiar to her.

     would love to have the chance of some mice again, not right now, but hopefully in the future. Spiny mice are not exactly available freely in the UK but I suppose it depends a lot on who breeds them and if any come up for sale or adoption. I can`t say I`ve seen any near me at all.
  • SarahnashSarahnash Lemming
    Posts: 360
    I mentioned the gerbil thing based on gerbils being from hotter climates- spinys need warmer environments, gerbils being drier animals - spinys need cleaning monthly only, they are subject to diabetes and have specific protein requirements ( but this I read via crittery). It wasn't that I knew they could co habit, 'twas just a conclusion. I agree, I wouldn't want to experiment. It sounds like she is coming around though smallbrownwolf, just maybe not ever a hands on pet. Lots of stuff to play and hide in needed I think :) any pictures?
    Mum to ratties Bosley, Ruby, Emily and Jean, Teddy the hamster and George the gerbil.
    Never forgotten - my lovely fancy mice Jill, Kate, Eve, Kris, Sabrina, Dylan, Kelly, Abby, Tiffany, Natalie and Alex and wild mice Harry and Wills and Charlie the gentle-man Rat.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,327
    I looked at a few tank/cage set up`s online yesterday and they varied between tanks and barred cages. So although there are reports that these mice chew, I don`t think they would be as destructive as multimammates for example. I would go for something not too high, but enough to allow for a branch or some driftwood pieces to allow for the climbing opportunities.

    How is she today?
  • smallbrownwolfsmallbrownwolf Lemming
    Posts: 8
    Been looking around online for cages and such, have compiled a small list of ones that might be decent? Unsure. Can make a post on that later on, if I need to.

    I wouldn't say spiny mice are common here, either. Before I got her, I did plan on owning some [though far off in the future - definitely did not expect to stumble upon her], so I did look around for breeders online and found nothing. She was the first one I've ever seen for sale, anywhere.

    She's doing alright. Same as always, really. Still not moving around much, still peering out at me from the hole she likes to hide in.
    Her wheel broke, somehow, so I'm going to have to get her a new one. I don't think she ever used it, though. Maybe it was too large? It was formerly for my Syrian hamster.

    Two pictures should be attached? They're from the day I put her into the bin cage.
    800 x 600 - 80K
    800 x 600 - 98K
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,327
    She`s lovely. :\"> I`m sure she would become more active with a cage that had branches and things to climb on and hide in. It`s not your fault that there are no spiny mice around, that`s not unusual because when people keep exotic species, you often find they are bred for a `niche` market and not or pet stores generally.

    If she responds to your voice, maybe sit by the cage for half an hour when she`s active and just yap away! Put a TV or a radio/CD on low volume in the background as sometimes having some audio on low rather than complete silence helps. Being in a completely silent room might not help her to hear other sounds when you are not there.
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