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Won't be keeping male mice together again..

zany_toonzany_toon Mouse
edited August 2017 in Health
This is a bit of a long one, but I promise there is a really strong reason for me wanting to post this in so much detail, and a big part of this is as a warning to anyone who ever wants to keep male mice together. As many of you know, I've been keeping mice together for a good few years now (8 and a half years) and over that time have kept numerous groups of males - of varying sizes - together with lots of success. The groups that couldn't be kept together were separated early one with little more than a few bite marks at the worse as a sign that things weren't working out - just about everyone I speak to mice about has always went by the adage "No blood, no foul" when it comes to mice.

When Laura the vet started neutering I would get the males who fought neutered, then started getting all my males neutered early on so that they could continue to enjoy one another's company. Recently, Laura the vet left and although the other vets said they could still neuter, I opted against it for my future mice as they warned me that it would be a "learning curve" for them to operate on any mice (apparently none of them ever helped out when my mice were being operated on and had left Laura to it - they said she had lost "dozens" of her own mice when she started out operating on them and said it would be likely they would face similar problems until they worked out how best to deal with them under anaesthetic.) I know they would have been careful regardless of the animal but I didn't want to take the chance.

A few months ago I got a little group of 4 male mice, all youngsters under 8 weeks old. One (Figaro) turned out to be a major bully towards one boy in particular (Ares) and I separated him when the squabbles started escalating, exactly as I always had done in the past. The three remaining boys (Ares, Whiskers and Dobby) I left together and only saw the odd bit of squabbling over bits of food, nothing to be worried about. Then I came home from work and was heading to bed when I found that Ares has been attacked by Whiskers (Dobby was curled up with Ares when I found him and Ares was running off whenever Whiskers moved, no way it wasn't him)- it's one of the worst things I've ever seen. Ares had had his scrotum bitten into in such a way that one of his testicles has been pulled out from under the skin. I separated them immediately and rushed him to the vets, Ares was taken in for an emergency castration and died under anaesthetic. The vets say the damage was significant and it looked like there was chewing to the base of the testicle, his penis had significant wounds and there was no way of knowing how much other damage there was internally, then of course there was them not having any experience in operating on mice to boot. So my beautiful little Ares, who wasn't even a full 3 months old, was gone.

So yeah, I'm sorry that was so long. It happened a few weeks ago and to be honest I was so devastated that I couldn't bear to even come on the forum to warn anyone else wanting to keep males together. But I really know male mice, really know them - I think around 85% of all the mice I have had in my time of keeping them (which numbers into at least a couple of hundred) have been male. I've never, ever seen an odd squabble (and I do mean odd, I only heard them two or three times in the course of the week the three of them were left together) over food escalate to a major wound. And I've never seen a wound like this. I hope I never do again. I love my mice so much, and there is something about male groups that is very special, they become so much closer to their cage mates than the girls I've had ever do, but it's not worth that risk. Apparently knowing how to read male mice wasn't enough, and my poor Ares suffered a painful death because of it. The vets kept saying it was sheer fluke that a bite could result in an injury like that, but it's not worth taking the chance that anything like that could ever happen again. So the group of 9 neutered males I have will be the last all male group I will ever have, because it's either keep whole males together knowing that this (or worse) could happen again, or get them neutered when the vets have said it's highly likely that I will end up losing most of the ones I put in to be operated on at least until they figure out the best way to neuter.

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Comments

  • AnnBAnnB Mouse
    Posts: 994

    What a terrible thing to come home and find, Rozlynne. You've always done really well to keep boys together and I've never known anyone try to understand Mouse behaviour and health issues like you have.

    In the world of statistics, I guess there was a high probability that something like this could happen but think of how many male Mice you have given the chance of a wonderful life that wouldn't have otherwise had a hope.

    I too, wonder how on earth I will cope if my vet ever leaves but before he neutered mice for me, he'd never neutered one before and he's had 100% success so far (so it's worth trusting in a good vet) but we mustn't forget that it isn't without risk.

  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,267
    I totally agree Roz. When I stared keeping mice, I was nieve taking on four young male brothers not really giving things much thought beforehand as I`d only had the one single male before that. I was too excited to have them. But eventually, the sparks flew after months of harmony and Oddy and Chalky were in a stand off. One on top of a shelf, the other on the ground floor, tail rattling, the lot. The last thing I wanted was to have to split these boys, but when we see the outcome of such pairings, it`s that risk factor that decides the action. I managed to keep the other two brothers together (both black & tan) and both wonderful natures, unlike Chalky & Oddy who seemed to be like chalk and cheese. 

    My advice (as if you need it!) would be to keep your remaining boys as happy as they can be and only keep females in the one group, only adding to them if and when you have losses. That`s what I did and it worked well. I missed the male mice hugely though, but my decision to go with four or five females was in the end, justified. 

    You have been through some tough times with your males Roz but accidents and tragedies happen and learning from them and admitting change is required is the best step forward. x
  • NickyNicky Mouse
    Posts: 820
    Really sorry to hear you had this horrible experience and very very sorry you lost Ares .
  • KawaiiKawaii Lemming
    Posts: 256
    This was heartbreaking to read - I think it's a tragic fact that very few vets know how to handle small furries under anaesthetic, I'm lucky that there are two vets in the surgery I use who are 'skilled' in small animals - one of them used to keep guinea pigs, and the other owns rabbits, rats, and guinea pigs currently with past experience owning a myriad of others - but I have no idea what I'd do if they left. 

    I'm also lucky that I don't keep the rodents that need to be neutered for behavioural reasons; one the chinchillas is neutered, but he's the only rodent of mine that is, and he was castrated at the rescue I got him from. Despite their obvious small animal expertise I'm still not sure I'd trust any 'normal' small animal vet with on of my chinchillas frankly, though possibly if they were an exotics vet - have you looked into exotics practices for your mice? 
    The line between 'small' and 'exotic' with mammals is a bit blurred, but it tends to cover anything from a guinea pig down, so maybe it might be worth asking round and see if there are any local to you with mouse experience? x 

    Proud owner of 2 chinchillas and a dwarf hamster

    (chins for the win!)

     If I'm not active I have probably forgotten my password (again)....

  • SarahnashSarahnash Lemming
    Posts: 342
    So sorry to hear about your loss and your experience. A terrible thing for you and your boys. Poor Ares.
    Mum to rattie boys Charlie and Bosley and Teddy the hamster.
    Never forgotten - my lovely fancy mice Jill, Kate, Eve, Kris, Sabrina, Dylan, Kelly, Abby, Tiffany, Natalie and Alex and wild mice Harry and Wills
  • SummergirlSummergirl Lemming
    Posts: 46
    I have been reading all this! I have 11 5- weeks-old boys and 9 girls. I took them all to the vet to be separated last week. The girls are divided into 2 bin cages, and happy. I have bought and prepared 11 small bin cages for the boys. I will have boys all lined up in my closet with a wheel each and little houses I have made. This is crazy, but I won't let them go the the pet shops here who throw them all together and sell as snake food.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,267
    Well done Summergirl. 11 lads to care for separately can be time consuming, but that`s the compromise here. Have them single and happy in their own little space, or have them endure uncertainty in the hands of strangers. Did your females have babies? How did you end up with all those meecers!  X(
  • SummergirlSummergirl Lemming
    Posts: 46
    Well, how it happened. I had an old girl, whose last roommate passed away. So I went to the pet store to get her 2 new friends. At the store, they had two cages with about 50 mice in each cage, climbing over each other. They had not separated the boys from the girls either. I felt so sorry for them. I read the instructions to the help there, "feed one small mouse to the snake per week".  So, I rescued two supposedly females from such a future. I was told they were not pregnant. I brought them home and the old girl bonded with them immediately. (I think she knew something I didn't know!) That was July 10. By July 25 I had two sets of babies, ten each. I had fed the pregnant girls well with everything I learned, and the babies were all born healthy and beautiful. Only one runt, who by the way, is still doing fine. I have rehomed one little boy and  his family loves him. They sent me pictures of him. They named him Stuant Little. Now, I hope I can find great homes for each boy, maybe keep one or two since I have never had boys. I live in Lake Worth, Florida, if anyone lives near and wants one boy, or some girls. I also have three older girls, and a Syrian hamster.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,267
    Well you certainly did a good thing when you got two of the mice out of that feeder tank. Shame the genders were not what you expected but hey, who cares now eh?  ;)) The babies will have a better life as a consequence. Tiny nipples can be seen on females neat the underbelly nearest the tail. I used to see them if my girls reached upwards, but it`s not always easy to see nipples unless you use a magnifying glass! Always handy a magnifying glass! 
  • SummergirlSummergirl Lemming
    Posts: 46
    Oh, I knew I bought two girls, but didn't know they were already pregnant.  I tried to sex the young twice, but didn't trust my analysis, so I took them to a vert and got it done. She only charged $17 for the visit and sexing 20 mice.
    I now have 11 separated boys. My question is: Are they lonely? I certainly can't play with them all. It takes 2 hours morning and night to feed all of them and clean their wheels. I am not complaining. I love them all. I just worry that the little boys will be sad. The girls are frolicking all evening and night, but they have each other.  Tonight, I am shredding every paper thing in the house to make enough shreds for cage changes!
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,267
    It`s always difficult to determine whether they require lots of hands on attention or just small handling sessions each if you have a lot to do. I got very close to the single males I had especially as they aged and they wanted to come out, sit in the corner of my arm while I sat on the laptop or just wanted to be with me rather than be in their own cage. So I suppose it all comes down to time and commitment really. Some mice prefer their own company while others will seek you out. I can`t keep any small rodents right now due to ongoing pain problems I have and having what I call a separation anxiety when it comes to leaving them alone when I have to be somewhere else. Combining them together when life generally won`t sit still is difficult these days and although I have quality time right now, I don`t have the pain free energy that I used to have and find some days that my pain escalates so much that I can`t commit to pet ownership the way I would want to, especially as I get very close to any pets that I own and probably let their little hearts rule my head!

    You are doing the necessary tasks Summergirl and providing the mice with some of the time that you can spare is better than none at all. Mice get used to routine, so morning and evening are good times to interact, but unlike hamsters, mice don`t sleep all day! 
  • SummergirlSummergirl Lemming
    Posts: 46
    All 15 cages have wheels, water bottles, and little houses that I made out of cardboard, popsicle sticks, and Jenga blocks. The big girl cages have two wheels. All the wheels get cleaned every day, and I check all the water bottles to make sure they are working. They all come out to see me and are so sweet. They all look healthy and eat well.  I feed them a seed mixture, Sunseed hamster food (the protein percent isn't too high), nuggets, a spoonful of chopped fresh vegetables, pecans and walnuts, and a tiny bit of babyfood oatmeal. Also, a tiny bit of babyfood chicken every other day. Hopefully, we won't get a hurricane!  Thank you for your kind words and helpful suggestions. I love this website!
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,267
    As for cleaning, it`s not really necessary to do full cage cleans as mice (and hamsters!) like to retain their scent, especially males or they tend to scent more if their skunky smell is reduced! I used to do spot cleans all the time personally and just replenish handfuls of the substrate where it looked soiled and wiped down the bars and other parts of the cage with wetted kitchen towel. I also never used pet cleaning sprays either as I find these can cause respiratory problems due to their strong scent. Imagine those little nostrils having to breath in what we consider strong? That`s why I never used them. Only really useful when disinfecting wheels away from the cage and then rinse it off with hot water. 

    Florida has terrible storms sometimes, how do you guys cope with that? Texas has had such a hellish time recently and I hope everyone and their animals are safe. 
  • SummergirlSummergirl Lemming
    Posts: 46
    We have been very fortunate that we haven't gotten any hurricanes here since 2004, and those weren't a direct hit. We did lose power though for about 2 weeks. It was dreadfully hot without the air conditioning! At the time, I had 17 baby hamsters, a relative's cat, and a friend's 5 birds, and 4 adults, all in my one bedroom apartment during the storm.. Battery operated fans were a blessing. Bottled water and canned food and a sterno stove. It all worked out. We took no damage.
    The cat, at the time, belonged to my elderly aunt and she could smell on the delicious "prospects" for a tasty treat and literally threw herself at my closed bedroom door. (That cat is now 17 years old!).
    But Texas' situation is a very different story.  I pray for them.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,267
    Yes, it`s always good to have emergency plans and supplies in when you know you live in a zone that can be hit by extreme weather. Here in Scotland we get strong winds in the wintertime sometimes reaching 100 miles an hour, but thankfully those blow themselves out and the storms in the UK as a whole are usually short lived, but they can cause structural damage and flooding which is cruel. It`s the animals I feel for more when they are left to their own devices in such extremes and they are wandering around without anyone to help. So sad. 
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,267
    Summergirl, I hope you are okay in Florida with all that`s going on with the terrible hurricane hits going on right now? Let us know that you are safe. x
  • SummergirlSummergirl Lemming
    Posts: 46
    Just watching and waiting to see where it is going and how bad it will be. We have shutters on the front and back. Let you know.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,267
    I`m in Scotland Summergirl and watching the news closely. I really do hope it slows down before it reaches you. Take cover and all the best. x 
  • SarahnashSarahnash Lemming
    Posts: 342
    Wow Summergirl what a good thing you did rescuing those girls and now you have a big family! Although you cannot play with all the boys I think the interaction you have during your 'chores' will give them interest.
    I also cleaned my girls wheels twice daily in their early life but found it wasn't necessary as they got older.
    Perhaps that is a chore you don't need to do every day for the boys which might give you more time to spend with them?
    I too hope you stay ok and safe with these coming hurricanes. Did you stay or evacuate?
    Mum to rattie boys Charlie and Bosley and Teddy the hamster.
    Never forgotten - my lovely fancy mice Jill, Kate, Eve, Kris, Sabrina, Dylan, Kelly, Abby, Tiffany, Natalie and Alex and wild mice Harry and Wills
  • SummergirlSummergirl Lemming
    Posts: 46
    We are prepared as possible. Yes, we are staying. The storm, as it is going through Cuba, is turning a bit west, so we may not get it as hard, as we are east south Florida. Our condo is concrete block and built in the 1970's, so should be pretty sturdy. Water might seep in. I will elevate the cages. It should be over by Monday. Power outages will be tough, as mice aren't able to take the heat. I have little fans....let you know as soon as I am able.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,267
    Hold tight Summergirl. I think flooding is likely in low lying areas and hopefully your area will get through this okay. You don`t need this right now. Thinking about Florida right now and wish everyone well. x 
  • SummergirlSummergirl Lemming
    Posts: 46
    The storm has passed and we are fine. We didn't even lose power here. All my little critters survived as well. We were blessed. Thank you all for your concern and encouragement.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,267
    =D>  So pleased you guys are okay. x
  • SarahnashSarahnash Lemming
    Posts: 342
    Hey Summergirl that's good to hear! I thought of you when watching the news. I saw evacuated people in large rooms some with dog and cat carriers and wondered. Glad they took their animals.
    Ps it's a bit windy here (joke)
    Mum to rattie boys Charlie and Bosley and Teddy the hamster.
    Never forgotten - my lovely fancy mice Jill, Kate, Eve, Kris, Sabrina, Dylan, Kelly, Abby, Tiffany, Natalie and Alex and wild mice Harry and Wills
  • AnnBAnnB Mouse
    Posts: 994
    Thank goodness you and your little critters are alright, Summergirl. Must have been a worrying time and I really feel for those who have lost their homes.
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