This is a question a lot of mice owners ask – how much space does a mouse need? The short and simple answer is, as much as possible. The more space the better. But there are some guidelines to follow to ensure you mice have enough space to explore, exercise and be happy.
Mice Cage Calculator
Here is a look at some rough measurements and the volume of the cage or tank in gallons. You will notice that each additional mouse needs an extra five gallons of space after you have reached the capacity for the first three.
Gallons Floor Space # of Mice
5 16″ x 10″ 1
10 20″ x 10″ 3
15 24″ x 12″ 4
20 30″ x 12″ 5
25 36″ x 18″ 6
The floor space is always estimated on the base of the cage. While shelves and platforms are helpful and give mice other places to explore and hang out, you can’t use shelves in the calculation.
The easy way to look at a living area is that it can’t be too big. Sure, it might be too big for you and your living space, and that’s something you need to look at. But the above guidelines are minimum requirements for mice and their own living quarters inside a cage or a tank.
Here are the kinds of housing options available and how to maximize the space and living conditions for your mice.
Aquariums and Tanks
Aquariums are usually glass constructions, or sometimes plexiglass. You should ensure you have a good fitting lid so there is no chance of the mice escaping. While still allowing plenty of airflow.
The minimum size should be 16″ x 10″ (L x W). The height isn’t as important. There should always be enough room for a wheel to stand for exercise, additional shelves are a bonus.
Mice are happier living in groups. There are exceptions if you have an aggressive male, or mating issues, but these are separate circumstances that need to be dealt with appropriately.
In line with the above guidelines, tanks should offer the following space:
- 10 gallon volume – 1-3 Mice
- 15 gallon volume – 4 Mice
- 20 gallon volume – 5 Mice, and so on.
Pros of Aquariums and Tanks
- Hard to escape from
- Looks great and has good visibility inside
- Keeps mice safe from other pets
- Bedding and other bits can’t cause a mess outside of the tank
Cons of Aquariums and Tanks
- Requires good ventilation through lid
- They are heavy and difficult to move and clean out
- They have potential to crack
Wire cages are the most common form of housing. Unfortunately too many people fall into the trap of using a cage that’s too small. A lot of cages aren’t designed with mice in mind either. They are generic in construction for any household pets.
There are a few things to be aware of when buying a wire cage for mice to live in, always check the following:
- How big is the door that opens to get your hand into the cage?
- Are the bars close enough together than a tiny mouse cannot squeeze through?
- Is the overall volume of space enough to accommodate the amount of mice you have per the outline above?
- Are any ramps and platforms fixed solid and not chewable?
Pros of Wire Cages
- Plenty of ventilation
- Usually have shelves and platforms to play on and climb
- Easy to kit out with other furnishings and toys
- Easy to move and clean out
Cons of Wire Cages
- Cage bars can sometimes be bent or chewed on and provide an escape opportunity
- Children and other pets can frighten the mice through the bars
- Bedding and food can get thrown out and cause a mess outside the cage
- Look at the Space outside Their Space
Having a mouse, or mice happy with their living space is the first consideration. Next you need to find a suitable place in your home. To find somewhere safe where your mice will be happy, I suggest looking at the following:
- Mice are nocturnal, so find somewhere that a little noise will not disturb during the night
- Find a spot that is free from drafts or lots of foot traffic with people passing by
- Choose somewhere quiet, and especially somewhere that will not have loud and sudden noise
- Mice are sensitive to bright light, so a spot with natural, indirect light is best
- The home needs to be somewhere easy for you to interact with them