It is a question a lot of people ask in the pet store before taking mice home, or online after the own them – Do pet mice need company?
Well there are a few different things to take into consideration here. When buying a pet, keeping it in a cage and looking after it, you have to think about how that pet would be behaving in the wild. It is usually best to try and replicate its natural habitat and social activity.
Then we need to look at what has been proven to best suit them in captivity. Mice have been kept as pets for many years, and there is a lot of information about what works best for them. As the owner of any pet, it is your responsibility to make sure they have the best life possible.
In the wild mice are very territorial animals. Typically the male mouse has a larger area that he will patrol everyday. The female has a much smaller area, but is still very active. The area belonging to the female will often be within the males area. The hierarchy works by males owning a large area, with one female inside their area. Additional females are not welcome, but males can stay into other areas with different female mice.
Males typically behave socially towards female mice they come across. Coming across other males is a different story however. They will often be aggressive, fighting over territory or the favor of females. Females can be very territorial too, chasing off other mice entering an area they believe to be theirs is not uncommon.
Mouse Behavior in Captivity
Mice kept in captivity (known as fancy mice) have adapted and changed their behavior over the years. They are kept as casual household pets, for show purposes, and for breeding. Anyone who has tried or has caught a wild mouse will notice immediately that fancy mice are a lot more tame.
Wild mice do not like being caught, hence there is a huge industry targeted at methods to catch them. Fancy mice that have been handled from a young age are very tame and friendly. Don’t get me wrong, if they escape from their cage there is a good chance they will run for the hills. That’s just their natural instinct, but on the same hand they will also approach you as you put your hand in the cage.
You can keep several females in the same cage with no problems. In fact, if multiple female mice have litters around the same time, they are known to put their babies in the same huddle and share responsibilities looking after them. This is something only found in captivity of course, another example of their adapting behavior.
So, Do Pet Mice Need Company?
Mice DO need company from other mice, yes. A lone male mouse in a cage will likely suffer some health issues overtime from boredom and loneliness. It is said that females do not suffer as much from being kept alone, but also benefit from company and it is recommended they are not kept alone.
Mice can also benefit from human company too, after all we are keeping them as pets. You should socialize with your pets as often as possible, handling them, passing them food, and stroking them. If you have the mouse from a young age you will notice it becoming more social with you over time.
Finding the Right Balance of Cage Mates
Now, don’t just rush out and find some other mice and throw them in a cage together. You need to treat introducing mice to each other with care. If adult mice have never seen each other before and you try adding them into the same space, you may see some fighting.
It’s probably worth mentioning at this point, if you do have an aggressive male you may have to keep him on his own. This is one of few circumstances I can think of to house a lone mouse, in preservation of the others.
Mice that have come from the same litter, or been introduced from a very early age will get along just fine. Sure there will be scuffles from time to time, but generally speaking if you are buying more than one mouse, buying mice that already live together is a must if you want an easy life.
Females that are familiar with each other will get along just fine. Some people prefer females as they do tend to smell less, and are a lot more active and interesting to watch. Also the potential to breed is there if you should so wish by placing a male in with the females.
I have kept pet mice for a number of years and always had a fascination with these interesting, fun little creatures.
I'm always looking for new and interesting mice related information and will always help other mice owners where possible.