Zebra mice, also known as African Striped Grass mice, are brown in color and have black stripes running from their heads to tails. Hence being coined the name ‘zebra’.
They can be kept in captivity and are pets in some countries. Being native to Africa and not popular as pets however, it’s hard to get hold of them in most countries. They are an interesting species of mice if you can find some though.
Let’s take a look at how they live, survive, what they eat, and their other behaviours and habits.
Zebra Mice Description
Zebra mice are typically between 7-10 centimeters in length along their bodies. With the same length again for their tails. They weigh around 20-60 grams as they grow into adulthood.
There are a few different species within the zebra mice family, and each has slightly different striped patterns. For example, there are variations with just a thick black stripe running down their backs, and these are ‘single striped grass mice’.
Their patterning makes them very distinctive when compared to a lot of other mice. Making them popular in the exotic animal trade.
Zebra Mice Habitat
These mice are known as ‘grass mice’ for a reason. They love grass, and this is where you’ll find them in the wild. They are mostly densely populated in the Northern regions of Africa where there large areas of grassy fields largely untouched.
They live happily in large colonies, and are often seen next to other mice. They nest up above ground in grassy areas they have prepared, as well as under the surface of the ground in burrows.
They enjoy climbing and being in nature. So if you are keeping them in captivity provide lots of natural grass and twigs with places to jump and climb.
Zebra Mice Behaviour
The behaviour of a zebra mouse in captivity is timed an nervous. They are hard to tame, and some will just never be tamed. Especially if they were not handled from an early age.
If they are handled appropriately from an early age they can become quite attached and affectionate to their owners. They can be handled outside of their cages, but they are extremely fast and good at jumping so keep them close.
You should provide a large cage with good ventilation and some obstacles to navigate along with some shelving and platforms to climb on. Glass tanks are great for visibility and keeping an eye on them. While wire cages need to be very secure.
Zebra mice are known to be a little aggressive to each other when kept in captivity. So keep a close eye on them for the first few weeks. Any sign of injury and separate them immediately. With a varied diet, plenty of space and things to keep them interested they will more than likely be fine.
They are also very fragile and need to be handled with care. Like some other rodents such as gerbils, or even some mice like the yellow-necked mouse – zebra mice can shed their tails when they feel threatened.
If they lose a cage mate they are also known to become more attached to their owners.
What Do Zebra Mice Eat
The good news is that zebra mice are omnivores, meaning they eat most things. Obviously feeding them treats and processed foods they wouldn’t find in the wild is not a good idea. But seeds, fruits, insects, and foods along these lines are gladly received.
Providing good protein like eggs and bits of lean meats are advisable. But nuts and seeds being available as they wish will keep them happy and well fed. If you want to get creative and catch small insects, even better.
Zebra Mice Breeding
Female zebra mice will mature sexually at around four months of age. Males take a little longer, maturing at around seven weeks. Females have a 21 day gestation period, and are in season for 3-5 days.
They often fight when they are on heat and there can be some nasty injuries. Separate the mice if this is happening and slowly introduce them when the females are out of season. Do not attempt to breed them after the are 14 months of age.
Zebra Mouse Life Expectancy
In captivity zebra mice are expected to live up to 3 years with a high level of care and attention, In the wild their life expectancy is a lot lower due to predators and other hazards.
Their ability to jump high and move quickly are their best assets to keep them away from danger. They also have exceptional hearing and will leave an area before a predator arrives.