Barbering: The Unwanted Hairdresser.
Barbering is a term often used by mouse breeders to describe the over grooming of mice which leads to the removal of whiskers and patches of fur on their cage mates.
Unfortunately, this is an issue that can crop up at any age, and will often happen when mice aren’t mentally stimulated and can be troublesome to correct if they are left to their own devices for too long as it becomes a habit. We’ve had bad habits that are hard to try and stop, chewing our nails or popping pimples, this is essentially the same for barbering in mice if not encouraged to stop.
Barbering can be seen often in multiple cage mates if it is a singular mouse who has taken up this habit, this will be shown by the lack of whiskers or small patches of fur missing on your mice. Although missing patches of fur can be symptoms of other health issues which will be covered in another article, once other issues have been addressed by a veterinary professional, it may be down to barbering. Another sign that your mice have been barbered is when you have multiple mice together and everyone is missing their whiskers… except one, and there you have your culprit! Barbering doesn’t often lead to open wounds and is simply the excessive grooming and pulling of fur, if there are open wounds or scabbing, this may be allergies or ringworm and veterinary treatment should be the plan of action to get your mouse treated.
Barbering can be discouraged by ensuring that your mice have plenty of enrichment in their cage to provide mental stimulation, we have an article here where we go into more detail about how to keep your mice engaged with their environment. Female barbering mice shouldn’t be removed from their bonded colony as this may lead to depression and may make the issue worse once reintroduced to the colony.
Have you had mice that barbered their cage mates? What did you find worked to solve the problem, we would love to know what worked for you and your pets!