Females, how many is too many?
We all know that mice are social animals and thrive in a social environment, females ﬂourish in a hierarchy group, males? Well that’s for another article...
I often get asked when people approach me looking to adopt mice from the Mousery, how many should I get? Well for a mischief of pet mice, the magic number is 3 if you don’t have as much room to be able to have a larger enclosure for your pets. By having 3 mice it allows for someone to be resting while others play, instead of a cage mate constantly bothering the other and them getting frustrated. Obviously we can’t know what our animals are feeling without anthropomorphising and scientiﬁc studies are forever learning new things about animals. Of course the more the merrier works for keeping female mice, there are a couple of things to take into consideration when deciding how many mice is right for you.
Housing - Are you able to provide a larger cage to take into consideration of the extra mice in the cage allowing them space to get away from one another if they are wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of their cage mates?
Age - We know that mice have a shorter age span in comparison to larger domestic pets, with the average age of mice ranging from 18 - 30 months. With this in mind, you have the space for a larger group of does, you may want to hold oﬀ buying the entire group at once to have something called a rolling age group. This is where you have mice of all diﬀerent ages so when they do pass or get sick, it’s not all at once. This helps to spread the cost of vet bills and heartache and ensures that you don’t have single does without any cage mates which can leave them depressed and lethargic.
Maintenance- The more mice you have in an enclosure, the more often you’re going to have to clean them out and the sooner their cage will start to smell, which isn’t ideal! A larger enclosure with fewer mice in can go longer periods between full cleans, overcrowded cages will get dirty very quickly and lead to health issues being more likely to crop up.
With these things in mind, are you able to deal with the workload that comes with more mice? As a show breeder I own around 250+ mice at any given time which requires not only alot of resources but around 20 hours a week to ensure that they are clean and socialised.
Space - It is always good to check that the cage you have has the space requirements for the number of mice that you have. Check out the link below to use the calculator and check!
Also check out our piece "Cages, what to know" to give you some inspiration on enclosures we suggest.
Although we suggest the magic number of 3 for does to be a good social structure, as long as they have at least 1 additional friend, they will be able to express their natural behaviours with their own species. It may also be worthwhile asking your breeder if they have any retired does looking for homes, they may be a little older than the usual mice available for adoption but you’re allowing an older doe whose had her babies live the life of luxury in your home!
A word of warning, it seems recently people have been housing other species with their pet mice such as hamsters. This is not acceptable and would not cross paths in the wild, hamsters are very territorial and some varieties of hamster are much larger than mice, this will most likely end badly and WE DO NOT PROMOTE THIS. People may also think that due to rats and mice being so similar that they could potentially be housed together. Rats naturally predate on mice in the wild and you will most likely end up with no mouse and a rat with a full stomach, don't allow your pets to suffer due to mishousing them with other unsuitable species. The only other species that mice can sometimes be housed safely with are African Soft Furred Rats (ASFs) also known as "multimammates" but this is a subject for a different post.
The last and not suggested option with housing does is to give them a buck to live with, unless neutered, you are going to end up with a lot of babies very quickly and more than you can handle if you have not done the research prior to this. Because of this, we do NOT recommend housing male and female mice together unless you are prepared for the work that comes with breeding mice, it is not "just a bit of fun' and is not something to be taken light heartedly.