White mice are hardy little creatures. Apart from an occasional tumor, their illnesses are usually a result of accidental injuries.
They are almost invariably the beloved pet of a small boy – feminine distrust of mice starts at an early age.
In case you should feel an urge to keep or breed white mice (and with mice the two terms are practically synonymous), a few suggestions may be of interest.
Quite satisfactory wooden cages can be made out of old fruit cases, and, if the surface is sandpapered to a smooth finish and the bottom painted with black acid- and alkali-resistant paint to preserve it from the effects of mouse urine, the box will look good and last quite a long time.
It should be about 18-inch long by 12-inch wide by 6-inch high, and if the lid is made of wire the mice can be observed in comfort yet protected from cats. The lid should be hinged.
Have a spare box to use when the other is drying after cleaning.
Partition off one corner to make a nesting-box about 5-inch square (this should have a solid roof, not a wire one) and put a piece of newspaper inside it. The expectant mother will tear it into fine shreds to make a soft nest.
Sawdust or wood shavings can be used to cover the rest of the floor.
Paint the outside of the box to make it attractive if you want to, but it is not wise to paint the inside walls, as the mice will nibble them, and in cold weather condensation may be a problem, particularly in the nesting chamber.
After mating, a doe will “kindle” or bear her young in about three weeks, and unless kept apart from the buck will mate again immediately.
The easiest method of feeding is with commercially prepared pellets or cubes of a compressed mouse or rat food, as supplied for laboratory animals.
The pellets available in the U.S. contain wheatmeal, coconut, yeast, meat meal, milk powder, wheat germ, bone flour, lucerne, and salt, and are (rightly) relished by mice, which will often prefer them to cheese.
With the addition of a little Vitamins A and D they make a complete and adequate diet.
If you can’t obtain these pellets, feed the mice on whole oats with about one-eighth of wheat added.
Once or twice a week give them some canary seed, sometimes add a little raw carrot or stale bread moistened with milk (this must be removed before the milk turns sour or the mice will develop diarrhea), and an occasional bit of dog biscuit or raw potato.
On a dry diet or in hot weather water should be provided, although very little will be taken.
The most practical way to supply water is to clip a small rubber-capped medicine bottle upside down inside the box and make a puncture with a red-hot needle in the rubber cap. The hole punctured should be of such a size that a drop of water from the bottle hangs there perpetually for the mice to lick if they need it.
Mice can give quite a sharp nip if they are alarmed, so until they are used to being handled they are best picked up by the butt of the tail (but not held that way for too long) and put on some part of the owner’s clothing, such as a sleeve.
If a mouse is put on a bare hand and happens to bite, the instinctive recoil may dash the little creature to the ground.