Posted: May 13, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: We got three female mice yesterday, and we are wondering how long it will take for them to get comfortable around us. How do you hold mice? How do you put them into their little, plastic ball? We tried, but the mouse just clawed the edge and would not go in.
A: Mice are naturally timid creatures so you have to take things slowly. If a mouse wasn’t handled much by people as a baby and youngster, it has a lot to learn when it gets to a new home.
Be patient as you help your mice learn to be pets, approach them slowly and just let your hand rest in their cage. Their natural curiosity will win out, and they will come sniff you. Do this several times a day and before long they will come right to you.
The next step is learning to pick them up and hold them. Pick up your mouse by the base of its tail (close to the body, not the tip) and quickly place it on the palm of your other hand. Some mice will sit calmly, others will be a little nervous. At first it is important to keep your hand close to the cage bottom (or some other surface) so the mouse doesn't get hurt if it jumps off, but eventually the mouse will sit comfortably and confidently and may even willingly crawl into your hand for attention.
Most mice don't like to use exercise balls, so be patient in helping your mouse get used to it. The best way is to take the lid off, put it in the mouse cage and let them play with it. Once the mice are comfortable that the ball is not going to hurt them, they may go into it willingly. But remember, never force your mouse to do anything it doesn't want to do; doing so will ruin the trust that you've worked so hard to build. From this point ... just enjoy your new little friends.
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