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Common Mouse Health Issues

Observe your mouse for signs of these common ailments.

By Audrey Pavia
Posted: March 31, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT

Cancer
Mice are susceptible to cancer, especially as they age. The most common form is mammary cancer. This type of cancer originates in the mammary glands in both males and females, but can show up as a tumor anywhere in the body. Mammary cancer has a poor prognosis and is usually fatal.

Lumps or bumps anywhere on your mouse’s body could be a sign of cancer. Take your mouse to a small mammal exotics veterinarian right away if you find a growth on your small pet.

Ear Problems
Mice are prone to inner ear infections, which can cause a behavior called “waltzing.” A waltzing mouse loses its balance when walking. Ear infections can result from bacteria that develop in the inner ear during a viral respiratory infection.

Some mice walk in circles when they have an ear infection. You may or may not see discharge in your mouse’s ears. Take your pet to the veterinarian if you see “dirt” in your mouse’s ears, or if its movement is uncoordinated or out of balance.

Dehydration
Mice can become dehydrated quickly if they don’t have fresh water available at all times. It’s difficult for a mouse to come back from dehydration once a lack of water has ravaged its body, so it’s important to always keep water in your small pet’s enclosure.

If you use a hanging water bottle, make sure the mouse is strong enough to get the water from it before you rely on it as your small pet’s only source of water.

Nutritional Issues
Mice can suffer from bacterial infections and skin problems, as well as other health issues resulting from poor nutrition. To keep your mouse healthy, provide a balanced diet of pelleted mouse or hamster food, along with fresh foods daily. Feed seeds sparingly because these are low in calcium (a necessary nutrient for mice) and high in fat.

Bite Wounds
If your mouse is bitten by another mouse, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. The bite may become infected, causing an abscess or a general infection in the body if not treated.

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Common Mouse Health Issues

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Reader Comments
Hello Elizabeth, I'm very sorry that one of your mice died. If its cagemate is now showing signs of illness, it's really best to get it examined by a veterinarian knowledgeable about treating mice. With illness, sooner is always better. If you need help finding a mouse-savvy vet in your area, check out our vet directory at LINK or visit the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians to see their list of vets LINK Best wishes.
Marylou, Irvine, CA
Posted: 7/19/2012 11:12:20 AM
So i had a mouse and she was normally very active, until two weeks ago when she started to be very slow, and lazy and would sleep most of the day and night, she lost a lot of weight( you could feel all her bones down her back), she was breathing very rapidly and her nails grew really long. she ended up dying last friday, and now, i have been noticing in the last two days that her cage mate is breathing rapidly as well, and if would really like to know what this could possibly be, and what i could do to help her.
Elizabeth, Denver, CO
Posted: 7/18/2012 6:05:39 PM
Hello Sarah, Sorry to hear that your mouse is ill. I'll forward your question to the veterinarian who answers questions on our site for possible answer in upcoming months. Meanwhile, it might be time to visit your veterinarian again or get an opinion from another vet. Perhaps your mouse has a parasite, adrenal condition or some other health problem. Best wishes to you and your mouse.
Marylou, Irvine, CA
Posted: 1/27/2012 11:32:07 AM
advice please,
my mouse has a very bad large bald area which appears red and sore looking. This started off very small but spread quite quickly at one side of her back and in a line around the middle of her stomach. My vet suggested overgrooming from other mice in cage and so I isolated her. The problem, however has not cleared up. I've applied babys nappy cream (sudocreme)to no avail. She seems quite distressed by the condition and i would appreciate some advice. Thank you
sarah, Durham, England
Posted: 1/26/2012 11:00:31 AM
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