RATS AND MICE
Mice are usually of the species Mus musculus
Though obviously different, they both require chew proof containers with bedding to sleep in. The larger the cage, the better. The ideal temperature range is 15-27ºC; over 30ºC will cause heat stroke. The bedding must be dust free and clean. Avoid using wood shavings or sawdust, or anything ‘scented’. Dusty products like wood shavings can be breathed in and irritate the lungs as can aromatic oils in scented products – particularly pine. Paper-based cat litter or cardboard bedding is preferable. The urea in urine will irritate the lungs and is a factor in respiratory disease. Frequent cleaning is very important. The gap in the wire mesh should be no more than 1cm for mice and 1.5 cm for rats.
Cage furniture is important to provide environmental enrichment. They are social animals; the best combination is two females. A pellet diet is preferable as they are opportunist omnivores. Avoid sugar and chocolate. Check that the metal tube from their water bottle is working.
Don’t scruff rats
Common Diseases of rats and mice
Mammary tumours are often benign in rats but more frequently malignant in mice.
A head tilt often indicates a middle ear infection.
Pododermatitis, an infection of the feet, is linked to urine-soaked bedding and obesity. Rats are selective feeders and are prone to obesity. Mice may have asymptomatic fungal conditions which rarely itch. However mites often cause severe irritation that lead to self-trauma. Rats are similarly allergic to the rat fur mite Radfordia ensifera.
Respiratory infection is frequent aliment in rats. The main cause is Mycoplasma pulmonis which is present in most rodents. Sendai virus, adenovirus and coronavirus can precipitate the illness. High ammonia levels from urine causes thickened respiratory secretions which increases susceptibility. Avoid high density living, poor sanitation, and high protein levels in rations. Reduce the dust content of bedding. The signs of respiratory disease are a hunched posture, weight loss, abdominal breathing, possible sneezing, red staining around the eyes (porphyrin) and/or an audible rattle. Rats are susceptible to draughts, direct sunlight, and smells.
Further advice may be available from www.cavyrescue.co.uk
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