Adopting a pet, even one as small as a mouse needs to be something you go into with much thought and consideration.
While mice are undeniably cute, they’re not the best pet for everyone. They have their quirks and characteristics that some people love while others don’t particularly enjoy. Before deciding to welcome a few of those adorable friends into your life, let’s go over the pros and cons of keeping mice as pets.
Pros of Mice as Pets
Let’s start with the positives of keeping mice as pets.
Mice Love to Play
Mice are entertaining and highly affectionate little creatures if you invest time to tame them and bond with them. They’re great as interactive pets and love socializing, especially if you have treats on hand!
Mice are just like us and have their own unique personalities and quirky charms. They will keep themselves busy by running on their exercise wheel, burrowing, storing treats, and grooming themselves.
They’re Clean and Tidy
Mice get a bad rap for being dirty, but they’re actually clean and tidy. They like to organize their cage, store food, and will groom themselves several times a day to keep their furry coats clean and shiny.
Mice are harder to litter train than rats, but it’s still possible. Even if they’re not litter trained, they tend to toilet in one place, so you can simply add litter material in that spot for absorbency. This will help with keeping the cage clean and odor-free.
They Are Fun to Hang Out With
Mice seem like they have endless supplies of energy. They love to be active, run around their cage, and play with their mouse and human friends.
You’ll find yourself turning off the TV to watch your mice instead!
Minimal Shedding and Allergies
Mice make for great pets, especially if you suffer from allergies. They don’t shed nearly as much hair as cats or dogs and can be confined to one part of the house because of their small size.
Mice produce less allergen than most other pets (cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs etc.)
They Show Affection
Mice show their happiness when they hear the voice and feel the presence of their owners. They can form close bonds with their owner and easily become a focus of fascination amongst the family.
Mice live in cages, but you should regularly take them out to play with them. Although they don’t like being handled too much, mice like being in the presence of their owners.
Mice Are Fairly Low Maintenance
Compared to other popular pets, mice are fairly low-maintenance. They don’t eat alot and take up a small amount of space.
They need a healthy species-appropriate diet, a comfortable and large enough cage (this is what many new mouse owners get wrong), toys and enrichment to keep them occupied and engaged, attention from their human, and vet treatment when necessary. But when all these needs are met, they’re fairly easy pets to keep.
Even compared to other small rodents such as rats and guinea pigs, mice are less demanding and require less work.
They Are Smart
Mice are really smart and they have very similar levels of intelligence as rats! They are observant and are great problem solvers. Unfortunately, this is why they make perfect test subjects in laboratories. But they make for much better pets. Mice are emotionally complex and are capable of forming deep bonds with other mice and their human.
They Are Quiet
Mice are definitely on the quiet side of the pet scale. The only noises you’ll hear from them are when they’re running on their exercise wheel or an occasional squeak when they’re interacting with each other. Other than that, they’re pretty quiet.
Although, if you plan on keeping them in your bedroom, keep in mind that they tend to be active during the night, so if you have a light sleep, there’s a chance they’ll wake you up.
They Are Not a Long-term Commitment
A pro and con in one, for people who are not ready for the long-term commitment that cats and dogs bring, mice make lovely pets that will be in your life for up to 2 years.
Cons of Keeping Mice as Pets
What about the downsides of having pet mice? Let’s look at the main negatives to get a full picture.
Short Life Span
While mice are not a long-term commitment, they can break your heart when they leave you. Unfortunately, mice have a particularly short lifespan of 1 to 2 years, but some can live up to 3 years.
Considering the strong bond many mice owners form with their pets, losing a pet so soon might cause too much pain, so it’s something to be prepared for before adopting.
Initial Costs Are Higher Than Most People Expect
While mice are considered cheap pets, they’re not as cheap as people usually expect.
While getting a tiny cage and a few essential supplies for less than $100 in the nearest pet shop is possible, your mice will be miserable with such a setup. They need much more than that to be happy!
So expect the initial costs to add up, and don’t skimp on supplies, as mice need an appropriately sized cage, quality food, and lots of toys and furnishings to fill up their cage and keep them engaged.
Mice are also prone to a wide range of health issues, so have a vet fund for emergencies. While mice are small, the treatment at the exotic vet is not proportional to their size.
Small and Fragile
Mice have small and fragile bodies, so small children should be supervised by an adult when handling them. These fragile animals are not the best type of pet for young children.
Mice can be shy initially and require patience and gentleness when handling not to scare them.
They Don’t Always Like Being Handled
Mice are not the kind of pets you can sit and cuddle with for hours. They don’t like staying in one place for long and don’t always like being handled. Every mouse is an individual, and some might like being handled more than others, but in general, you should accept that you might not be able to handle them much.
Your best bet in getting friendly mice is to adopt from an ethical breeder who breeds for a good temperament.
They Are Crepuscular
Mice will come out and play during the evenings and at night and sleep during the day. Though mice can be trained to adjust to the pet owner’s schedule, this generally works out since adults work during the day and the kids are at school.
Male Mice Can Have an Unpleasant Smell
Male mice’s urine can be very stinky. They mark their favorite areas in the cage to establish dominance and there’s nothing you can do to stop them from doing it. It’s their natural behavior.
The smell can sometimes be resolved by changing the type of bedding you use or cleaning more often, but be prepared for potentially unpleasant odors coming from the cage.
If you think the smell might bother you, it would be a good idea to visit an existing mice owner to see how you personally feel about the smell. Female mice don’t tend to have much smell, so this issue can be resolved by adopting female mice.
Can Fall Sick Easily & Finding a Vet is Not Easy
Like all pets, mice can get colds, diarrhea, mites and develop tumors and respiratory infections. They are susceptible to a wide range of health problems, so it’s best to find a local exotic vet experienced with mice before you even adopt your pets. Finding a vet who treats mice is not that easy, so don’t wait for an emergency to start looking for a vet.
For more information on keeping your mouse happy and healthy, check out this article.
Great Pets for the Right People
Mice are adorable, fairly low-maintenance pets for people who can handle the listed cons of keeping mice. Although, they aren’t the best choice for young children, as they can be challenging to handle.
However, mice do need proper care, just like any other pet. Their cage needs to be cleaned weekly, and they need a specific diet. But they are really fun and intelligent animals that bring their own personality to a home.
If you decide to keep mice as pets, I recommend you adopt them from a shelter or purchase from a reputable mouse breeder instead of buying them in a pet store.