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 Post subject: Baffled about cleaning the cage of a shy mouse
PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:38 pm 
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Not quite a post about behaviour, but kind of obliquely relevant.

I've got a very shy buck. We're getting along just fine, and I'm progressing well in getting him hand-tame, but I can't yet handle him or pick him up, and I don't want to spook him by chasing him round the cage trying to catch him. I also don't want to undo the significant amount of trust I have already gained.

This is all absolutely fine until it comes to cage-cleaning time, when I have to remove him from the cage, because I need to dismantle the cage and give it a good hot shower, and lay new substrate.

I could wait until he goes into his little plastic house and then block the entrance and put the house aside with him still inside, but I think it would freak him out to feel trapped in his safe place, with no escape route.

I don't want to use a humane mouse trap to catch him because I can see how - as the trap-door flops down - it could trap his tail painfully once he's inside, possibly even injuring it.

I've heard of using jam-jars to catch a mouse in his cage, but that too would involve chasing him round and quite likely forfeiting his hard-won trust of my hands.

What do you all do when it's time to clean a very shy mouse's cage?

All advice will be gratefully received!

Chris


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 Post subject: Re: Baffled about cleaning the cage of a shy mouse
PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:05 pm 
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A funny thing is that often enough when you have a shy mouse a small cage that is very bare is often better than a larger cage with lots of hiding places. Hiding places reinforce that there is something to be scared of and that they can get away from you whereas small and bare and just sit with your hand in there is usually a lot more effective. At least from my findings.

As far as cage cleaning you're honestly just going to have to go for it and try to get him either in your hand, picking up by the base of the tail with front feet supported if you have to or get some container to get him into and then move that into a temporary container.

Sometimes I have found that forcing contact is actually a lot less stressful for both you and the mouse. Get them in your hand, let them either explore you or if they're so bad they try to divebomb out of your hand then hold them in cupped hands. Of course I don't have mice so bad they bite so if he does it is perhaps different but in breeding hundreds of mice I've not yet found a mouse that gets worse by doing this and it has worked wonders on skittish ones i've brought in from other breeders.

Some breeders will do things like sit in the bath with them letting them climb over you, or have them in a small container next to you while watching tv or something with your hand just in there until they get up the courage to explore.


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 Post subject: Re: Baffled about cleaning the cage of a shy mouse
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:29 pm 
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Thanks again, this is all very interesting.

What you wrote reminds me of this: I once had three very skittish young rats who hated being picked up and held. I dealt with it by just continually picking them up and holding them. Suddenly, after three weeks of loud protests and wriggling and great annoyance, they suddenly clicked and thought 'Hey this isn't so bad after all! His hands are warm and friendly and he gives us treats! Calm down boys!"

I think my top job at the moment is to reassure my mouse Henderson, so I'll keep the cage cluttered and just leave my hand in it for long periods. He is already adjusting very well to my hand: he's not just taking treats off me, he's also coming back to nibble my fingers in the hope of finding more treats! This nibbling thing is new behaviour, we have moved up a level of trust today!

Next step: a tiny smear of peanut butter, so that he has to stay near my hand for longer periods to enjoy his treat. As on this absolutely beautiful and heartwarming video about Toby:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2PXAEoEGlA

I've attached a new picture of Henderson.

Chris


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 Post subject: Re: Baffled about cleaning the cage of a shy mouse
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:39 pm 
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Sounds like you're doing a great job :)

Very cute mousey


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 Post subject: Re: Baffled about cleaning the cage of a shy mouse
PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:57 pm 
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Lilly wrote:
Sometimes I have found that forcing contact is actually a lot less stressful for both you and the mouse. Get them in your hand, let them either explore you or if they're so bad they try to divebomb out of your hand then hold them in cupped hands.


Hi Lilly,

I've progressed with this. I picked him up by the tail. What a lot of squeaking and fuss! Amazing how loud a mouse can squeak. I put him down again immediately. Is it normal for 'forcing contact' like this to produce lots of loud indignant squeaking at first? He also had a feeble attempt at nipping me, but didn't break any skin, no harm done.

The big question is: should I carry on like this, picking him up and trying to rest him on my upturned palm, until he gets used to it and calms down, or is the squeaking a sign that really it's all too much for him and I shouldn't try forced contact at all?

Chris


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