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Ok, first of all, this may be a little gruesome and talking about death. And long. Sorry.

I've been keeping mice for a couple of years now. I've had mostly does, and had no real problems with their health for the most part, until late last year. They are all from pet shops.

So I started with 4 does, and all of these lived long lives and were seemingly healthy. Then I introduced 2 more does after losing one of old age. After only 2 months, one of the new 2 does randomly died. It was upsetting but I thought well, maybe she just had something... wrong with her?

The other 3 older does all died of old age as well, from what I can tell. They looked normal and like they died peacefully in their sleep and had lived a good long life.

But before my last doe from the original 4 passed away, I became worried about how the other younger doe (Cream) would be on her own so I introduced two more.

This is when things got a little... odd?
The two new mice were lovely, I named them Sushi and Hazel. Then one day, maybe just under a month, Sushi didn't come up to the cage bars like normal. On further inspection she was on the shelf, dead, but not just dead... she appeared as if she'd been squashed. There was NOTHING that could've fallen on her to make her look like that, so I didn't understand at all.

At this point I had Cream and Hazel. Cream was getting older at this point too. Then, my stupid self leaves my door open and the cat gets in. Have no idea what happens but I'm downstairs then I hear a massive crash from the room, and the cat racing downstairs. I come up and my cage is on the floor, not only that but a huge dent in the bar definitely big enough for any mouse and Hazel is totally missing from the cage. Cream seems shaken but otherwise ok. I lay out humane mouse traps but never caught her.

I don't want her to be on her own.. I'm feeling like I have really bad luck, but I decide to go get another couple of does to keep her company.

All of a week later one of the new does dies. One day she is climbing about, happily eating and taking treats. The next day she's not only dead... she looks... like she's been dead for weeks. She looked decomposed. I just feel like it can't get worse.

But the other new doe, Pepper, seems fine and healthy. A few more months pass.
I would like to say Cream passed away in her sleep of old age too, but there was no body. None.
Since the cat accident I bought a whole new cage... and there's nowhere she could've escaped from.
I was gone the previous day, but the day before that she was fine. Then I come back and check on them and she's literally NOT there.

Pepper was on her own as a result, so... probably I'm just being a total idiot now, but I get two more does.

I don't like to play favourites, but this one doe... I named her Cinder, she was a hereford, and she was so friendly from day one. She was really special and honestly beautiful.

About a week later I find the other new doe dead. And... headless. There were no other injuries, and no blood, it looked like she had died and had her head eaten... needless to say this was not a pleasant thing to find.

But, ok, I do some research. I read a thing that says mice in the wild might eat other dead mice to get rid of it so the decaying body doesn't attract predators. Ok, I have dogs, cats and rats too, so maybe the smell of them makes them do that. Still don't feel Super great about the whole thing, but, well...

Throughout this time I also have 1 buck, Iggy in a separate cage on his own. He died 2 days ago but just like my original does it seemed to be from old age. He just looked like he was sleeping.

And then, this evening, I walk up to the girls' cage and.. that smell hits me. I can only see Pepper so.. my heart sinks. I put Pepper in the carrier and lift up all the houses and... I don't know what the hell I saw, I couldn't do it, I made my boyfriend take her body out. What I saw just looked.. wrong. Like her body was inside out. I saw guts.

And I feel.. crushed. I can't do this anymore. I love all my pets, I try to love them equally, but in the short month I had Cinder I fell in love. She was so special. And I had her out holding her YESTERDAY and she was totally fine.

What am I doing wrong? Why is this happening? Cinder was the mouse that made me think, wow, I want to get into breeding mice so that I can produce mice just as gorgeous as her. I was planning to attend my first NMC show. Now I just... don't know.

I'm sorry that this is so long. I'm sorry if I sound stupid. I'm really, truly devestated. Losing a pet always hits hard but losing Cinder feels like a hole. I only had her a month but she made me fall in love with mice all over again. And to lose her 2 days after Iggy... I just want to cry.

I feed them the same diet as my rats, who are all perfectly healthy, and it's a Shunamite diet that's very carefully worked out. They live in wire cages which have very small bar spacing they definitely can't get out of. They live on a mix of Carefresh and Finacard substrate, they get toilet paper, J-cloth and sometimes nice hay for nesting. Everyone had been introduced to each other properly with no signs of aggression.
All cages were disinfected with F10 after any mouse died.

Can someone please tell me what I'm doing wrong?
 

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Eating deceased cage mates isn't just something wild mice do.
where are you sourcing mice (all same source? etc)
and are they in perfect health before they pass? or may there be any symptoms overlooked? (have you got any photos?)
What's their behaviour like?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Agoutigoo said:
Eating deceased cage mates isn't just something wild mice do.
where are you sourcing mice (all same source? etc)
and are they in perfect health before they pass? or may there be any symptoms overlooked? (have you got any photos?)
What's their behaviour like?
Ok, so it's normal or at least normal-ish for them to eat the dead bodies then..?

Most have been from the same pet store however the latest 2 were from a different store. I deliberately got them elsewhere in the hopes that maybe they'd be healthier (the 2nd pet store sources their mice, supposedly, from a show breeder who gives them their excess or something - I don't know how true this is though...)
Though I will not be getting pet store mice anymore.

I'm not an expert, however before they died I didn't notice any symptoms. I know with tiny animals like mice stuff can come on quite fast, but all of them were climbing about, eating, drinking etc as normal the last time I saw them. No respiratory issues or wheezing, no discharge, no hunching over or anything at all. It was like they've all been fine one day, and then the next, dead.

I didn't notice any behaviour changes either. They all seemed like... normal mice to me? Even the doe who died about a week after I got her seemed fine and active. Is there anything in particular I should've looked out for behaviour wise? Or physical/health wise? They've seemed healthy/ok to me personally but I'm no expert like I said.

I uploaded all the photos (and videos) I can find to imgur, with captions of who is who:
None of them are particularly good photos though, unfortunately.

Thank you for your help. Sorry if anything is confusing.
 

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First of all, I'm so sorry for all of your losses, honestly very tragic. Please don't feel stupid or like it's your fault, it's completely reasonable to be devastated given the situation, I'd feel the same and have before many times over with mice. I believe the crushed appearance of some of the mice are simply due to them being dead, the body just loses form and caves in on itself. Though I agree with Amtma, one of your mice sounds like a death bringer. I know exactly what you mean with the inside out look, seen it once and it's something I'll never forget, imagine you won't either. :cry: Could there have been any chemicals or contaminants in the air or just in general? If you ever get mice again, I wish you much better luck in the future. <3
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Cheshire Gleam said:
First of all, I'm so sorry for all of your losses, honestly very tragic. Please don't feel stupid or like it's your fault, it's completely reasonable to be devastated given the situation, I'd feel the same and have before many times over with mice. I believe the crushed appearance of some of the mice are simply due to them being dead, the body just loses form and caves in on itself. Though I agree with Amtma, one of your mice sounds like a death bringer. I know exactly what you mean with the inside out look, seen it once and it's something I'll never forget, imagine you won't either. :cry: Could there have been any chemicals or contaminants in the air or just in general? If you ever get mice again, I wish you much better luck in the future. <3
Hi, thanks for the reply
This was actually back in March and I have more mice since, Pepper in fact lives very happily with some other does now and have had 0 issues since. This was still a very upsetting series of events but I decided I wasn't going to let it ruin my love of mice and the enjoyment they give me, and it wasn't going to put me off my dream of showing mice.

I believe I figured out the issue. I had tried many things during the time this was going on, including changing the type of substrate I used, throwing out toys and buying an entire new cage among other things.

The one constant I never swapped or changed was their water bottle. It did go through many deep cleans, but I was hesitant to throw it out because it was a more expensive glass one. It took me a long time to figure out but it was actually faulty - the little ball inside was slightly misshapen, and it would get stuck very regularly so water couldn't come out. But I didn't notice, because they could still drink some of the time so the water level in the bottle still went down.

Once I changed the water bottle, the problems stopped. No more random deaths. Maybe it was a coincidence but my guess is either they passed away from being unable to drink water, or that the water bottle itself was contaminated somehow. I got a cheap plastic water bottle and haven't lost a mouse since (and Pepper's still kicking). I feel guilty for not trying a different bottle sooner, and losing my mice still hurts, but at least everybody is doing fine now and nothing like this has happened since. I feel blessed that Pepper is still ok and with me and I get to enjoy my time with her.

Thank you so much for the advice and extra info. And for letting me know I am not alone. All of this was a really rough experience but I'm glad I didn't give up and let it ruin my love of mice. I still feel guilty and like an idiot, but I have learnt better from the experience. Though you're right I will absolutely never forget the inside out appearance, I hope to never experience it again.

I hadn't considered the chemicals part, my original theory was just the bottle being faulty, but now I do wonder if the bottle itself was contaminated somehow.

EDIT: Also to clarify the reason I'm sure it's the bottle is because about a month after I got the glass bottle is when I started having mysterious deaths. Before that I used the normal plastic bottles and my 4 does at the time lived til old age
 
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