Choosing what type of cage to get for your mouse will depend mainly on your space and budget. You want to be looking at getting a cage measuring around 60cm x 50cm with a height of at least 30cm, which will provide enough space for your mice. Always remember that the more mice you get, the bigger the cage will need to be to accommodate them all comfortably!
Wire cages with solid plastic bases tend to be the cheapest, and can come in a range of sizes. The spaces between the wires will need to be small so that your mouse cannot escape, but they do act as a good climbing frame and allow plenty of ventilation. Wire cages are also good because you can still interact with your mouse and feed him through the cage.
You can also buy glass and plastic tanks, which are very easy to clean as you can simply wipe them down without any fiddly metal wires to tackle! They don't provide the best ventilation but are escape-proof if they have a well fitted lid. Your mice won't be able to climb in a glass or plastic tank, so you would need to provide them with other alternatives to climb on. These tanks are also relatively cheap to buy.
The most expensive and largest of them all are the cage systems that come equipped with tunnels, wheels, and interchangeable parts. They can be easily cleaned and can provide many different areas of interest for your mice. They have poor ventilation however, and some parts risk getting chewed.
To make your mice feel at home and carry out their usual activities, you will need to add a few things to their cage such as:
- Hideaways (empty tissue boxes will do the job!)
- Wheels, made of solid material (no wires)
- Tubes (the cardboard from kitchen roll and toilet roll are perfect)
- Ladders for climbing
- Dividing walls
- Hanging ropes
- Tissue and/or newspaper to shred for nesting.
Choosing bedding and nesting material
Mice will always want to build nests, so making sure you provide them with plenty of nesting materials to allow them to do this is a must. Their bedding will need to absorb moisture from urine and droppings, and this will also help them to dig their burrows. You can use soft tissue, kitchen roll or newspaper, and some people even use torn up J-cloths.
Mice have been known to build their nests up against the sides of the cages, so always be sure to check the water bottle each day as bedding can press up against the ball in the nozzle which could empty the water into the bottom of the cage.
Keep the bottom of the cage covered in tissue / newspaper to soak up urine and droppings. Sawdust and other wood shavings (especially cedar) are not something you should use as mice have very sensitive respiratory systems and inhaling any of the dust can cause serious damage. The dust can also irritate their eyes.
Bedding materials to avoid:
- Cotton wool
- Cedar shavings
- Pine shavings.
Providing areas for hiding
Mice don't like large exposed areas, and like to feel safe and secure, so adding some structured space will allow your mice to carry out natural behaviours and activities. You will find that you can add lots of things like the cardboard from kitchen roll and toilet roll to their cage — many household items can become great toys and hiding places for your mice. They are also free and easy to replace once they are chewed or dirty. Wheels are another great toy for mice, as well as a good way for them to get some exercise. The wheel should be made up of solid material, so that your mice's feet don't get caught in any gaps. Avoid using any wooden housing materials as these absorb moisture such as urine and will become dirty and smelly very quickly.
Keep the mouse cage in a quiet part of your house that's out of direct sunlight. Mice are very sensitive to noise, so any abrupt noises will frighten them. Other household pets such as dogs and cats will need to be kept well away from your mice cage as they will see the mice as something to eat or play with.