Which mouse should I take home?

A tiny mouse hero has taken over the silver screen with the film adaptation of the children’s book “The Tale of Despereaux” by American author Kate DiCamillo. The animated comedy will inspire many adults and children to keep mice as pets, say the experts from Maxi Zoo. But what types of mice are there anyway and how do you look after them?

Fancy mice are the most frequently found in captivity. They are descended from the wild relative of the house mouse and come in a variety of colour variations. A small group requires a cage of at least 70 x 50 x 70 (L x W x H) with mesh no more than 0.5 cm wide. Several levels in the enclosure provide variety, a place to retreat and plenty room to move. Fancy mice mainly live on grains and seeds.

The Mongolian gerbil has become more and more popular over the last couple of years. They are relatively large at ten to 14 centimetres and have a hairy tail. Beginners should start with two animals, as a group can be very challenging. Mongolian gerbils eat seeds, love to dig and need a container with sand to bathe in.

There are different types of spiny mouse, with the Cairo spiny mouse the most popular. They are identified by their brush-like coat, bare tails and funnel-shaped ears. Spiny mice have a unique social life, which is fascinating to observe. However, they do not like to be handled, are prone to obesity and thus require ample room to move about. They require a low fat, seed-based diet.

The striped grass mouse has a fascinating striped pattern covering its back, which functions as camouflage in the wild. It has a high back and can stretch out long, and likes to run and climb. Striped grass mice are very sensitive and are more difficult to care for. These partly diurnal (active during the day) animals need seeds and animal protein, as well as green roughage.

At about five centimetres long, the African Pygmy mouse is the smallest of its species. It requires a minimum temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, day and night. Because of their size, they are kept in covered, escape-proof terrariums – pygmy mice don’t climb much but are good jumpers. Their diet consists of grass, seeds and insects.

There are a couple of basic things that mouse fans need to keep in mind: Rodents are group animals and should be kept in at least pairs. They are very active and require ample space, despite their small size, and are not suitable as pets for children. Fast-moving, fragile and mostly nocturnal, mice don’t like to be played with or cuddled. But if you want to observe your pet and its social behaviour, mice are sure to provide plenty of enjoyment!


Call into your local store today to discuss your small animals personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts