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Pet mice Food

Pet mice Food

Introduction: (Initial Observation)

Mice are happy and playful, active creatures. They are great fun to watch. Some fancy mice are extremely pretty. They get to know their owners and, when well socialized, will come to take treats off you, climb onto your hand and run all over you.

You can buy food for your mice from a pet shop. The best kind of food is a packet of multi-vitamin food pellets which may include a combination of wheat grain, alfalfa, barley, white millet, sunflower seeds, cracked corn, oats and carrots. However, do not only give them only one type of food. This will lead to a lack of vitamins which will result in diseases. Do not give too much cheese. No chocolates, please. Green leafy vegetables, apples or other wet fruits must be dried thoroughly with a tissue paper before giving it to your mice. If feeding fresh vegetables it is very important to rinse them first and soak them in water for half and hour (there could be traces of insecticide spray which could harm your pet). Fresh water must be available at all times. A water bottle can be attached to the side of the cage. Feeding bowls etc. must be cleaned daily.


This project guide contains information that you need in order to start your project. If you have any questions or need more support about this project, click on the “Ask Question” button on the top of this page to send me a message.

If you are new in doing science project, click on “How to Start” in the main page. There you will find helpful links that describe different types of science projects, scientific method, variables, hypothesis, graph, abstract and all other general basics that you need to know.  

Project advisor

Information Gathering:

Individual mice have different personalities. Some will be keep-fit fanatics, running on wheels and chasing around. Others will be home-makers, building comfortable nests. Some are playful, some are shy. Some are easily socialized, others need more work. The quiet mouse is just as ‘normal’ as her hyperactive sister. Watching mice play and socialize amongst themselves, you will see a range of behavior types and temperaments.

Mice are very easy to keep, undemanding pets. However, they are by nature timid and so you need to spend time getting to know them. They will not play with you in the way that dogs or rats will, but they are rewarding pets nonetheless.

mice are social animals and it is very unnatural for them to live alone. Single mice are generally bored, lonely and miserable, and they do not make good pets as they tend to spend more time sleeping or hiding in the nest box than mice kept in groups. With a single mouse you also miss out on the fun of watching mice play together and groom each other. It is really not fair to mice to keep them alone if it can be avoided – if they liked solitude, they wouldn’t live in colonies in the wild.

For Information about Housing and Bedding Click here.


Sometimes male mice which are very aggressive towards other males have to be kept alone – see the section on keeping males together below, for more on this. However, male mice can nearly always live happily with their litter brothers, if they are given a large cage

Baby mice are fully weaned from their mother at about four weeks old, but they benefit a lot from staying with their litter mates for another week – the disruption of leaving both mother, siblings and home in one day is a lot to cope with. Ideally they should not leave the litter before 5 weeks of age. If you get them too young they will be jumpy and hard to socialize at first. Some pet shops will offer mice for sale as soon as they start to eat solid food, at about 2 weeks of age. However, although mice this young eat solids, they really do need their mother’s milk for another couple of weeks. Mice weaned this early often don’t survive.

Mice are not fully grown until at least 12 weeks of age, although many mice take longer than this to reach full size.

How should you pick a mouse up?
With a strange or nervous mouse, the safest way to pick it up is to grasp the BASE of its tail (not the tip) firmly, lift its bottom up slightly and slide your other hand under the mouse, palm upwards. You can then lift your hand up with the mouse sitting on it, but keep hold of the tail unless you know the mouse is calm. Holding the base of the tail in this way is not uncomfortable for the mouse as long as you make sure its body is supported by your other hand, and will not upset it. Most pet mice will not jump from heights of more than a foot or so, but very nervous ones might – so keep a grip on the tail until you’re sure. Don’t hold the mouse tightly round its body – this will scare it and could hurt it.

When a mouse is comfortable with you, it may walk onto your hand if you hold your open palm in front of it. Alternatively, you can very gently scoop it up, but be very careful not to squeeze it or hold it tightly round the body.

In some cases you might see people picking mice up by the base of the tail and holding them, dangling, upside down. This is not really cruel as it doesn’t hurt them, but not surprisingly most mice don’t seem to like being handled like this – it is more comfortable for them if you support the body with your hand as described above. Holding a mouse by the tip of its tail, or near the tip, could hurt it – the tip of the tail could be skinned or break off.

An alternative method:

Not being comfortable with picking mice up by the tail, we pick up scared mice by enticing them into a paper tube (from toilet paper, etc), then wait for the mouse to come out. I do this in a small room with the door shut rather than grasp the tail for insurance. When a mouse is more relaxed, I pick it up by putting one hand on either side of the mouse, palms up, and scoop the mouse. As it gets more comfortable, the mouse will walk directly only my hand.

mice consume around 15g of food per 100g bodyweight, per day, and drink around 15ml water per 100g bodyweight, per day.

What ready-made foods can I feed my mice?

A standard rodent mix containing an assortment of grains is adequate for most adult mice. This does not mean it is nutritionally the very best your mice can have – since it is designed to suit various rodents it will not be tailored exactly to mouse requirements. However, mice enjoy picking amongst the food and will normally take only what they need without gorging themselves. Many of these mixes are made for hamsters – fine if your mice stay slim, but often too fatty for those with a big appetite.

When feeding a grain mix, give only a tiny portion at a time, so that the mice have to eat all the whole grains before they get any more. Don’t let them have any more until the grains are eaten, no matter how much they beg – they’ll soon learn to eat properly! If the mix contains pellets, very few mice will eat them – don’t worry about this, as they usually just contain alfalfa for fiber.

Laboratory pellets provide a complete and vitamin-enriched food, but a diet of pellets is very, very boring and since many mice are picky eaters you may have trouble persuading them to eat it. Personally I would never feed a complete diet like this, no matter how ideal its nutritional content, because mice really enjoy picking around in their food, eating the tastiest parts of a mixture first, and generally being choosy. For a caged animal, an interesting diet adds variety and interest to its life, and it is a shame to deprive a pet of the opportunity to choose elements of its own diet. If you do use pellets, you can make life more interesting for your mice by supplementing them with small portions of fruit, vegetables and mealworms.

Mice should be caged in a manner which allows the full bipedal stance. A mouse will usually eat in bipedal position, with the food held in the forepaws. This is a much less erect stance than that adopted in the orienting response, and requires much less headroom than the latter.

When a mouse is running freely, the tail acts as a balancing organ fully extended behind the trunk with the last one or two centimeters turned up in a vertical position. A mouse running in this manner is confident. When afraid, the stomach is close to the ground and the tail depressed. Even a small cage will allow a maturing mouse pup to run short distances. In the same cage, the adult mouse will not be able to run but retains the ability when offered sufficient space.

Mice are good jumpers and climbers and will climb anything with a surface rough enough to give them a hold: cloth, brickwork, and wire grids are only a few examples. A cage with a wire grid lid offers the mouse opportunities for climbing exercise which mice appear to welcome. Mice can usually jump at least a meter between two fairly even surfaces, and much greater distances when jumping down from one level to another.

Mice may rest lying on their sides, but more often they go to sleep with their feet tucked under their body with their head down. As they go into deep sleep they roll over onto their sides. If they are cold, mice will curl up and huddle together with other mice. If they are too hot, they will stretch their bodies out when they rest or sleep and move a few centimeters away from their cage mates. Some mice appear more sociable than others, typically sleeping in a heap, at least partially because their coats are thin and they feel the cold more than better provided mice. In this limited sense the apparent sociability of all mice can be controlled by varying the ambient temperature.

The collecting of nest material and the building of a typical nest are apparently unlearned behaviors. Mice born in wire-floored cages without bedding will collect suitable nest material and assemble it when given the opportunity to do so. Although mice do not need nest material in order to live or reproduce, I have observed the frantic efforts they will make to obtain bits of straw, cloth or paper. I find that nesting material adds greatly to their comfort if it is made available to them as a matter of routine.

Are there any foods I shouldn’t feed my mice?

  • Try to avoid fatty foods where possible, except for growing or convalescent animals, or where the food is otherwise very nutritious, such as sunflower seeds.
  • Peanuts are fattier and less nutritious than sunflower seeds, and provoke a skin reaction in some mice.
  • Chocolate may be toxic to rodents in large amounts, although I have not seen the research. There is no need to feed chocolate to mice anyway – they would prefer sunflower seeds.
  • Anything you wouldn’t eat yourself because it might give you food poisoning – mice are susceptible to salmonella & other bacterial infections too!
  • Unwashed fruit or vegetables might carry pesticides etc – wash or peel it first, unless it is organic. Washing/peeling will only remove surface residues, but it’s all you can do.


Question/ Purpose:

The purpose of this project is to see how pet mice respond to different types of

food (pellets, crushed, solid).

However, you might have a different approach to this project in instead of physical shape of food, focus on taste and source of food. In this case your question pr purpose will be like this:

The purpose of this project is to see how pet mice respond to different types of

food (wheat grain, alfalfa, barley, white millet, sunflower seeds, cracked corn, oats and carrots, or anything else that you think your mouse may like ).

Identify Variables:

When you think you know what variables may be involved, think about ways to change one at a time. If you change more than one at a time, you will not know what variable is causing your observation. Sometimes variables are linked and work together to cause something. At first, try to choose variables that you think act independently of each other.

The independent variable (also known as manipulated variable) is the type of food (Pellets, crushed, solid)

Dependent variable (also known as responding variable) is the consumption of each food.

Constants are the experiment time and observation periods.


Independent variable is the type of food (wheat grain, alfalfa, barley, white millet, sunflower seeds, cracked corn, oats and carrots, or anything else that you think your mouse may like ).


Based on your gathered information, make an educated guess about how pet mice respond to different types of food. A sample hypothesis is:

I thinks pet mice prefer pellet food, because they are easier to chew.

Experiment Design:

Design an experiment to test each hypothesis. Make a step-by-step list of what you will do to answer each question. This list is called an experimental procedure. For an experiment to give answers you can trust, it must have a “control.” A control is an additional experimental trial or run. It is a separate experiment, done exactly like the others. The only difference is that no experimental variables are changed. A control is a neutral “reference point” for comparison that allows you to see what changing a variable does by comparing it to not changing anything. Dependable controls are sometimes very hard to develop. They can be the hardest part of a project. Without a control you cannot be sure that changing the variable causes your observations. A series of experiments that includes a control is called a “controlled experiment.”

In this experiment we will let the mouse decide what type of food he /she prefers. One, two or 3 mice can be used for this experiment. Details of experiment are as follows:

  1. Place three dishes in a mouse cage, one for pellets, one for crushed and one for solid food. (You may even label the dishes accordingly).
  2. Weight equal amounts (for example 30 grams) of each type of food and place them in it’s own dish.
  3. Weight the mouse / mice and place them in the cage.
  4. Every 6 or 12 hours visit the cage, weight any food remained and the mice.
  5. Record the amount of consumed food in a table along with the weight of each mouse in the cage. Use a table like this:

Mice food experiment
Consumed food and mice weight table

Weight (grams) Solid food  Pellets Crushed Mouse # 1 Mouse # 2
After 12 hours


After 24 hours
After 36 hours
After 48 hours
After 60 hours

Your table will have more rows, because you will repeat your observation and recording for 3 to 6 days.


Refill all dishes every time that you weight them to their original weight (for example 30 grams).

To calculate the amount of consumed food, subtract the weight of any food remained from your start amount (for example 30 grams). So after first test if the amount of solid food remained is 20 grams, the amount of consumed solid food will be 10.

Finally add the numbers in each column and write the result in the last row.

Use these numbers for your conclusion.

We also weighted the mice and recorded the results as a part of our general observation. Since in our experiment mice have choice to choose their food, we can not use the mouse weight. But if you expand your experiment in four separate cage, you may get other results as well. In four cage experiment, we place all 3 types of food in one cage, but only one type of food in each of other 3 cages. In this way we may notice a weight loss or a weight gain that can be associated to the type of food.

Another form of results table
Consumed food by mice

Weight (grams) Wheat grain Alfalfa Barley White millet Corn
Day 1


Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

Make a graph:

At the last day of your experiment you know the total amount of each type of food consumed by mice. Make a bar graph to visually present your results. Your graph will have one vertical bar for each type of food you test. The height of each bar represents the amount of one specific food it represents. Make sure to name the bars with food types you have tested.

In your graph, the tallest bar shows the food consumed the most.

Materials and Equipment:

For this experiment you will need:

  1. Mouse cage
  2. One to three pet mice
  3. Samples of identical mouse food in three different forms (Pellets, crushed, solid).
  4. A small scale to weight food samples and mice.

Results of Experiment (Observation):

Report your observations and include the above completed table in this section.


The main calculation that you need to do is to calculate the amount of consumed food of each type. However after the experiment is completed, you may also want to see what percentage of mice preference is on certain type of food. To do that, first you add up all totals like this:

Total Food Consumed = Consumed Solid Food + Consumed pellet Food + Consumed crushed food

Then you use a calculator and divide the amount of each consumed food to the total of consumed food like this:

Rate of consumed Solid Food = Consumed Solid Food / Total Food Consumed

The result is usually a number like 0.22 that means 22 percent.

Summary of Results:

Summarize what happened. This can be in the form of a table of processed numerical data, or graphs. It could also be a written statement of what occurred during experiments.

It is from calculations using recorded data that tables and graphs are made. Studying tables and graphs, we can see trends that tell us how different variables cause our observations. Based on these trends, we can draw conclusions about the system under study. These conclusions help us confirm or deny our original hypothesis. Often, mathematical equations can be made from graphs. These equations allow us to predict how a change will affect the system without the need to do additional experiments. Advanced levels of experimental science rely heavily on graphical and mathematical analysis of data. At this level, science becomes even more interesting and powerful.


Using the trends in your experimental data and your experimental observations, try to answer your original questions. Is your hypothesis correct? Now is the time to pull together what happened, and assess the experiments you did.

Depending on the type of food that was consumed most, you construct your conclusion. A sample conclusion is:

Mice prefer solid food because the rate of consumption of solid food was higher than crushed food and pellet food.

Related Questions & Answers:

What you have learned may allow you to answer other questions. Many questions are related. Several new questions may have occurred to you while doing experiments. You may now be able to understand or verify things that you discovered when gathering information for the project. Questions lead to more questions, which lead to additional hypothesis that need to be tested.

Possible Errors:

was any of the food dispersed, creating a possibility of wrong results. Did mice have equal access to all food containers? Could any other reason other than the physical shape of food affect the mice preference of one food to the other?


List of References