All mice must have access to clean water and a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Freedom from hunger and thirst provides mice with their most basic needs by allowing them to remain in good health and full of energy.
This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act says that your animal has five groups of welfare needs. These are five groups of things that animals need to be healthy and happy. These five welfare needs are called the Five Freedoms.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, all animal guardians (owners) need to provide these five groups of things for their animals. One of these Five Freedoms is: Freedom from Hunger and Thirst. In this section you will learn about this freedom and how you can make sure your mice have what they need to be free from hunger and thirst.
Mice will eat just about anything – even things they should not eat. Therefore, it is very important that your family provides your mice with balanced nutritious diets to ensure they each live a healthy, happy and long life.
Just as mice can look different, their dietary needs can also be unique. When researching mouse diets, bear in mind that not all mice require the exact same diet.
Mice can be fed a commercially prepared complete mouse food such as: mouse mixes, mouse pellets or lab blocks. However, each type of commercially prepared food has good and not so good features!
Grain and seed-based mouse mixes provide more interest to mice. However, your mice may just pick out their favourite bits and leave the rest, leading to an unbalanced diet.
Pellets and lab blocks are a completely balanced diet all mixed into one, so mice can’t pick and choose what they do and don’t eat. This can, however, be a very boring diet for a mouse – a bit like if you were given the same meal every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner for your entire life.
Some people prefer to feed their mice mixes because mice have a natural, physical need to forage for food and their owners do not want to take this natural behaviour away from them. However, if you feed mixes, you need to make sure that your mice are not only picking out the stuff they like best and leaving the rest. In addition, it can be hard to tell when a mouse is out of food because there are always empty shells which can look like they have food.
Make sure you check the food daily to insure they have actual food, not just empty shells.
Studies clearly show that mice must have some mixed food as part of their diet to stay healthy. Foraging for food keeps a mouse mentally and physically active. This directly shows in their behaviour as well as their health.
A mouse that is given a healthy, balanced diet that also has the opportunity to forage for food, will be healthier and live longer than mice that are not given the opportunity to exhibit this natural behaviour.
Lab blocks and good quality mouse pellets contain the essential nutrients a mouse needs in block or pellet form, so the mice can't pick only what they want thereby not getting a balanced diet.
The right lab block or pellet is a very good staple. If you have mice that pick out only their favourite foods and refuse the rest, then your mice might benefit from lab block to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.
It is vital to a mouse's physical and mental well-being to have a variety of food, and opportunities to exhibit their natural foraging behaviour. This activity is proven to increase their health, life span, and quality of life.
If you feed lab blocks or mouse pellets as your mice’s main food, it is important to also give healthy treats for them to forage for. Giving a small amount of treats on a daily basis will fulfil all their needs. It is best to "hide" these treats throughout their enclosure so they have to hunt for them. Hiding can simply mean putting treats in areas that are not where their block is, or burying them in their bedding (clean spots only). You can have fun hiding these treats too!
You can make mouse piñatas out of tissue (unscented, no aloe, etc.) and hemp rope. Stuff the tissue with treats and string it up from the top of their enclosure, just low enough for them to get at it. Mice have a blast breaking into the piñatas!
You can also put these treats in origami cubes with safe bedding enrichment (nesting material that is different from that they already have) as filler. This way they have to chew their way into the cube to get the treats... and the nesting material is an extra bonus! Many mice may use the cubes themselves as nests or play gyms.
There are many ways you can add enrichment to their enclosure environment to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. It's lots of fun for your mice and you!
Many people choose to feed their mice a combination of balanced pellets or lab blocks and a small amount of mouse mix each day. This basic combination diet can also be supplemented with a very small quantity of vegetables and fruits per day. For example, a small piece of:
Bok choy/other asian greens
Branches from apple trees can also add variety to your mice’ diet and gnawing this hard material can help to keep your mouse's teeth in good condition.
Watch for diarrhea – if a particular food item does cause diarrhea, discontinue feeding it.
Mice are crepuscular and nocturnal animals – this means that they are active at dusk and dawn and throughout the night. This is a good time to feed them since they're likely to be awake and alert.
Mice should have continual access to food and water, so don't skip their meals.
Selecting a food dish for your mouse isn't complicated, but there are a few factors to keep in mind:
Mice need constant access to clean drinking water. Mice can die if they are deprived of water for even short periods of time.
Easily reached water in bottles with metal sipper tubes are the best for your mice. You will need to check your mice’s bottles daily for leaks and/or blockages.
The mice need their water changed every 2- 3 days and the bottle and nozzle properly cleaned to avoid contamination.