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The Fun Mouse: Mouse Information: Breeding Ethics

Contents


Introduction

Before you decide to breed any mouse, there are a lot of things you need to evaluate. There are more than enough mice in this world. Not every mouse is meant to be bred and not every person is cut out to breed. You can love mice without breeding them. Breeding mice for the sole intention of making more is not ethical what so ever. You must consider many things BEFORE breeding. I realize that this page is long. There are a lot of things to consider. I feel that if you are unwilling to take the time to read through this page and ponder every question seriously, then you should not be breeding.

Everything stated herein is in no particular order and is of equal importance.


Time

Do you have time to care for your mice daily? Baby mice *need* to be held and cared for daily. They should be checked on at least 2 times a day. Raising a litter isn't something that you can do when you feel like it. They need constant care. If you are not able to hold all of your babies daily, you should not breed mice. In addition, if you choose to have more than one litter at a time, you need to factor that into your schedule as well. More litters equals more time. If each of your Does has 25 babies (while a bit rare, it does happen!), do you have time to hold each and every one of them daily? This is not to be taken lightly. It is very important to socialize mice so they are well adjusted and tame. Mice need this care, it is not something you can compromise on. In addition to taming, it is very important to know each baby individually. This is of extreme importance so you are able to observe personality changes which usually indicates a health problem. If you have a lot of babies at once, there is no way you can get to know each baby individually and detect a problem before it is too late. Spending time with babies and only having a limited number of litters is extremely important for their personality as well as their health! In addition, you will not be able to place your babies properly in the right homes if you don't know their personality. If you don't know their individual personalities, you will not know if they are good for breeders, pets, etc. Before breeding, evaluate your schedule. Account for the time you are at work, school, extra activities, etc. Make sure there is time set aside for your mice. Only have as many litters as you can handle. If you mass produce mice, they are not going to be tame, the risk of health problems going undetected is extremely increased, people are not going to want them as pets or breeders, and you will eventually be well known as a mouse mill. There is no way you are going to be able to adequately care for an insane number of litters. The number of litters you can handle is nothing to be ashamed of. We all have cut off points. It's different for every person and every situation. Breeding more than you can handle IS something to be ashamed of. Personally, I do not breed more than 5 litters at a time but even having that many is extremely rare. I generally only breed 2-3 at once and often take a break in between. While I have more than enough demand for them (and then some), I do not feel that it is fair to them if I don't have enough time to give them the attention they need. In addition, I ENJOY spending one on one time with all of them. I like to love every baby individually! I only have as many litters as I can handle. I will even take breaks from breeding if I know I will not have enough time for them... or even if I worry in the least that I will not. If there is to be a change in my life such as a move, a vacation, a new addition to the family, etc I will take a break from breeding. You need to factor these things in before breeding.

Veterinary Care

Vet care is a must for *any* animal, including mice. Just because mice usually don't cost much to purchase, it doesn't mean that they don't deserve vet care. All life is valuable and deserves proper care, no matter the size or the initial cost of purchase. Do you have a vet that will see pocket pets? Many vets are not able to see pocket pets for an array of reasons. Some vets don't even have the proper equipment to care for them if needed. You *must* have an adequate vet *before* breeding mice. You should have a vet before even getting mice, period. If an emergency happens, you can't waste time tracking down a vet. If your mice have a life and death situation, time is not on your side. In a case of an injury or complication a vet will need to be seen ASAP! Digging through the phone book, searching online, etc for a vet isn't something you have time for in these cases. Your mice could die in that time. You NEED to have a vet BEFORE breeding. In addition, your vet should be able to handle emergencies. Most birthing complications happen at night when vets are closed. Your vet needs to be able to come in at any time to treat your mice.

Finances

Do you have an adequate emergency fund for your mice? Even under the best of circumstances mice cost money. If something goes wrong, you will need an emergency fund to cover expenses. While home treatment can be done sometimes, a good vet is a must! A few dollars stashed away is not enough. Assuming that you will have the money or be able to get it if something comes up is not sufficient in the least. A pregnant mother can have complications during pregnancy, birthing, and after pregnancy. In addition, the babies might need vet care as well. Complications can't be predicted, but having funds set aside for them can help if such a case arises. At a minimum, I keep over a thousand dollars in a fund for my mice. I have needed to use it, and then some. There was a time that I had a very serious emergency and had to dump well over that $1,000 into my mice over a 2 month period. My emergency wasn't uncommon and wasn't predictable. While I was dealing with around 120 mice at the time, the financial end of things can add up fast with even one planned litter of up to 25 mice. You also need to have funds set aside to buy more housing or have housing on hand before breeding. Bucks usually need to be kept alone. 100% male litters *do* happen! Even if you have homes lined up before breeding, consider the fact that something could go wrong and you might need to house them for longer than anticipated. Do you have enough set aside to cover costs of 25 extra bucks per litter? This not only includes housing but also food, toys, vet care, etc. The expenses for these can add up fast! Always remember that even the best made plans can go awry. An emergency fund NEEDS to be saved BEFORE breeding should be considered.

Adopting out

Do you have secure and adequate homes for any mice you produce? You need to have this *before* breeding. You must line up more homes than possible babies. You need to plan on having an all buck litter as they are usually harder to place. All buck litters *do* happen! I've had it happen! If you are not able to line up homes for 10-20 bucks per litter then you shouldn't breed mice. You also need to take into consideration that people back out of adoptions and this is why you need to have *more* homes than possible mice. People back out of adoptions for an array of reasons. Some can happen innocently enough. Sometimes "life" just happens. Things come up that they can't foresee or prevent. In these cases, you need a back up plan. Not only do you need more homes than possible mice but you also need to have more housing than possible mice as your back up plan. Even the best intentions of adopters can go wrong. If your back up plan is a pet shop, consider the fact that the babies are likely to go as feeders. Are you willing to allow your babies to be placed in a tank with a predator, scared out of their minds for who knows how many days, and then crushed to death at the jaws (or body) of their predator? While predators need to eat too, there are other options out there which are far more humane than feeding live. In addition, are you actually willing to let the babies you cared so much for meet their fate like that? On a rare occasion a pet-only pet shop can be found. However, you will not know where your babies are going. What if they get adopted to someone that looses interest in them? What if they stop caring for the mouse/mice and they die a horrible death? Are you willing to live with the fact that your babies could be neglected? What about abused? Since you don't know where they are going, this can easily happen. Because mice don't cost much at all, they are more likely to be neglected and/or abused by a pet shop purchaser. There are some really sick people out there, sadly. Can you really place your babies, babies you cared so much for, in a pet shop with such great potential for placing your mice in harms way? Also, if you adopt out to a pet shop, there is no way to track your babies and any health issues that may arise. If you can't track all babies in your lines, you can't insure that you are breeding healthy mice.

Stability

Are you stable financially, emotionally, physically, etc? You need stability in every aspect before breeding mice. You can't responsibly bring mice into this world if you are not stable in every way possible. If you're not, it's not fair to these little lives you might be bringing into the world. Mice cost money and income security/stability is of great importance, as discussed before. In addition to that, you must live in a place that is secure and allows mice. If you are forced to move for unforeseen reasons, where will your mice go? If you have a landlord or live with someone else, are they perfectly content with your mice having babies? You need a stable income, housing, and support of people living in your household before getting pets, let alone having mouse babies.

Breeding mice can be extremely hard on your emotions. There's so many things that can go wrong and break your heart. Are you emotionally stable enough to handle it? Most breeders don't talk much about all the tears and heartache they go through because it's too painful to talk much about. If you don't think it's emotionally tearing, think again. Are you willing to deal with the loss of life? What if the mother has complications and you watch her die a painful death? Can you handle it? What if the mother culls her litter? Can you handle seeing babies ripped to shreds? If this happens you will usually find pieces of babies everywhere. You will have to pick out heads, bodies, bodies with no stomach, etc from the mothers tank. Sometimes this is even seen happening. You might see a baby being ripped apart and hear it screaming in pain. Can you handle seeing this? Can you understand that this is not a case of the mother being rotten? Mothers have reasons for doing things like this and you can't blame her or be mad at her for doing so. Sorry to be graphic here, but if you can't handle reading this, then breeding is NOT for you. Are you prepared to deal with a loss of entire litters? Are you prepared to deal with a loss of a mother? If the mother is lost yet the babies remain, what are your plans for these live babies? Imagine yourself in every situation possible. Sometimes mice get ill and a breeder will do everything in their power to save them. Some breeders will take on hand raising babies which makes the bond between mouse and human incredible. Even with the best care, most dedication, and doing everything right, animals are lost and the devastation can be excruciating to take. Imagine how much a breeder can bond with their mice and how it can feel to lose a mouse or mice they have put so much care into. Can you deal with the devastation that does happen, at one time or another, with breeding mice? In addition, if you have emotional difficulty, breeding mice isn't for you. Emotional difficulties is *nothing* to be ashamed of. But it's in your best interest to avoid things that can hurt you, such as breeding mice. I don't want to see you in pain, nor do I want something to happen to the mice. Taking care of babies takes a strong will. In difficult times a person needs to place all their emotions aside and deal with the problems with a clear mind and as few emotions as possible. It's hard not to get emotional or wrapped up in the moment when things go wrong. You need to be able to take a breath and think about the best options without emotions getting in the way. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made and sometimes those decisions are painful to make. A good breeder needs to know how to balance emotions along with reasonable and quick thinking.

Lastly, are you physically able to care for the babies? Are you physically able to take the mice to the vet if needed? You can't rely on getting a ride at the last minute. I've heard many people say "my parents will take the mouse into see the vet if it needs it." Then when it comes down to an ER visit, the parent is not willing to do so. It is your responsibility to be able to take care of these babies in all aspects, such as physically taking them to the vet if needed. Also, if you end up having to keep a litter of bucks, are you physically able to clean and care for them all adequately? Cleaning can take a lot of time. The more there are, the more time, energy, all around physical care they take. Cleaning can't be compromised. Mice need to be clean to be healthy.


Breeding Goals

Breeding goals are necessary if you want to breed any mouse. Evaluate exactly why you want to breed. Are you breeding just to have a litter, you want to "see the miracle of life", you want to pass on the temperament of your mouse onto babies, etc? These are not good reasons to breed. Breeding ethically entails breeding for a goal to better improve mice as a whole. If you are a parent that wants to show your children the miracle of life, watch a video of a mouse or animal giving birth. There is no need to bring innocent lives into the world for solely that reason. Also think about the entire message that sends to your children. You're not showing them the miracle of life, you are showing them that it's okay to breed mice unethically and for the sole benefit of the human, not the animal. Teaching a child to respect all life is more important. If you want a video of a mouse giving birth, contact me as I can provide this for you. If you want to breed your mouse just to pass on its temperament, consider that your mouses temperament may NOT be passed on! There is something to be said about hereditary temperament. There's also a lot to be said about good breeding and nurturing. You could breed 2 well tempered mice and end up with a bunch of ill tempered mice. If you want more good tempered mice, seek out a good breeder and adopt. In addition, if all you know about the mice is their temperament, these mice could be passing on something far worse than bad tempers. They could be passing on many defects which can not only effect the mice and their tempers but it can also effect their health and well being. Well tempered yet unhealthy mice can easily be produced when breeding like that. Just because the parents "seem" healthy doesn't mean that they don't carry something and pass it onto their offspring. I will go further into this in the section below. Every breeding needs to have a specific goal as well as to improve mice as a species. Irresponsible breeding is not going to better mice as a species. All mice deserve to be brought into this world under very controlled circumstances. This is nothing to be taken lightly! In addition, if you have goals, you need to know how to accomplish those goals. Do you know how inheritance works? This doesn't just mean color genetics but also how defects can be inherited. Do you have long term goals? Do the goals of your litters fit with your long term goals?

Breeding Pet Shop mice.

First and foremost you need to start with healthy, well tracked stock. Breeding mice that you know nothing about drastically increases the chances of bringing unhealthy mice into this world. Having 2 seemingly healthy mice from a pet shop does NOT fulfil the need of having healthy breeding mice. When you get a mouse from a pet shop you know little to nothing about it. You don't know its age, health history, what it carries, where it comes from, etc. A mouse can look perfectly healthy on the outside but the inside can be completely different. For instance, a mouse might be carrying something or it could have something that just hasn't developed enough to be seen. The mouse could have a history of problems in its ancestry. Since you don't know ancestry, this is something you can't see or know until time brings it to the surface. The mouse might have an increased chance at getting tumors because of ancestry. Whether or not cancer is inherited is a hard question to answer but I can tell you beyond a doubt that some lines ARE far more prone to it than others. Knowing if the mouse is going to have cancer in its life time can't be known until it happens... or doesn't happen. Breeding pet shop bucks is slightly safer than breeding pet shop does because you have more time to evaluate them before breeding. When breeding a pet shop doe, you need to do so before she is 8 months of age. This is not an adequate time frame to observe her for health problems. Most tumors don't pop out until the mouse is over one year of age, same with other ailments. Even if you were to keep a pet shop buck and he lives 2 years of age with no problems, there is nothing to say that he doesn't carry something and will pass it on to his children. There are many recessive health related problems that can stay hidden for generations, only to pop out when bred with another mouse that carries the same problem recessively. As you can see from this brief section, there is a LOT that can go wrong when breeding pet shop mice. Sadly, pet shop mice are generally only bred to be feeders. There is no thought put into the breeding. They are almost always inbred and mass produced with no health tracking. Doing this only weakens the mice, increases chances of hereditary disorders, and causes aggressiveness.

I do not feel that careful and well planned breeding of pet shop mice is the worst thing in the world. However, it is not something to be taken lightly for the reasons (and more) stated above. If an experienced breeder wants to take on the venture of breeding, on a rare occasion, a pet shop mouse into their lines because it is necessary for lack of any other options, they need to be extremely careful. The entire line needs to be evaluated for many generations. The breeder also has to completely understand the laws of inheritance and what that means for their breeding program. If you don't understand how things are inherited, you should never breed a pet shop mouse. If you do, there is an immense chance that you will bring litters of ill mice into this world.


Education

You must know as much as possible about breeding before breeding your mice. Education doesn't stop at general numbers (estrus cycle: 4-5 days, gestation: 19-24 days, weaning: 4 weeks, etc). There is a lot more to breeding than this. You need to be well educated in all aspects of breeding. You need to do a lot of research. Doing weeks or even months of research is not adequate time to learn everything you need to know about breeding. You need to know the safest way to raise a litter, what to feed the mother and babies, when to feed her supplements, what supplements they need, how to sex the babies, when to separate them, what you can do if the mother is lost and the babies are not weaned yet, what a peanut is and what it means, etc, etc, etc. The list of things to know before breeding is almost endless. Having as much education as possible will drastically increase the chances of having a successful litter.

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