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The Fun Mouse: Mouse Information: Introducing Mice



**Before you begin, it is critical that you observe proper Quarantine! If you haven't already, please review the entire Quarantine section of this site before continuing.**

This section was written to help you introduce female mice. I do not recommend introducing American male mice as it usually always ends in disaster. Please read the "Can male mice live together?" in the "Keeping Mice Together" section of this site for more information.

When introducing female mice, don't give up unless you have to. If they fight, separate them for at least 24 hours, if not a week, and try again. After living alone for a while they often learn that they really do want a roommate after all. Sometimes trying several times is what is needed. Keep in mind that not all introductions are going to be successful, but most are. If you have a mouse that insists on fighting really bad (blood is involved) I don't recommend trying again. In addition, some mice are just not going to get along no matter what you do. Just like people, we all have others that we get along great with, and some that we just can't along with. Every mouse has her own personality and will clique better with different mice. If you get a really stubborn doe, try only introducing her to one other doe instead of a group. Mice often bond well with only one roommate. This might help. Later on, you might be able to add more mice to the group.

Neutral Territory

There are a variety of ways to introduce mice to each other. All options center on one very important thing, neutral territory. You don't have to go out and buy everything new but you must scrub everything down really well. See the section on cleaning for further instructions about that. When setting up neutral territory, make sure everything is in a different order than how any of your mice have it in their tank already. It is also very important to supervise your mice for a long time after their initial introduction. Sometimes mice seem like they love each other and then a week later they start fighting. When introducing mice plan on spending a good majority of the day with them. You can even carry their tank around with you from room to room so you can still get things done but you are there in case you need to separate them quickly. If the mice do fight, always have a toilet paper roll near by so you can use that to break them apart, rather than your hand. If you use your hand to separate them, expect to get bit! It's doubtful that they will intend to bite you, but if you get in between a fight, they may miss their target and get you instead.

Small Introductions

Sometimes smaller space is better when introducing mice. Mice should always have adequate space no matter what, but introducing them in just enough space to fill their needs can really help force the mice to share. Part of the problem with introducing in large areas is that the mice may stake claim on something as "theirs." Then if another mouse comes into their claimed area, a fight will break out. Introducing mice in a smaller area will force them to share as it will be harder for anyone to stake a claim on anything. When introducing mice in a smaller area, make sure they have everything they need (water, food, housing, etc). Also make sure it is neutral to everyone and large enough so they do have adequate space (do not cram mice into anything for any amount of time!). Once the girls are getting along well in the smaller space for about a week, a transition to a larger area will likely go smoother than if you just introduced them into the larger area to begin with. Remember, bigger is always better for females permanent living.

Love Your Roommate

If you have 2 tanks of mice that you plan to introduce, you can place one tank inside the other, pending one tank can easily fit inside the other. You can NOT use this method with cages or anything with bars or mesh where the mice can fight through the bars. Remember, mice can fight through the smallest openings, grabbing tails, fur, etc. Make sure that the outside tank of mice can't get on top of the inside tank, as you don't want fighting through the mesh lid. Make sure they have all they need (food, water, house, wheel etc.). Let them live like that for a few days to a week. During those days, you can take a little bedding from each tank and place it into the other tank. This also helps them get to know each others smells better. When doing this, the mice get used to living together without taking the risk of them actually being able to fight. When placing them together they might be so used to seeing and smelling each other that they may not argue much at all. When you introduce them in the same tank, make sure to introduce them in a neutral territory. Be aware that fighting can always happen so you should always observe them together for a long time after the initial introduction.

Love Your Neighbor

If you are not able to, or choose not to place one tank inside the other, another great option is placing 2 tanks next to each other and swap the mice from one tank to the other each day (i.e. Remove mouse A from her tank. Place mouse B in mouse A's tank. Then place mouse A in mouse B's tank). This allows them to get used to the other ones smell yet still not coming in direct contact with each other. After doing this for a few days to a week, introduce the mice in a neutral territory. Be aware that fighting can always happen so you should always observe them together for a long time after the initial introduction.

Sweet Smells

Sometimes placing a small dab of vanilla on the rump of each mouse being introduced works wonders. When a drop of vanilla is placed on each of their rumps they all smell the same. Mice that smell the same often accept each other easier. Along with the smell, the vanilla also works as a distraction. The mice will be more concerned with cleaning it off than bullying each other. Vanilla either works right away or it doesn't. If the mice fight, the vanilla isn't going to make a difference later on. Introducing them and then placing vanilla on the rump isn't going to do any good. Vanilla only helps the initial introduction.

Playground Intro's

You can set up a mousie playground in a bin, tank, bathtub, etc and introduce your mice there. Place many fun toys and things to climb on in there so it gives them a lot of distractions. They will usually be more concerned with their surroundings and not as concerned with each other. Let the mice play in the play area a little while, giving them time to get aquatinted. After the play time, place them in a neutral tank and watch them for a long time in case fighting does occur.

Fighting and Arguing

There is a big difference between fighting and arguing. All mice argue, even the best of friends. Sisters will argue with other sisters, mothers will even argue with daughters. Arguing is nothing to worry about. You might argue too if you were locked in a room with the same person (or people) every day. Arguing may involve some mild nipping, squeaking (perhaps even loud squeaking), slapping, kicking, tail rattling, etc. However, arguing does NOT involve blood. At the first sign of blood, or you know blood is going to be drawn, separate them right away! Do not use your hands to intervene, use a TP roll or something that is gentle for them, yet saves you from being accidentally bit in the heat of their moment.

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