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The Fun Mouse: Mouse Information: Neutering Mice

Contents:


Why Neuter?

Things you should know and consider before getting your mouse neutered.

Is neutering necessary in your case?
Males should only be neutered when you want them to be able to live with other males or females without breeding. If you only have the one male, then it's probably not a good idea to put him through that for no reason. If you haven't gotten your mice yet and you think you may get two males and neuter them both, then think again. You may as well get two females. Even though a male is neutered, it doesn't mean that it changes his whole personality (though sometimes it does). A neutered male, especially if he was neutered late, will still have an interest in breeding females, though it may decrease. If you are trying to get rid of his aggressiveness to other males, neutering may help, but only slightly, or it might not help at all.

Is your mouse a good candidate for neutering?
If your pet is older or unhealthy, then do not have him neutered. An unhealthy animal may die during the procedure, or die afterwards. If he is old, putting that kind of strain on his body can't help him at all, plus if he doesn't have much time left then why bother? You have to decide whether it is worth it or not before you go ahead.

Will you be willing to pay for it?
Neutering a mouse, depending on the veterinarian you choose and where you are located, will run you about $60-$100, or about the price of neutering a dog. Although I've heard it go all the way up to about $300! Also, if something goes wrong, you may have to bring your mouse back in and that will cost you extra.

What if something goes wrong?
As with any surgery, there is a possibility that something will go wrong. Will you be able to handle it? Some animals have weak hearts and may not recover. Some mice may not react well to the anesthesia. A huge risk when neutering a mouse is tearing of the incision when doing the procedure. The rip can continue all the way to the mouses rectum. After the surgery some mice may open their incision and bleed to death if you don't notice it. There are few things that can go wrong, but they do exist and you have to prepare yourself and think about these things when deciding whether or not to neuter your critter.

Pro's and Con's of neutering


Pro's
  • Your mouse may be able to live with other males.
  • Your mouse will be able to live with females without breeding them.
  • His aggressiveness may decrease.
  • His smell may decrease.
  • Living with other mice will make him happier if he is in fact able to (personality wise).

Con's
  • He will likely still be aggressive to other males and won't be able to live with them.
  • He may still have an interest in breeding females so the females won't want to live with him (severe cases).
  • His aggressiveness and smell may not decrease.
  • He will have to remain in a special, small cage with no wheel for 1-3 weeks.
  • He may not survive the procedure. Small animals do not react to anesthesia the same as other pets. Their risk for survival through a surgery is higher.
  • The cost is high.
  • You may have to return to the vet if other problems arise.
  • There is a very high risk of tearing (from testicular sacks all the way to his anus) and your vet might not be able to complete the surgery or your mouse could be in a lot of pain from the tear.
  • While rare, is possible that the testicles will grow back. Should that be the case and he is housed with other females, you may end up with a lot of pregnant does.
  • You have no idea how he is going to be after the surgery, and if he doesn't change at all, you may just end up with a very expensive waste of time.

The bottom line
Do not neuter unless you have to; either you want him to live with females or you want him to live with males (who usually must also be neutered for that to work and even then it doesn't always work). If you just want him to be nicer to you or to be less smelly, then neutering is not necessary as it will probably not help in that case.

The procedure: before, during, and after


This is what normally happens with neuters, but it's not the same for everyone. Listen to the advice your veterinarian gives you and all should go well.

Before neutering
Of course by now you should have read up on neutering, asked people who know about it, and make sure that this is the right thing to do. Make sure your veterinarian is knowledgeable on the subject, and make sure that he or she is willing to do this surgery. Many vets do not like to partake in small animal surgery, so make sure that yours does before you make an appointment. You can always phone ahead and speak to the doctor and ask them your own questions free of charge. Also make sure they have the proper equipment. Mice are extremely small and special equipment is more ideal.
Ask your veterinarian if your mouse needs any special care before the surgery. Don't give your mouse food before the operation, but always provide water. While it is true that mice can not vomit, food before a surgery is still a risk. Mice can regurgitate and choke to death. Bring the mouse in his tank for the surgery. The tank should be small, such as a 5g tank, with plenty of warm bedding. It is recommended that you use fleece, paper towels, shredded paper, or carefresh as they should not get stuck in the incision and injure your pet further. Fleece is also something warm to help them keep body heat after the surgery. White or light bedding is best, that way it will be easier to tell if your mouse is bleeding a lot more than he supposed to. Give him a house to hide in but do not allow them a wheel. He should not have anything other than the bare necessities such as a water bottle, bedding, and house. The house should not be too big or hard to climb in. Mice like small, dark places. After this, there's not much you can do until it is over.

During the procedure
When the vet is ready to neuter your mouse, he or she will have to put it under anesthesia first. Since mice are too small to handle intravenous injections, they are put into a small box or a dog's face mask where the gas anesthetic is slowly put into. The mouse breathes the gas and falls asleep.
Once the critter is asleep, a smaller mask is held over its mouth and nose so that it will continue to sleep during the surgery. The hair is then removed from the scrotum and it is washed with disinfectant soap so that no germs will get into the incision.
Once he is all washed and ready for surgery, the veterinarian will take a scalpel and make a small incision across the scrotum. The vet will then push the testicle out of the sack. This is one of the largest risks when neutering a mouse. During this process the sack can rip open, potentially ripping all the way to the rectum. A vet should be able to see this starting and stop the surgery right then. This will leave you with an un neutered mouse. If the rip happens to quickly and it gets to the rectum, this can cause an array of complications and pain. Scrotum ripping is extremely easy and rather common. Please keep this in mind when choosing to neuter or not. If this part of the procedure is a success and the testicles are out, the vet will fully remove the testicle, close it off, and trim the excess fat. Then the veterinarian will use suture material to bring the incision together with a single stitch, but the stitch will be inside the skin so the mouse cannot chew it off. The suture will dissolve by itself, so you don't have to worry about going back in to have it removed later. The skin itself will then be glued together with powerful surgical glue. This glue will help keep your pet from opening its wound and will give it time to heal on its own.
Once the surgery is complete, the mouse will be cleaned up a bit and then placed inside its cage with a warm blanket. Somebody will watch it wake up so that there are no problems. They usually awaken pretty quickly, and will most likely start licking at the incision right away. As long as they aren't obsessed with chewing it, then that's okay. Let him lick at it all he wants, pending he isn't opening the wound, it will make him feel better. Once your pet is awake enough and there are no other problems, he can go home.

After neutering
When your critter goes home he may still be groggy. Don't bother him until the next day, to give him a chance to recover. You can give him his regular amount of food, but keep using the special bedding and leave his exercise wheel out of the cage for at least another week. Some can't have a wheel for up to 3 weeks, depending on how fast he heals. He will be a bit slow moving for a little while, but once he is more active and wants to play, you should provide him with chew toys to help curb his boredom. Check him daily for any signs of wound chewing or excessive bleeding and make sure that he is eating and drinking. Your newly neutered male should not be introduced to a female until completely healed (2-3 weeks), should that be your plan. A neutered male still produces sperm for a little while after neutering, therefore you should keep him away from females for at least 2 weeks. We don't ever recommend housing a buck with other bucks (neutered or not) because the chance of them getting along isn't good. They could kill themselves just as before. Never hesitate to call your veterinarian if you see any problems or have any questions.

Spaying a female

I'm not going to go into detail about spaying as I feel it's unnecessary in most all cases. Spaying a female is a much greater risk than neutering a male. Spaying is much more invasive than neutering. During a spay the vet must open the mouse’s abdomen, push organs aside, and then pull the uterus out. Then he/she must sterilize the female by removing her ovaries or clamping them off. Then he/she puts everything back and stitches her up with surgical glue, much like the neuter. Keep in mind that a mouse has very small organs which make things more difficult.
Most of the time there is absolutely no reason to spay a mouse. In my opinion, the only reason do a surgery like this is if there is another medical problem such as tumors, cists, or problems delivering. A spay will cost more than a neuter because of the depth of the procedure. A vet should specialize in small animals and have the right equipment to perform the surgery. If your mouse must have the surgery make sure your vet is qualified and has the proper equipment.

None of this advice is to take the place of a vets. Be sure to consult a vet before considering a neuter or a spay for your mouse.

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