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Breeding Mice

Updated on June 29, 2012

Breeding Mice

There are many reasons a person might want to breed mice, and if you do, you've come to the right place! Maybe you own reptiles and things are getting expensive at the pet store. Maybe you have pet mice and you think it would be interesting to breed them. You might want to make a little money on Craigslist while you're at it. No matter what your reason is, it will only take a small start up cost and the mice will soon pay for themselves, in cash, or in their love for you as wonderful pets.


  • How long are mice pregnant? 21 days.
  • Can I handle the pregnant mother? Yes, if she will come to you to be held. Never pick her up by the stomach.
  • When do baby mice get fur? Around 7 days.
  • When are baby mice fully weaned? 6 weeks. It is important that you separate males and females at this time, otherwise you will have inferior litters born to too young mothers.
  • How many babies will my mouse have? Anywhere from 1-20. The most I've gotten from a single litter is 14. Make sure, if you aren't breeding for snake food, that you have a place to keep them all or people to give them to, preferably before you breed.
  • What color babies will I get? A very complex question! Depends on many factors. With most pet store mice, you will likely have a wide range. Several colors dominate over all others, such as agouti, which is a ticked brown.
  • How can I breed for healthier/larger mice? Be very selective about which mice you breed. Understand though that most pet store mice carry genetic diseases. Be ready to cull an entire line if one pops up.

The Rules of the Game

  1. NEVER house more than one male together for any length of time after the age of 4 weeks. Male mice will fight with each other for territory. Some females will as well.
  2. When introducing two mice of any sex for the first time, clean out the cage well to remove all previous scents. Never place a new mouse into another's cage or, as they see it, territory without cleaning it completely out first.
  3. Wait until female mice are at least 10 weeks old to mate them. Anything less and its like getting a 16 year old pregnant. You run the risk of the scared, inexperienced mother cannibalizing her babies.
  4. Don't handle baby mice in front of their mother. Always take the mother out and preferably put her in a cage in a different room so she doesn't hear the squeaking. I give the mothers a treat and a wheel while I handle their babies.
  5. Wait at least 3 days to handle baby mice after they're born (If you hear squeaking, leave it alone) Mice will cannibalize their babies if they feel threatened or believe they've run out of food. This is especially true of mice from large chain pet stores that are skittish. Keep your food and water supply full at all times and don't clean the tank for the first week. I almost never disturb the nesting box for cleaning until the baby mice's eyes open.
  6. The best nesting box to use is something you can lift up and inspect the babies but is also private. A kleenex box with one side cut out works well. Pet stores also sell plastic igloos that are great for this. The mouse will need plenty of nesting material to stuff in the opening of her nesting box and create a soft spot for her babies.
  7. DO handle the baby mice regularly, especially any females you wish to breed again. Even if they're snake food! Taming the mice and getting them to trust you will prevent cannibalization down the road when you breed them.

Startup Costs

Your start up costs will depend mainly on how large your breeding program will be. To start out you may consider only one male and a number of females. You will need to purchase a cage for each male, and a cages large enough for several females. If you buy 3 females to start out with, you may be able to house them all together peacefully, but in case they fight, have an extra cage ready.

I use medium sized Rubbermaid containers from the dollar store, and drill around 40 holes into each lid. These containers are cheap, durable and can hold up to 3 female mice each.
You can also buy those commercial small rodent cages they make for hamsters, and other small rodents but make sure the cage you buy has very little space between the bars. Make sure that the cage you buy supports a water bottle.

Try to buy bedding in bulk if you possibly can. Good places to look are farming supply stores where you may be able to get large quantities of hay or kiln dried wood chips. Make sure not to buy untreated pine or other hard wood, as it has been shown to cause respiratory problems in small mammals. If you're looking for wood chips and the package says "treated" or "kiln dried" you're safe, otherwise all bets are off.

I find that making your own mix of food is much cheaper than buying "mouse food" at the pet store. To fulfill your mice's requirement for protein, find a lower protein bag of dog or cat food and add around 1/5 of it to the total mixture. Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula Ultra Premium Dog Food has the right amount of protein that isn't derived from meat and is a good choice for mice. A large bag will last for 6+ months, depending on how many mice you're feeding.

You will also want to add the most varied bird seed you can find and any other goodies. Nuts, grains, and dried fruit will all be appreciated. Try to keep most of the mixture grain derived. Bread that you no longer can use and has only gone slightly stale can be used for mice, as can other grain leftovers.

Hides are essential to a mouse's well being. For snake owners, this comes as no surprise, as many snakes also need something to hide in to feel secure. Pregnant or nursing mice are especially vulnerable and absolutely need a dark quiet haven to give birth and raise a litter in. For the cost conscious, hides can be made out of almost anything. Old cardboard food containers lying around make great hides. The more creative you are, the less money you'll spend.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am thinking about breeding baby mice with my two female mice and buying a male from a pet store. My females are about 19 weeks old. Is it ok to breed them?

      Do I need to introduce the male to them in a different cage so they don't get territorial?

      Can I put they male babies in with the dad when they are separated from the females?

      My mouse cages would be kept basically right next to each other.

      Also, how can I convince my parents to let me breed only 1 litter of mice?

      And can I keep two pregnant mice in the same cage and let them raise the new babies together?

      Thanks :D

    • reptilia profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Keep 2 females to a tub/cage. Introduce them to it together and leave them there for a few weeks before introducing the male to their cage.

      You can leave the male there for 15 days, NO LONGER. At this point, you risk the female giving birth while he is there. If that happens, the babies could be cannibalized, and the mother could be pregnant again. You don't want either of these because if the mom is immediately pregnant without a waiting period, you will have unhealthy, smaller, inferior babies. The male should have a cage by himself most of the time.

      Hope this helps!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      im wanting to get into mice breeding, but i have a few questions. when breeding them, do you keep all pregnant females in one cage together? and do you leave the male in there at all times?

    • reptilia profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Letting them go somewhere is definitely what I would suggest doing. Wild mice and domestic mice are so far removed from one another, its really comparable to owning a coyote when you wanted a dog. My guess is that they have been trying to escape from their 10 gallon non-stop since you've put them in there. That is typical for them because they have never been confined before or held by humans. If you do allow them to breed together, they will surely cannibalize the babies from stress.

      If you're still interested in mice, I would encourage you to buy a couple that you like from the pet store. They will still probably be very flighty because of the environment they have been raised in, and you will have to earn their trust, but you will see a very extreme and immediate difference in temperament. Get a couple of females as pets and see how you like it before going into breeding.

      Fish are also a great option. They are generally low maintenance (at least compared to some other pets) and a good idea for someone that needs a low commitment pet. If you go out of town for a week, you certainly don't have to worry about what you're going to do with the fish. I will make you a hub. I've been meaning to make one anyway about my natural fish tank project.

    • Bills Place profile image

      Billy Haynes 

      7 years ago from Paragould, AR

      Thanks for the reply. I know raising them as pets to sell is hard no matter what coat color as not many people want mice as pets (at least no one I know). I see your point on the parasites in wild mice as well so this is something I will certainly have to think about... If nothing else I may take them out to a field somewhere and let them go. I can always re-use the tank I bought for fish!

      If you have any information about fish that would help a person starting out let me know. We had fish when I was real young, but don't remember much about the process of keeping them alive.

    • reptilia profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hi! Great question!

      People breed mice to make money 2 ways. The first is to sell for feeders (for reptiles to eat). You can get around a dollar a mouse for this.

      The other option is to breed competitively for pets. This is very difficult to do because people generally want good coat colors, and you must be able to start with obscure/highly wanted colors. You must know something about genetics.

      As far as wild mice go, neither is a very good option to make money. Generally people that are feeding their reptiles are worried about parasites in wild mice. As far as pets go, wild mice make terrible pets. They are difficult to tame. I once had a few half-wild mice and they were jumpy, and tended to bite. They also only come in a single, boring coat color- agouti.

      Hope this helps you decide!

    • Bills Place profile image

      Billy Haynes 

      7 years ago from Paragould, AR

      We recently tried several things to get rid of mice in our house such as the electronic wall things, dad used glue traps for a couple days until I went out and bought live traps once I decided the glue traps was inhumane. Dad then bought two more after seeing how effective they were. I did not have my hopes up, but we had caught about 20 mice in two to three days.

      Our original plan was to catch and release, but while I was at the store I passed a 10 gallon fish tank and decided to get it and a wheel, used a water bottle and housing from an old cage we had. It's fun to watch them play around in the cage and take turns on the wheel. I know that if we do keep them they can't all continue to stay in a single 10 gallon tank.

      If I decide to keep them I like the plastic container idea from the dollar store. However, I keep debating if it's worth breeding? Do pet shops by then from people, do you have to have a license to advertise mice for sale, etc?


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