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From Pinkie to Mouse: How I Did It

Updated on May 8, 2011

Meet Nipper!

It was about a month after my nineteenth birthday and I was standing around, bored out of my mind, in yet another pet store waiting for my mom to get what she needed for her guinea pigs. I wandered over to the rodent section to take a peek at the hamsters (I had one at home already, but they were always funny to watch) and that's when I saw them... pinkie mice.

I was intrigued by them. They were about the size of a shelled peanut, pink, and slightly slimy. As if they had just popped out of their mother! Which seemed fairly likely since the mother was nearby, wringing her hands and looking worried.

I was about to pass them by, but a woman with a snake walked up to the tank and was looking at them with a little TOO much interest if you know what I mean. I know that snakes gotta eat too (circle of life and all that), but I just couldn't stand it--especially with the pinkies' mother RIGHT THERE watching! I immediately turned to the nearby store boy and told him that "I'll take two!"

I ended up with a female and a male. The female died the next night. The male, Nipper, lived a very happy life. This is his story.

(Photo credit for the pinkies goes to Wikipedia. All other pictures are personal photos of my Nipper. That first night I was too busy taking care of him to stop and take baby pictures, but this Wiki pic is pretty darn close to what he and his sibling looked like that first night)

This isn't from the first night, but isn't Nipper cute?
This isn't from the first night, but isn't Nipper cute?

The First Night

AKA: How I Went Temporarily Insane

The first night was the hardest. It was also one of the most physically demanding/exhausting nights of my life (and I have a black belt!). I would NOT want to be a mouse. Turns out mamma mice are pretty hardcore.

Fortunately, I had all the right tools for the job:

*Pedialyte or filtered/bottled water (NOT tap water)

*Kitten formula (which I watered down with bottled water)

*A thin soft-tipped syringe (you can apparently also use a CLEAN paintbrush--I would get a NEW paintbrush for this; not one that you'd been painting with)

*A glass tank with lots of bedding

*A heat lamp or pad (at the lowest setting--you want to keep your baby warm, but you don't wanna cook him!)

*A very loud alarm clock

That last item might seem puzzling, but stick with me. The reason you need an alarm clock is because that first night, baby mice like to eat about EVERY HALF AN HOUR! Meaning, every half an hour, you'll have to wake up, feed it, and rub it's tummy. Why rub its tummy? Because its digestive tract isn't fully formed yet and it needs "mom" to manually stroke the food downward for it to become poops/pee. Neat, huh?

Fortunately, after the first night, they ease up a bit on being little hunger monsters and start taking their meals every hour and then every two hours once they get to be about 4-5 days old. And after they become Fuzzies (as in, they start getting a little bit of hair), you'll be able to sleep more or less regularly again.

(Note: This pic of Nipper isn't from the first night--as I said, I was too busy to take pictures!--but it does show my syringe...and how cute he was as a Fuzzy!)

Powdered Kitten Formula - Nipper's Baby Food of Choice

KMR® Powder for Kittens & Cats, 12oz
KMR® Powder for Kittens & Cats, 12oz

I preferred to use the powder formula for Nipper because it kept longer than the liquid. (Liquid formula, once opened, goes bad pretty quickly).

Just be sure to add 2X the recommended dose of water to the mix! It'll look a little funny, but trust me--it's for the best. You don't want your pinkie to get "clogged."

 

Pinkie Feeding in Action - Yep... That's What It Looks Like

This video isn't of Nipper, but I thought it was a pretty good example of what it was like to feed a Pinkie mouse by hand. Plus it's adorable. Enjoy!

Fuzzy Lil Nipper, freshly bathed
Fuzzy Lil Nipper, freshly bathed

Cleaning Your Pinkie

AKA: My Biggest Mistake

As I mentioned in my introduction, I originally bought TWO Pinkie mice. One of them died within 24 hours. Here's why:

I knew that I needed to stimulate their digestion/poops; however, I didn't know that it was up to ME to wipe off their lil bottoms once they'd done the deed. I feel awful/guilty about it, even now (almost a decade later), but I was a teenager and just...didn't know. The female pinkie ended up getting poop dried to her anus and it got stuck... Eventually, I could see a line of poop going through her system, but it had no way to get out (because the way out was blocked). She died because she was clogged with poop. Because I didn't know to wipe her bottom.

It just never occurred to me. I had had mice before, but they were all fully grown when I got them. Full grown mice clean themselves off like crazy! I was stupid not to realize that a baby mouse wouldn't be able to do that, but, as I said, I was young and I hadn't been around very many babies of ANY kind.

Fortunately, I figured out what was up before the same horrible fate took Nipper!

For cleaning, I would recommend:

*Q-tips

*Lukewarm water (Not cold, but not hot either)

Mice have pretty fast metabolisms, so you shouldn't have to wait very long between feeding and pooping. Once your Pinkie has done his "business," take a Q-tip soaked in lukewarm water and use it to "lick" the Pinkie's "area" as if you were its real mom. Be very, very gentle. It may take a while to get your baby fully cleaned, but, trust me, it's worth it.

Nipper Munching on Goodies
Nipper Munching on Goodies

Weaning

To be honest, the "Weaning Stage" of Nipper's life is a bit of a blur for me. The transition from formula to solid food went by pretty quickly...

At about two weeks old, your mouse should be ready to start being weaned.

Basically, you use some form of grain or seed mash mixed with formula or filtered water. Keep it mostly liquid at first, but keep adding more and more "food" to it every day. Eventually, the solid food will outweigh the liquid and--voila!!--your mouse will be weaned!

Weaning: An Instructional Video

I didn't make this video, but I thought it was EXCELLENT at demonstrating the weaning process.

My mom holding Nipper while I took their picture
My mom holding Nipper while I took their picture

All Grown Up

Nipper was a truly magical pet. He was the kind of mouse that you DREAM about having.

Raising a mouse from Pinkie into adulthood forms a very special bond between the mouse and its owner. It's a wonderful thing.

Nipper came when he was called, he loved to be held, and was just the all-around perfect pet. I loved him very much.

If you're up to the task of hand-raising a mouse--and you succeed--you will end up with a pet you will NEVER forget.

A Place to Call Home

Nipper had to have a special set up due to health issues (which I detail in a section below), but my other mice (Zak and Carl) and my dwarf hamster (Bug) LOVED these habitats. And they're surprisingly easy to clean!

RIP Nipper
RIP Nipper

Nipper: Rest In Peace

AKA: Why I'll Never Have Another Mouse

The maximum lifespan for a mouse is about 2 years. My other mice, Zak and Carl, made it past that mark. Unfortunately, Nipper only lasted about nine months.

Nipper was riddled with health issues. He was a NOD (non-obese Diabetic) mouse. He was also hyperactive. And blind. I found all this out from a vet when I took Nipper in for a check-up (he wasn't acting like a "normal" mouse would act). Nipper was put on a special diet for his blood sugar (which I could relate to on a highly personal level as I have blood sugar issues myself) and his habitat had to be made "safe" for him (as his being blind tended to make him prone to falling off of ledges).

Nipper having so many troubles was challenging...but also made me feel that much closer to him.

When he died, I was absolutely crushed.

I'm happy I knew him, but I can't imagine going through that pain again. I will never, ever, have another mouse, especially not one that I raised by hand.

"One is a Genius, the Other's Insane"

I might not hang out with real mice anymore, but I can always enjoy them in cartoons. :)

Have You Ever Raised A Pinkie Mouse?

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    • profile image

      Ava L. 2 years ago

      I would love to get one but my brother might get a snake that's what am so worried about I don't want it to come into my room but I love them{baby mice}.We drove to the pet store and saw some and I fell in love but the pet store lady said they will be gone in a few days...and I'm like no I have to get at least one and now I'm showing my mom I can take care of one and trying to look up info To see all I can to find out about them.^-^So I might go back some day and get one...but the bad thing is we live in an apartment because our house is getting renavatied

      -btw we move in,in like two weeks -so I can not wait to save one and try it for my self and see how I do

    • profile image

      CinnamonxxStix 4 years ago

      @catrena-gransaull: My daughter and I just found one; same condition. How did yours turn out?

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      catrena-gransaull 4 years ago

      @mallredphoto: Actually wild mice can live allot longer in captivity than fancy. i have read they can live up to 5 years. We have had Quinn our hand raised mouse i wrote about now almost a year. Hes doing well but i think a bit lonely. we got him a fancy female too. a feeder i rescued.and they took to each other after a few mins of squabbles, but she lasted a week. i was told the wilds can carry unknown things they give to the fancy mice. I did try to get him another friend from a breeder but the breeder refused to sell to me after hearing why i wanted to buy. he said it never ends well for the fancies. I do still try to spend time with Quinn, but not as much as i like and because of they he has gotten a bit bitey. and oh he bites pretty hard if hes in the mood. and that made me spend even less time. I feel so bad. but now he is too old and set in his ways to try for a new friend i have been told you have to do it while they are young. It is Sad to think of not getting another little furry friend. you have to think how how rewarding the experience is. the proud feeling of accomplishing. the only thing i still feel bad about is the amount of time i left our poor little baby laying outside after the dog thought he was snack and waiting to see if mama mouse would come.he was half starved and dehydrated before i made the choice and barley breathing. i guess for some time i had thought he might be dead but then had noticed he had moved half and inch in a few hours. so scooped him up and my daughter and i rushed to get the kitten formula and spent the next couple weeks pretty sleep deprived. would i do it again? just for the feeling of pride i saved just one tiny creature. YES.

    • mallredphoto profile image

      mallredphoto 4 years ago

      I have also hand raised a baby mouse (she is a wild field mouse named Fivel). I used the same YouTube video too help aid me in raising her, and how to take care of her. I have to say the 3 weeks I went with practically no sleep was a blur. We almost lost her a few time because I was not an expert in hand raising any kind of baby, much less a mouse. But we pulled through. We took her to the vet and got a clean bill of health. She is now 4 months old. However I do know exactly what you mean about never having another mouse again. I bought another female mouse to be Fivel's companion when Fivel was 8 weeks old. Shotzy was a fancy mouse I purchased from Craig's list. I had her only two months and she died. I was also crushed so I won't be getting more mice after Fivel. And sadly Fivel will have to remain alone too :( It's because they don't live long and I get to attached to them.

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      catrena-gransaull 5 years ago

      I am sorry for your loss. I am right now raising one we found outside. he had a bit of fur already but his eyes and ears were closed. We have had him for a week now and eyes open. but i worry constantly because i have become so attached

    • chiactivate lm profile image

      Vita Activate 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing! these videos were so interesting!