Many animals hibernate: bees, bats, bears, skunks, and more. Mice are not one of them. They are energetic year-round! In fact, the activities of mice don’t change much in the wintertime at all. They still forage for food, explore, find mates, and raise young. To warm up, they return frequently to a special, warmly-made burrow.
You can create a similar set-up in your home for your own pet mouse, to keep them happy in the wintertime, and all of the time.
What Do Mice Do In the Wintertime?
How mice spend their time during the winter and how they spend it any other season is much the same. However, winter conditions are harsh. This makes it even more necessary for mice to focus on shelter and food above all. Otherwise, life for mice goes on. A mouse burrow serves as a secure and cozy home. They pick this shelter carefully in order to store food, mate, and raise young, and to shield from elements, predators, and the like.
Winter Activities To Keep Your Mouse Busy
So, summer or winter, your pet mouse must be able to stay active. Here are some fun things they can do in their own cage and indoors in general.
The Classic Exercise Wheel
First off is the trusty exercise wheel. These are popular among rodents of all kinds, and mice are no exception. Exercise wheels are the perfect way for your mouse to go as fast as they want in limited space. Really, every mouse cage should have one. We like the Kaytee silent spinner wheel available from Amazon.
Make a Maze
You and your mouse can both have a lot of fun with an obstacle course or maze. Try including cardboard boxes, tunnels, and the like. Use treats to encourage your mouse to find the right path.
How to make a pet mouse maze
Play Treat Seek
Hide treats in your mouse cage. The best choices are non-perishable (in case not all of the treats are found quickly). Feel free to place treats on their ramps, in an area of clean bedding, etc. Tidy up the leftovers after you let them look for a while.
Let Your Mouse Chew
Rodents of all kinds love to chew! This includes mice. Their teeth are always growing, and chewing is how mice file them down. This keeps them in check.
Chewing is also a great way for mice to release restless energy. Simply provide some items especially for them to chew. There are aspen wood blocks, as well as sticks, wooden toys, and more. We like wooden tunnels that are fun and also chewable. Here’s one on Amazon.
What To Feed Pet Mice Year-Round
Mice should eat store-bought mouse food above all. This is the most complete nutrient source available. A healthy and popular choice for mice is commercial foods that contain muesli.
You may also see a loose mouse food mix. These contain various seeds, fruits, veggies, etc. However, mice tend to eat only the bits that are their favorite. This can lead to obesity and nutritional deficiency. Pellets are a nutritionally complete alternative.
Mice may also have small amounts of fruits and veggies, such as apples, pears, carrots, bok choy, etc. Just be sure to portion accordingly. Fruit and veggies have a lot of sugar compared to pellets or greens, so mice must go easy. Otherwise, obesity and illness become a risk.
Mice can even consume a bit of protein, in the form of eggs, mealworms, lean meats, and more.
How to Keep Your Pet Mouse Warm in Wintertime
A mild 68-79 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended temperature for a mouse. Anything under this, and they will begin to feel the chill. Mice even enjoy temperatures as warm as 86-90 Fahrenheit!
They would prefer to be too warm rather than too cold. So, how can you help keep your pet mouse warm? For one, their cage should be placed in an air-conditioned area of the home. This will allow you to make sure that the temperature never drops too low.
Next, your mouse should have soft, springy bedding aplenty! Aspen wood shavings are one of the top bedding materials for mice and other animals. This type of wood, in particular, is both toxin-free and allergen-free. There tend to be toxins in other kinds of wood, most notably cedar and pine. These will actually emit poisonous fumes when they come in contact with urine.
Aspen shavings are also of an especially softwood variety. They are both absorbent, and springy. Aspen shavings are also fairly affordable.
Paper pellet bedding is the second-best bedding choice. You can make this at home, or purchase it online or at your local pet store. Paper is toxin-free, soft, absorbent, and affordable. Look for dust-free paper pellet bedding specifically. Some other good options are paper shreds and paper mulch.
When Do Mice Sleep?
Mice have poor eye-sight, and their eyes are very light-sensitive. For this reason, they are most comfortable being out and about at dawn or dusk. This is also the time with lighting that hides them from view. Mice tend to retreat to their burrows to sleep more often during the night or daytime. They do find it a bit easier to see in the dark.
Similarly, pet mice tend to sleep when their environment is the quietest and most still. This means that a domesticated mouse will sleep more readily at night than a wild one. The will even sleep at dawn or dusk.
Mice do, however, have an amazing sense of smell. Read all about it here!
Where Do Mice Sleep?
In the wild, mice sleep in burrows. These are holes in the ground that they dig themselves. Normally these are lined with leaves, fur, and other soft items, to create a cozy nest. This is where mice sleep, mate, and raise their young.
They may also store extra food inside their burrow. Burrows serve the dual-purpose of being warm and secure. A good burrow has helped many a mouse survive.
Read our latest mice article: 7 Reasons why you should buy a pet mouse!
Creating a Restful Habitat For Your Mouse
In the wrong situation, a mouse can feel very uncomfortable around people. For example, if they are too noisy, if they have predatory pets, and so on. This will prevent your mouse from getting the vital sleep that all animals require.
Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help your mouse feel at home.
Make Sure Your Mouse Feels Secure
In order for your pet mouse to be able to sleep at home, they must be able to relax. To be able to relax, your mouse must feel secure. So, first of all, place the cage far from any pets that might be aggressive. Keep it away from small children as well.
Create a Quiet Environment For Your Mouse
Your average mouse will prefer a quiet, out-of-the-way area, where they still receive visits regularly (from their favored few). By no means should you ever store the cage of any kind of pet near speakers or a TV. Mouse ears are quite sensitive.
Make the Cage Escape-Proof
Turn your attention to the cage itself. The bars should be close together so that your mouse cannot squeeze through them. The cage should be, ideally, crafted from metal. This will prevent children or pets from breaking in. Metal is also one of the materials that mice cannot chew.
Ensure the bar spacing is no more than 5mm wide or your mouse will escape with ease.
Include a House For Your Mouse
Next, you may include something for your mouse to remind them of a burrow. These are known as mouse houses! They can be bought online or at the pet store, or made at home. A mouse house is simply a tiny enclosure with a door or two (about the size of a margarine container), in which a mouse can rest or hide.
Do mice stock up for the winter?
Mice keep a stock pile of food, and venture out when the pile starts running low. This allows them to stay inside during cold winter months.
What is the lowest temperature mice can survive in?
Mice are most comfortable between 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and anything below that, their immune systems start to shut down.
Do mice breed during the winter months?
Yes. Mice breed year round, and winter is no exception. Some exterminators will say that fall and winter months are when mice breed the most, but it might just be that you are noticing them in your house more.
What do mice eat during winter?
Your pet mice will eat the same thing in the winter as they do the rest of the seasons. The same goes for wild mice. The biggest part of their winter diet will be seeds they stock piled in the warmer months.
Conclusion: Do mice hibernate?
So, mice may not hibernate, but they still need their rest! Should you be thinking of getting a mouse for yourself, remember to make sure that you have somewhere to keep them that is both secure and peaceful.
Use soft bedding to create a perfectly cozy environment for your mouse. Maybe even include a mouse house for them to hide and nap in at their leisure. Just these few simple steps can go a long way to helping your mouse get the vital sleep that they require, and relax.