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the Diet of Mice
© paul goodman, 2004 - 2012.

After discovering that one of my mice was diabetic I decided to mix my own mouse food. I've found that I benefit not only by controlling what's in the food, but the cost is considerably less than premixed food. Most of the ingredients average around $1.00 per pound, compared to $4.00 per pound for premixed food.

While mice are omnivores (they eat both plants and meat), grain comprises much of their normal diet. The recipe reflects this and contains a number of different grains. The basic diet includes the following ingredients mixed in equal parts except where noted. Four mice receive 1 tablespoon per day. I use mostly rolled grains because they seem to be preferred to whole grains. I've noted that whole grains are often stored for times of famine. If you notice a large amount of stored food you may be feeding too much and should consider reducing the amount, particularly for overweight mice.

You can substitute any of the rolled grains above with these grains for variety.

You can also add fish, cooked beans or rice, vegetables and fruit. I recommend starting with uncooked frozen peas and broccoli (both raw and cooked) and dandelion leaves in the spring and summer; apples are often well received. All vegetables and fruit should be given in small quantities, too much can cause diarrhea and dehydration. I would just watch for diarrhea and if it looks like a problem then cut back for a while. You can give fruit or vegetables 2 to 3 times a week. Because of the sugar content, most fruits should be restricted where diabetes is an issue.

Update: Deer mice seem to be able to handle a larger quantity of fruits and vegetable than domestic mice. Recently I've been feeding large portions of vegetable almost every day without any problems. A large portion is a half leaf of romaine lettuce or 10 peas per mouse. You should still keep an eye on them to make sure this doesn't cause diarrhea in your mice.

I would leave out the sunflower and pumpkin seeds for overweight or diabetic mice. I would strictly control these and hand feed only a couple a days as treats.

For older mice or even mice that are underweight I've been feeding Flax Seed Oil in addition to the flax seed in their solid food. Flax seed oil really seems to help with joint problems in older mice that act a bit stiff and may have arthritis.

Update: It's a good idea to provide a source of calcium, especially for older mice that may have weakened bones, but younger mice can benefit also. In the wild mice may gnaw on old bones for extra calcium. I've tried beef bones, but they were too hard and the mice mostly ignored them. I've found that cuttlebone (sold as a dietary supplement for birds) works great. Another good option is chicken bones, which are soft enough for mice to gnaw.

Vitamins and Supplements

Update: Healthy mice with good diets probably won't need vitamin supplements. They should get all the vitamins and nutrients they need in their normal diet. If your mouse is suffering from health issues, vitamins and supplements may be beneficial. Most of the supplements I've listed are primarily useful for diabetes. Other health problems may require different supplements.

I also add vitamins and other nutritional supplements to their diet. I don't use any special animal vitamins; I just mix human vitamins in a solution to be added to their water. For generally healthy mice I recommend a good generic multi-vitamin. Other supplements can be added as needed.

The dosage listed is 1 human dose per day. Normally I would mix this with a quart of water as a concentrate for storage and then dilute that again at 1 ounce to a quart of water. You can crush any hard pills with a hammer. Put them in an envelope so they don't fly all over when crushed. Open any capsules and add the powder to the crushed pills. Use a blender to mix with a quart of water and store in the refrigerator, shake well before using. Mix 1 ounce of the concentrate with another quart of water for serving to the mice. This is good for mice that drink up to an ounce a day. I don't worry about mice that drink less; they are also getting vitamins from their solid diet so a little less doesn't hurt.

If you're dealing with a diabetic mouse you should adjust the dose to how much the mouse drinks. My one diabetic mouse, Athena, was drinking as much as 4 ounces a day. I managed to get her down to less than an ounce a day, but this required adjusting the dose as her consumption changed. For calculating dosage I figure an average human weighs about 150 lbs. (110 - 190 lbs.) and an average mouse weighs 1.5 oz. (1-2 oz.). There are 16 oz. to a pound, so you want to give your mouse about 1/1600 the human dose; every human dose provides 1600 mouse doses (150 lbs. * 16 oz. per lb. / 1.5 oz. per mouse). If your mice drink 1 oz. a day each, you would want to dissolve 1 human dose into 1600 oz. water. It's more likely that 4 mice drink 1/2 oz. per day or 1/8 oz. each per day. At that rate you would mix 1 human dose to 1600/8 oz. water or 200 oz. water (about 3 gallons or 12 quarts). So if you mix 1 human dose into 1 quart of water for storage and then dilute at 12 to 1 you would get the correct mouse dose. Refrigerate the stored mixture. Of course mice don't always drink the same amount every day and some mice drink more than others. Unless you have a problem like one mouse drinking a lot, I would just take an average on all the mice together. You will need to monitor your mice for average water consumption.


Disclaimer:
Neither any contributing authors nor I are veterinarians or doctors; I don't work in any medical field. Any medical advice for your mice or you is strictly my own opinion. When possible I try to provide links to supporting informational sites. I recommend that you discuss any important medical issues with your veterinarian or doctor. I do ask my personal doctor general medical questions pertaining to my mice. He's usually glad to answer them, but he's not a veterinarian either.
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