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A mouse's lifespan is only 2-3 years so aging changes and natural fatal conditions such as tumors are fairly common. Here we cover the more common conditions you should recognize so that you know when to take your pet to a veterinary surgeon. Many people think it is not worth taking a mouse to their veterinarian but those with mice as pets or show animals can become very attached to them.


The skin fungus ringworm is common in mice. This should not be confused with barbering which happens when mice gnaw each other's fur and cause bald, often symmetrical patches. Notice that in a group of rodents there will be one, the dominant animal in the group, which is not barbered. Your veterinary surgeon will diagnose ringworm either by using an ultraviolet light, under which the ringworm lesions on the skin fluoresce or by taking a small amount of hair and examining it under the microscope. Such an examination will also show if there are any fur mites causing the skin problem. Ringworm can be treated with medication (griseofulvin) by mouth: mites can be treated with an injection of a drug Ivermectin.

Mammary tumors

Cancer of the mammary glands is very common in mice. It is almost always malignant and so the prognosis is very poor. Nevertheless tumors can be removed surgically and, in an animal with a short lifespan such as the mouse even a couple of months, of extra life is significant.


Diarrhea is common in mice and can be caused by a wide range of infectious organisms. These range from bacteria, through single-celled organisms like coccidia to parasites such as tapeworms. Among the bacteria are two of particular importance: Salmonella and Bacillus piliformis . Salmonella is a zoonosis, i.e. it can be passed from animals to man so any diarrhea should be investigated with a fecal culture to ensure Salmonella is not the cause. An animal with Salmonella may have to be put down but other bacteria can be treated with a drop of an antibiotic (such as neomycin) by mouth. Bacillus piliformis causes Tyzzer's disease which often results in generalized illness and death. Antibiotic treatment may be effective but it is important to have a quarantine period for new animals coming into a collection.


Pneumonia is common in mice and occurs often in larger colonies rather than in animals kept individually or in small groups. Animals with breathing difficulties, a hunched up posture and loss of general condition may have respiratory problems, caused by viruses, the organism mycoplasma or by bacteria.

This is only a very small survey of the problems you may see in pet mice. Many diseases are related to poor husbandry, showing the importance of keeping your pet in the best possible conditions.

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