Zebra Mice

Zebra Mouse Care


Wire cages are not suitable for zebra mice at all, as they can hurt their legs while climbing. Therefore it's better to house them either in a large glass tank with secure wire mesh top or a large plastic terrarium. Zebra mice thrive in a small group and should not be kept alone. Therefore, the tank should be at least 80 liters in size, with more floor space than height.

Place the tank in draftless place, where the sun does not shine directly. Best place is on a shelf or a table and not where your zebra mice will be constantly "bothered".


The main diet for zebra mice is versatile seed mix. Lab blocks have all the nutrition the mouse needs in right amounts, although not all zebra mice will eat them. There are many poor seed mixes available. Unfortunately it may happen that an inexperienced buyer can not know their nutritional value.

Poor mixes are more designed to satisfy the owner's eye than the mouse's belly: we tend to believe that the mix is good when it is filled with lots of different coloured stuff. Mainly these pieces are artificially coloured corn/maize, and artificial colours are known to be carcinogenic. Seed mixes have also often too high fat content -- they are filled with sunflower seeds & nuts.

Zebra mouse

Zebra mouse buck
o. Katri Pohjanvaara
pic: Anniina Tuura

Feed your zebra mice once or twice a day, giving so much food that there will be some of it left by the next feeding. Especially larger groups, like female and her babies, should be fed twice a day.

If you're feeding lab blocks, give your spiny mouse some grains, i.e. oats. This gives the zebra mouse the energy it needs. Especially growing babies can have a little "fattier" diet, so they can grow up to be as big as they can.

In addition to blocks/seed mix you can give them high quality hay, which keeps your zebra mice busy and gives something to do for their teeth. Hay also has good affect on the digestion of the mice. When you buy hay, make sure it is of high quality. Good hay is green, smells nice, isn't dusty or moldy.

Like other animals, also zebra mice need calcium (important for especially pregnant or nursing females and older rodents). Mineral stones available in the pet shops don't always have in them the exact minerals your pet needs, so it's better to buy special calcium from a pharmacist's. Ask for proper dose and do not overdo it as it will harm your zebra mice's bone structure! Eggshells have also lots of calcium and zebra mice love to chew on them!

You may have been told that you can also give homemade food to your zebra mice; like porridges, potatoes, rice etc. This is true, but there is no sense in preparing them just for your mice - lots of the nutritional value is lost while heating. If you have left overs from your own cooking, do use them to give variety to you pet's diet. Fresh vegetables, fruits etc are good sources of vitamins and you should give your mice them every once in a while.

Vitamins are also important. Buy vitamins as drops which are then mixed in the drinking water. Vitamins important to zebra mice are A, B, C, D, E and K. Please follow the instructions closely, especially with vitamins A, D, E and K, as these are grease-dissolving (unlike vitamins B and C, which are water-dissolving) and in the long term they build up in the body causing grease poisoning. Vitamins last only for a certain period, so check the best before date on the bottle before you buy it. Best Before date doesn't mean that the vitamins have gone bad, but that it is the date until which the producer guarantees that the vitamins are exactly as they should be.

Diet for pregnant or nursing females should be very versatile and there should always be plenty of food. This is also the case with babies when they start to eat on their own, The importance of calcium grows, as well as milk products. Make sure that babies can reach the water bottle at all times, or give them plenty of vegetables with high water contents, like apple or cucumber. You should always teach the babies to eat versatile food. If you feed pellets/blocks, change normal blocks to ones designed for growing babies. Also, add oats to the diet.

Remember, that human treats like chips, candies, chocolate etc are not meant to be zebra mouse food, even if they'd love them!

Proper diet has a great significance on the appearance and health of your zebra mouse. By following the above instructions, you'll surely get long living, healthy and happy pet!


Zebra mouse is lifted simply by putting you hand under the mouse and lifting it up. If the mouse runs away from you, "chase" it to the corner of the tank on use your both hands to lift it. Form a "cup" of your hands, so it doesn't jump off or otherwise fall. Don't squeeze the mouse too tightly. When holding a zebra mouse, hold it on your open palm and let it move around freely. Be careful that it doesn't fall off. Zebra mice can't estimate how high it is from the ground. Always be completely calm when handling zebra mice and avoid sudden movements, which could frighten the animal.

NEVER lift a zebra mouse by its tail, do not even hold the mouse by the tail. The tail is very fragile and breaks easily and it won't grow back.


Zebra mouse baby will be sexually mature at the age of (approximately) two months, but the female will give birth only at the age of one year.

The gestation period is 28 days and the size of the litter 4-5 babies, sometimes even 12. The babies weigh some 3 grams when they're born and they have very thin coat on (the stripes can be seen at birth). The eyes will open at the age of one week and at the same time the babies start eating solid food. However, a zebra mouse baby will not be ready to leave for new home before the age of 2 months. It is still unclear how long zebra mice live. It is very probable that they are relatively long-living rodents, as the females give birth at the age of one year for the first time.

Zebra mice are rather healthy and long-living little rodents, which do not have any known common illnesses, tumours or behavioural disorders.


Zebra mice should be wormed at autumn and spring. Information on proper worming medicines ant their dosage can be obtained from a vet.


Tail accidents are the most usual ones with zebra mice, as the tail of a zebra mouse is very fragile. Damages to the tail are often caused by careless handling, so you should bare in mind that you must never lift or hold a zebra mouse by the tail. If your mouse's tail gets caught in a running wheel, the result is rather bad looking.

Do not hesitate with taking your pet to a vet, if you think there is something wrong with your pet! However, do not blindly believe all that the vet says, as very few vets specialize in small rodents.

Introducing My Zebra Mice Together

You have bought a zebra mouse and now a friend for it, or you have bought two zebra mice from different communities or something else. The key thing is, that you want to introduce two zebra mice together. What to do now?

What to Do

If you planning to introduce together two zebras of different sexes, never put them both in the male's tank. It has become evident that with zebra mice the males are much more aggressive towards other animals than the females. So, put them in the female's tank

It may be impossible to introduce two males together. We don't have any experience with intoducing together two males who have grown up together, this could be a totally different situation. However, generally speaking it is virtually impossible to get two males to accept each others! They'll just rip each others apart, poor things. Two females are rather easy to get together. We have done this on numerous occasions and every time the females have accepted each others without any troubles. Girls have fun together, or what! Every time you are about to introduce, it is better to remember that the younger the animals are, the easier it is to get them to accept each others. Young kids of weaning age always accept each others, this is almost a promise!

When you are starting to introduce two zebra mice together, it pays to utilize a clecer trick that is used by gerbil fanciers, that is a introducing cage! You take a hamster cage with real iron bars and put the more aggressive party in the cage. Then you put the whole cage in the future common home of the zebra mice and the other party lose in the home. When the zebra mice are get used to each others this way, they will accept their fate easier. However, if the zebras do not appear to accept each others, but fight even after weeks of living together, it is better to separate the two. We are all individuals and simply don't get along with everybody!

Another trick, which is said to work well although we do not have experience with it, is from a pet shop keeper. She rubs her own scent to the animals and then introduces them. She says this works very well, as all her animals are very tame and therefore they trust a newcomer who smells like their mom!

Third trick is to let the animals loose on neutral ground so that they would get to know each others there. The area should be rather large, so that the victim can run away if it is going to get beaten up! We wouldn't trust this method much, as zebras seem to attack each others anyway, like "this is my territory, go away and try to find your own!".

If you are dealing with a female and a male, that is a future couple, you could try to spot when a female is in heat and then put the couple together. It isn't likely that a male would attack a female in heat, at least not aggressivelly. The problem is what will happen when the female's heat is over. Maybe his mood will chance! Another problem is that it is pretty difficult to spot female's heat, at least we can't do that.

Here's another method we like... Especially with spinies, but why not with zebra mice as well, is to introduce two zebras togetger by taking them with you to a show. When they are sitting together in a show box, feeling helpless, they can easily become friends. However, do observe the situation closely, unpleasant surprises occur a bit too often!! You can never be too careful.

Things to Notice

When you happen to get a male and a female together, you can't still be absolutely certain about the end result. Sometimes the males still tend to butcher their little wives - isn't it fun.... This is a common subject of discussion among zebra mouse fanciers: what if they are solitaries? Or maybe just the males are solitaries, or maybe we happen to have zebras of different species who just don't get along?

What about zebras and spinies? You can often hear stories about these two living together, so here could be a solution to people who want a stripy pet, but don't want any babies. For example males get along fine with spinies. Perhaps they are soul mates or somethings. However, we do think that if a zebra mouse could choose by itself (especially females), it would choose a friend of its own species rather than a spiny one! Animals of the same species do have their own ways of communication, which can lead to misunderstandings with other species.

How Can I Keep My Zebra Mouse Active and Happy?

Every single animal, no matter how spacey housing it has, gets bored if it has nothing to do, nothing to keep its mind active. But what are stimuli? To put it short, stimuli are things that cause delight and activity, which may surprise by their simpleness. One good example is the running wheel of mice, which can provide a whole group of mice a lot of pleasure (but not for stripy or spiny mice).

General Notes

What should the stimuli be like? At least they should be safe, your common sense will tell you that. Your zebra mice should be able to enjoy their toys without the chance of danger.

Stimulus don't have to be material things. For example daily handling creates stimulus and gives you both delight. A little romp on the floor (or an escape trip) will bring new interest in life and thus can serve as stimulus.

How often should you offer activities? That depends on what you are talking about. If you count in treats, you have to be careful not to let the animal gain too much weight and fat. By choosing the right treat, you can avoid this. However, if the animal gets the same treat over and over again, it starts to consider it as a daily routine. What kind of stimulus it is then, anymore? On the other hand, if you consider activities as toys (cardboard tubes, shelves etc), an "over dose" of them shouldn't be too harmful, should it? Of course, there is the risk of growing tired, but if you change the stimulus often enough, you shouldn't have to worry about this either.

How about a friend of the same species as stimulus? What better activities are there than one of your own kind, who thinks like you do! Human being or any other stimulus can never get even close to what an animal of the same species can. So, they are counted as stimulus, and a very good one to boot.

Can activities bring other benefits than that they help passing time? Of course they can. Think about twigs from trees. After baking them in the oven to get rid of bacteria (remember to let the twigs cool down!), you'll have excellent pastime for your zebras and in the mean time they have something to wear their teeth down.

How can you see the effect of stimulus? Well, your zebra will get braver, livelier and happier, as it has something nice to do. Furthermore, they will become more fit. Who knows, maybe a happy animal lives a longer life as well!

Some Stimuli

First thing to pop into our minds is hay. Hay is part of the basic diet, but also nice pastime for a zebra mouse. These charming animals will shred the hay and build a ball like nest to sleep in.

Cardboard tubes and little boxes, tissue paper etc. Excellent stuff to play with and shred. Twigs, pieces of wood etc. Suitable for chewing toys and as mentioned above, good for the teeth.

Shelves, nests, coconut shells, earth ware pots etc. These are much liked by zebra mice, as they can play with them alone or with a friend. The only problem with a coconut shell is that you, the human owner, may get pretty sad if your zebra decides he is not going to come out, no matter what. Different levels create more floor space for the zebra to run on, so they are good as well.

Treats as stimulus... This isn't so simple. Earlier on we pondered about getting fat and bored, but there are other points as well. When you offer treats from your hands, your zebra will soon learn to be brave and trusting. When your hand appears, it means treats! However, when the zebra gets used to being hand fed, it may turn arrogant and start nibbling your hand in order to get some more. Apparently zebra mice don't know the saying: "Don't bite the hand that feeds you".

Oh and those friends, of course! We talked about them already, but we'll say it again: they are irreplaceable!

Playing outside the cage would be wonderful, if it is easy to arrange. It would be best to build a play pen, where your pet can run in freely. Do monitor the whole thing through, especially if you have cats.

One of our readers have come up with a great idea: take a huge cardboard box and fill it with tissue paper. Put the zebras in there to have fun! This does wonders for their coats as well.

Handling and other interaction creates important stimuli. All kinds of social interaction is important for your zebra mice. Furthermore, they clearly enjoy the warmth of human hands.

Here you are, some of our own ideas. You can and should make up some more. Imagination is there to be used!

On the List of Forbidden Items

Running wheel, at least. The tail of a zebra mouse is far too fragile and easily broken for a running wheel, at least if the wheel isn't of a safety model. Still, there are very few wheels that are safe, but not made of plastic. Running ball is allowed.

Poisonous plants and twigs. Check carefully, with a botanical book, what you are gathering from the nature for your pets. Never pick up anything you can't recognize! Also plants growing by streets are poisonous due to exhaust fumes.

As was mentioned above: no plastic allowed! Plastics are in the best of cases highly unhealthy and a little rodent like zebra mouse simply won't say no to tasting it.

Text by: Lotta Ahlfors & Kaisa Kattilakoski