The Mouse's Abode

You should have your future pet's home (cage, tank...) perfectly ready before actually getting the pet to live there. At the very latest, you should buy the abode at the same time as your mouse. Consider very carefully what kind of abode will suit best both your pet's and your needs. Getting a cage hastily may end up being costly if you find out that what you bought was unsuitable for your mouse and you are forced to buy something else.

What Does a Mouse Need?

Nesting mice

Home sweet home!
b.&o. & pic: Anniina Tuura


There are many kind of cages and tanks being sold. It's up to you to choose the most suitable one. If you're good with handwork, you can construct a tank by yourself. Mouse's abode should fill the following requirements:

1. It should be safe for the mouse. There must not be anything in the abode where mice could hurt themselves.
2. It has to be escape proof. However, all lids or doors should be easy to open and close (by you).
3. You have to be able to take your mice out of their cage / tank with ease. Doors which are too small are very inconvenient.
4. The abode has to be easy to clean.
5. Feeding your mice has to be easy.
6. There should be enough of ventilation.
7. There has to be enough room for the mice and their equipment.
8. The abode should last longer than an individual mouse's life long.

Cage or tank?

Every alternative has its own good and bad points and ready-made answers aren't easy to give. You should take into consideration the number, sex and size of your mice and if there are other animals in your household - animals you have to keep away from your mice. Furthermore, think closely what alternatives suit best in your home.


There are many different kinds of cages around. Of these, most suitable for mice are hamster and bird cages. There are many different sizes of hamster cages and the best for mice is one with many levels. Do not buy one of those pitifully small "mouse cages" or tiny hamster cages that are suitable only for a stuffed toy animal. A mouse cage should have very small space between the bars, as a mouse can squeeze through unbelievably small spaces! Small pet mouse may be able to escape from almost every cage available.

Good points for cages include: the mouse is able to climb around the cage and a multi level cage has plenty of floor space. It is easy to attach different kinds of ladders in a cage. Ventilation works well and you can get a cage pretty cheap.

Bad points include: mice throw their beddings out, littering the surroundings, cage bars get rusty due to the strong mouse urine unless you clean them very thorougly and the cage doors are usually rather small, so it is fairly difficult to get the mouse out safely.

Plastic tanks

There are all kinds and sizes of plastic tanks available from tiny show boxes to Ferplast Duna -boxes. "Habitrail" hamster homes with all kinds of different rooms and tubes can also be included in this section. When choosing a tank you should pay attention to the floor space available. The height is not that important (although the mouse has to be able to stand up tall and preferably climb), but it is much easier to build additional floors and ladders to a higher tank.

Rapunzel's Daffodil

Rapunzel's Daffodil exercising
b. & o: Anniina Tuura
Pic: Arttu Väisälä

Plastic tanks are light to move and easy to clean. Furthermore, they come with lids. You are able to put a large amount of beddings in a tank for the mice to play in and hide small cardboard boxes and tubes under the beddings.

However, the small plastic tanks are unsuitable for mice as homes and if the tank is not high enough, the mice can gnaw their way out through the lid. A determined mouse can even chew itself to freedom through the wall. With a tank you should make sure that sun does not shine in the tank - sunshine can raise the temperature in the tank to deadly hot. If the beddings get even a bit too dirty, the ammonia levels in the tank get so high it will damage the respiratory tracts of your mice. In the long run, the bottom of a plastic tank may get a bit stained from the mouse urine.

Glass tanks

Rather large, wider than high glass tank (usually former aquarium) is pretty suitable for mice. Reptile tanks are not as suitable, as they often lack ventilation. A glass tank needs a wire mesh lid, escape proof and durable. Used glass tanks are usually easy to find for cheap prize, as a mouse tank doesn't have to hold water. However, a mouse tank should not have cracks.

Glass tanks have the good points of plastic tanks. Furthermore, they don't get stained and a mouse can't chew its way out.

However, glass tanks are rather heavy and especially the larger ones are too heavy to carry in the bathroom for wash ups. The dangers of plastic tanks are present with the glass ones as well; sunshine is dangerous and you have to remember to clean the beddings in time. Furthermore, a glass tank can get broken very easily, if you happen to drop it.

Beddings & Cleaning

Beddings or litter should not be forgotten! Good beddings are soft (so that the mouse can play in it) and as dust free as possible. From different wood chips around Aspen is safe. Do not use pine or cedar - these cause respiratory ailments! CareFresh and similar products are also safe, corn cob can get moldy fast and dry the air so much that it isn't good for the mice.

For nesting material you can give your mice high quality hay (green, not moldy or dusty), straw or shredded tissue paper. Do not get "hamster cotton" or similar fiber products. This has caused blockages in intestines, deaths by strangulation and amputations of limbs.

Cleaning up

You should clean up your mouse's abode once or twice a week depending on the size of the abode and the number of mice in it. Don't change the beddings of male mice too often, as this will only make them stink more - the little guys will spread his lovely (in his nose lovely) smell around his home immediately after his home has been "de-stinked". You should wash all your mouse's furniture with hot water once a week. Cleaning up is easier if you get two sets of everything to start with. This way one set is being used by your mice, the other set can be cleansed thoroughly.

You can change the order of the mouse's toys while cleaning and hide little treats among the toys and beddings for your mouse to find. Mice are active little animals and they love exploring their surrounding and changes in it.

Woos shavings Aspen chips Peat Wood pellets Paper pellets Hay Shredded paper

Beddings and litter suitable for mice: Wood shavings, aspen chips, peat, wood pellets, paper pellets, hay and shredded paper.
Pics: Anniina Tuura

The Mouse's Furniture

A home without any furniture is pretty boring, isn't it! According to a scientific study, mice with plenty of things to play with are smarter than mice who have lived in a boring environment. Now, you don't want to have a dumb pet, do you? So, give your mouse lots of activities.

Food bowl and water bottle

Most important equipment are food bowl and water bottle. Make sure, that the water battle you buy actually works. There are huge differences between bottles from the same manufacturer. Some can't hold water at all, while some don't let any water out no matter how hard to poor mouse tries to drink. For a food bowl a ceramic cup will do, these are available from pet shops. There are also cheaper alternatives - small glass baby food jars as well as cheap tiny coffee cups suit well. Some mice think it's great fun to throw all the food out of the bowl and use the bowl as a toilet. In this occasion you will have to wash the bowl carefully every single day before feeding your mice. If your mouse is one of those who don't care to throw the food out before using the bowl as a toilet, it is better to put the food directly on the beddings. Plastic bowls get chewed up quickly, so they are not as good an alternative.

Rapunzel's Emerald

Rapunzel's Emerald
b. & o. Anniina Tuura
Pic: Arttu Väisälä

Nest and wheel

Mice need a box or house for a nest and preferably a wheel to run in. You can use your imagination with the nest box, as long as you remember that plastic parts are not safe, the mouse toys should not have sharp edges and of course there should not be anything poisonous in them (paint, for example). There are several different alternatives available in pet shops; wooden, ceramic and plastic. The problem with wooden nest is that the mouse urine will soak in it and therefore you should wash a wooden nest often. Ceramic nests are expensive, but they do last a lifetime - and not just your mouse's lifetime! Plastic ones can collect humidity inside the nest and mice tend to chew holes in them. Splinters of plastic are not healthy for mice if they happen to swallow them. You can construct a mouse nest yourself as well. Earthenware flower pots make great nests and the mice love them. Make a little hole in the side of a flower pot and turn the pot upside down. Be careful when making the hole, as the pots go easily into little pieces. Empty shell of a coconut is a good and fun nest too, especially if you hang it from the ceiling of the cage / tank.

The wheel has to be a safety wheel. The wheel shouldn't have bars, spaces or holes on the running area. The wheel should stand on a "leg" attached to one side only so that the mouse's tail won't get squeezed. There are plastic as well as metal wheels available and both do fine. Metal ones tend to get rusty after a while and they tend to make more noise. There are also wheels that are attached straight to the wall of a cage. The wheel must be large enough, surprisingly large. This is important, as the mouse's tail can get permanently curved over its back if the wheel is too small. Proper size for a wheel is one where the mouse can run without its back curving too much. With a group of mice you need a large wheel, as mice love to run together with other mice.

Other toys


b. & o. Anniina Tuura
Pic: Arttu Väisälä

Mice love to have lots of toys around. All kinds of tubes and ladders are very popular among mice. Ordinary toilet paper rolls are more than suitable for mice. Biscuit and other small cardboard boxes are very suitable for mouse toys. You can attach several small boxes together and hide them under the beddings. Don't use glue, adhesive tape or metal to attach the boxes together, your mouse might hurt itself. Just make a hole on the side of the box and stick a slightly smaller box a bit through that hole to attach the boxes together. Mice will also chew on the boxes and make more and more little doors in them until the whole box is one big hole! Always remember to remove all plastic parts from the boxes.

Ladders can be bought ready made or you can make them yourself. Non poisonous branch of tree (willow, for example) from unpolluted area is also a nice toy to climb on.

That mousy smell (and mice do smell, at least to a non mouse fan's nose) can be diminished by giving the mouse / mice glass jars. Take a jar, jam jar for example and wash it thoroughly. Place the jar on one side and put a little amount of bedding in it. Mice use this kind of glass jar as a toilet. The jar is very easy to clean up daily. Mice can also learn to use a litter box, that is a small box with kitty litter in.

Text by Satu Karhumaa.