wikiHow to Set up a Mouse Cage

The poor mouse at the pet store looks at you with its sparkling as is to say "Take me home!" Who could resist that furry face? So of course, you take it home. But - Oh no! You can't let your mouse live in your bathtub. Wheres that old cage in the attic? Now what?! Make it a comfy home it'll be proud of!


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    Get the cage before anything else. Also make sure that the cage you are about to buy is a good size depending on how many mice you are buying - a good guide is to double the numbers given in the fancy rat cage calculator under sources. If you can't fit a big enough cage in your room, then you shouldn't get your mice. Remember that mice, especially females, love climbing so height is important. Wired cages should be used with bar spacing of 1 centimeter (0.4 in) or less to prevent escapees.
    • Modular systems are generally not suitable for rodents. As well as being vastly too small they have a whole host of associated health and enrichment problems.
    • Tanks are a good option for mice. Make sure that the tank is at least 10 gallons, getting bigger the more mice you get. Ensure that the lid provides enough ventilation, and is escape-proof.
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    Remember that mice are social animals. It is a bad idea to keep one mouse all alone, as this leads to stress and a lot of loneliness.
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    Don't forget to get several coconut/igloo/hammock hideouts for your mice to hide in. This is a favorite to all rodents, and this will be their bed (probably) so add a lot of soft bedding in that area. You must have more than one.
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    Add substrate. Get safe substrate, not cedar, pine, aspen or cat litter. A good bedding is CareFresh, it's soft and comfy for your mouse and is safe. You will find it at most pet stores. Megazorb is a much cheaper alternative to CareFresh. Bedexcel and Finacard are also good. Never use sawdust or anything pine or cedar based for any rodent as it can cause serious respiratory problems.
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    Add bedding. You also need some safe bedding for your mice to build nests with. Do not use fluffy cotton wool type as limbs can get caught and broken in these. A good fun bedding is to buy cotton pods as your mice can then chew through and release their own bedding. Another alternative is shredded toilet paper or newspaper, and hay.
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    Add some hay. Hay is a good thing for mice to chew - it aids digestion.
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    Get a medium-sized rodent wheel for your mouse so it can get some exercise. It cannot be the smallest size as that cause spinal problems and it should not have spokes as mouse tails could get trapped and their feet will deform.
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    Get toys, toys, and more toys! Would you want to be locked in a room all day with food, water, and a treadmill? Didn't think so. Never forget some small wood chews for your mice to chew on! If they don't have something to chew, their teeth will grow, and you will have to go to the vet to get his/her teeth clipped. Some good mouse toys are: Paper towel tubes are great and entertaining. Hammocks, rope toys and nest are great. Don't get treated wood. A good natural toy is a cotton pod, this allows them to chew and release their own bedding to spread around.
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    Don't forget to buy food, and small food bowls. Make sure the pet food is made for mice! If you want to give your mice some extra enrichment, don't put their food in a bowl. Instead, hide it in the substrate in their cage. Most importantly, make sure they can easily get to their water. A small water bottle that you can attach to the side of the cage is a good option, as they won't be able to throw their substrate in it. Bottles, however, can get blocked, so check it regularly. All of this stuff is probably in the rodent section of the pet store.
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    Consider getting rescue mice. Rescues often get them as pups due to unexpected litters from pet shops misinterpreting the gender of the mouse/animal. You also don't run the risk that you do with pet shops that you might be supporting rodent farms. Rescue or ethical breeders give much better support and advice than pet shops.
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    Look for mice that get along and go for at least a trio of them - but make sure you've chosen a big enough cage. A good guide is to double the numbers given in the rat cage calculator under sources. Some rescues can offer you a neutered male mouse to go with a group of females, but make sure you've waited the 6 weeks after the operation so you don't run pregnancy risks.
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    Set up the cage! Put stuff where you think it would look good. Remember, around every few weeks you will be cleaning it, so you can always arrange before that. Put in the bedding first, quickly get a friend to get the water in the water bottle, and you put the food in the bowl. The food and water should be around each other. Then put in all the toys. When you're done, put the mouse/mice in the cage and Ta-Da!, you're done!


  • Don't pick up and cuddle your mouse on the first day, s/he is still scared and is looking around her/his surroundings.
  • Always make sure the cage tops are closed.
  • Good examples of smaller cages include the Marchioro Jack 72, Ferplast Mini Duna, Leon Rodent Home, or Gabber Rex.
  • An example of a good cage for a group of up to 8 mice is a Freddy2 rat cage.
  • You can also train your mice to walk into a toilet paper tube and then pick them careful up once inside
  • Do not poke treats through the bars, as it will encourage biting, if fingers are placed through or on bars.
  • Mice are naturally clean animals, but be sure to clean their cage around once every week; weekends may be a convenient option. Female mice typically do not produce a strong odor while male mice tend to smell a bit more. Despite the fact that female mice produce little odor, their cage should still be cleaned regularly for health reasons.


  • If your mouse is scared it may bite you. Try to talk calmly before you approach.
  • Make sure you get your mice from a reputable source. Pet shops frequently misinterpret the sex of the animals and mice they breed. Try rescue or breeders.
  • Avoid modular systems such as Rotastak. For reasons why, see sources.
  • Mice need vet care too! If you are not prepared to or cannot afford to take your mice to a vet if they need it then you should not get pets at all.

Things You'll Need

  • Mice
  • Large Wired Mouse Cage with bar spacing 1 centimeter (0.4 in) or under
  • Medium sized solid based Wheel
  • Bedding
  • Substrate such as Carefresh, Megazorb, Finacard or Bedexcel. Nothing sawdust or pine or cedar based.
  • Toys
  • Wood Chews
  • Nests and hideouts
  • Hammocks
  • Safe wooden parrot toys or treated wood
  • Hay
  • Food
  • Food/Water Bowls

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Mice and Rats