Feeding - Staple Diet
Food is something I’m very interested in as I believe that - as with people and other animals - what your mice eat is directly linked to their health, well-being and quality of life. Some mice are also prone to skin problems, allergies and even obesity if fed a diet that is too high in fat and protein which is unfortunately something I’ve learnt the hard way!
A lot of people feed their mice hamster food, as I have myself in the past, but these are usually packed full of sunflower seeds and peanuts which mice might love but are very high in fat and can cause the afore mentioned problems. Although not all mice will display these symptoms it’s worth bearing in mind that hamster mixes are made with hamsters in mind, not mice and that even if it doesn’t do them any obvious harm it isn’t necessarily going to be good for them. I personally strongly recommend avoiding hamster mixes. If you plan to buy ready made dry food for your mice I would suggest a good quality rat food such as Burgess Suparat as rats and mice have very similar requirements and this is the only pre-packaged rat food that I’m aware of that is nutritional complete. However a lot of people are limited by what they can buy locally and I think the most important thing when picking a mix for your mice though is to read through the ingredients on the packet. As with everything they will be listed in order of volume so you can see at a glance what the main things in the mix are. If one of the first few things listed is a ‘filler’ such as alfalfa or grass pellets I would put it straight back on the shelf as these are things the manufacturers add to ‘bulk’ the mix up and most animals won’t even eat them! Other things to look out for include large amounts of fatty nuts, like with the hamster mixes, of flaked peas or ash and foods that have been artificially coloured or flavoured.
Another idea (and a far better one in my opinion) is make your own mix. This is actually a lot easier than it sounds as you can use an existing commercial mix as a base and add other ingredients to balance it nutritionally and create variety and interest for your mice. There are many home made mouse diets around such as Eva’s oat based diet here, but I personally use and highly recommend Alison Campbells rat Shunamite diet. To find out why in more detail please see the nutrition page. (Please note that this is my recommendation only and that Alison does not endorse her diet for mice).
I stick to the purest form of the Shunamite diet and as such this is the content and quantities of my most recent batch:
50% (5 cups) Alpha herbal deluxe rabbit mix
10% (1 cup) Burns chicken & rice dog kibble (I also use the duck and fish varieties)
10% (1 cup) wholewheat pasta spirals (sometimes tri-colour)
30% (3 cups) different human breakfast cereals, which I vary every time but the last batch used…
…10% (1 cup) Kallo puffed rice
…10% (1 cup) Rude health (no salt or sugar) cornflakes
…5% (1/2 cup) Supermarket own brand bite size shredded wheat
…5% (1/2 cup) plain rolled oats
This mix goes down extremely well with both my rats and mice and it’s the first one I’ve fed where everything gets eaten. It is important with any mix you feed your mice to offer it regularly in small quantities and to not top up the bowl if there is still food in it, as mice are picky eaters and will often only eat their favourite bits and therefore not get all the nutrients they need. To counteract this many people choose to feed lab blocks but although these are a complete diet I personally would not use them as I feel that food should provide mice with interest and variety and be something they look forward to and enjoy rather than simple fulfilling their dietary needs.