Do Pet Mice Do Better in Pairs?

Keeping mice as pets is fun. Watching them explore with their little noses, rest peacefully on your hands, and have fun with simple objects is a joy. However, many people wonder whether they should keep mice in pairs or alone.

Mice are naturally social animals and do better in pairs. However, the gender of mice will determine whether they’ll be peaceful when kept together. Commonly, females do better together, while two adult male mice might be too aggressive to keep in the same cage.

Knowing how mice react when alone and in pairs can help you determine how you’ll introduce yours in your home. Read on to discover how mice behave when alone, how they respond to other mice, and more.

Should Mice Be Kept in Pairs?

Mice are social animals and typically thrive when kept in pairs. When kept alone, they might develop depression that no amount of human companionship can solve. They need grooming, communication, and consistent company from their species to live a happy life.

You’ll find single mice hide more and are less active than those kept in pairs or groups. Moreover, studies show that solitary mice strongly respond to threats. This response takes longer to disappear than in socialized mice.

Pair of Mice

Commonly, mice kept in solitude for a long time might show increased aggressiveness than before. Furthermore, show mice that are kept in a solitary control space reveal some weight loss, which scientists believe to be a physical effect of their stress. (Sources: Science Daily, Eureka Alert)

These studies support the idea that mice should be kept in pairs to live a more social life. However, you should be aware that different mice pairings will affect mice in various ways.

Keeping A Male and A Female

Generally, when a male mouse refuses to accept others of the same sex, the best way to keep them social is to introduce a female mouse in their living space. However, while you might get a happier mouse, the constant breeding may be inconvenient for you.

If you don’t mind your mice breeding, you can keep a male and a female in one cage so they can have a friendly, monogamous relationship. This way, you can keep them in a constant habitat, caring for the inter-species social needs while you enjoy the companionship of happy pets.

You can avoid breeding in two easy ways:

  • Spaying the doe: This practice has little official recognition since it’s extremely invasive and tricky for the delicate and tiny body of mice. It’s best done when the female mouse is between 3 and 6 months old.
  • Neutering the buck: Neutering is more common than spaying but also not so popular among mice overall. The same age range for spaying is applicable for neutering male mice.

Spaying or neutering a mouse is a tricky procedure. Those cute creatures are so small and delicate that they might develop issues after surgery or even die on the table. Therefore, if you choose to neuter or spay your mice, ensure that it’s done in a vet’s office or an animal hospital with specialized equipment.

Keeping Two Females

Female mice do better when kept with other females than when alone. They bond easily, so there won’t be many problems when introducing one female mouse to another. They can make joyful pets as long as there’s enough space to accommodate them both.

Two mice on book

However, some does may be aggressive towards each other or show indifference by avoiding contact whatsoever. In such situations, you should separate the two mice and acquaint them slowly over time.

It is best to pair sisters—two females from the same mice litter bond more easily and deeply than strangers. Furthermore, mice are more likely to thrive when paired with their future companions while they’re still babies.

Keeping Two Adult Male Mice

Adult male mice are extremely territorial, which can lead to unfaltering aggressiveness towards others. Some might fight to the death while others may die because of the pressure.

Two mice fighting

One common thing male mice do to mark their territory is urinating on everything they don’t want the other buck to touch. This usually happens after you clean the cage so that there is a strong smell to mark the dominance.

The fight for dominance in bucks makes it difficult to pair two adult mice from different places. However, you don’t have to keep a buck in a solitary life.

Neutered bucks can live peacefully together, so you can try performing the procedure on yours. This way, you’ll be able to expose your buck to both males and females without risking violence or unwanting breeding.

Keeping Litter Brothers and Early Companions

While two male mice strangers may not work out, litter brothers can live happily together. In fact, they make some of the best companions.

2 mice sharing a drink

You can also pair two male mice from different litters early in their lives. However, for their relationship to be successful, you have to pair them before they’re six weeks old. This way, they can grow up knowing each other and sort out their dominance issues while their aggression levels are still low.

After introducing two young male mice, it’s best not to separate them for any lengthy period. If you take one of them out of the cage, they may not be able to return without aggression. So, if you’d like to breed the mice, you have to bring a doe into the bucks’ cage to maintain the companionship your two bucks have.

This doesn’t mean that two male mice introduced at an early age will live happily ever after. There will be some light fighting between them occasionally. You might hear squeaking after you clean their cages as they strive to establish dominance by urinating.

On rare occasions, two friendly bucks might experience a fallout. In such cases, one might die or get severely injured. If you notice constant bloodshed, it’s best to separate the bucks.

Other Ways to Make Mice Pairing Work

It might seem impossible to pair mice, especially if you’d like to keep your mice without spaying or neutering them. If you have issues with some of the above combinations, here are some more techniques you can use to pair mice:

Put Them in Two Separate Cages

If you have an aggressive mouse that you don’t want to neuter or let breed, one way to give them social interaction is through separate cages. They should be able to see each other, so these cages need to have mesh sides.

You can bring the cages closer if the mice seem friendly and eventually keep them in one cage once they become fully acquainted. This might also help a mouse that just lost their companion and doesn’t want another one just yet.

You’ll know your mice are friendly when:

  • They lie on the sides of the cages nearest to each other.
  • They stopped being on high alert and seem relaxed.
  • They stopped letting out violent sounds.
  • They calmly struggle to reach each other.

Keep Two Bucks with One Old Doe

While bucks can be problematic on their own, keeping a doe in their cage can help. The doe plays a maternal role and keeps the bucks calm, promoting friendship between them. To avoid breeding, it’s best to choose an old doe that’s unlikely to breed or an infertile doe. However, it’s best to monitor them, so the bucks don’t pester the female mouse.

Choose Bucks from Calm Parents

Hostility that’s beyond socialization is often sourced from aggressive parents. So, before taking two male mice home, it’s best to check their mother’s behavior first. If the two male mice have calm parents, chances are, trying to bond them will work.

Closing Thoughts

Like most mammals, mice love social interaction. But while humans can give them love, they also require companionship with others in their species. They need to communicate, groom, and give each other company for them to feel content. Therefore, it’s best to pair a mouse with another mouse they’re compatible with.

(Sources: Rat and Mouse Club of America (RMCA), US National Library of Medicine, Pet Helpful )

Lee Cameron

When I was younger, I had guinea pigs and hamsters as pets. There was limited information back then as to how to take care of rodents, and indeed information on the various types of rodents that could be kept as pets. In this website, I hope to make it an easy, one-stop information portal on raising rodents!

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