Of course, you can buy a mouse enclosure in a pet store, for example in the form of a terrarium. Unfortunately, the rodent homes bought rarely meet all requirements for animal-friendly living, so you are on the safe side if you build a mouse cage yourself. You can do this yourself, if you are adept at manual work, or have it commissioned by a specialist company. Read what is important below.
The right size of the mouse enclosure
There are several ways to house your mice. In any case, it is important that the mouse cage is large enough. The following applies: there is not too big. A minimum size of 80 (length) x 50 (width) x 50 (height) cubic centimeters must be given in any case - a length of at least one meter is better for your group of mice. An enclosure with dimensions of 120 x 60 x 80 cubic centimeters is ideal for a family of ten animals.
Build a mouse cage yourself: basic tips
Do-it-yourself construction with grilles is a highly recommended construction. The mouse cage can be designed individually and according to your wishes. There is a good air exchange and drinking bottles as well as tiers, hammocks and Co. can simply be attached to the grid walls. It is important that the grid of cages does not exceed a maximum distance of 0.8 centimeters - otherwise the agile rodents can squeeze through or get stuck between the wire and in the worst case suffocate. One option is tight-mesh aviary wire, a galvanized and spot-welded grid with square meshes.
If you build a mouse enclosure yourself, you should make sure that you give the individual animals in the mouse group enough space to retreat to. You can achieve this by installing several floors on which the fur noses can build nests and run around. In general, litter is also important, for example hemp litter, corn litter, flax litter or miscantus. Naturally, mice only feel comfortable when they can dig and dig a sufficient amount - so do not skimp on the litter.
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Avoid toxic and sharp-edged materials and objects
The safety of your animals is paramount. Avoid toxic substances in the mouse enclosure. Keep in mind that mice as well as hamsters or rats can nibble on everything and swallow plastic or silicone parts, for example. Use only non-toxic paints to protect the wooden parts of the cage from the urine of the pets. Products that are approved for children's room furnishings and do not emit any harmful fumes are good. Water-based paints are particularly gentle, which also applies to wood glue that you use.
As far as the building material itself is concerned, it depends on the right wood. Do not use resinous or smelling woods like those of conifers. Wood from ash, birch, beech, alder, linden, walnut or willow is more suitable. Plywood and glue is too thin for the enclosure walls, but is great for building floors. You should generally refrain from rust-prone metal, as these are not good for the mouse paws and cause a bad climate. As for the screws, you should use special wood screws and make sure that they never go completely through the wood (risk of injury!). In general, it is important that there are no sharp-edged corners and edges and also no tips in the enclosure where the snub noses could be injured.
You can find out how to set up your mouse cage in the guide: "Setting up a mouse cage: keeping rodents appropriate for the species".
Excursus: A terrarium or aquarium as a mouse cage - is that possible?
You can theoretically use a terrarium or a converted aquarium as a mouse enclosure. These have no annoying bars, give a perfect view inside through the glass and litter cannot fall out when digging the burrow. However, these types of enclosures have one major disadvantage: there is very poor air and heat exchange inside. A mouse terrarium or aquarium must therefore either be very large or very flat so that gases from breathing and ammonia (urine) can escape. In addition, moisture can build up, which leads to the formation of mold.
Good ventilation is mandatory here, otherwise your little animals could get health problems. Other disadvantages are that it is not always easy to attach a water bottle and the unwieldiness of a glass case, which makes cleaning difficult. Tip: It is better if you replace the glass walls with a grid suitable for mice.