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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-05-2005, 09:13 AM Thread Starter
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Mice - Tail Biting

Hi All

We have 2 mice (not sure what sort - small brown ones - just common mice I guess ).

We have had them for about 18 months, and they have happily shared a cage all that time. They occasionally fight over certain food, but recently one of them have started biting the others tail a lot. We have caught them 3 times in the last couple of days, when it let out a deathly shriek after being bit. It then ran off with it's tail bleeding to lick it' wounds. This has obviously happened more than these few times though as it has several bite marks on it's tail.

They are happy most of the time, and even after the incident, but what can we do, if anything to stop it happening?

Is this normal behaviour (they are both female), or should we think about seperating them (or would this cause them distress after being together for so long)?

Not sure what to do.

Thanks
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2005, 09:32 AM Thread Starter
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Just to add to this.

The mouse who has been bitten has always been the more timid mouse.

Noticed that today and yesterday she has not been very active.

She comes out when you call her and eats well when we put food in, but just seems to be in the house a lot.

They used to both be running about the cage when we were around, but now just the dominant one is.

Her tail doesn't look infected or anything, just sore from being bitten, and she doesn't look unwell.

Could she be resting because she is sore from being bitten or has she just got less active as she is being 'bullied' by the other mouse?

I don't want to split them up as they have got used to being together, but it may be the best thing I guess.

I'd sure like some opinions on this.

Thanks
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2005, 10:54 AM
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I have 3 female mice housed together (at one point it was 6), and I have never had any aggression problems. They wrestle over food, however, lol, but they have never bitten each other. I would suggest keeping a really close eye on them for a while and try and see what exactly initiates the tail biting. Is it over food? Is it territorial over a certain toy or house, etc? If there's nothing you can change to make it stop I would suggest seperating them. Normally, mice are social and do not like to be alone, though, so I am very suprised. Especially considering the recent onset of this biting and their age!

Good luck, and keep us posted!

-Tare

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2005, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TareG
I have 3 female mice housed together (at one point it was 6), and I have never had any aggression problems. They wrestle over food, however, lol, but they have never bitten each other. I would suggest keeping a really close eye on them for a while and try and see what exactly initiates the tail biting. Is it over food? Is it territorial over a certain toy or house, etc? If there's nothing you can change to make it stop I would suggest seperating them. Normally, mice are social and do not like to be alone, though, so I am very suprised. Especially considering the recent onset of this biting and their age!

Good luck, and keep us posted!
Thanks for your reply.

It doesn't seem to be over anything in particular. There are no new toys in their cage (new toilet roll tubes, but only to replace old ones which we do regularly).

They do argue over food sometimes - lots of squeaking but no contact.

The first time we actually saw it happen, they were sat apart in the cage, one at either side of their wheel. The submissive mouses tail was laid under the wheel. The dominant mouse just bit it and pulled on it. The mouse let out a horrible squealing noise and ran awaw into a corner with it's tail bleeding. It then vanished into the house and licked it's tail before coming back out and started chewing on some food.

Interestingly enough, some months ago, we noticed that the dominant mouse had a kink in the end of it's tail and a scab. We just though they had got into a fight and never though any more of it after we kew it was not ill. Maybe this has been going on before but in reverse!

I read online somewhere that mice sometimes tail-bite when deciding who is boss in the cage. But after this long together, you'd think they already knew who was boss! Maybe the submissive one tried to be more aggressive and the other has been putting it in it's place!
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2005, 10:32 PM
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Those are good points! I was thinking, when you said about the wheel thing, that maybe the bite on the tail happened at first because the other mouse didn't know what it was! And then maybe when she saw the reaction, she realized that she could get away with being the dominant one in the cage.

Just a guess though, don't take my word for it. I am a psychology major, not a vet! hehe

-Tare

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-07-2005, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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More biting today! I think we are going to have to split them up.

The mouse being bitten has become very reclusive too. Only coming out when we call her/tap on the cage etc.

Took her out of the cage to get a good look at her and she doesn't seem unwell - guess she must be sore though as he tail has several 'old' bite marks on.

Can anyone give any advice on how to stop the biting before we split them up?

Thanks
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