G'day All, I've got several Spinifex Hopping Mice that are looking for new homes. They have fairly simple care and make great active pets. I have a information from my care booklet posted below for those interested. Animals will only be sold to those who can show proof of appropriate setup. I offer discounts on groups. At present I will not freight (due to covid), either by land or air so it is local pickup Parramatta area. You must have a current NSW mammal license to purchase these. Please don’t contact me asking to sell them unlicensed because won’t. All animals are sold unsexed. These are not reptile feeders. Small Native Rodent Care Guide Mitchell Hodgson V.1.2 6/07/2020 Foreword: First and foremost, thank you for choosing to have a native mammal as a pet! Native rodents are not only different to the standard ‘pet’, but I find they are personally so much more rewarding to keep. With this said native rodents do have some specific care needs that differ from European mice and these needs must be met to ensure you have happy and healthy pets. This guide I have composed is an amalgamation of advice I’ve heard from other keepers, my own personal learnings as well as various books on native rodent natural history that I have read. It is by no means the definite answer to all the questions owning native mice can bring about, but it will hopefully give new owners a bit of a head start in learning how to care for this awesome species. If all goes well these rodents can have a captive lifespan (from my experience of 3-5 years). Housing: A single individual or small group can comfortably be housed in a 50cmx50cmx40cm glass enclosure. I very rarely use enclosures this size, and usually only do so when I need to separate out a mouse for medical or aggression reasons. The smallest of my main tanks is 90cm x45cmx60cm, most being 120x45cmx60cm and then a larger one that is 180x45cmx60cm. Keeping this species in rodent cages, plastic enclosures or a wooden enclosure is not advisable as they are great escape artist and will easily find a way out, either by gnawing through something or squeezing out through something else. These species very much appreciate spatial complexity and the use of branches, sticks and logs to create more vertical space is both aesthetically pleasing and enriching. Lids need to be well ventilated for tanks should be made of hard wood or material that the mice cannot gnaw through, they should also be regularly inspected for damage. Make sure lids are heavy enough that rodents cannot pop or lift them. Do not use treated or marine ply as the chemicals are not good for the rodents. The tanks should all have a dripper bottle of water or water bowl present. Whilst these species don’t require ab lib access to water (they are able to metabolise water from starches in their food), it is appropriate to supply one in a captive environment as incorrect conditions or feeding may prevent adequate water acquisition. In my years of keeping native rodents I’ve gone through many different substrates. Most substrates are fine for use with these animals, ones I have personally tested and like include: Play Sand, Red Desert Sand, Chipsi Snake Bedding, Euci Mulch, straw, breeders choice kitty litter and coir mulch. All of the above products work well and I recommend you to try them to find which suits you best. Sand is a good safe bet as is straw. At present I currently use sand, euci mulch or breeders choice kitty litter. The inclusion of gum leaves, corn husks or shredded paper throughout the tanks allows animals to forage for material which they will collect and build nests with. Gum leaves and native plant trimmings can also be thrown in for enrichment and nest building. All tanks should be provided with a nest box of some sort. I use opaque plastic containers, hollowed logs, ceramic containers and wooden boxes. As with all things make sure that materials used aren’t harmful to rodents or mammals and if collecting logs from outside do so ethically and responsibly. By this I mean take logs that have been recently cut or commercially harvested for the purpose of captive animal tanks, don’t go into the bush and take other animals habitat. Whenever placing an object in a cage make sure that it is firmly in contact with the bottom of the cage as the rodents dig and can be crushed by falling objects. A final quick note on tank placement, put it somewhere where natural light cycles can be maintained, it doesn’t get too hot (they will die with excessive heat) and if there is escape they can be held in that room or location without hiding or disappearing. Cleaning: I find cleaning the most stressful part of having native mice. They do not enjoy being handled or corralled into temporary housing boxes, making the endeavour very stressful for all invovled. Hopping mice are generally more placid than plains mice and can easily be moved into small containers and out of the tank. The most effective way I’ve found to remove plains mice from a tank is by grabbing them in a canvas bag so that as they try to escape they get caught in the bag. When they become stressed they can jump surprisingly high and will use the walls of the tank to get extra height. I recommend removing any water bottles or elevated perch sites as the first action. The need to remove them by hand can prevented by making their nesting area a trap box in which a door can be shut on and the whole unit removed. If a plains mouse stands on its back legs and assumes a fighting stance with teeth exposed and paws raised, you should avoid contact with it for an hour or so to let it calm down. Of the two species plains mice are much timider and have quite nervous responses. Delaying cleaning is foremost for the wellbeing of the animal (The poor bugger will be very stressed!) and secondly to avoid any bites which could not only hurt but enable the mouse to escape. I can’t say it enough. These guys are escape artists and will get away from you if you don’t pay attention. The regularity of cleaning depends on tank dimensions and number of rodents housed in the tank. I usually end up doing full changes every month or two, however with large tanks and low numbers of animals in a tank this degree of regularity isn’t required, especially with spot cleans of urination sites. These animals usually elect latrine sites in the corners of the tanks, so these can be cleaned more regularly. Feeding: I keep my rodents on a mix of seeds, fruit and vegetables. Each night I offer them a homemade food mix made from home brand wild birdseed, Foragers Feast, natural unsalted pistachios, Makenzie’s Italian soup mix, sunflower seeds and a small addition of Purina Supercoat adult dry cat food. In addition to that I also offer them (on a rotating roster) carrot, apple, kale, mushroom and corn. Corn is a favourite of the rodents and I suggest getting large cobs and peeling the husk of and leaving it in the tank as the use it for nest bedding. Occasionally I’ll place a ‘Pet grass’ or soaked and germinated bird seed into the tank for them to eat and enjoy. Being omnivorous it is good to provide them with invertebrates to eat, such as super worms or crickets; mine rarely seem to eat such items though. I’ve not kept them on commercial rodent pellets, however believe it to potentially be a good feeding option. Enrichment: Enrichment should be provided in the form of running wheels, rodent flying suacers, climbing objects, gnawing objects and burrowing mediums. Pipes and tubes can be used and they look absolutely adorable running through them! It is important to include fresh browse as well. Browse is branches, flowers and leaves broken off trees so that the rodents can spend time and energy interacting with the material. Over the course of a few days they will shred it all! I only use native plants for my browse and collect them from places where I am happy that no pesticides or nasty products have been sprayed. Do you due diligence and make sure to provide them with nothing toxic! Compatibility: This species establishes hierarchies in both sexes. You can house male rats together as long as they are roughly the same age putting them in the same tank follow the instructions outlined with breeding pairs below as the presence of pheromones marking territory in an already established tank can lead to territory wars. You cannot introduce a female as they will fight (usually to death of detriment of one animal) over the female. Having two females to a male is possible, however I have heard accounts of a dominate female establishing and killing subordinate female offspring. Females can be housed in large numbers together, or so I have found. If animals are born and raised in the same tanks they generally do not fight and can be kept together. If separated though putting them back together can result in fighting. Some individuals may not house together. It is just the way it is! Sexing: As stated above handling of these rodents is not particularly easy and can be very stressful to the rodent. The best way to sex Plains Mice is to look through the walls of the tank and look for the presence of testicles on males (They are obvious!) or to get them in a transparent container and look through the bottom. I haven’t been able to get good photos of their genitals, however I suggest going online and looking at the sexing of European mice as the anatomy is near identical. Hopping mice are a little harder to sex and that is something best shown than described in text Breeding: Both species are straightforward to breed and once breeding will reproduce readily, something that must be considered as they can breed you out of house and home! Plains rats can be tricky to breed initially, however once a breeding pair is established and breeding it will take a lot to upset them. When I attempt to establish breeding pairs I remove both individuals from a tank and clean the tank fully. I introduce them to the clean enclosure and watch their behaviour for the next 30mins to make sure that they don’t severely injure each other. It is normal when you introduce a male and a female for a male to inspect the female’s vagina, and for the female to show reject the advance of the male. The male will chase the female for a prolonged period of time and there is usually a fair amount of squeaking involved. This period is where you need to closely monitor them to make sure there is now fighting or blood drawn. Once successfully paired and sharing and enclosure the two mice are quite calm and won’t fight. You may see a male mount a female, however this doesn’t always mean that the female will become pregnant. Much like human’s rodents have periodic ovulation cycles and it must be at the right point in a females cycle to become pregnant. You’ll notice when a female is pregnant as there is considerable increase in her abdomen girth and usually she becomes a bit more skittish. Pregnancy in this species takes 30 days. Female rodents tend to give birth in the late afternoon/evening/night and should not be disturbed whilst birthing. This can lead to complications or it could stress the female out and she may kill the young. As a personal anecdote on the matter; I spooked a female while she was giving birth and she ran up the water bottle and gave birth to two babies on top of the water bottle (both survived and are in great health!). The pups grow very fast and will be weaned in 28 days, in this period it is not advisable to examine the nest unless you fear something seriously bad has happened (i.e. a female rodent is seen with a prolapse and needs vet care or lots of blood around the enclosure. A final remark to make is that some females will kill their first litter regardless of the care you provide, you’ shouldn’t feel disheartened by this. I personally haven’t seen it often in these species, but have experienced it. The mother knows what it is doing and may kill the offspring for a number of reasons such as deformities or her inability to care for them. Just make sure your husbandry is correct and the next litter should be fine! Additional Readings: Breed, B., & Ford, F. (2007). Native mice and rats. CSIRO PUBLISHING. Check out Plains Rat Husbandry Guidelines by Peter Nuun Jackson, S. M. (2003). Australian mammals: biology and captive management. CSIRO publishing. Google Native Rodents!