Post by goingpostal on Aug 2, 2011 21:32:25 GMT -5
Well depends on what you can get for bedding/food, I have a small colony of mice, about 14 breeding females, 2-6 males and whatever litters on the ground and some being raised up to snake feeder size. I go through a 40 pound bag of wood pellets a little less then one a month, that's about $4, I go through maybe a bag of aspen $5 a year (I just throw a little in the corner), food a 50 pound bag every 3 months, that's $25 if I buy out of town and $38 locally. $20 on mix of oats, seeds, etc for occasional treat that lasts all year. $10 a year on cleaning supplies like baking soda and vinegar.
Upstart costs are the most, I used fish tanks which I already had a bunch, bought some more cheap at rummage sales or used at a fish store. Water bottles were $3 a piece at kmart. I bought wire mesh and made feeders. My whole family collects egg cartons, paper towel rolls and similar cardboard things for the mice to chew up and I feed scraps of my iguana greens and our stuff as well. Once people found out I had mice I got offered all sorts of mice/gerbils/guinea pigs and setups that people lost interest in so got some free stuff that way.
The cost is def worth it. As for set up I will post links later but here is what I recommend (what I'm switching to soon). I've experimented with diff set ups and find that 10g glass tanks are the best for breeding groups with 2f:1m. I will be having 3 tanks for breeding groups set up on WalMart storage shelves, with 1-2 plastic tubs kept for the growers. Tanks are cheap to free on CL or around $15 at WalMart. The screen lids are more expensive at $5-10 I think at PetCo. Water bottles are around $3. Food bowls I have found that the best thing to use is the little plastic tubs that chixken liver comes in. Or other small tubs like cream cheese containers etc. The heigh helps keep the bedding out of the food (but not vice versa lol) but still allows the mice to get in and eat. I have one permanent "house" in each group - a plastic igloo (about $5 each I think) and then I use leftover cardboard for temporary houses and bedding (they like to rip it up) from stuff like pop-tarts, tea, granola bars, etc. Small cardboard boxes. And TP rolls for fun and chewing material. Bedding I use Aspen bedding which costs $10 for a "4 cubic foot" bag that lasts several months. I clean cages weekly and after roughly 2 months with 3 large rubbermaid tubs I have not even used 1/3 of the bedding. It will last longer once I switch back to tanks too. For food I make my own mix. It costs me $20-30 and lasts for Months. I made my new mix in the beginning of June and I have barely made a dent. It lasts longer, it's cheaper, and it's healthier for the mice! That's less than $10 a month for a LOT of mice. Buying mice $10 would get me 5 mice IF I'm lucky (ie mice on sale). I am at a slow point right now but normally I get a litter every 3-4 weeks of 6-12 babies from every momma mouse. That is significantly less than $2 per mouse haha. Very worth it IMO.
I would start with 2 groups personally. Litters take 3 weeks gestation, 3 weeks till weaning. If you have 2 groups (2 tanks with 2f each) and one male you can rotate. Keep in mind that the mice they sell at the pet store are a bit young too. So here is a possible scenario.... Start with 2 tanks, 2 females, one male. Put the m in one tank f in the other for about 3-4 weeks to let them grow up a bit. By then they should be old enough to breed with better litter survival rates and less strain on mom. Clean the tanks very thoroughly, and put them all in one tank to start the breeding. Meanwhile buy 2 more females to put into tank 2. This will give them 3-6 weeks to grow up while the first group breeds. When group one starts to get close to popping, move the male to tank 2 (after cleaning the tank) with the new females. Now you can rotate every 3 weeks. The females will get a little break (though not a full break depending on the age of mice you want) and you will have a constant supply of incoming mice. If you have 3 female groups and one male, you can rotate every 3 weeks between 3 female groups and the females will get longer breaks. Another option is to leave the male in there. The females go into heat right after giving birth (like 24-48 hours if I remember correctly) and you will get back to back litters. I have done both methods. Personally I usually breed back to back, but when the females start looking tired and strained I give them a long break, or retire them early
They aren't too noisy. Just don't give them wheels. ;D I only give wheels to the growers, never the breeders bc it distracts mom from the babies. As for handling, I don't handle much at all. Handling the breeders makes them a little more hand-friendly when you are taking them out for cage cleaning, and used to you and your smell when you are checking on babies; as the growers are food I don't see a need to regularly handle them other than for cage cleaning or basic care.
I never had an issue with wheels and breeding moms, I took them out because I got tired of knocking them over at night, dang squeaking and rattling. And mice prefer it cooler, they probably won't breed well if at all in really warm temps. My production slows down in the summer.
So, once you get a system going, are you able to have a constant supply of mostly adult mice? Where do you keep the babies that will eventually become "feeders"? A separate tank? Do I separate male & female?