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By Smock

September 18th, 2023

Male vs. Female Mice

When animals are in captivity, humans have the sole responsibility for maintaining their welfare. This often means lots of research, hard decisions, and questions about quality of life. 

 

In mice, a common question that comes up related to this topic is “How can we keep female mice versus male mice in captivity?” Male mice are too hormonally aggressive to be kept together and will show discomfort and aggression towards other males of the same species. In this article, I will go over different approaches to this issue, and the “proper” answer(s).

Female Mice​

Mice in the wild are mainly social. Female mice form large groups, which are comparable to sororities in humans. Female mice are highly social, thrive in groups, and exhibit stress signs when alone, so females that are capable of being together should be at all costs. They highly benefit from each other's company and can be even depressed when kept alone or develop self-destructive tendencies or habits. 

Male Mice

Male mice have quite different requirements. Due to hormonal aggression, they can not be housed with other male mice. In the wild, they even go solo to find another group of females to mate with. Male mice in captivity are often housed alone or with ASF (African soft fur rats) because they lack the ability to mate with them and do not see them as competition. Some male mice are even neutered to be housed with females. Others argue this is a dangerous and unnecessary procedure because of recovery time, size of the mouse, and the fact that some males will not survive the procedure. I recommend keeping male mice solo, or if possible, adding female ASF to provide companionship.

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Neutering Pros and Cons

Pros 

  • Allows male mice to cohabitate with others of the same species 

Cons

  • Need to wait for sperm to fully leave the body/recovery time

  • Male mice sometimes continue to exhibit territorial behaviors after the operation

  • Neutering is dangerous (it can be lethal or lead to complications with the urinary tract)

  • Females may dislike the neutered male

Why doesn't everyone get ASF?

 

Live ASF are hard to find in captivity. They're often sold as snake feed and are very unfriendly and aggressive, making them uncommon pets. Not to mention, they are illegal in many areas such as California. 

Myth vs Truth

Myth: “Male mice are the same species, we should treat them the same!”

 

Truth: Male mice, are pretty much dimorphic based on sex. Not visibly, but they behave in very different ways. Male mice have much more aggression, both hormonally and neurologically. 

 

Male mice can develop depression with no social interaction. However, they also might not - the only way to see is by getting to know your mouse and supplementing with your own interaction. 

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