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Updated August 2022
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Buying guide for Best mouse food

Mice are small and eat a relatively small amount of food, but that doesn't mean their dietary needs aren’t important. In fact, it's all the more important that they eat quality mouse food since they need to get a perfectly balanced diet from such small quantities. The right diet will help your pets live a long and healthy life, so you want to put some thought and care into the mouse food you buy.

Your first decision is the type of food, and you’ll find both muesli food and pellet food. Pellets are almost always the best option, but some mouse owners like to feed muesli occasionally for increased variety. You should also pay attention to the nutrient content (protein, vitamins, and minerals) of any mouse food you're considering. There is more to think about too, such as quantity, which additives to avoid, and what fresh foods you can give your mice to supplement their diet.

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When offering your mice fresh food they've never tried before, start with just a small amount and see how their digestive system reacts before feeding them more.

Key considerations

Types

Mouse food comes in two formats: pellets and muesli.

Pellets: This mouse food consists of homogenous pieces. It might look boring, but it contains all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your mice require. The fact that every bite is the same means your pets won't cherry-pick their favorite bits and eat an unbalanced diet. When paired with an appropriate amount of fresh food, pellets make a varied enough diet to keep mice interested while maintaining proper nutrition. We recommend pellet food as the main source of nutrition for your mice.

Muesli: This mouse food looks a little like the breakfast cereal and contains a range of cereal flakes, dried fruits and vegetables, pellets, and legumes. What happens when you feed mice muesli is that they pick out their favorite pieces of food — usually the fruits and cereal flakes — and leave the other elements, usually the pellets. While none of the ingredients are unhealthy in moderation, the food is designed to be balanced when eaten as a whole, so your mice won't get adequate nutrition if they only eat certain bits. Muesli is fine to feed once or twice a week to add some variety to the diet, but it shouldn’t be the only food you feed your pets.

Nutrition

Protein: Mice can be relatively sensitive to the protein content in their diet, especially mice bought from pet stores, which are typically more prone to allergies and other dietary issues than mice purchased from reputable breeders. The sweet spot for protein in mouse food is around 14%. Anything significantly lower than that won't provide enough protein to keep your mice healthy, and anything higher can cause issues like itching and hot spots in some mice. It's true that certain mice can tolerate foods with a higher percentage of protein, but it's best not to risk it unless you know your mice ate a high protein diet without issue in the past. The exception to this is nursing or pregnant mice, which need additional protein.

Vitamins and minerals: Mouse food should contain a range of vitamins and minerals to provide all the nutrients your mice require. However, particular vitamins and minerals are especially important for mice, so you should check if your chosen food contains them at adequate levels. Mice particularly need magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, and choline in their diet. Plus, growing mice need certain levels of folic acid too. If you choose a quality mouse food, it should contain all of these vitamins and minerals, plus more, but it's your duty as a responsible mouse owner to read the nutritional information on the label.

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Did You Know?
Your mice must have constant access to clean drinking water. Mice can die if left without water for even a short time.
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Features

Quantity

You can find mouse food in a range of package sizes from around 8 ounces to 25 pounds. A pound of food will last one mouse around 90 days, but since mice should be kept in groups of two or more, expect a pound of food to last 45 days for a pair or 30 days for three. You want a large enough pack that you aren't constantly reordering but not so large that the food goes stale before you use it up.

Mouse and rat food

Both mice and rats are opportunistic omnivores and have relatively similar dietary requirements. As such, there are brands of mouse food available that are labeled "mouse and rat” food. This is perfectly fine and doesn't mean the food is unsuitable for your pet mice. 

Salt and sugar

Avoid any mouse food that contains added sugar. It isn’t necessary: the natural sugars found in mouse food are more than enough for your pet, and any extra is unhealthy. A small amount of added salt is fine, but only enough to meet your mouse's sodium requirements.

Mice are coprophagic rodents, meaning they eat their own feces to absorb essential nutrients from them. You should allow them to engage in this behavior. It doesn't mean anything is wrong with your mice.

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Mouse food prices

Inexpensive: The cheapest mouse food costs between $0.07 and $0.15 per ounce. While you can find some decent food in this price range, some of them are subpar. The best-quality foods at this price point are sold in large packs since choosing bulk packages brings the cost down.

Mid-range: This mouse food costs from $0.15 to $0.25 per ounce. You can find a range of decent pellet and muesli foods in this price range.

Expensive: The costliest mouse food fetches between $0.25 and $0.40 per ounce. These include the best and most well-balanced varieties out there, though occasionally the high price per ounce reflects the fact that it's sold in a small quality, which pushes up the price per ounce.

Dyk2
Did You Know?
It's great to supplement your pets’ diet with an array of fresh vegetables and fruit, but this should be part of their normal daily food allowance, not added to it.
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Tips

  • Hide food in the cage. You can hide it in paper bags, cardboard tubes, or other mouse-safe receptacles. This allows each mouse to sniff out the food in their enclosure and also helps if one mouse is territorial about food. Scattering it throughout the cage means there is plenty to go around.
  • Provide safe items for mice to chew on. In addition to food, mice love to chew and gnaw on coconut shells, pumice stones, seagrass, or small branches of untreated softwood.
  • Switch foods gradually. It's best to switch to a new mouse food gradually to avoid digestive distress. Start by replacing about a quarter of the old food with new, then increase this by another quarter every couple of days until the mice are eating only their new food.
  • Avoid added dyes in food. Food coloring is completely unnecessary in mouse food and only serves to change the appearance of the food.
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In the wild, mice are natural foragers and spend much of their waking time searching for food. Sprinkling their food in different spots around their habitat encourages this natural behavior.

FAQ

Q. What fresh foods can I offer my mice?

A. You'd get bored eating pellets for every meal and so will your mice. We recommend feeding your mice around 75% commercial food and 25% fresh food, such as fruits and vegetables. The amount of fruit should be limited, however, since its high natural sugar content is bad for the teeth and can cause spikes in blood sugar. Suitable fresh produce to offer your mice includes carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, parsley, basil, cucumbers, bell peppers, apples with the seeds removed, pears, and peaches. You can also feed small amounts of cereals as a treat, such as cooked pasta or oatmeal.

Q. Is there anything I shouldn't feed mice?

A. Yes, some foods are toxic to mice and should always be avoided. Others are simply unhealthy for mice and are best left out of their diet. Common toxic and unhealthy foods include onions, garlic, chocolate, walnuts, grapes and raisins, avocado, coffee, tea, citrus fruits, apple seeds, rhubarb, and mango.

Q. How much food does a mouse need each day?

A. Pet mice are small and don't eat much, usually between 0.1 and 0.2 ounces of food each day. They don't overeat pellets and will stop when they're full, but they do prioritize more interesting fresh foods. Therefore, it's important that you not feed so much fresh food that your mice won't touch their pellets, since these contain a well-balanced range of nutrients that’s difficult to replicate with fresh food unless you're an expert in mouse nutrition.

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