Rodents As Pets

We have mice.

No, not that kind.

No, not that kind, either. Well, OK, we do have the computer kind but we don’t have the wild kind.

What we have as of the last couple of days is pet mice. Two, to be specific.

Mice are very family-oriented.
Mice are very family-oriented.

In our practice we don’t see pet mice very often, but a regular cat-and-dog client brought two this week because the children for whom she is a nanny have had them for a couple of years and one was having a problem.

Did you ever wonder why mice are so commonly used for research?

Yes, the fact that they are inexpensive, small, don’t take up much space and don’t each much are all important factors, but there are two genetic reasons, too.

One is generational. Gestation time is short and researchers can determine the effects of their research on subsequent generations rather quickly.

The other is their genetic tendency to generate cancerous lesions at the slightest urging. Therefore, they age quickly and carcinogens can begin to have adverse effects quickly, yielding lifesaving information in research studies.

Thus, Rose was brought to us for a growth on the left rear leg that is preventing her from using that leg to walk, although, fortunately, it is not keeping her from doing any of the other things she enjoys. She eats, she drinks, she plays, and she cuddles with her cage-mate, Daisey.

Notice the large growth on Rose's left rear leg.
Notice the large growth on Rose's left rear leg.

It’s cute to see them so attached to each other, yet sad to think how much Daisey will miss Rose when she’s gone.

We hope it is a long time before she succumbs to the tumor. Parents must keep these factors in mind when choosing pets for children. Rodents such as mice, rats, guinea pigs and hamsters have short lifespans, even compared to dogs and cats. Two to five years is average.  Therefore, children will confront the loss of rodent pets not too long after they are obtained.



Another view of Rose's leg mass.
Another view of Rose’s leg mass.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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