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4 Common Pet Mice Diseases & Health Problems (Vet Answer)


Jun 6, 2023
cute tiny little mice sitting in a persons hands


cute tiny little mice sitting in a persons hands
Dr. Iulia Mihai Photo

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Any pet can be prone to disease, including pet mice. The lifespan of a pet mouse is a maximum of 3 years. Sometimes due to poor care, they can fall ill with respiratory and dermatological diseases. Other times, they will develop different forms of cancer.

If your pet mouse shows signs of illness, it is recommended to take them to the veterinarian. It is your responsibility as an owner to react quickly to the small changes that your pet presents and offer them a healthy life.


The 4 Common Pet Mice Diseases, Illnesses & Health Problems

1. Respiratory Diseases

Mice, like pet rats, are prone to respiratory diseases. Some can develop due to poor care conditions, while others can be caused when you introduce a new sick pet, and still others can be transmitted from the mother during birth.

The causes of respiratory diseases are represented by bacteria and viruses. The most common respiratory conditions in pet mice are those caused by the Sendai virus (a paramyxovirus) and Mycoplasma pulmonis (bacterium). Other bacteria that can affect the respiratory tract of mice are Streptococcus pneumonia and Corynebacterium kutscheri.

Clinical signs of respiratory infections in pet mice include:

  • Sneezing
  • Shallow or labored breathing
  • Breathing noises
close up of mice selective focus
Image Credit: Monique Guilbault, Shutterstock

2. Skin Diseases

Pet mice are prone to infestation with mites, which can cause skin diseases if the infestation is massive. In severe cases, external parasitism with mites can lead to stress and death (mice get stressed very easily).

Clinical signs include:

  • Excessive scratching
  • Hairless areas
  • Scales and crusts on the skin
  • Redness
  • Secondary infections

Other external parasites that mice can get are fleas, ringworm, and lice.

Other skin diseases that pet mice can develop are:

  • Staphylococcus infections
  • Scaly skin disease (Corynebacterium bovis infection)
  • Ringtail syndrome
  • Barbering (fur chewing)

3. Digestive Disorders

One of the most common problems in pet mice is diarrhea. It can be an effect of an improper diet, unwashed fruits and vegetables, digestive diseases, ingestion of toxic plants, or stress.

Clinical signs include:

  • Mushy or runny feces
  • Dehydration
  • Fur around the anus being dirty

Viruses, parasites, or bacteria can cause digestive problems. Overall, the clinical signs include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Coarse, matte fur
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
White pet rat being checked up by the vet at the vet office
Image Credit: abd, Shutterstock

4. Cancer

Tumors and cancers are common in mice. Some are malignant, while others are benign. Vets typically recommend removing the tumor to help reduce the chance of death.

The occurrence of cancer in pet mice depends on several factors:

  • Breed
  • Age
  • Environment
  • Viral infections

The most common form of cancer in pet mice is mammary tumors. The tumors develop under the skin and can be caused by viral infections, which can be transmitted to the pups through the mother’s milk and placenta. In some cases, even if the mammary cancer is surgically removed, it can spread to the lungs (i.e., metastasize).

How Do You Tell If a Pet Mouse Has a Disease?

Healthy mice have shiny fur, clean skin, and bright eyes and do not present nasal and eye secretions or breathe with difficulty. So, when a mouse gets sick, they may show the following clinical signs:

  • Hair loss
  • Excessive scratching
  • Sneezing
  • Noisy and/or difficult breathing
  • Nasal and eye secretions
  • Low appetite
  • Nodules on the body

If your mouse shows signs of illness, take them to the vet. Although common pet mouse health problems are usually treatable, they can become complicated and lead to your pet’s death.

pet mice on human hand
Image Credit: Sergey Bezgodov, Shutterstock



Mice are generally healthy animals but can be prone to certain diseases. The most common diseases in mice include mammary cancer, respiratory diseases (especially those caused by Mycoplasma pulmonis), skin diseases (especially those caused by external parasites), and digestive problems. To prevent a few of these medical conditions, it is crucial to provide your pet with a balanced diet and a clean and ventilated environment. Also, avoid using bedding that creates dust because it can irritate their respiratory tract. If your pet shows clinical signs or changes in their behavior, a visit to the veterinarian will be necessary.

Featured Image Credit: Felicia Morack, Shutterstock

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