11 Tips to Help You Pet a Mouse (That Actually Work!)


So, you want to pet your mouse, and who can blame you? However, you are unsure as to whether or not they will be receptive to this, or even how to go about dealing with it. 

The good news is that life can be substantially easier than you think, and petting your mouse is extremely achievable for everyone.

In fact, there are a number of different tips that should make this entire process of petting your mouse go far more smoothly than you would have perhaps expected.

So, here are 11 tips that will hopefully make a difference. Now, we aren’t about to tell you that each and every single tip will help, but we are confident that several of them will make a difference.

A white and brown striped mouse in its owner's hands

Tip 1 – Never Pick Them Up By the Tail

The first tip is also both a warning and a plea. Do not pick up your mouse by the tail.

This entire idea of them not being bothered by this act is completely wrong.

In fact, it will hurt them and cause them pain, and a sensible owner is not going to want to be doing this.

So, forget all about doing this. 

Tip 2 – How to Correctly Pick Them Up

So, how do you actually pick them up?

Well, you need to make sure that your hand is under their body, as this gives them some confidence that they won’t be simply allowed to drop down.

The main area to focus on when it comes to holding them in order to pet your mouse is to focus on their hind area and under their belly.

This makes your mouse feel way more relaxed, and that is going to make them far more receptive to you touching them.

Also, remember that your pet mouse is going to be very anxious, so holding them in the correct manner, and making them feel supported, is very, very important.

Tip 3 – Hold Them Close to Your Body

Your pet mouse is also going to gain some confidence if you hold them close to your body before petting them. Once again, this is all about making your pet mouse feel nice and safe in your presence.

Keep in mind that your mouse is going to feel so much better when they can feel all four feet on the ground, so suddenly picking them up and having them in mid-air is going to be a scary event.

You need to do everything in your power to help them relax, and holding them close to your body when going to pet them will certainly do exactly that.

Tip 4 – Let Them Explore By Coming to You

This tip is connected to you trying to get your mouse to feel better about coming to you.

This sense of trust makes a real difference with your ability to then pet your mouse. [Source]

Remember that a mouse is going to be very nosy. They will want to explore and do things in their own time, and that is the easiest way for them to start building trust in you as their owner.

They need to get used to your smell and being in your presence. You need to spend time letting them come to you and to even get used to your hand and the feeling of walking over it.

Only after doing this will you then find it easier to pet your mouse at will. Up until that point, they will be anxious, and it will hardly be a pleasant experience for them.

Tip 5 – Feed Them Treats to Help Them Get Used to You

This is another good tip that will help develop that bond between you and your mouse.

Use treats and feed them to your pet mouse to help them to begin to associate you with nicer things.

This is something that you should do when they are in their cage, and also before you go ahead and pick them up for the first time.

This will make it easier for them to overcome their potential fear of you, as a mouse is a very timid creature. Over time, they will realize that you bring good things to them, and that there’s nothing whatsoever to worry about.

By building this bond, you can then make it easier to pet them.

They will be relaxed, even if you have had to effectively bribe them with food, and it’s going to be a far more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Yes, this is a form of bribery, but it’s something that has been shown time and time again to be effective at helping your mouse to come out and to begin to interact with you. 

white mouse sitting in the hands of its owner

Tip 6 – Take it Slowly

By taking it slowly, what we mean is you need to build up the length of time that your mouse spends in your hand.

Don’t simply go ahead and pick them up and hold them for a few minutes. That will feel like an absolute eternity to your pet mouse. Also, they will be terrified for the entire duration.

Instead, you need to take small baby steps. You need to allow them to come to you, as described in an earlier tip, and then only have them in your hand for 30 seconds or so. [Source]

This is all about helping them build confidence of being around you, or your mouse will want to scurry away and hide from you, and that’s hardly what you want to happen.

It’s also true that if you see them struggling at some point, then you need to stop what you are doing and put them back in their cage.

You should then leave them alone for some time, and go back a couple of steps. You must do this to slowly build their confidence again, and to help them to pretty much forget about their bad experience.

If you do this, then you may find that they will then breeze past that obstacle the next time you get to that stage.

Tip 7 – Don’t Even Move Your Hand at First

Once you get to the point where your mouse is on your hand, don’t even think about moving your hand the first few times that they climb on up there.

You want your mouse to get used to being on your hand and feeling your skin under their feet. 

Allow them to walk all over your hand and sniff around. They need to get used to all of these new sensations before you think about lifting them up off the ground.

They will also feel your hand as being a soft surface, and that makes them feel more relaxed. Don’t close your hand up, and the only thing you should do is to talk softly and gently to your mouse. 

Do this for a couple of minutes, and then return them to their cage and leave them alone.

Don’t pester them at this point or pay them too much attention, as they basically need to process what they just experienced and to realize that all is perfectly well.

Tip 8 – If Possible, Start the Process When Young

It’s going to make everything so much easier if you are able to start this process when your mouse is still relatively young.

That gives you more time to build their confidence, and they will also have less negative experiences to think about which could then be related to your hand or being touched.

You must remember that a mouse is inquisitive from an early age. They have a need to explore, and their natural curiosity is going to get the better of them at different times. 

This curiosity doesn’t wane with age. However, the point about not having bad things happen to them that would have previously scared them is a valid one when it comes to making life so much easier. 

Tip 9 – Don’t Allow Children to Pick Them Up Unsupervised

This may go against something you would have expected to be absolutely fine, but don’t allow children to pick up their pet mouse without being very closely supervised.

Their excitement at being able to handle their pet will often get the better of them, and that’s going to increase the chances of them doing something that will scare the mouse.

Of course, a child does not mean any harm, but the mouse is not going to be able to determine that all on their own. 

Also, we want you to allow your child to get used to looking after their pet, as it’s a great thing, but be careful as to what you will and will not allow them to do. It’s best for your child, and it’s also best for the mouse.

Tip 10 – Cup Your Hand, and Pet Them Gently

Once your mouse is clearly feeling far more settled in your hand, and you have been able to increase the time spent in your hand, you can then look at petting them.

However, even with this, you need to watch your pet mouse closely for any signs that all is not too well with them.

One of the best ways to do this is to look at cupping your mouse in one hand, and then use your forefinger to gently stroke them around their head.

You should only be lightly brushing their head, and there should be very limited pressure. Also, only do this for a few strokes at first, as they will be wondering what is going on, and it could be quite scary.

When cupping them in your hand, you need to make sure that your grip is firm enough for them to feel secure, but not too firm that they start to panic.

You must keep in mind what goes on when they are attacked by predators in the wild. It’s natural for them to panic if you then hold them in a way that they would be held in the wild.

Also, with the petting part, being gentle is important, as your mouse is a soft and gentle animal. They are more delicate than you realize, so too much pressure is going to be pretty bad for them. 

Tip 11 – Places to Avoid

Finally, if you want to pet your mouse, then there are certain parts of their body that must be avoided at all costs. 

Stay away from their rear and feet. Also, their belly should be avoided, as these are areas of their body where they feel more vulnerable.

Keep in mind the earlier point regarding not picking them up by the tail, as all of these areas are stressful and worrying for your mouse.

It’s different when you are cupping your mouse in the palm of your hand for your palm to be resting against their rear.

The mouse is going to understand more as to what is going on at this moment, and they will be less likely to react in any sort of negative way.

However, aside from that, don’t pet them in those areas. 

So, those are 11 tips that you should take into consideration if you wish to get to the point where you are able to handle and pet your mouse. How long all of this will take is going to vary from mouse to mouse. 

You will often find that some adapt to you touching them, and also your scent, rather quickly. Others will be naturally more nervous, and they will take a number of attempts before you are able to 

Barry Gray

Barry is a freelance writer from Scotland. He has written about pets for over a decade, and his work has been turned into a range of ebooks, courses, and material for diplomas. Barry is passionate about all animals, but particularly dogs, fish, rabbits, birds and spiders. You can find out more about Barry at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/

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