Extract taken from www.fancymice.info , written by Cait McKeown
Whether you are getting your mouse from a pet shop or a breeder, the same rules should apply. By this I mean the same good health, good condition etc should be found in both places – the only real difference may be the mouse’s suitability for breeding/coat colour. I have put together a few points that I think everyone should keep an eye out for when choosing a mouse. (Article shortened!)
Are the mice healthy and active?
a. Do the mice have nice shiny smooth coats?
b. Are the mice’s eyes bright and inquisitive?
c. Are their tails free from kinks and wounds?
d. Is there any sneezing in the tank, even if it is not the mouse you are interested in? If so, look elsewhere.
e. Have the mice been socialised? i.e. can you hold them without them struggling to get away/jumping? (if they are jumping a lot then they will be young mice and you will be better waiting until they are a week or so older – you could always reserve the mouse and then take another look).
f. Is the mouse’s back end free of dirt, debris and faeces?
g. Does the mouse have clean eyes, ears etc without any discharge?
h. Is the mouse wound and lump-free?
i. Is the mouse over or under weight?
j. Does the mouse run and hide in the corner or stand up to sniff your hand? The more curious mouse may make friends with you more quickly and climb onto your hand. However, shy mice are not to be discounted and may prove just as friendly after they get to know and trust you.
k. Does the mouse walk normally? If it limps or spins in circles then there is something wrong. ‘Waltzing’ mice tend to turn in circles and have a dizzy movement, which is not normal and healthy, so avoid these mice.
l. A mouse’s breathing will be fast, but should not be noisy. It may also feel as if it is quivering when you hold it, but this is simply its heart beating (around 600 times a minute).
m. Is the faeces formed? Mice with diarrhoea may be ill or fed too many greens, but are best avoided. At this point it is worth noting that mice may defecate/urinate when they are nervous, so if they go to the toilet when you hold them for the first few times this is nothing to worry about.
n. Does the mouse appear to be missing fur or whiskers? If so, it may be that the mouse itself is doing the ‘barbering’, or that it has been housed with another mouse who is doing it. If there is one mouse with whiskers when none of the others have them, then this mouse is the culprit and should not be purchased. This habit is hereditary and so it would probably not be wise to buy any of the mouse’s siblings either.
o. Are any of the mice scratching excessively? If so avoid them as they may have a mite or lice infestation.