The Cairo Spiny Mouse
The common spiny mouse, the Egyptian spiny mouse, the Arabian spiny mouse
Species: Acomys Cahirinus
The Cairo spiny mouse is native to western Asia, Saudi Arabia, the islands of Cyprus and Crete and the biggest part of Africa. They can be found in dry terrains, such as savannahs and semi deserts, on rocky and sandy soil. They hide in shelters that they make among stones and in rocky crevices. In Africa the Cairo spiny mouse often occupies empty termite nests. They are very popular as pets all over the world.
Adult Cairo spiny mice can reach 9-13 cm in length, and the tail is about the same length. Adults weigh about 400 – 900 g. The usual colour is gray-brown or sandy-brown with whitish belly. A line of spine-like bristles runs along the back, hence is the species’ name. The snout is pointed, the eyes are big, the ears are large and slightly pointed.
Their specific feature is that they can drop their tails in case of danger, like lizards. It happens because its tail is very fragile. Therefore in the wild most animals have short tails.
The Cairo spiny mouse is a nocturnal species of rodents. They are social animals and live in groups.
From the very start small mice can maintain their body temperature unlike many other rodents who need their mothers’ warmth for a long time. Females of the Cairo spiny mouse cares for its litter for about two weeks. The family spends this time in the shelter, and when the youngsters get older, they leave the nest and start exploring the nearby areas. From this age young mice start eating the same food as adult specimens. Small mice can survive without their mothers starting from the 6th day of life, if necessary.
They are very neat animals, they take good care of their coat. Their shelters are always very clean, the young mice are very neat.
Unlike hamsters, mice and rats, the Cairo spiny mouse practically doesn’t smell unlike many of its relatives, other rodents. The best enclosure for them is a glass tank that is closed on top with mesh net. For a group of mice (4-5) you will need a tank at least 90х30х40 cm in size.
If you prefer to keep your spin mouse in a cage, it should be narrow-meshed, since mice can squeeze in very narrow openings and cracks Never put any plastic things in the mouse’s enclosure, since they will chew them and can injure themselves badly. The tank or the cage should be located ina quiet place protected from draughts and direct sunlight.
For bedding you can use sand or pressed corn cobs, because wood cuttings and hay can provoke allergic reaction in mice. You should change the bedding as it gets dirty; the Cairo spiny mouse is a very neat animal and it soils the bedding in the same location. For the nest you should provide your pet with hay, straw, shredded paper, moss or cotton rags. The ambient temperature in the enclosure should be around 25-27 degrees and the air humidity should be 30-50%.
The surface area is crucial for a Cairo spiny mouse, therefore you should install in their enclosure as many shelves, ladders, ropes, tubes, branches etc. as possible. An exercise wheel is a must, since spiny mice are very active and agile. The wheel should be at least 13 cm in diameter and its surface has to be solid, otherwise a mouse can injure its feet or tail.
It is best to keep Cairo spiny mice in small groups. Young animals quickly get tame, and if they are not socialized enough, their behavior can become unpredictable. They are very nervous and skittish, they can even die from a very loud and piercing sound as well as from careless handling. They can breed in captivity only if their enclosure is spacious enough. Young mice can be put in a common group at the age of one month. They should never be kept separately, otherwise they will develop psychological disorders and will never be able to get along with their specimens.
They are nocturnal animals, so at night they start rustling with their bedding, chew various things and run around.
The Cairo spiny mouse is an omnivore and therefore is easy to feed in captivity. They need both plant feed and animal feed. In captivity their menu should contain grain, commercial dry mixes for mice, oats, berries, fresh and dry fruit and vegetables, nuts, crackers, sunflower seeds, wheat, millet, dandelions. As animal feed you can give them crickets, mealworm, caterpillars, flies, butterflies. You mustn’t feed mice with sweet, salty, fatty or spicy food; you should avoid people’s food. Once or twice a week you can give to your mice fruit tree branches.
A bowl of water is a must, although mice can get all the necessary liquid from plants.
The Cairo spiny mouse is a nocturnal species. Sometimes they don’t get used to their owners.
The Cairo spiny mouse is a very healthy species. They are not prone to diseases that are typical for most rodents. Their biggest health problem is obesity because of wrong diet.
If a cage is on a draught, or it is too cold in the house, the mouse can get a cold. Besides, like all other pets, Cairo spiny mice can have tapeworms. The Cairo spiny mice rarely get tumours and are resistant to fungal diseases and ectoparasites. If inbreeding takes place, mice can have immune problems.
If the spiny mouse doesn’t get enough hard food in captivity and has nothing to gnaw on in a cage, incisors grow very quickly and they disturb the mouse and make feeding difficult. In this case you will need to take your mouse to the vet.
Tail injuries are very common. The nature gave to the Cairo spiny mouse a fragile tail: it helps the mouse to get away of a predator catches it by the tail. In this aspect the spiny mouse reminds of a lizard who sacrifices the tail in order to save its life. Unfortunately, unlike lizards, mice don’t grow new tails. Never take the Cairo spiny mouse by its tail! Don’t press the tail against the bottom in order to catch the mouse - it will drop the tail and get away anyway! Tell the children about this feature of your pet. The most dangerous thing is when someone tries to lift a mouse by its tail.