Life span: Average 2-4 years
Size: Mouse -- 10cm body with 8cm tail. Rat -- 20cm body with 25cm tail.
Origin: Asia -- several strains of domestic rats and mice now exist.
Status: Tame -- through thousands of generations of selective breeding.
Diet: Omnivore. Commercial gerbil or hamster mix containing seeds, nuts and pellets. Supplement with hay, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Pros: Sociable, if handled regularly. Seldom bite. Intelligent, curious and adventuresome both day and night. Very clean.
Cons: Require a habitat that allows for ample daily exercise. Small, fast moving animals can be difficult for young children to handle. Tend to nibble on fingers. Can be easily hurt if squeezed. Easy to lose if they escape from habitat. Negative stereotypes may cause some adults to react negatively to the animals.
Comments: Best kept in pairs of same sex from birth. Adapt best when raised in a social environment. Must have items to chew to wear down constantly growing teeth. Habitat requires large, tall enclosure with plenty of room and nest building material (see Building a Better Habitat). Require warm, dry environment with a temperature range of 20-23°C.
Suitability in a classroom: Good if handled carefully and proper habitat is provided and if outlined conditions are adhered to.