Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Rodentia

Family: Muridae

Genus: Mus

Species: Rattus norvegicus

Feeder Mouse-By: Alicia Thresher

Other names for Feeder Mice: weaners, jumpers, and hoppers.

Origination: Feeder mice (plural form for mouse) are said to have originated in Asia. They were said to have been in a belt between China and Turkey. Then the mice migrated into Europe. While the new world was being discovered these mice were said to get onto the boats that came to America from Europe and start a population on American soil. These mice are found virtually almost all over the world. The reason for this is that every four hundred and twenty five days there population grows to one million.These numbers result in an over population of mice or in scientific terms-plague proportions. At one point there were eighty two thousand just in California.



1: Ear

2: Eye

3: Nose and whiskers

4: Mouth

5: Fur that circumferences entire body

6: Front feet

Physical Facts: When feeder mice are born they are born hairless, sightless, and are dependent on the mother's nurturing. At this stage they are referred to as "pinkies". Next they start to develop sight and hair but are still dependent on their mother's nurturing. They are called "fuzzies" during this stage of development. After this stage they get the name of "feeders". Here they are fully developed. They have erect ears, opened functioning eyes, good muscle coordination, and fur. It is at this time that they are weaned onto solid foods and are able to function on their own.

Weight: (approximations)

Birth: One gram

"Fuzzies": Six Grams

Adult Male: Twenty to thirty five grams

Adult Female: Twenty five to thirty five grams



Life span: Two to three years

First Breed: Fifty to sixty days

Weaning: Three weeks

Estrus Cycle: Five days

Gestation Period: Three weeks

Other Technical Information: These mice can consume up to one hundred grams of food a day or as little as fifteen grams a day. When the females give birth the litter size ranges from eight to fourteen mice. Their respiration rate is approximately one hundred and fifteen per minute. Their heart rate is at six hundred beats per minute approximately. Also they grow fur on their feet except on the bottoms of them...How Cool!!!


Breeding: If you are looking into breeding mice you need to find healthy mice. When looking for healthy mice you should look for ones with sleek bodies and thick tails. Thick tails mean that they eat well. Also you are looking for mice that have clear eyes and smooth skin. If their skin is not smooth then the mouse most likely has a tumor or several tumors. You should introduce one male to about five female mice. If you notice the mouse running in circles, scratching itself excessively, or with lumps in its skin; then you need to replace this mouse with a healthy one. Keep a clean habitat. Make sure you change the bedding every week and make sure there is plenty of food and water. Use bedding that absorbs moisture and keep the habitat out of direct sunlight. If you are in need of killing mice because there are too many old ones in the colony you can either gas them with carbon dioxide in an enclosed space, or find an object like a pencil and place it between the head and shoulders of the mouse, push down, and yank its tail really fast. That technique will sever its spine quickly.

Laboratory Mice: Feeder mice are also used in laboratories. These laboratories usually breed their own mice so there is less likeliness of diseases. These mice are used for testing. Some tests include: hearing tests, antibody testing, cancer, and etc.

Other Information: Mice will feed on small animal food. This kind of food is for animals like gerbils and hamsters. Make sure the mouse has plenty of food and water at all times. Use bedding of wood chips. If you decide to use cedar chips because they cover the smell of rodents you should know that they leave oils on the mouse and it might not be the best choice of bedding for the mouse.

They are fabulous little animals and great for kids to have as pets. They are also great for feeding to other animals and for laboratory purposes.

For more information on mice you can refer to this very resourceful web site I have found.

Photography Aspects
The Subject: Photographing a mouse is not an easy job. When you have fast moving subjects, I suggest that you have a lot of patients. I had to trap the mouse in a cell that was a square of three inches and the length of the cell was about nine inches, because I didn't want to sedate the mouse or do any harm to it. I have made some demo pictures so that you can get an understanding of my set up. It may be a little tricky on your eyes so use the word top for your guides.
Lighting: I used fiber-optic lights to light the mouse. They were good lights because I was able to bend them so they would produce less flare going through the glass. Flare is a big issue when it comes to lighting through glass. You should try to diffuse the light or angle it at roughly a forty five degree angle. By putting the lights on an angle you get a different refraction pattern, thus reducing the flare. Lighting a white subject is not easy either. You need to try to get more even lighting and hardly any reflections. White surfaces
are very reflective surfaces. Having your lights diffuse helps with this problem. I also recommend that you use flash to stop the animal from moving unless you are doing shots involving motion. You also need to watch out when lighting subjects with translucent objects. Mice have translucent ears, and too much light at the wrong angle can completely blow out the ear and you won't be able to see structure within the ear. I recommend a top-side kind of lighting when photographing the ear. Refer to image directly to the right. My best advice for you is play around with light and see what results you can get because there are so many results.
Depth of Field: When working in the world of macro photography you lose significant amounts of depth of field. I suggest you work at a higher aperture to maintain the depth of field you need for shooting certain areas of the subject. Sometimes you have to give up some of your depth of field when working with larger subjects. So, it is important that you use your depth of field wisely in photographing certain parts of a subject. I used my depth of field for trying to maintain images that showed texture of certain parts of the mouse. For example the feet and the tail of the mouse as illustrated below.
In these images I am illustrating the fur on the tail and the foot structure. I wanted an image of the bottom of the foot showing the structure of the pads of the foot. In these two images you can see how much depth of field you are able to work with when using a large subject.
Camera Technique: For these images I used a Nikon D-70 with a 105mm lens. I used the camera on a raw mode and at an ISO of two hundred. I used ISO two hundred to allow more light to get in and still be able to maintain fine images. I moved the camera in and out on the subject until I achieved the focus I wanted and then I took the image. This technique is good for maintaining the same magnification of the subject. Hand holding the camera is also an effective technique for fast moving subjects. This way you aren't in an almost immobile position if the camera were on a tripod. You need as much flexibility and patience as you can get when working with this subject.
Overall: Being that I am a scientific photographer I originally wanted to remain in the realm of doing scientific images. As I approached the end of my shooting I began to get some pictures of artistic values. These images being the reflected images of the mouse. They really caught my eye so I figured I would go with it. I think I was able to achieve images both scientifically and artistically pleasing. Sometimes it is just fun to photograph artistically while maintaining things of scientific nature.

About Myself: I am currently a third year Biomedical Photographer attending Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York. I came to RIT in hopes of finding a career studying photography. When I got here I learned of this type of photography and fell in love with it. When I graduate in 2006 I plan on joining the police force or going through academy training so I am able to photograph crime scenes. I am very interested in the forensic applications this area of study has to offer. I also enjoy photomicrography. Maybe one day I can go into medical school and do cytology. That way I can diagnose cellular diseases and be able to photograph them. For further information you can contact my at my e-mail address.

Copyrighted by: Alicia Thresher

Return to index of articles by students on the 'Principles and techniques of photomacrography' course, November 2004, Biomedical Photographic Communications (BPC) program at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

Article hosted on Micscape Magazine (Microscopy-UK) .


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