Recently I just got two new fancy mice. One is really skittish and the other one has warmed up to me really quick, but isn’t too fond. She lets me pick her up and she will walk in my hand, and I recently found she took interest in a bit of corn I held for her in my fingers, but she tried to nip me. It didn’t hurt at all and didn’t even feel like anything, so I’m wondering what it could have possibly meant?

I just got them 2 days ago and I know I need to leave them alone for awhile, but I still question why she tried to nibble me if she seemed more warmed up than the other mouse.

1 Answer 1


I don't know much about the mice, but I know rats and with rats is that a young or new rat (that doesn't know you) has to learn the smell of you finger to tell apart what is food and what is your finger.

It could be also the case for older rats at times:

  • when you have your fingers all dirty with some food like let's say yoghurt - then the rat (especially the greedy one) can have problems telling where the food ends and where the finger begins :)
  • when you have your finger "dirty" with something that rat doesn't know (like a hand cream) but on the other hand rat knows you and know that with a finger you give him food, so it assumes that since it is not your finger (because your fingers have a different smell) so it must be a food, and then it bites.

It can also be a kind of fight / game that young animals often play with each other and so the bites aren't really bites but rather nips as you say.

I don't know where did you get your mice from but in pet shops the life for such animals can be tough so they learn some defensive reactions to hands / fingers.

And last but not least like among humans in some rare cases, some just don't like others getting too close to them so they "bite", or the "bite" just because they like to do it.

  • Could it be a try to get the hand let loose the corn? So the rat/mouse could take the corn with itself? Jul 1, 2020 at 14:42
  • Like I said I don't know about the mice but I had a lot of rats and they never bit me on purpose, only by mistake, when they mistaken my finger with food. They are not like hamsters which from my experience bite much often. So I would assume mice are more like rats. If you want to make it easier for them just use something that have eaten before (so they know the smell) and something that they like.
    – Picard
    Jul 1, 2020 at 18:51
  • @Allerleirauh One more thing worth noticing. Rats have some kind of an instinct that prevents them from eating outside of the cage, with time that can pass (probably only the food in the cage is safe to be eaten or/and it is more safe to eat in a safe place). So at first they usually take the food and run with it to the cage where they eat it (assuming that you are playing with them outside of the cage). ... and my rats like fresh or canned corn a lot :)
    – Picard
    Jul 1, 2020 at 19:01

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