This advertisement is reproduced from the
1935/36 National Mouse Club Rule Book
The Electronic Archive of the Mouse Fancy
Books for Beginners
The Fancy Mouse, Mrs E.D.Blowers, 1934, Varieties, Housing, Feeding, Breeding, General Management
and Production for Exhibition
Publisher Watmoughs Ltd - Price 3d.
[Note: a picture of 11 varieties of mice which appears in several mouse books is included in the book also 5 pages of advertising - These are not reproduced here]
MANY legends may be told of the good fortune that awaits the man whose floor protects young mice. In China a man with disease hastens to find a black mouse, for its presence is declared to charm away ill-health. Another country sets store upon the white mouse on account of its alleged powers to bring wealth. All these beliefs are no doubt the direct cause of mice being bred as pets.
Recent years have brought vast changes in colour, type and size of fancy mice since the cross between the Japanese Waltzing mouse and English House mouse, and to-day there is no resemblance in the exhibition mouse to either of its ancestors. The wild mouse has a short body, puny tail, small ears and eyes. Dull Agouti grey in colour, and of course impossible to handle. The fancy mouse, especially in the Self varieties, has a long racy body, long tapering tail, large tulip shaped ears, and bold prominent eyes. Of colour there are some twenty odd various shades which will be dealt with later in this small book.
The behaviour of the fancy mouse is surprising in so small and naturally timid a little creature, for one may take a mouse from its cage, handle it for any length of time without the least fear of it escaping. From the age of one week, a mouse will begin to know its owner, and by the time it reaches six weeks, the age of its initiation into a show career, the mouse will behave as well as any rabbit or cavy whilst being groomed.
During the past ten years the hobby of fancy mouse breeding has grown beyond the expectations of all interested in its progress, and there are still indications of yet further progress to be made. Shows are being held every week in most of the important cities and towns of Great Britain, and cash prizes, cups, spoons and many other trophies are offered to encourage the breeders to produce even more and more beautiful specimens.Clubs have been organised, and breeders have every opportunity to meet upon given dates to discuss the many problems which arise. In fact the Mouse Fancy has built for itself a supreme position in the small livestock world. Experiments, science, and exhibiting have become as one, and what was at one time looked upon as the schoolboy's primary lessons in propagation of life, is now a profitable hobby of hundreds of serious-minded men and women.
HOUSING. Fancy mice breeding is an ideal hobby when space is limited. Any odd corner in the outhouse, garage or even coal shed will suffice for a couple of racks to hold a fair stud of exhibition breeding stock. Cellars often come into use, and I know of many beautiful winning exhibits bred in a certain London cellar, but unless there is plenty of light and air it is not to be recommended. Make your racks of 1 inch square batons, four uprights, and cross bars slotted in, wide enough to take four cages on each row, five rows deep. These racks will be found more airy than solid shelves which harbour moisture and damp. Cages should be not smaller than 12 inches long, 6 inches wide, 6 inches deep. After exhaustive experimenting I find that the best results are to be obtained with cages 16 inches long, 12 inches wide, 8 inches deep. Wire let-down door at front, and 6 inch square perforated zinc let in the lid. This gives the maximum of light and air, together with good run space for the mice. Of course it must always be borne in mind that the larger cage is apt to allow the mice to become more active, therefore constant handling must be the rule. At every feed-time each mouse should be taken on the hand, allowed to settle down confidently, then gentle grooming will get the candidate for the next show as tractable as is desired. Empty soap boxes, fruit boxes, etc. can be utilised to make the finest mouse cages obtainable, and there is no need for expensive joiner-made homes for inhabitants that are not ambitious. A good thick layer of sawdust should be placed in each cage with a plentiful supply of sweet meadow hay. If these are renewed weekly the mousery can be kept perfectly sweet and clean. Small glass or china pots may be used for the soft foods, but even these are not necessary if wheat flights are used as floor litter. Mice do not appreciate their food being dished up. In fact, from careful observation one will grasp that ones labour is usually in vain, for the first action of the mice is to use its two front feet to scatter all the food out of the pot. Only when there is water in it will a pot be appreciated.
COLOUR VARIETIES. Fancy mice are classed in four groups:- Selfs, Marked, (Any Other Variety) A.O.V., and Tans
Of the Selfs there are Pink-eyed Whites, Black-eyed Whites, Blacks, Blues, Reds, Silvers, Creams, Champagnes, Doves, Chocolate and Fawns.
Marked consist of:-Dutch, Broken, Variegated, Evens, and Tricolours.
A.O.V. mean chiefly the ticked varieties, such as Agoutis, Cinnamons, Pearls, Chinchillas, Sables, Silver Greys and Browns.
Tans are bred in most of the Self colours, also a few of the A.O.V. varieties.
The Whites need no describing, being of pure white coat top and under. Whites are bred with Black eye also Pink eye. Blacks must be of jet black density of coat, no white hairs, nor tan at vent. Tail must be black, ears also black and not tannish in shade. Blues must be of the shade found in the Blue cat, or better still the shade of a well worn slate. Eye black. Chocolates should be of that very dark shade of plain chocolate. Take a piece of plain, also a piece of milk chocolate. The difference in shade will demonstrate in a trice the good and the bad coloured mice. Naturally the milk chocolate shade crops up more often, but these must be discarded. Eye black. Reds call forth much criticism from Novices, for the Red mouse is far removed from the shade usually conjured up in the mind. That bright coat of the Red Setter dog, the vivid auburn hair of some very few ladies will best illustrate the ideal shade for a winning Red mouse. Eye black. Silver mice may be contrasted to a silver coin to obtain the correct shade, but here it must be mentioned that a bluey tinge should be seen, giving the coat life and shine. Eye pink or black. (The latter very rare.) Creams are of Devonshire cream colour, easy to pick out a winning specimen, but hard to breed. Eye black.Champagnes must be similar in shade to what ladies would term pale biscuit, yet a pinky tinge must be present. This variety is to my mind the hardest to describe in words, and much care is being given to produce a shade which will be reproduced on a colour chart for the guidance of breeders. Eye pink. Doves must be of that soft dove grey shade usually seen in pigeons. Eye dark ruby. Fawn. Of a deeper and richer shade than Champagnes. Best described as Buff. Eye pink.
Dutch mice are so called on account of their similarity in markings to the Dutch cattle. The saddle (hind quarters and about one-third up the body) must be Black, Chocolate Blue or other colour, a band of pure white round the middle of the body, with face markings forming an oval patch over each eye. The patch must not carry further than the back of the ear, nor must it meet under the jaw. Ears must match the colour. Feet must be flesh-coloured. Eye black. Broken mice have coloured patches or spots well broken up over the body, none to match evenly from one side of the body or head to the other. Uneven would best describe. The patch on rump must be divided. Eye black. Even mice have patches evenly placed on either side of the body and head. The more patches paired up the better. Eye black. Variegated mice may be likened to a white mouse, ink-smeared. Nothing can describe it better. Some Judges prefer the ink effect heavily applied, others like the lighter watery ink effect. Tricolour mice are rare. The mouse must have three distinct colours showing on the top coat, each colour forming a definite patch. The reader who is familiar with the Tortoise and White Cavy will know to what end the mouse breeders are striving in this variety. With this variety lies the most scope for the experimentalist and much cash remuneration for the person who can offer Tricolour breeding stock to the Fancy.
Tans are bred with a tan (reddish) belly, and top colour of any of the Self varieties. The Tan mouse must in all cases have feet to match the top body colour. Ears must also match. Eye according to that which goes with the Self variety from which it takes its top colour.
Agoutis are bred in two shades, Golden and Grey, the most popular being the Golden Agouti. This has a golden brown coat top and under, ticked throughout with black hairs. The Grey Agouti is of dark grey colour, ticked with black. Eye black. Cinnamons are of a rich golden brown, ticked with darker brown hairs throughout. Eye black. Sables are bred in three shades, light, medium and dark, the dark being most approved of by judges nowadays. The line along the top of the body is of a dark brown, shading down to a light brown on the under. The shading must be gradual, leaving no line or patches. Eye black. Silver Greys are of a bright bluey black under colour with Silver Grey ticking throughout. Eye black. Silver Browns are of a warm brown under colour with Silver Grey ticking throughout. Silver Fawn mice are rare. The under colour must be Fawn (rather brighter than as described for Self Fawns) with Silver ticking throughout. Eye, black or pink. Chinchillas are a new variety of black or deep brown ticking, with a lighter shade under colour, belly light. The aim for this variety is to breed it as near like the Chinchilla as possible. Eye black. Pearl mice are another new variety, being of palest silvery blue down to white at root and each hair delicately tipped with black. Eye black. The novice is advised to attend one of the larger shows catering for mice and to examine each variety carefully before making up his mind which to take up. It is difficult to describe the exact appearance of any living creature, especially when it is remembered that no two persons see alike. The above descriptions of certain varieties may sound more pleasing than others, due no doubt to my own personal liking for those particular mice. Therefore I refrain from advising which is best to take up.
STOCK. After the would-be fancier has visited a mouse show and has been caught with that keen desire to possess exhibition mice of his own, it is natural for him to think of purchasing one or more winning specimens to start off with. Take my advice and don't. Certain varieties, may be safely bought as winners, yet even they can be utterly ruined in a few days if fed improperly. The best and cheapest way is to get in touch with one or more of the breeders who have taken prizes with the variety of mice you fancy. Explain that you are a novice and want to start off with good stock. The breeder, being a well-known exhibitor, will be only too pleased to give advice and help, and at the same time to keep up his own prestige, so will sell a good breeding trio for a sum varying from 7/6 to 30/- according to variety. The buck should be from 10 to 14 weeks old, does 12 to 16 weeks. With these first specimens the Novice will very soon discover for himself the right and wrong ways of caring for his stock, and when the first litter appears he will be more capable of keeping in proper condition any show specimens he may choose to purchase then it must be borne in mind that months and even years of patient breeding lie behind every winner, therefore one must not expect the breeder to part with three specimens, all fit to win, for 7/6.
FEEDING. Reading the various articles on the feeding of mice, the beginner may well wonder what is the right method, but it will be noticed that all recommend clipped oats given daily, canary seed, linseed, and millet occasionally for condition. The diversity of opinion lies in the soft foods, some breeders recommending bread soaked in water and never milk, others advocate milk as an essential food, and yet others bar even bread, and give biscuit meal soaked in water as the ideal soft food. My advice is:-
Do as I tell you, watch results and carry on if at the end of three months your mice are active, tight of coat and generally in tip-top condition. If not, you will have become sufficiently proficient at studying your stock to make any alterations in their diet you think necessary. Three mice in one cage (one buck and two does) should be fed once a day only. A dessert spoonful of the best clipped oats, with a pinch of rolled oats or Force. Take a piece of stale bread about the size of an egg, soak it in cold water, squeeze fairly dry, then sprinkle a few drops of new milk over, making the bread crumbly moist. Once a week give a teaspoonful of the following mixture of seeds as a conditioner:-canary seed, white millet, linseed. During the summer small pots of cold water are very acceptable, but this should not be left in the cage longer than an hour, as the water very soon becomes fouled, also the mice themselves get in a stained and dirty state. A doe with young needs a daily supply of water, or soft food made more moist than for that of ordinary stock. Also she will appreciate a feed twice daily. One can watch whether she is leaving any food over, and the cut can be made accordingly. As soon as the youngsters begin to move about in their nest a sprinkling of Quaker Oats or any rolled oats will keep them busy nibbling and growing. Be sure to sprinkle it into the nest though, for it is not wise for them to go out in search of their food too early. My own stock of mice consists of many hundreds, and to the extraordinary size of most of the stock I contribute this last and most important item:- raw egg beaten up in the milk before soaking the bread. For approximately 500 mice I use two eggs, so whether the breeder of under a dozen mice thinks if worth while to use one egg daily, using a few drops of this very necessary food, is left to choice. The white of the egg is pure protein, and the yolk composed of fats and protein. Red and Cream mice have a tendency to become very fat after reaching adult age, so I give them only the white of the egg. These two varieties also receive small pieces of lettuce daily, but care must be taken when first introducing green food. A very small piece will often cause scours among young stock.
EXHIBITING. Mouse classes are provided at practically all the leading livestock shows, and the reader will find fullest particulars of every show during the year in the weekly editions of Fur and Feather, a paper which adequately caters for all the small fur hobbies. Mice from 5 up to 8 weeks of age may be entered in specially provided classes termed "under 8 weeks." After the age of 8 weeks a mouse must be entered into the "adult" class. For each entry at the show one shilling is usually asked, and the prize for a first award is 6/-; second 4/-; third 2/-. An average of ten entries per class at the smaller shows, and twenty at the classics gives a good chance of a win. Beyond the daily grooming with a silk handkerchief, a pinch of linseed about a week prior to the show and plenty of handling to ensure perfect behaviour on the show bench during judging, there is little else to be done to mice in preparation for a show. Special cages must be bought or made, these being called Maxey show cages. The mouse is comfortably installed in this cage, with a small ball of clean hay, and a handful of seed. No soft food should be given, as a mouse can live for several days without feeling the need for more moisture than is found in whole oats, and much damage can be done to the coat during travelling if the mouse is suddenly tipped on to a patch of damp bread or hay. The Maxey cage is then placed inside a travelling box, well ventilated, a label bearing the none of show, town and county, to where it is bound, and the sender's name and address written on the underflap of the label. These labels are sent to the exhibitor by the Secretary of the show, together with small pen labels which will have been attached to the Maxey cage when packing the mouse. Usually four to six mice are sent at a time, each mouse having a cage to itself. A card stating pen, class numbers of contents will ensure safe and correct return of stock. The stock is despatched by rail to the show, the forward and return carriage being paid by the exhibitor. Despatch should be made one day before the date of the show, and it will in most instances return the day after the show, sometimes the same evening. Any prize cards won will accompany the mice on their return, and within a few days one can reasonably expect the prize money or special prizes to arrive. Any doubt as to procedure of penning a mouse for show can be set right by the novice if he will apply to the Secretary of any show. Entries alone can make or mar the success of a show, therefore those in charge are only too pleased to give advice free.
BREEDING. Mice become adults, or at least are ready to mate, at the age of 7 weeks, but when breeding Fancy mice it is advisable to part young bucks from the does at 5 weeks of age, keep them separate until does are 12 weeks, and bucks 10 weeks.It is wise to mate a young buck of 10 weeks to a doe which has previously borne one or more litters, and a young 12-week old doe to an older buck, but this is not always convenient, nor is it absolutely essential. Stamina, type and colour must always be the points to bear in mind when selecting a trio for mating. One buck and from one to three does (not more) is the usual number to be placed in a clean cage. Within a few hours each doe will have been served, but it is advisable to leave them together with the buck for several days. A mouse is pregnant for nineteen to twenty-one days, so between the fourteenth to sixteenth day of pregnancy it will be well to take the buck into a fresh cage, leaving the does to make their nest in preparation for the youngsters to come. I prefer to have a separate cage for each doe, but occasionally it is necessary to allow two does to litter down together if one of the does is known to be a poor milker. Dutch mice in particular may be littered down in twos, so that should one doe give five or six well-marked youngsters, and the other all mismarked, the latter may be destroyed so that both does happily settle down to feed the good ones. Does will rarely quarrel over their young so long as they are well acquainted with each other from the date of mating. Bucks must never be kept together after being parted from their parent nest, for a fight will commence right away, and not until one is killed will the fight be ended. The fur begins to appear on young mice at one week, and at ten days the markings of shade can be clearly seen. At two weeks the young mice are beginning to stir about in the nest, and very shortly afterwards will begin to nibble at tit-bits such as Quaker Oats or oatmeal. At five weeks the does are placed along with the mother in a cage separate from the bucks, and allowed to remain with her for another two weeks before she, the mother, is again mated. From four to five litters is reckoned all that a mouse can produce to advantage. After that she becomes too old, and litters are usually weaklings. Nothing can be gained by keeping a stock of old does, or specimens not in good health, and the kindest and quickest method of their disposal is to take the mouse by the tail and give it a sharp rap against the wall, ensuring instantaneous death. Commencing with three mice it is possible for the careful breeder to possess, at the end of twelve months, three hundred head of fine healthy exhibition stock.
MOUSE CLUBS. Several clubs are in existence, and the mouse breeder will do well to join one or more in order to be informed of each show, competition or other affairs being organised for mice. The parent club of the United Kingdom is The National Mouse Club. All rules, standards and practically all shows for mice are governed by The National Mouse Club, and a body of experienced breeders are yearly voted for to act as judges at the classic and other shows to be held throughout the year. Hon. Secretary for this (1934) year is:- Mrs. E. D. Blowers, Cotlands Wick, St. Albans, Herts, from whom all particulars may be obtained. For the benefit of London and surrounding southern districts a branch club has been formed: The London and Southern Counties Mouse and Rat Club. This club offers to its members the opportunity of meeting at its headquarters once a month. A table show of mice is held, and during judging an interesting meeting and lecture is held. The meeting takes place every second Thursday in each month of the year. The Hon. Secretary is for this year (1934) Mr. F. Hawke, 48 Princes Road, Romford, Essex. Headquarters: College Hall, Great College Street, Camden Town, London. Yet another club has recently been re-organised: The Southern Counties Mouse Club. This club also holds meetings and table shows once a month at its headquarters: Browning Hall. Hon. Secretary is: Mr. H. Plucknett, The Rookery, Stanmore, Essex. For the benefit of northern mouse breeders there is the Yorkshire Mouse Club, but of recent months its meetings have ceased, although there is no doubt that they will be resumed in the near future. Hon. Secretary: Mr. J. W. Hustler, 36 Birklands Road, Shipley, Yorks.
CONCLUSION. In this small book it is impossible to give the fullest details of breeding Fancy mice, nor could the most bulky of books give that information which only practical experience can give. The reader is advised to purchase the best breeding stock that he can afford, to study the simple rules of Mendelism, and use commonsense in each move towards breeding a specimen worthy of being called a "show mouse." Do not be misled into entering into that disappointing Bogey Alley "waster breeding," for no single person has ever made a fortune from such mice. Join one of the well conducted clubs, attend regularly and make friends with other members. No matter what your profession or occupation, you will be bound to find others of the same rank in the Mouse Fancy, and many lifelong friendships can be started from the time you decide to take up such an interesting hobby as mouse breeding.
E. D. BLOWERS.
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This update - 30th January 1997