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How to Help Orphaned Mice, Rats, and Voles

Baby Mouse, Rat, or Vole Found Alone Outside of a Nest

Though they are helpless at birth, rats, mice, and voles grow up quickly, and are usually independent by 3-4 weeks old. Babies remain in the nest, nursing from their mother until their eyes have opened and they are fully furred. Babies whose eyes are still sealed shut or who are healthy but do not avoid capture would normally be in their nest at all times.

Get the Baby Mouse, Rat, or Vole Contained

To keep the baby safe while you figure out how to help them, put them in a small cardboard box with a soft towel or t-shirt. Even on a warm day babies can get cold, so give them a heat source:

  • a clean sock filled with dry, uncooked rice, and microwaved for one minute
  • a plastic bottle from the recycling bin filled with hot tap water wrapped in a facecloth or sock
  • an electric heating pad set to “LOW” and placed under half of the box.

Do not give them any food or water – right now keeping them warm in a dark and quiet place is more important.

Baby mouse, rat or vole found alone

If a nest hasn’t been disturbed, and a baby is found whose eyes are still sealed shut or is docile, they are likely orphaned and a wildlife rehabilitator should be contacted for further instruction. If a baby rodent is old enough to be exploring outside of their nest, they are also old enough to be wary of predators like people and should attempt to get away. Additionally, the mother should be nearby to protect them and teach them to stay away from danger.

Babies found outside of a nest who appear healthy and avoid capture – even those who are small in size – are independent and do not need help.