My mice are starting to succumb to old age.
These mice were purchased at a pet store, and are not of the fancy variety. That means they were bred to be reptile food - not for longevity.
A few weeks ago, I found my oldest mouse, Cardamom dead. She was at least 20 months old - a normal lifespan for a mouse.
In the last three weeks, I had to put down three of Cardamom's offspring - all of which are now 19 months old.
The two boys, Tamerind and Tarragon, were suffering from some kind of genetic age-related wasting disease. About four months ago, they lost most of their fur and started losing body weight. I took extra steps to keep them warm, and started feeding them high-calorie treats all the time. They didn't look pretty, but they were still inquisitive, and were eating, drinking, grooming, and freely moving about. When they stopped doing any of these things, I immediately put them down humanely.
One of the girls, Fennel, developed a mammary tumor that paralyzed her hind legs. I put her down when she was no longer able to climb up to eat and drink.
Her sister, Rosemary is ridddled with the same tumors, but they are growing slowly, and haven't impaired her movement yet.
The other six sisters still seem to be generally healthy.
My previous group of mice lived to 24 - 30 months tumor free. However, those mice were an inbred lab strain that certainly had better genes that my current group. My next group will either come from a fancy mouse breeder or from the lab - no more snake food mice for me. It's bad enough to find them dead of old age, but it really sucks to watch them slowly waste away, and then have to put them down.