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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
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Help with introducing male adult rat to youngster?

Hi everyone,

I've recently bought a new baby Russian Blue rat, who is 6 weeks old. He's an absolute sweetie, loves being cuddled and fussed, but is very easily frightened (by noises, sudden movements etc). I bought him to introduce to my 6 month old hairless boy, who's currently having to live by himself. A couple of months ago, I bought a baby male to add to the cage, as his original cagemate died of old age. This baby was huge for his age (whereas my hairless is on the small side), and he turned out to be quite nasty. Initially they lived together fine, but after a month, he suddenly stopped letting the hairless eat, and after many attempts with extra bowls, feeding by hand etc... I had to give him to a relative with a spayed female for him to move in with, which suited him fine.

However, I'm having problems with introducing this new boy. I keep getting them both out to meet each other, normally I sit in the bath with them (empty of course...). At first, the little blue boy would try to play with the hairless, who ignored him. Eventually, the hairless boy started sniffing at him and licking him, and they seemed to get along fine. After a few sessions, I put them in a well cleaned cage, only to find everything to go pear shaped. There were no fights, just a couple of episodes of squabbling and power grooming, with the hairless "winning", but then the blue boy went and hid behind the litter tray, and every time the hairless even approaches him he cries. He's terrified, but the hairless hasn't hurt him or even tried to.

How can I get this little one to get over how scared he is? They're both lovely rats, and neither of them are showing aggression.. I honestly don't understand where his fear is coming from.

I've also got a litter of hairless babies at the moment, who are 2 weeks old. In another 2/3 weeks I'm hoping to introduce another male to these two, so I'll have a trio. But at this rate, I'm not sure whether I can keep one of the babies after all!

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Laura
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 08:26 PM
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Your russian blue sounds just adorable.

I don't have any personal experience with introducing male rats to each other, but I am sure after some people on the forum get a chance to read your post, you will get plenty of very good advice from those who have a lot of experience with this. I would actually like to see what others say about this too, regarding your russian blue being so scared of your hairless boy, even though the hairless is not hurting him. Anyone have any advice on this?

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 09:35 PM
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I'm going through the same thing times three (3 pairs of intact male rats being introed to make a colony of 6). First rats, first intros. I have two hairless boys 8 weeks old who are bowing up and screaming every time my two big boys come near them. We even had one incident yesterday. I left a blanket for the little ones to crawl under, not thinking that if a big rat followed them they could scramble into a fold and not be able to escape. As a result, one of my big guy got bitten on the nose by a terrified little one.

I rethought the play area and tried again today. Still drama, but not nearly as intense. I'm just taking it slow, and keeping them in semi neutral territory. My plan is to give them 30 minutes to two hours a day in semi neutral territory until they quit screaming at each other and power grooming and become totally comfortable...which may take three weeks at this rate, or they let me know in no uncertain terms that getting along is not what they're interested in. I am not even going to try to introduce a shared cage until they are completely relaxed with one another.

I have no real experience beyond you, other than just take it slow, and don't put a time table on it. I wouldn't avoid getting the hairless baby if you really want one. Your six week old will be young enough to intro with the hairless baby easily , which will give him a companion (and in fact having a younger rat to lord it over may give the blue more confidence). Meanwhile, you can take your time letting the blue and your 6 month old work out their differences. If you have two cages, you've still got plenty of time to work out the particulars, though if all that's happening is a lot of screaming and no bloodshed, I'd make sure the blue has a place to hide in...perhaps a pvc elbow joint from the hardware store...and let them work it out.


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Last edited by Storyseeker; 01-03-2011 at 09:41 PM.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for sharing your experience too.
I've read about using vanilla to mask both their scents, or rubbing urine from one rat onto another? But I'm dubious about both of these seeing as he's reacting to the physical approach of the bigger rat...

I've got the blue rat in one of my "youngster tanks" that I use when I separate babies. I don't have another spare cage for him to live in as an adult though if I really can't get them to get along, so I'm really hoping I can get it to work out. I hadn't thought it would take so long to make introductions

I keep getting told to have one of them neutered, but I plan to use both for breeding, so this wouldn't be an option either.

How long have you spent so far?
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-04-2011, 06:28 AM
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If your blue has a skittish temperament, would you use him as a breeder anyway? However, he just seems fearful rather than hormonally aggressive. I've never read that neutering fixes fearfulness?

Just some of the usual stuff my limited experience thinks up...When you introduced them to a shared cage, was it a neutral cage, or had one of them lived in it before? If the cage belonged to the hairless, the blue may be extra fearful because in his mind he's clearly intruding on another rat's territory. You might try extra scrubbing out of the cage to remove scents, and switching out to all new furnishings with an unfamiliar arrangement. Of course have someone in charge of the cage to monitor things.

Vanilla makes a huge difference with my boys. I dabbed some on their noses and their bums and tails. You could also rub some inside the cage.

Make sure the blue has places to hide the other one can't get to, like the above mentioned pvc pipe fitting that is sized to accommodate entrance by a baby rat but not an adult rat. Make sure there's lots of hammocks and hidey holes in general.

If they've been together for a bit and the weather isn't bad, you might consider taking them for a shared long ride in a travel cage. Such a discombobulating experience could be bonding for them, giving the blue something to focus on besides his cagemate and make him want to buddy up to someone he's familiar with. I read that somewhere in my intro tips search.

My intro with my four youngsters...two of which are my baby drama queen naked boys (2 months old) and my two big males (11 months old) has been about 5 days. Like I said, I'm not going to try them in a cage together until the nekkids calm down and quit with the screaming and posturing altogether, which may be another week, or may be three.

It sounds like you're going to need the extra separate cage for a while. Maybe constructing one out of hardware cloth for cheap?

From your first post, I got the impression you were fairly new to rats, I dunno why, but if you're breeding them, you've got a lot more experience than me so forgive me if I am repeating stuff you already know.

Some of our other posters will have lots more experience than I do, but the forum's been pretty quiet for a while. You might also want to check on active sites like Goosemoose or Rat Shack.


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Last edited by Storyseeker; 01-04-2011 at 06:52 AM.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-04-2011, 10:36 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah the little one isn't aggressive at all, just scared. I've had similar with a rat I had a few years back, but when he reached about 3/4 months it calmed down, but he lived with his brother from the beginning, the fear only showed when he was introduced to other rats for play.

The cage was the hairless boys cage, but it had been soaking for a few hours, scrubbed, with new hammocks added. I replaced all the food bottles too. I have another one of these cages that hasn't been assembled yet, which is for my females to move into when the babies are gone, I might try using that incase I did leave some scent behind.

In that case, I'll try the vanilla tonight, see what happens.

He has a lot of hiding places, and the hairless gets confused when he can't fit in there with him. There's definitely bolt holes for the little one to run to, but I don't want him to just hide all day and only leave to eat or drink, as they'll just never get along

I'll look into making one over the next few days.

I'm not really new to rats, I got into them about 5 years ago when I did weekly work experience at a zoo with hairless ones. I got my own shortly after and have had them since. This was my first attempt at breeding though, so I'm new to that. I'm definitely new to introductions though, I've always just bought whole groups at one time until recently.

I'll have a look there, thanks x
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-31-2011, 10:23 PM
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Wow, im glad I looked at this! Great idea's for when I introduce my two big boys with the baby boy! I guess ill start trying soon..
Good luck VacantxEyes
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-01-2011, 05:57 AM
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Hey Calico,

I just reread this thread and realized I'd changed my approach since I typed here based on lots of advice from people wiser than I. Interestingly, I was later told that I may /not/ want to do vanilla, because it can result in the big rat harassing the younger rat more than he would otherwise because he's trying to get at that 'enticing' smell. I'd stopped using the vanilla after 3 days anyway. I was also told /not/ to use a hidey hole for the little guys (to cut down on territorial claiming and resultant increased tensions). It eventually took me 20 or so days to successfully intro my rats, with some more extreme approaches towards the end. If you're interested and it might help, here's my rambling saga from beginning to end:

http://www.paw-talk.net/forums/f16/g...ked-58068.html


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Last edited by Storyseeker; 02-01-2011 at 06:00 AM.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-12-2011, 12:42 PM
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I have two rats at the moment and a friend of mine needed to give away one of hers. Her rats were biting him and attacking him on a regular basis so she wanted to find a new home for him. I offered to try and put him with mine so i took him home. he had his own cage so i propped it up next to mine so they could see and smell each other. Mine got really aggressive and actually started throwing himself against the bars, he calmed down after a while and i left them to it. After a few weeks i let them out together and they got on fine, they bathed together and everything but i didn't put them together. It must have been about 4 weeks before i put them together and they seemed fine. they slept, groomed and ate together so i thought it was a success, i kept an eye on them for a few days, taking him out at night until i thought they were ready.
But the friendlies didn't last long, they starting fighting on a regular basis and they would scream at eachother, and there was a lot of blood shed.

In the end i had to buy a another rat to keep the lonely one company and they got on fantastically! like a house on fire :3 I couldn't keep 4 rats though as i don't have quiiiite enough income. But i found them a lovely home with a friend who recently lost a hamster. She loves them.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-12-2011, 04:54 PM
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That is great! I am so glad it worked out and all the rats have good homes now. Yay!

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-12-2011, 08:17 PM
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As story seeker confirmed th vanilla can cause a bit of a ruckus. I'd start letting htem play for longer periods outside of the cages and take the intro. a little ore slowly. I never had this problem with my males but I did with a very frightened albino female once. You can try to feed them treats during the play time when they are near eachother. Maybe even place a cage in the bathroom after it's been cleaned. That way both of them can explore it together. Is the cage clean before you added them to the cage? Sometimes that has something to do with it too. Also some alpha squabbles will happen but in my experience they never injured each other. Just pinned down the weakest link for a little bit.
Also the cage should be big enough to let them get away from eachother and have their own little (territory) along with a community bed/house


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