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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-10-2013, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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More Rats :D

Hey everyone!

So i have a question about introducing rats! I know that there are probably a thousand posts about this but my situation is different and i was just wondering if someone could help me out
I have 2 rats at the moment and i love them dearly..i got them when they were 8 weeks old but from the beginninh they were extremely skittish! I was a first time rat owner so I wasnt sure how to tame them exactly but i tried! Anyway they are now about 7 months old anf they are doing much better even though they are still skittish and scared..
Now I saw these cute black rat babies at a breeder i visited to buy lab blocks and i just fell in love^^
They were only 3 weeks old but i just loved them right away! If i get them should I be extra careful when introducing it/them to my other rats? Cause they are so cautious! Any advice would be great!

Thanks in advance for any advice!!
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-12-2013, 03:08 PM
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Howdy Rom!

As long as babies are just big enough to act and smell like rats, male rats tend to accept them pretty quickly. If they are introed too young, they won't smell or act like recognizable rats, and sometimes tragedy occurs when an adult male mistakes them for prey and kills them. You'll want your babies to be at least 6 weeks old before you try.

That said, intro-ing adult males to juvenile rats tends to be the easiest and quickest introduction scenario you can do. Here's a link to tips for you, including cautions. Mostly just go slow, and heed your common sense and caution:

http://ratguide.com/care/behavior/introducing_rats.php

I wasn't sure by your post if you were saying that the babies were home with you already, or if you'd just visited them at 3 weeks old and would take them home later when they were weaned.

Three weeks is the absolute earliest a rat might be weened. In laboratories where rats are used as experiments with a time table, it's common practice to force ween them at this age. I'm not sure if your babies have been separated yet, but if not, allow them, or ask if you can keep them with their mother until they ween naturally at closer to four weeks old or more. Later weening imparts important health and social benefits to your baby that will enable them to possibly have fewer health issues and make them more temperamentally well balanced.

Hope this helps!


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Last edited by Storyseeker; 04-12-2013 at 03:10 PM.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-12-2013, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for your detailed reply! It has helped me a lot i dont have the new rat yet but i will probably get him in about 2 weeks when he is 5 weeks old^^ i was just wondering..will it be okay to keep him in a bin cage for about a week or two before I introduce them to my other babies? Cause i want him to be used to me and human interaction before I put him with the other 2! I know a bin cage is not ideal but it will only be for a short while i'm super excited!!
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-12-2013, 09:25 PM
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A cage bin should be fine. It's probably what he's been used to already.


In addition to reading the link I provided, here are some tips I've collected from difficult intros and four years of advice:

Rat intros go in stages: Introduction on neutral ground. Introduction on semi-familiar ground. Introduction on semi-familiar ground with toys and hidey holes added. Clean the cage thoroughly to obliterate as much familiar scent as possible, and introduce in the cage for short periods. Increase time in cage until completely comfortable. Allow them to stay in cage overnight and unattended.


1) Rats are smell oriented. If it smells like them, it makes them feel more secure. If it smells like them they own it and may be territorial about it and/or want to defend it.

2) Babies will usually be quickly fine with a new playmate. Get some bedding soaked in the adult cage's pee and rub it all over the baby. The adults will smell themselves all over the babies on their first encounter.

3) Pick a controlled smallish area that the rats are unfamiliar with and have not scent marked as their own. Keep it boring and simple. Some people say providing escape routes via tunnels or blanket hiding places are good, but I found this to create 'ownership' issues which led to biting. You want all to be a little unsure of what areas belong to whom.

4) Intro sessions should be supervised and last a minimum of 30 minutes. Preferably an hour or more. Try adding a liquidy food on a big plate that they have to lick up to eat. They will be forced to eat together. Shared eating creates bonding.

5) Assuming safety isn't an issue, try to end each session at a moment when everyone is as calm and relaxed as possible. Rats associate new things with their last memory of a place. If their last memory of a new rat is being fearful or aggressive, that is the mindset they will have when they encounter the new rat again. The exception to this is if a rat is in danger of serious injury, then you have to remove them regardless of how they feel for their own safety.

6) Have a spray bottle with water and towels to aid in emergency separation. Spraying them with water distracts them and the spend time calming themselves by grooming it off. If they start fighting, don't use your hands to separate them. You will get a nasty bite. use a towel or heavy duty work glove to give some protection to your hand.

7) No matter how much huffing, puffing, hip bumping, pinning, face offs, hissing, power grooming, or chasing goes on, it's all good....unless there's blood. "No blood, no foul".

8) Each step of intro should be progressed slowly. Don't go to the next stage until they are completely comfortable and relaxed with each other. If there is backsliding when you go to the next level, back up to the previous level. It may take up to 4 weeks to get them introed completely. Above all do NOT rush the final stage where they are sharing a cage. That is the place of highest territorial aggression as the older rats have already claimed it as theirs.

9) If all else fails, put them all in a carry cage and take them for a long drive together. Rats hate going on unfamiliar car rides. Shared terror creates a bonding experience.

10) If all else fails, consider neutering whoever is causing problems.


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Hanging out in the Land of New Feetsies:
Melon, Skinner, Black Pete, Zanna, Custard, Tucker, Jeffrey, Zmei, and Windham.

Last edited by Storyseeker; 04-12-2013 at 09:30 PM.
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