Two boys not getting along - prepare to read an essay

Topics on behaviour, taming, companionship, introductions, and training
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Am I overreacting?

Yes! Just continue with the carrier method for the rest of your life (kidding!)
0
No votes
Yes, but consider a neuter
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No votes
No, but continue with the carrier method anyway
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No votes
No, neutering might be an option
2
67%
You're doing something wrong! [Please help aha]
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No votes
I have no idea
1
33%
Other
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No votes
Your post is too long, and so is your poll
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No votes
 
Total votes: 3

brennalynne
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 11:21 pm

Two boys not getting along - prepare to read an essay

Post by brennalynne » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:54 am

Sorry in advance for this long post :lol: I don't blame you for backing out now

So maybe introductions didn't go as well as I'd hoped, back in January I got two young (2.5 months at the time) boys to join my "big" boys (aka my 1+ year olds). Now, initially things didn't go smoothly. I had a hiccup and made a few mistakes with my first introductions. The babies were bullied quite extensively before I smartened up and started doing the carrier method rather than neutral territory only. Things went well enough to the point where they were all mostly cuddling together and I got them all into the big (single critter nation) cage together. Everyone more or less happy. They'd spent about two weeks gradually going from a carrier to a slightly bigger cage to their cage now.

For reference:
Mickey - Adult, doesn't start fights (anymore, he was initially the most dominant and would bully the babies), cuddles with everyone.
Ian - Adult, cuddles with Mickey and Dexter, constantly fighting with Hamish and will fight with Mickey and Dexter when tense (he used to be the submissive one before the babies arrived, but now he's clearly dominant over Mickey and the others).
Dexter - Juvenile, cuddles with everyone, get's tense if chased or if Hamish has been pinned/is screaming.
Hamish - Juvenile, cuddles with Dexter, hesitant but will cuddle with Mickey, can't even look at Ian without tensing and running away (as he's almost guaranteed about to be chased). He'll freeze, tense up and even hiss (?) at Ian if they're staring at each other pre-chase. If pinned he just screams

Both adults get along with Dexter. They've never had problems with Dexter after the initial introductions. They cuddle together, they don't fight.
Now, the other baby on the other hand - he's a LOT more skittish (even with me, he doesn't like to be held but will hang out on my shoulder and be around me) and seems to hold a grudge against the adults for bullying him. He's fine with Mickey but he really can't get along with Ian.

The two of them are fighting on the regular and its destroying already established cage dynamics. Over the past few months they could sleep next to each other in the big cage no problem and things seemed to be smoothing over (near cuddles more frequent) but now they can't even look at each other without tensing and it ending in a chase. It never ever ends bloody, but Hamish will scream bloody murder if he's being pinned by Ian. :cry:

This tension (and chasing) is leading Ian to be fighting all the boys, especially post chase with Hamish. He'll beat up Dexter and even his brother if he gets too close. As I type this he's trying to shove Hamish off an edge (puffs up, side steps towards Hamish)and he has chased Hamish to falling onto the floor from outside of the cage multiple times over the last week.

When in a scary situation (aka not in their usual room and in their carrier) Ian and Hamish will sleep next to each other and even cuddle (sort of) - but Ian is apparently very territorial when it comes to their play area (my bed) and their cage and I can't seem to get past this.

It's extremely inconvenient to keep them in the carrier in a separate room from the usual (which I've done, multiple times now for the record for days-to a week at a time) as I have kittens who get into closed rooms whenever possibly and aren't exactly friendly to my rats.

TLDR (aka, my point minus the huge backstory; One adult and one juvenile can't get along - I know what you're all going to say (go slower, do the carrier method again - I'm currently doing this with no success.) but this is getting frustrating and I'm wondering if neutering one of them is an option or if its an over reaction. This is been going on for nearly 4 months now.

(Which do I neuter if that is an option in the end? Ian is 1.5 years and Hamish is 6 months) I'm willing to do it for health benefits alone but I don't want to endanger anyone.

I currently have them all in the carrier in my/their room and they've been like that for 2 days now - no progress yet obviously. I intend to take them into my kitchen (unfamiliar/scary for them) on a daily basis to see if that gets them bonding but seriously - this entire post is me just ranting about the fact they won't stop fighting and its annoying the hell out of me. I thought this had been sorted out.

Sorry for this useless essay of a post, I just wanted all the information laid out and any advice (beyond continue with the carrier method - I appreciate it, but I've heard it and read it as a solution a million times already) would be appreciated

AND I don't mean to come off as rude, please don't take it that way, I'm just frustrated atm :roll:

I was really busy with university and I understand I may have rushed introductions initially.. Starting from ground 0 again is probably what you're all going to tell me and I've already started to do that just so that's clear.

Basically my question: Should I be considering a neuter or is this just me being frustrated/an over reaction? :oops:

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squeakrat
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Location: Newcastle

Re: Two boys not getting along - prepare to read an essay

Post by squeakrat » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:18 pm

I sympathise - I know it's really frustrating when you're trying to do intros and you're thinking "please just STOP winding each other up!"

I don't have much experience when it comes to boys though, so it's not obvious to me from your post whether one of them is being hormonal and it would be beneficial to neuter. I think I'd lean towards Ian though, as it sounds like it's him that getting too easily wound up and over reacting. It sounds like maybe Mickey was/is the alpha and Ian is feeling the pressure to try and establish a higher rank for himself in the bigger group?
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pewmouse
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Location: Sherburn In Elmet

Re: Two boys not getting along - prepare to read an essay

Post by pewmouse » Mon Apr 18, 2016 1:49 pm

I have had something very similar recently, I've got 8 boys. 2 at a year old, 1 and 10 months, 2 at 7 months and 3 at approx. 4 months. The newbies to the group were the 3 x 4 month olds. I persevered with the carrier method for over a month but never got past the bare cage with only 1 hammock stage.

I would then have 1 of the 7 month olds chasing and bum biting everyone but the 10 month old alpha. There were no bad injuries but everyone was tense and they all seemed stressed with the situation. I went back to stage 1 several time but at the weekend I decided I had had enough and nobody was happy including me!

I ended up splitting my group into two groups of 4 after watching who got along with who and who stood up to my bully boy.

I considered neutering but I lost a boy recently who was getting neutered due to becoming aggressive with his cage mates. I decided neutering was not an option for me as I would not risk losing anymore of my boys for something I could avoid. However neutering could be an option for you if you really want your group to stay together. Be aware though that hormones may not be the issue and it could be a personality clash. I read into TARDAK as apparently it's a good indicator of whether neutering would work. This might be something worth trying.

You have my sympathy as I know how stressful this is! Good luck with your intro :luck:

brennalynne
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 11:21 pm

Re: Two boys not getting along - prepare to read an essay

Post by brennalynne » Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:30 pm

If there was any risk I think I'd be far to nervous to send one of my boys to get neutered - especially Ian. Despite the bullying he is the biggest sweetheart to me and my family. I wouldn't want to risk losing his sweet face. I'm in Canada and I'm pretty sure chemical castration isn't a thing yet so unfortunately that's not an option.

The entire situation baffles me which is why I think now that it's either personality/struggling to see whose going to be second in command. Mickey (before I got the babies) had always been the one to pin and groom Ian, it's just how it was. Before I got the babies they got along SO well, no fighting or anything, just sleeping and grooming with each other. Occasionally Mickey would pin Ian down (softly) to groom him a little bit rougher than usual. Sweetest boys you could ask for.

Once the babies arrived, Mickey was the bully and I had expected this. Initially Ian had NO problem with the babies! They even ran to him when getting chased. Something changed though because Mickey became a softy and evidently had established his rank (I'm guessing?) and now it's Ian who is being the aggressive bully.

Hamish holds a grudge, which is why I think this is going on as long as it is. He doesn't like the idea of submitting to Ian because I think he wants to be the more dominant one of the two of them? He's also super nervous of Ian and I think his defensive stance is what sets Ian off sometimes. Once Hamish is calmer then fights are fewer until something else sets Ian off.

I'm at the stage now where I think the two of them getting along enough to at least co-mingle will be possible. As I speak they're in the carrier sleeping next to each other. Hamish even has his head on top of Ian's back which isn't something he often does. Yesterday I put the two of them on my lap while sitting on a chair and once Hamish had pooped a grand total of 9 times (he poops when he's scared) they both started to settle - especially with me petting them any time I thought they might start to irritate each other.

Progress is sweet, let's hope it lasts :roll:

pewmouse
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:25 am
Location: Sherburn In Elmet

Re: Two boys not getting along - prepare to read an essay

Post by pewmouse » Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:58 am

It sounds like you have progress in the right direction then. It's so frustrating when it doesn't go as well as you would hope. Maybe you just need to progress very slowly from now, have a few days in the carrier before moving on in the intro's so make sure they form a bond before adding in anything they can fight over.

I'm no expert so I can only offer a little advice from my recent experiences!

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