Mad old lady ETA bullying after recent introduction

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gracierocket
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Mad old lady ETA bullying after recent introduction

Post by gracierocket » Wed May 04, 2016 10:19 pm

Hi all,

So, we have a colony of seven female rats, two of whom are new-ish babies (we got them at 7 weeks and they're now about three months old). We had difficulty with introductions, but after going through the carrier method twice, the whole colony is very well integrated, except for one of our oldest rats - Lyta (the beta).

She bullies the babies relentlessly (their tails are covered in scars and she draws blood occasionally), and has lately started going after everyone else in the colony somewhat, especially the colony's old omega but occasionally even the alpha, though that gets quickly shut down.

The colony has been back in their whole cage with all their free range space for about two weeks now, and Lyta is showing no signs of letting up. The babies are so jumpy that they squeak whenever she's anywhere near them if they're all out and about free ranging. I don't think it's a dead loss, though - they still all sleep together in a huddle sometimes, though a Lyta-babies combination is rare.

Anyone ever had the experience of an intransigent, grumpy rat?

Note: title expanded for clarity

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acapae_wolf
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Re: Mad old lady

Post by acapae_wolf » Wed May 04, 2016 10:32 pm

gracierocket wrote:We had difficulty with introductions, but after going through the carrier method twice, the whole colony is very well integrated, except for one of our oldest rats - Lyta (the beta).
If you've upgraded them to a full layout and free range while continuing to have problems then I'm afraid that's not actually the carrier method. The carrier/ small space method involves not going up a stage until you have all of the group bonded at the current stage.

Could you provide a bit more detail about what you did do, in terms of what cage sizes used, how long they spent at each stage, and what sorts of behaviour you were seeing from them at each point. That will provide a better picture for us than only details about what's happening now :)
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gracierocket
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Re: Mad old lady ETA bullying after recent introduction

Post by gracierocket » Sat May 07, 2016 1:30 am

Hi! To clarify: we didn't move on at any stage in the carrier method until the fighting had stopped and they were happily sleeping together. We did about 36 hours in the car carrier without incident, 3 days in a Freddie 2 (2 days of some fighting, one day of no fighting, introducing minimal furniture), then half a Liberta Explorer for three days gradually introducing furniture (replicating furniture at previous stage), then opening up to top half with furniture in place for a couple of days, then opening the doors to let them free range. At the final cage stage there was a little squabbling, but nothing serious - just the sort of light scrapping that in our previous introduction wasn't a big deal.

But since we've been letting them free range for a few hours a day, Lyta has gone really strange, picking fights not just with the babies but with everyone (though mostly with lower ranking rats). We could just lock them all in the cage again, or even drop back a further stage, but they don't seem to fight at those stages really.

Hope you can help!

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bazu
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Re: Mad old lady ETA bullying after recent introduction

Post by bazu » Sat May 07, 2016 10:05 am

It might be worth dropping them back a stage or two and leaving them there for a couple of extra days after they've re-settled - it'll force them to bond properly and sort out any issues that might still be underlying (leading to the current scraps). It feels mean, but it'll hopefully help things! :luck:
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Mayamy
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Re: Mad old lady ETA bullying after recent introduction

Post by Mayamy » Sat May 07, 2016 12:46 pm

Going from a carrier to half an Explorer in 4-5 days is pretty quick - especially if this is the second attempt at the intro, suggesting some awkwardness. If they were in the Freddy for only 3 days and spent the first 2 with some bickering, then to me it doesn't sound like they'd really shown they were fully settled at this stage, so I'd be inclined to backtrack.

I don't think you need to hold off on all free range until they're living in the final cage. I actually prefer to start minimal free range (sofa/bed with me present, progressing to a fairly empty bathroom) once I feel the group is settled in a low cage (80x50x40 ish). It gives them a bit more space in a supervised environment and allows me to assess their interactions with each other better. I don't find that rats sleeping in a pile together by itself is a good indicator of a cohesive group.
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