Another problematic introduction

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lotus49
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Location: Yorkshire

Another problematic introduction

Post by lotus49 » Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:59 pm

A couple of months ago we adopted two lovely looking bucks from the RSPCA in Shropshire. They were kept in separate cages when they were in the shelter. When I arrived to pick them up the RSPCA chap offered my his thick gloves but I said that wouldn't be necessary and reached in to stroke one of them. It turned out that they were necessary - he bit me quite badly. I was a little dismayed as I have handled numerous rats and only ever been bitten before twice. Once when I intervened in a fight and once when I accidentally poked one of my rats in the eye (oops).

Now I know them better, it's clear that the poor little chaps had not been socialised with people or rats. They have become much more friendly to us and one of the two clearly enjoys our company and will let us stroke him.

We put them together using the carrier method. The first time we tried this, it was (quite literally) a bloody disaster. One of them inflicted a serious 1 cm wound on the inside of the other's thigh resulting in copious amounts of blood. I was really frightened and upset so we separated them immediately. Three weeks later, we tried again.

This time it was apparently much more successful. There was a huge amount of squeaking and a couple of small bites but nothing too serious. This was three weeks ago. We moved them from the carrier to a hamster cage after about three hours and then, a week later to a larger single storey cage.

Unfortunately, they have not settled. They squabble often and have really not shown any sign of friendliness towards each other. We really want them to be friends but all they do is tolerate each other at best. Occasionally they fight but usually nothing too serious.

They are almost exactly the same size and age so neither is really capable of beating the other in a fight.

What should we do? I would hate to have to separate them but they have had time to get used to each other but in the last 10 days have really shown no sign of getting any more friendly. It's really quite upsetting.

hjanders
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Re: Another problematic introduction

Post by hjanders » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:46 am

I am no expert but I wonder if starting the carrier method again with longer at each stage might help?

When we have used the carrier method we have left the rats in the carrier at least overnight even if they seemed to settle very quickly.

Again, just a thought, but would a third rat added to the mix help to calm things?

As I said, I am no expert so I recommend awaiting more advice. I will follow to see if my suggestions are good or stupid for my own education!

Good luck x
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cyber ratty
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Re: Another problematic introduction

Post by cyber ratty » Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:50 pm

I would agree with hjanders - take longer over the early stages, and a third (or third and fourth) rat would definitely help because when there are only two rats, they are stuck with each other even if one is in the mood to be alone for a little while.

It sounds quite promising, but if you do find that tensions don't improve, then having one or both neutered may be helpful.

lotus49
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Re: Another problematic introduction

Post by lotus49 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:24 pm

I had thought about neutering but I hate the idea so that would be a last resort. Experience tells me that we would have to do both rather than just one.

I hadn't thought about getting a third rat. That's a good idea. I'll see if I can find a kitten somewhere. If two of them were friendly, the other might feel inclined to be more friendly to the others.

The drawback to going back to the start is that I am scared they will hurt each other but we could try that. The problem is that I am not convinced either of them would come out on top and all the blood from the first attempt has left me somewhat scarred.

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cyber ratty
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Re: Another problematic introduction

Post by cyber ratty » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:41 am

If the extra rat is to be a kitten, then you'll need two. Kittens should always have some same age company to play with and develop alongside. Also, wait until they are a good size and not at risk of accidental injury before introducing - 9 - 10 weeks is generally a good age.

lotus49
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Re: Another problematic introduction

Post by lotus49 » Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:41 pm

Yes thank you. After posting my reply and looking for some kittens, it occurred to me that it would be much easier for us to introduce a pair of kittens from the same litter so they are comfortable in each other's company.

I shall bear in mind you recommendation as to age as well.

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ElizabethW
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Re: Another problematic introduction

Post by ElizabethW » Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:30 am

Best of luck, let us know how you get on :luck:
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