Fancy Rats

Introductions - a video I'd appreciate some comments on
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Author:  Firecat [ Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Introductions - a video I'd appreciate some comments on

Hi all

I introduced my old rat (20 months or so old) Delta to my new rats (unknown age but young) Frodo, Gandalf and Harry. I read the guides and made sure the space was small, that it was neutral and that I had thick gloves on in case I needed to intervene (and a spray bottle!).

I videoed it all,
it all looked perfectly civilised to me, barely a squeak, bit of scrapping but all good natured, no-one got chased or bit or seemed distressed. I'm aiming to do it again tonight for longer and if it is all calm again moving them into a neutral cage (still under supervision) and see how they get on.

But I'd appreciate feedback on the video, is there anything that even suggests a problem in it? In case you don't fancy 10 minutes of rats walking in circles:
- Delta walks around, passes the other 3, there is interaction but mostly calm.
- The other 3 interact and play, lots of one rat putting the other on its back and licking it, a few times they look like they are forcefully washing the back of each others necks.
- At one point Gandalf sneaks up on Delta, who promptly spins and pins his head to the ground for 2 seconds then they both carry on as usual.
- At one point Gandalf gets Delta on his back! But again it seems amicable.

To my eye all normal rat goings on, but I am keen to be corrected it wrong!

Thanks all

Author:  Onthewires [ Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Introductions - a video I'd appreciate some comments on

All looks fairly normal to me :) I'd suggest using the carrier method if you haven't looked at that already as I've always found it really effective. How big is your neutral cage, and have either party been in it before? I've found that it's best to limit the space as much as possible as this forces them to interact and minimises injury if they do have a scuffle. They're also far more likely to bond rather than worry about territory or defending an area.

I had a bad experience before where I put 4 in half an SRS after they'd been absolutely fine in the bath and the amount of space caused a major fight. Try to get something like a cat carrier or small hamster cage so they have to be in close proximity to each other and don't get too overwhelmed.

I might be repeating things you've already read but make sure the cage is totally empty first and then slowly start adding toys etc.

Hope this helps, as far as I know, any dominance behaviour is nothing to worry about during intros, the general rule seems to be 'no blood no foul'. They do have a pop at each other sometimes (even in fully bonded groups of males) but as long as they aren't drawing blood, they should be fine and you shouldn't need to separate :D

Author:  Firecat [ Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Introductions - a video I'd appreciate some comments on


So if my cage is large, so long as they have nowhere to rest (no ropes or platforms) presumably that will have the same effect? As in the only useable space will be the floor/walls.

I might just buy a small cage, it can be my medical cage going forwards.

I was going to add items from the old cages in a balanced way, so a rope from each old community at the same time. Ok idea? Restocking the entire cage from scratch would be costly...

Author:  bazu [ Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Introductions - a video I'd appreciate some comments on

The aim of having a smaller cage is two-fold:

1) By having a smaller space, they're forced to interact, which helps with bonding and helps to more quickly resolve any differences
2) A lot of injuries in intros are caused when one rat runs away and the other lunges to grab at them - by using a smaller space to start with, they can't run, which helps prevent these injuries

A large bare cage is better used later in the intros once they've already bonded some, as having a floor to run across and walls to climb up is prime 'grabbing' territory! I'd definitely recommend starting in a smaller space - I have a small hamster cage as my starter.

Using the old gear is absolutely fine; I'd recommend washing them beforehand if you can, but it's not essential. Stick to flat hammocks and ropes initially, rather than anything anyone could get cornered in (e.g. a tunnel or enclosed hammock), and take it slow building the cage up - if things are going well, I'll add one item a day.

Good luck with the rest of the intros! I had a skim through the video and I agree, the bits I saw all looked perfectly normal and encouraging :) Hopefully you'll have a happy rat pack soon :luck:

Author:  Firecat [ Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Introductions - a video I'd appreciate some comments on

Thanks, I bought the smallest cage I could, emptied it and added rats. Whenever I'm in the house they are now in it and I've had zero problems. They are behaving just like in the video and then every few hours sleeping in a pile (usually 3 with one off somewhere else, but it's a different one each time).

I'm going to stick at this (putting them in separate cages at night/when I can't supervise) until Monday then put them in a bare big cage and then build up the contents.

I'd add a pic but it's a real faff on this, so just imagine a photo of a pile of sleeping rats :p

Author:  bazu [ Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Introductions - a video I'd appreciate some comments on

To be honest, if they're going this well while you're supervising you probably don't need to keep separating them - it'd be more beneficial to keep them together so that, again, they bond faster and have more chances to work out any differences that crop up early on.

Glad to hear it's all going well though! :D

Author:  [cub] [ Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Introductions - a video I'd appreciate some comments on

I agree; if there aren't any actual problems then there's no need to separate. The goal of rat introductions is to forge a single, cohesive group of rats; repeatedly separating the new group back into its previous constituent parts inhibits (and possibly counteracts) this process.

Author:  Firecat [ Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Introductions - a video I'd appreciate some comments on

Thanks both :)

So exactly how bare am I making the main cage? Literally bedding substrate, water and nothing else? Can I leave them their wheel and can they have a hammock low down?

Author:  bazu [ Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Introductions - a video I'd appreciate some comments on

To begin with, you want it to be completely bare - substrate and food/water only. The first thing they get afterwards (usually a couple of days, depending how it's going) is a flat hammock, and then as I said earlier, one new thing a day as long as they're behaving.

I know it seems mean to leave them in a big empty cage, but the risk of giving therm too much early on is that it can bring out territorial aggression - I'd rather them be bored for a couple of days than have a fight and have to go back to the smaller cage for a while again!

Author:  [cub] [ Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Introductions - a video I'd appreciate some comments on

And just to clarify, give them at least 2 water sources at opposite ends of the cage, and scatter their food rather than having it in a bowl (if you don't do that already), to minimise the risk of anyone hogging/defending food and water sources. And you move up to the main cage only after they've behaved themselves well in the smaller cage, preferably over a 2- or 3-day period. Like bazu said, advancing too quickly can lead to setbacks that end up making the whole thing take much longer.

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