A Different Kind of Introduction!

Topics on behaviour, taming, companionship, introductions, and training
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Rat_in_a_Hat
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A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by Rat_in_a_Hat » Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:57 pm

Hello all!

So last week I rescued a solitary female named Fable who has been on her own her entire life. She is in a little cage and has barely been out of it since I have had her, but seems eager if I bribe her with Weetabix and other goodies, haha! I have been told she is handleable but I am only at the stroking stage while she is eating, so she associates me with nice things. She has a tendency to snatch food as she was half starved in her first home - I am training her by feeding her off a spoon at the moment, and it seems to be going well. She really is the sweetest girl. She is also disabled and has partial use of her back legs and tail, which means, alongside other issues, she cannot clean out her ears which has lead to a wax build up and made her a bit hard of hearing. All this is relevant, don't worry!

I thought that she would benefit from some company of her own species (I doubt she even knows she is a rat!) I am hoping that some friends could teach her how to rat and she would be happier and come out of her shell, and they may look after her a little in her twilight years, helping her to groom and play. It may even benefit her anxiety and nerves.

So I found a bargain of a cage online, a Zeno 3, and it is set up next to Fable's cage with my new residents, three ten week old sisters - Myth, Nox and Solstice. Which leaves me in the unusual situation of introducing a solitary adult to a group of bouncy 10 week old youngsters - I have read through the relevant threads but I know this is an unusual introduction situation, which I have no experience of anyway! I am hoping that some of the more experienced ratty owners here could help me out with my next steps.

Thanks for reading the essay :)
Fable and I hope you can help! We really do appreciate it.
RatMum to 4 beautiful girls - Fable, Myth, Nox and Solstice <3

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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by acapae_wolf » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:10 am

Lone adult to babies isn't that much of an unusual situation. My recommendation would be the same as with any other aged individuals involved: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=52

Since PB ate the photos, there's the relevant ones here: https://www.facebook.com/isamurats/post ... 5955495927
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1 cat, 50-70 mice, 2x guinea pigs, 2x gerbils, 2x Syrian hamsters, 2x Russian hybrids looking for new homes ;)

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Rat_in_a_Hat
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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by Rat_in_a_Hat » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:25 am

Thank you very much :)

I have not even been able to get the elder rat out of her cage yet but I am eventually hoping that she can live in the big Zeno with the three youngsters.

I guess I am going to have to just bite the bullet and go for it! I was just wondering whether to wait until Fable is a bit tamer or do you think I should give it a go? She gets struck with jittering anxiety as soon as I take the lid off her cage base! I have had her about a week and a half, and the youngsters since Tuesday.

Thanks again ^_^
RatMum to 4 beautiful girls - Fable, Myth, Nox and Solstice <3

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[cub]
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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by [cub] » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:21 am

You should just start now. Getting Fable more used to human handling is not going to help her bond with the youngsters. Whereas if she's bonded with the youngsters, and they're outgoing and confident, then Fable may learn to be more confident as well. Rats learn from each other much better than they learn from us.

Incidentally, putting cages side-by-side is generally not recommended because it can aggravate rats to be able to smell and hear but not properly interact with strangers. If your space is limited, put a sheet of cardboard between the cages to block them off, or move them to opposite sides of the room, until you're ready to introduce them. I'd just go straight into a small carrier and go from there. Remember to take it slow; moving up too quickly is the main cause of problems during introductions.
Poo-shoveller to: Lia and Lita.
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Delanynder the big floofy eejit (NLA28), Falere the contrary (NLA36), Mirala the best and finest (NLA36), Zephyr Opold the serene, and Rila the rodentist.
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Rat_in_a_Hat
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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by Rat_in_a_Hat » Sun Aug 13, 2017 1:43 am

Oh OK thank you!
I will use my hamster travel cage for intros (washed of course!)

I will keep you posted.
Thanks from us all, here's to a happy Fable <3
RatMum to 4 beautiful girls - Fable, Myth, Nox and Solstice <3

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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by [cub] » Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:49 am

How big is the hamster cage, and do you have any kind of small carrier? It's generally best to start in as small a space as possible; minimises the severity of any arguments that might break out.
Poo-shoveller to: Lia and Lita.
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Delanynder the big floofy eejit (NLA28), Falere the contrary (NLA36), Mirala the best and finest (NLA36), Zephyr Opold the serene, and Rila the rodentist.
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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by Rat_in_a_Hat » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:28 am

I have a carrier that I picked the girls up in,and it had a bit of room to spare. Your average size rat carrier..!

The hamster cage is maybe (l)24 inches by (w)12 inches by (d) 15 inches.
RatMum to 4 beautiful girls - Fable, Myth, Nox and Solstice <3

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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by Caza66 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:31 am

Start with the carrier and then when all is ok move to the hamster cage.
My current gang :hearts: Drax, Rocket, Groot, Star-lord, Yondu, Neb
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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by Rat_in_a_Hat » Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:09 am

How long will each stage take? I only have the carrier,the hamster cage, Fable's cage and the girls cage.
I guess it depends on the rats?

Thanks for all your help guys :)
RatMum to 4 beautiful girls - Fable, Myth, Nox and Solstice <3

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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by [cub] » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:05 pm

It really does vary a lot. Anything from pretty much instantaneous for the easiest intros (babies to babies) to multiple months for the most obnoxious (which seem to mostly involve boys :roll: :lol:).

I'd suggest starting by putting them all in the carrier in the morning so you have the rest of the day to supervise. If they behave themselves, you can move them to the hamster cage after a few hours, so in the early afternoon. Keep them in the hamster cage for at least a few days before moving up; I was taught to keep the rats in each size of cage for at least 72 hours. Which is probably being over-cautious for some groups, but with intros it's usually better to go too slowly than too quickly.

You may need to keep them in the carrier for longer than a few hours; some groups need multiple days in there. (It'll be cramped, but that's the point.) If they do have to stay in there longer, you'll need to attach a water bottle to it somehow. I've never had to do that myself, but it seems to usually involve careful insertion of nozzles and/or careful cutting out of holes.

At each point, before moving up to the next size of cage, you're looking for about 24 hours of good behaviour, which I reckon consists of:
- sleeping together, either in one big pile, or in changing mixed piles (i.e. it's not always the same rats separating themselves off into the same groups)
- relaxed behaviour around each other when awake, walking past/over each other in a relaxed manner, eating comfortably together, nobody getting tense
I think some pinning and grooming, bum-sniffing, and mounting is allowed as part of "good behaviour", since that continues even in my established groups. (Or maybe I've been doing it all wrong all along? :P) But it should be relatively relaxed and/or playful; if the parties involved are tense, fluffing up, or chasing each other/running away then they need to stay a bit longer at whatever stage they're at. (Or go back a stage, if it looks like things are really tense.)

How big is Fable's cage, and which size of Zeno 3 is it? The hamster cage sounds like it's big enough to add some toys to, so if they're good in there for the first 24 hours, you can start adding some toys to it. Try to start with things that are difficult to be possessive of/fight over, e.g. perches and rope toys.
Poo-shoveller to: Lia and Lita.
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Delanynder the big floofy eejit (NLA28), Falere the contrary (NLA36), Mirala the best and finest (NLA36), Zephyr Opold the serene, and Rila the rodentist.
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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by Rat_in_a_Hat » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:23 am

Gosh, it will be cramped! The girls have so much energy - so I keep them in the carrier no matter what? No playtime or out time?
I can barely handle Fable :/ she hopefully won't be too overwhelmed. I know in the long run it will hopefully benefit them all though.

Fables' cage is a couple of feet by a foot wide and maybe a foot and a half tall. Tiny! The Zeno is a metre long, 79cm high and 45 wide. I hope they can all live together in it nicely soon.

Will it interrupt the taming process with the youngsters? They have only been here a week and are still settling in. They are coming along so well too! I don't want to set them back.

Again, I know the pros will outweigh the cons. I am just overly worrying I guess. I hope they can all live together happily soon :)
RatMum to 4 beautiful girls - Fable, Myth, Nox and Solstice <3

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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by Caza66 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:40 am

No, no play time and try not to get individuals out for cuddles. I'm still doing intros with a group of boys and about 2 months but part of my group involved adult boys.

You will feel mean but it really is worth it. :luck:
My current gang :hearts: Drax, Rocket, Groot, Star-lord, Yondu, Neb
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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by [cub] » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:31 am

Rat_in_a_Hat wrote:Gosh, it will be cramped! The girls have so much energy - so I keep them in the carrier no matter what? No playtime or out time?
Assuming they behave themselves well, they should only be in the carrier itself for a few hours. They can move into the hamster cage on day 1 if they're calm, relaxed, and sleeping in a pile together in the carrier itself. But yes, once you start the introduction process, they should remain together in their confined accommodations as much as possible. (Sometimes you need to separate some out for medicating, or feeding up on high-calorie extras, or whatever. But that should be as brief as possible.)

One thing you can do to encourage bonding is take them on a walk/drive/bus ride/etc. A swaying carrier in an unfamiliar place discourages pointless squabbling in the face of the greater threat of the scary outside world. ;)

Opinions vary on whether or not they should have out of cage playtime, and if so at what point during the process and under what circumstances. Some people don't allow out of cage playtime until the introductions are complete and they're living together happily in the final cage. Some people start allowing out of cage playtime partway through the process, but usually only in a confined space (i.e. a very small playpen, bed or sofa, not a whole room), and usually only once the group is already reasonably well bonded. I certainly wouldn't for the first few days at least.
Rat_in_a_Hat wrote:Fables' cage is a couple of feet by a foot wide and maybe a foot and a half tall. Tiny! The Zeno is a metre long, 79cm high and 45 wide. I hope they can all live together in it nicely soon.
So Fable's cage is about the same size as the hamster cage? If that's the case, then you're probably looking at moving from the hamster cage into the Zeno when it's time to upgrade, since Fable's cage won't be much of an intermediate size. If you can create a false roof for the Zeno somehow to reduce the height in the cage when they first move in, that would probably be good. (I've seen contraptions involving four perches, a thick rectangle of cardboard cut to size, and I'm not sure what to hold it down against the perches. Maybe more perches?) Alternatively you could just go straight to a full Zeno and see what happens. If you do that I'd be tempted to hold them at the hamster cage size for a bit longer to ensure everyone has sorted out all their differences first.
Rat_in_a_Hat wrote:Will it interrupt the taming process with the youngsters? They have only been here a week and are still settling in. They are coming along so well too! I don't want to set them back.
It will interrupt the process to some degree since you won't be handling them much, but they'll still be able to acclimatise to the smells and sounds of their new environment during the introductions process. If it does set them back in terms of human handling, that's something you can make up for later; Fable needs rat friends more than any of them needs human taming right now.

One last thing – if the youngsters are 10 weeks old, they may need some additional high-protein food for the next couple of weeks, depending on what their background is. If you got them from a good breeder, they should know their lines and what they need. If not, chuck in a scrambled egg or some fish 2-3 times a week for the next couple of weeks, probably. Normally you'd separate out the youngsters so they can get the high-protein stuff all to themselves, but since Fable is barely handleable and there's only 1 of her, she can share with the youngsters; a few bits of egg and fish won't hurt her.
Poo-shoveller to: Lia and Lita.
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Delanynder the big floofy eejit (NLA28), Falere the contrary (NLA36), Mirala the best and finest (NLA36), Zephyr Opold the serene, and Rila the rodentist.
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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by Rat_in_a_Hat » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:46 pm

Caza66 wrote:No, no play time and try not to get individuals out for cuddles. I'm still doing intros with a group of boys and about 2 months but part of my group involved adult boys.

You will feel mean but it really is worth it. :luck:
In that case I hope it doesn't take too long :) I can't really forsee any issues (she says!) I have three days off work now so now is a good time to start!
[cub] wrote:
Rat_in_a_Hat wrote:Gosh, it will be cramped! The girls have so much energy - so I keep them in the carrier no matter what? No playtime or out time?
One thing you can do to encourage bonding is take them on a walk/drive/bus ride/etc. A swaying carrier in an unfamiliar place discourages pointless squabbling in the face of the greater threat of the scary outside world. ;)
Gosh I would love to take them on a walk around Bristol. Things like that are relatively normal here :D
[cub] wrote:One last thing – if the youngsters are 10 weeks old, they may need some additional high-protein food for the next couple of weeks, depending on what their background is. If you got them from a good breeder, they should know their lines and what they need. If not, chuck in a scrambled egg or some fish 2-3 times a week for the next couple of weeks, probably. Normally you'd separate out the youngsters so they can get the high-protein stuff all to themselves, but since Fable is barely handleable and there's only 1 of her, she can share with the youngsters; a few bits of egg and fish won't hurt her.
The young girls have been getting added protein in the form of soya in fortified porridge, chicken and DDR3(? can't remember the name!) from the Rat Warehouse. They seem to be growing so well and I think have started their first moult.

Fable has been getting a supplement for older rats plus the DDR3 that the younguns are getting :)
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Re: A Different Kind of Introduction!

Post by cyber ratty » Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:17 am

Rat_in_a_Hat wrote:...They seem to be growing so well and I think have started their first moult.
Kittens moult from fluffy baby coat at around 5 - 7 weeks, so either yours may be moulting for a second time or are a lot younger than you thought! (In my opinion, babies should not be homed before their first moult is pretty much completed.)

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