cage sharing problems emergency
Hi all need so serious help,
I have three male rats two young boys 14 weeks and one older male 1 yr 6 months. Once I finished quarantine I divided my large cage into two smaller cages by separating the top and bottom the rats could make no physical contact with each other. After a few days in the new cage set up I started doing cage swaps like I read online to prepare for a meeting on neutral ground. Once the cage swaps no longer caused to much interest, I put them together on neutral ground everything went okay the older male dominant groomed the two younger males a bit but nothing that was horrible they eventually after 1 to 2 weeks of meeting were sleeping together and were relaxed together in the neutral territory. So I decided they could finally open up the cage and make it one big cage again. I clean all the hammocks and dismantled the cage and scrub every part with a pet disinfectant with deodorise. I place them in the cleaned cage and watched them to make sure no fighting got out of hand. Everything was okay until I came down the next morning and I found the two young males hiding in the plastic house and every time the older male approached it one on the young males would stick his head out and scream then the older male would start to become aggressive side walking, fluffing up, arching his back even tail whipping. After the young male screamed alot the older male would leave but now every time the young males are out he chases them and if he gets hold of them they start boxing then he pins them down young males one screams frantically while the other just is quiet. There has been no blood but the older male is being very rough and aggressive with young ones I am worried he is going to seriously hurt or kill them they have only been sharing the cage for three days, I have also used vinilla essence to help the transfer to the cage share.
Has anyone got any ideas how I can help them get along as I do not have room for a second cage long term and the large cage is not big enough to be permanently divided.
Whenever getting new rats I highly suggest having a second cage and while you should hope for the best, prepare for the worst. And have a backup plan if they can not get along.
I would suggest getting a second cage and finding room for it.
I really do not like putting the cages next to each other, or cage swapping. It only works well if everyone is fine & in those cases it just is not needed lol If they are not ok, it is just going to stress everyone out because to them there is an enemy in their territory or they are scared and they can't get away or escape it. It is highly stressful for them.
Him puffing up is a very bad sign. For me if a rat is puffing up and being aggressive I won't even try to intro them again.It is good that there has not been any attacking, injury or blood. And the general rule is no blood/injury let them work it out. But he is not showing good signs that he will adjust.
For me I would separate them and reclean the cage and also move the cage to a new room for the first week or two. People often forget that the entire area around the cage is still going to smell like rat, even the room itself. It is going to be hard to really get rid of their entire smell from the room.
If they do well in neutral territory for an extended period of time, with no puffing or signs of aggression, you could try again.
But sometimes no matter what things do not work out.
Thank you I will get another cage g and give it a few weeks with just neutral territory and maybe try again hopefully it should go ok the second time.