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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I couldn't really find any info on this and it confused me a bit, so I thought I'd ask, because I want my intro's to go as smoothly as possible. I've read a lot, but my rats always seem to do things I've never read before.

I just introduced my 7m/o Oxnard with his new 'friend' Gilley who is also 7 months in a space Gilley hadn't been before, but Oxnard had. (they're male)

There was no fighting, but Gilley seemed tense around Oxnard. He would get tense, not move, then wiggle the end of his tail like a snake. Oxnard is a very passive and submissive rat. Not an aggressive bone in his body.

Oxnard didn't really seem to know what Gilley was trying to say, because he was just trying to eat some food. He wasn't staring at Gilley or anything, just laying down and ignoring him basically, at close proximity, trying to get to nearby food. Gilley was staying ontop of him while staying nose-to-nose. Gilley wouldn't really let him sniff him and made whispering squeaks at him. Gilley's fur never got poofy either.

Except, sometimes when Oxnard would try to move, Gilley would lightly bite his nose? It was really weird, I don't know if he's being aggressive or not. He never broke his skin but he kept trying to slowly nip his nose. Almost as if Gilley thought Oxnard was a threat and was defending himself, except Oxnard wasn't doing anything to him at all.

It seemed as if Gilley was trying to talk rat, and Oxnard didn't really know what was going on. He's only been on his own for 2 weeks after his cagemate passed...

Just want to know if this behaviour is normal and if it actually went well for a first intro or not, I guess since there was no poofy hair or real aggression... it did go well. Or did it?

Thanks >.<
 

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Technically, for the first few meetings, they should be in a place that is 100% neutral and unknown to both rats. But if Oxnard has only been there once or twice or hasn't for a long time it should be fine.

Ignoring is good, first of all. You might have a few introductions in the beginning where they just ignore each other the whole time. That's good and fine. It's not that Oxnard doesn't understand, it's just plain ignoring / not caring.

Usually, when a rat wags his tail, it means he isn't happy. So you might want to keep an eye on that. Intros are stressful though so I wouldn't find it unusual, just keep an extra eye on him to make sure he doesn't get too grumpy.

The bit about the nose, not sure on that one. I would be uncomfortable with any biting, especially by the face, but I'm not so sure he was biting? Was he showing his teeth, like growling? They will sometimes bare their teeth during intros, as intimidation.

Overall it sounds like it went well though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Technically, for the first few meetings, they should be in a place that is 100% neutral and unknown to both rats. But if Oxnard has only been there once or twice or hasn't for a long time it should be fine.

Ignoring is good, first of all. You might have a few introductions in the beginning where they just ignore each other the whole time. That's good and fine. It's not that Oxnard doesn't understand, it's just plain ignoring / not caring.

Usually, when a rat wags his tail, it means he isn't happy. So you might want to keep an eye on that. Intros are stressful though so I wouldn't find it unusual, just keep an extra eye on him to make sure he doesn't get too grumpy.

The bit about the nose, not sure on that one. I would be uncomfortable with any biting, especially by the face, but I'm not so sure he was biting? Was he showing his teeth, like growling? They will sometimes bare their teeth during intros, as intimidation.

Overall it sounds like it went well though!
Thanks much for the reply!

No, he wasn't just showing teeth. It looked almost like he was trying to grab his face like a piece of food... or like he wanted to bite, but was unsure about it. He looked mostly defensive to me, like he was ready for Oxnard to attack him. In general Gilley is quite an insecure rat, he is the last one to start trusting me. I let it happen because he never really bit him and he just seemed quite uneasy.

I planned on the next intro being all 3 of the new boys and Oxnard in the bath tub and using the carrier method. One of the new 3 is very dominant, so I'm going to add Oxnard first, then the most passive, the boy in question here, then the most dominant, until all 4 are in the tub, then add the carrier... does that sound right? What do you think?
 

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As long as your vigilant and watching to make sure Gilley isn't biting Oxnard's face it should be fine then. To me, that seems aggressive, not defensive. But if it doesn't escalate then there isn't an reason to worry.

All 3 of the new boys... So Gilley and his 2 current cagemates, I take it?

That sounds like a fine way to put them in the tub. It gives the more passive rats a bit of an upperhand if they are slightly more familiar with the tub before the tough guy comes in.
You shouldn't put the carrier in the tub though. You do not want a territory/cage in the beginning of intros. That's just something to fight over.

The carrier method is when you put all of the rats in the carrier and bring them somewhere scary (a car ride for instance). I personally don't much like the method, but I know some people have success with it. I would try the traditional method of introductions first though (the tub).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
As long as your vigilant and watching to make sure Gilley isn't biting Oxnard's face it should be fine then. To me, that seems aggressive, not defensive. But if it doesn't escalate then there isn't an reason to worry.

All 3 of the new boys... So Gilley and his 2 current cagemates, I take it?

That sounds like a fine way to put them in the tub. It gives the more passive rats a bit of an upperhand if they are slightly more familiar with the tub before the tough guy comes in.
You shouldn't put the carrier in the tub though. You do not want a territory/cage in the beginning of intros. That's just something to fight over.

The carrier method is when you put all of the rats in the carrier and bring them somewhere scary (a car ride for instance). I personally don't much like the method, but I know some people have success with it. I would try the traditional method of introductions first though (the tub).
Okay... but in the sticky it said to add the carrier to the tub... and I thought they meant to do that in the first introduction they ever have, and let them stay in there for a couple of hours in the carrier in the tub... that was my plan after reading it. Maybe I misinterpreted. I guess I'll stick to letting them meet for little bits at a time in the tub for a while until they seem more calm and use that as a backup method... I just read that in the long-term it's actually easier for the rats. Less time being stressed for them since it'd be happening all at once.
 

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Hm, wasn't aware there was a sticky about this method. I have never heard of a method that puts a small cage in a neutral zone during first meetings before. I will have to look into that.
If you are comfortable trying it, then by all means.

I don't see how it would be less stress really. It's less stress for a rat to not have territory to try to claim and defend in my mind.
The "standard" method of introductions has face to face meetings start in a neutral "scary" place (tubs are scary to most rats, as are tall tables, etc) for at least 20 minutes but as long as possible without any issues. After you have no issues for a few meetings, you can move onto something less scary or even a familiar ground, such as the free ranging area. After that you scrub that cage, move them in and monitor for 24 hours. I'm a big believer in taking things slow and being cautious though.

The carrier method that I mentioned and this method are the only successful ones that I am currently aware of. So I will go read into this carrier/tub method.
It's really up to you of course. Your mood will affect theirs. ;)


Edit, hm I just scanned through the basics of that intro method. I wouldn't want to try that out if I had a potentially aggressive rat. Anyway, I have never done that method and can't help if you are trying that way (as I have no knowledge of it!) Best of luck, let me know how it goes!
 
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