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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I'm talking to a friend-ish guy a few weeks back and I mention how my ratties are doing and he sorta lights up. "Oh you have rats! Do you want some more?" Red flags are going off in my head. I know I don't need more. I work nearly full time and I already have 4 rats, 2 dogs, 4 parakeets, fish, a Senegal parrot, and an iguana. I'm in the process of making a tiny house (a fancier type mobile house on an 8 by 28 foot trailer frame). This is probably the worst time for me to be get pets and I promised myself I'd wait until I'm settled in my new home for a few weeks before even considering getting another pet.

But there's one thing I can't say no to and its, i need help, please take my pets...especially when you add a or I'm going to turn them loose since its summer on the end of it.

Oh no! I'll take them! How many do you have? Four...he had four. Two boys, two girls in two 10 gallon fish tanks, being fed nothing but the kind of bird seed you get at Walmart for cockatiels. At least he kept them separated! None of them had been handled hardly at all. They don't bite, but the girls practically hyperventilate if I touch them. They stunk so bad that I decided to bathe them after they settled in and they screamed for hours afterwards if I so much as brushed them with my fingers and no amounts of treats would do anything to fix it. It breaks my heart just thinking about it. For the first few days I was proud to have rescued them. Then I started introductions with my existing girls and all heck broke loose.

They hate each other. I've tried everything I can think of: neutral ground, scent swapping, putting their cages near each other, combined play time with lots of distracting toys and boxes around....nothing seems to work. My existing rats always seem to go after them, even if it's just one on one. A couple of them are fine and a third is fine if it's one on one, but Myrtle is just being such a sour puss! On more than one occaision they've fought so hard they've drawn blood. I even took a page from my mother's sugar glider introduction days and left Myrtle alone in a cage for a couple nights while everyone else chilled just fine. She went back in two days later in the afternoon when ratties are supposed to be sleeping and and ripped right into one of the other two. I was even proud of how well I'd cleaned the cage beforehand so none of her scent was left to claim it, too...

Now I can handle breaking my preference of having only one rat cage, but all I have for these two at the moment is my travel/hospital cage and that's barely big enough for one rat, let alone two. They're not very big and they don't seem extroidinarily unhappy, but I'm feeling like I'm failing them keeping them in such a small space. At least the boys I've managed to squeeze into the bottom half of my parakeet cage (with a divider...and even then it makes me nervous). It's a bit cramped for two big males and hard to clean, but it's still more appropriately sized for ratties. I can't afford another cage. I just got done paying for surgery for one of my dogs to have a cyst removed after a cat scratched her (her fault, not the cat's) and my iguana, who is yet another, I can't care for this animal, please take it, is in and out of the vet constantly for a calcium deficiency and an ongoing parasite problem.

It's going to take me months to save up for a proper sized cage. Even Craigslist is a bust. Nothing under $100 within two hours of me that isn't completely broken or too small or wire spacing too big that would require buying more wire just to fix it. I'd try moving the boys in with my four girls, but every vet Ive called so far wants $150 or more a piece to neuter them and there's no guarantee the others would even accept them. So now I'm cleaning three rat cages every two or three days and it still stinks because the boys keep peeing on everything (including each other) no matter if I change out their stuff in stages or all at once.

It's been nearly a month and I'm stressed to the max about these animals. I feel like I'm failing them. I'm supposed to be better than how they were before and logically I know I am, but they're still stuck in tiny cages with less interaction than they should get and little hope of that changing any time soon and I feel awful. I'm supposed to be starting college back up in the fall. What am I going to do with them then? I feel like giving up and re homing them, but that just makes me feel worse. I made the commitment. I'm not supposed to just abandon them, but I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall trying to shove these four into my life when I'm not ready for them.

Anybody else going through the throws of being the local bleeding heart.
 

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Is there a local rescue near you? Being there, they can get the care they need and the rescue will find them a forever home. It's unfair for you to have to take care of someone else's pets because they guilt-tripped you. You have your pets and you told yourself you were at your limit before. I admire your strength in taking in these four little ones, but the right thing would probably be to relinquish them to a rescue or shelter. They would be given the proper amount of space and they could be adopted in their original pairs. You've done an exceptional job taking care of these little ones and you've given it your all.

Stressing yourself out is not beneficial to your animals and the stress is eventually going to eat away at you until you can no longer care for your original pets. It's unfair to them and frankly, it's unfair to you. You've done a wonderful job and I'm sure those sweet little ratties appreciate you more than you could know. I'm not entirely sure where you're located, but your spiny mice topics all seemed centered in New Hampshire/Maine, so I looked for rescues in those areas:
http://mainelyratrescue.org/rattieblog2/?page_id=54
This seemed to be a nice one that was fairly well spread-out. :3
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I'm on the Maine/New Hampshire border between Milton and Acton. I have actually downloaded their surrender form, but every time I try to fill it out I just sort of go blank and I feel really stupid saying that *headesk*

Thank you for your support. I'm trying to work up the courage to do this. I've never had to do this before and a big part of me doesn't want to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
On a suggestion I found a way to separate my girls' cage using two layers of hardware cloth so Myrtle can't reach through and grab or bite anybody's toes. The other five are now above her busily grooming and and sniffing. I even got a kiss from the bolder of the two new girls tonight when I fed everyone! If nothing else, this gets the two girls out of the travel cage even if it's definitely not the prettiest and hopefully it will give Myrtle some time to think about herself.
 

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That always happens to me. I recently found someone that rescues rats from a lab and I asked her for one baby. She said she only gave pairs so the ratties weren't left alone and I thought "well, if in my cage I can fit 2 rats, 3 will do fine with a little more time outside the cage". And now she is trying me to pick up 3 or the third will get killed. I can't say no to that I guess, but my cage is not enough for 4 adult rats and I don't have any money to buy another cage, I just bought this one by selling things I didn't want to sell actually. And I bought it because I was given a rat that I really didn't plan on having now.

This is how I ended up with 5 cats,2 dogs, a parrot, a pigeon, a rat for whom I was going to get a friend but that friend now became 3 friends ???

I know that you will make the right decision for those ratties. Wheter you keep them or not, I know that there welfare is your priority. Keep up the good work and I hope you can work things out. Maybe you can keep 2 and adopt out 2. I myself hate adopting out animals I take in, but sometimes it's the only way to make sure they are ok. Or maybe you can find the solution to keep everyone happy with you.

I hope your Myrtle starts making things easier for you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I can't say much because I'd probably take the three of them too (entire thread as proof), but you might want to tell her that you really can't take on all three, maybe two, but you really only can care properly for one and you have a friend already for them.

As far as Miss Myrtle goes. I haven't seen her grab for the others all day. She's even sniffed noses, so to speak, with the other two. Mostly she's been ignoring them. I think either tomorrow or Friday, I'm going to try a neutral ground playtime. Fingers crossed! Now that they're in with the others, they're much more confident, taking treats from my hand. I can't believe how cute they are now that I can touch them and scratch the,pm right beside the others. As long as Myrtle can pull herself together, they will definitely be staying. If anybody has any more advice on this, I'd be happy to hear it. The advice I've gotten so far has been super helpful.

Still searching for a vet to neuter the boys though. I have a few more vets within a couple hours to call for pricing.
 

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It seems that things are improving! I am pretty sure that you are going to be successful. I've read around the forum that if you bathe the rats together (you might need someone to help you) they won't be aggressive towards each other, though it might be a bit stressful (I take it they are already stressed by the introduction itself anyway).

From the Sticky on introductions:

A great neutral territory is the bathtub. I've heard of other people & personally had great success doing neutral territory introductions in the bathtub. None of my rats are particularly fond of water, and placing them all in the tub with the new rattie in a small amount of water seems to make them all forget about their aggression and dominance issues and focus on trying to get out of the horrible, horrible water. Be prepared to fight off any soggy rats clinging to you to escape. Other flat, unobstructed areas such as tables and beds can work, but be very careful that one nervous rattie doesn't take a flying leap off the edge. Do this as often as possible, and return the new rattie's cage to beside the existing one in between.
I'm picking up the girls tomorrow, their euthanasia is due this Friday. I've been thinking about this a lot and I don't have the heart to let the babies put to sleep. I might have a hard time later but I'll definitely take them in now and see how it goes. I've been making some sketches for reference on how I'm going to customize my present cage to make it bigger and more comfortable. The rat I have right now doesn't really like the space because she's not used to it (she lived in a glass tank until I adopted her) and only plays outside the cage. I know that she might change her behaviour as soon as the babies get here, but for now I think it'll do. In the event things don't really work out I can have them until I can find homes for one or two, but I doubt it's going to be much trouble keeping them. I'll make my best effort.

Best of lucks to you and your ratties!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I could use my tub for bathing them all at once. The two new girls get veeeeery stressed out bathing though. I know some people introduce sugar gliders who are being difficult by putting a drop of vanilla on each of their shoulders. The idea is for them all to smell the same (since you don't bathe suggies unless the occaision is dire) and to have the aggressors distracted by the smell. I'm not sure if it would work with rats or if it's even be a good idea with rats. Any thoughts guys?

And good luck with your new girls. I hope you plan on posting pictures!
 

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I think it's just more a feet soaking thing rather than an actual bath. It seems that people has some benefit with vanilla extract on rats rails and backs but some others say that is not actually effective, so I guess you don't lose anything more than a few drops of vanilla extract by trying. If you're not trying to bake a cake you'll be fine :p
The essential points as far as I've researched would be:

  • Introduce them in a neutral place
  • Keep the introductions short but very regular
  • Be cautious to break any fights (might wanna wear gloves)
  • As long as they don't draw blood, it's not all that necessary to separate the rats (this sounds pretty scary mostly because your rats have been drawing blood, so it could easily happen again)
  • If the one being aggressive is your resident rat, you can try putting him/her away for a certain period of time (usually a day but I've read people doing this for longer, as in a week) while the newcomers are in the main cage.
  • Sometimes it can be easier to introduce the newcomer/s to the dominant rat first and alone. The theory says that if the dominant came to accept the newcomers, the rest of the colony won't be really aggressive afterwards.
  • There's the carrier method, but I doubt you wanna try this since it involves putting the rats in a rather confined area. Might work but it's also very scary.
It seems that you've already tried some of these things, but I guess your only option is to keep trying. I really wish that you could sort this out soon!

I also read somewhere that someone smeared all their rats with pudding and this caused everyone to lick each other until they got along. This is hilarious and seems to work like the vanilla method but combined with a tasty treat. I hope this doesn't cause them to chase and chew one another though :)

I'm only repeating the things I've read here or around, so maybe some ratty expert will be waaay more helpful but as I'm right now investigating all this for when I have to introduce my own rats, I thought I might as well write it down.



I will be posting pictures of the lab rescues as soon as I can, maybe a few tomorrow if my significant other has his camera with him!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Well, I put a little water in the tub and set the other girls and the three of my originals they've been living with in first with a bunch of floaty toys. The little girls were veeeery tense at first, but after about ten minutes and a handful of chopped broccoli they finally settled down. I gave them a few more minutes to enjoy themselves and put Myrtle in. She immediately ran for one of the new girls, stole her broccoli, and ran off with it. things seemed really good and she even sniffed one of the new girls (the bolder one), and held her down for a very forceful grooming.

But when she saw the more timid one, she dove for her. I'm throwing on gloves, rats are screaming, I pushed Myrtle down gently like what we do for biting us and gave her a firm no. A couple seconds on her back and I let her up. In under a minute, she was back at that same girl. I held her on her back, said another no, and put her back in her section of the cage for a ten minute time out out.

She went back three times, but seemed to get the message after that. I'm sure it helped that I threw more broccoli in. At least there was no blood last night, so there's an improvement I guess.

Tonight's another night... How are your new babies doing?
 

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It does sound much more better than the previous attempts of introductions! I guess with a little more time you are going to have more improvement! It sure is a relief. I hope everything goes smoothly the next time. Maybe when Myrtle realises that the girls are not threat to her and that she'll have enough treats even with them around, she'll take everything easier. I am glad that she has such a patient human momma!

My ratties are great! They are a bit bigger than expected and were a little too scared when they got here but now they come to the door of the cage when I talk to them and really seem to enjoy when I hold them and pet them. Inside the cage, they look perfectly happy! The day I picked them up I came to know that they lived in metal crates the size of shoe boxes so having that in mind, the cage where they live now seems huge to them. They eat a lot, sleep a lot, play a lot, destroy all of their toys and start all over again. They are so vivid that I'm glad I picked them all up. The thought that they would be dead by now truly terrifies me. These girls deserve to live as much as I do and enjoy it a whole lot more. I will never regret taking them in, and I am pretty sure that I'm going to keep them all. They are not so much trouble after all. I think I was just scared because I am new to caring for rats. I am so glad now.

I hope that Myrtle comes to accept the new girls soon. You really deserve to stop worrying about them a bit after all your efforts to introduce them!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Eeeeeeeh!



From left to right: Rue (the shy one grooming herself, the less adventurous of my two new ones), Parker (Hairless), Katniss (my other new one and, as you can see, very into popcorn), Lumen (the himilayan who was trying to jump on my shoulder), Sophie (black rex), and....drumroll please...Miss Myrtle poking her dumbo headed self up in the back. The trick was broccoli, lots and lots of broccoli...and popcorn. Myrtle goes crazy for popcorn. I'm so, so happy. I feel like I shouldn't breathe too hard xD

Oh, and don't mind the lack of hammocks and fleece covers for shelves and such. I only have two sets and the boys are using the other one (or should I say destroying...). Today is washing day, so they have more boxes and fewer cubes to snuggle in. Six spots for them to sleep in though, so everyone has a place to park their rattie behinds. Hopefully they keep the peace all night. I might not sleep xD
 

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Yay! :D

I'm so happy! I was sure you were going to make it happen! You have to throw a party now I guess. It's such a relief to see that even after so many troubles the rats are starting to get along!

Phewww this is such good news! Congratulations and thank you for being so patient with your girls <3
 

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Rehoming them or taking them to a shelter is certainly not abandoning them! You rescued them from a negligent and uneducated owner, and that is a wonderful feat. It's clear that you lack the circumstances to care for them right now, and let's be honest, even though you've definitely improved their situation, it still isn't fair to them, or your current pets, to try and keep them right now. There's no shame in admitting you are simply unable to be their sole champion, and there's nothing better you could possibly do for them than to find a place where they can get the best care possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If anyone's interested in an update, all the ratties are doing fine. My financial situation definitely improved..a lot, and I was able to get the boys neutered. They, of course, were accepted into the group without a hitch. Grrr, Myrtle. You're so frustrating! Thanks to everyone who made suggestions. :)
 
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