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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got a couple of baby rats a while ago and I've just started to do intros these past couple of days and I'm worried I rushed it because I've never had a problem with any intros in the past with these methods.

I intro'd initially in the bath and there was minimal violence, but a fair bit of chasing. Then I moved to the cat carrier where I locked them all in (4 boys) for a couple of hours. They ignored one another entirely. The baby rats were cuddled at one side of the carrier, and the adult rats were at the other. Both groups were eating, sleeping and grooming as though the other group weren't even there. So I moved them into the (thoroughly cleaned and reorganised) main cage, where they were all happily exploring their new environment for about 20 minutes. But then the chasing started. And I left them to it because no blood, no foul. But it got very relentless. I have one neutered and one in tact boy, and the in tact boy was being the problem. The neutered boy kinda just kept ignoring them. This surprised me because the in tact boy has always been so calm and laid back, I've never seen him get like this before. He was hissing at the babies and possibly puffing up (he's rex, so it's hard to tell) and sidling up to them. But the babies were VERY submissive, spending copious amounts of time on their backs.

I decided to put the boys back in separate cages to reduce stress on the babies because the chasing just wouldn't stop.

Today I tried the carrier method for much longer in hopes that they'd eventually interact with one another. I scatter fed and supplied two water bottles and left them there for the whole day while I was at work (boyfriend was off, so he kept an eye on them). Again, they ignored one another all day. On my break, I transferred them into the smaller pet carrier (which isn't suitable for long periods of time) and tried to force them to cuddle on one another, and they did all fall asleep sort of touching one another. After an hour in that, they moved back to the cat carrier which I placed inside the main cage, as I thought they'd benefit from being surrounded by the scent of their new home. Again, they ignored one another for another few hours.

After about 4 or 5 hours, it got ugly. I wasn't around, but my boyfriend said they had a really bad scuffle, and one of the baby's claws has been pulled off. Apparently it bled for ages (it's stopped now) and he's in a bit of pain from it.

I've separated them for the time being in cages next to one another. My plan is to try again next Thursday when I have a day off, and in home meantime, intro in the bath and swap cages for the night every single day.
Do you guys think this is taking it slow enough whilst allowing for time for lots of meetings? Is my in tact boy going to associate these boys with bad things now and not ever accept them? Like I said, he's always been so laid back so I'm confused. And the babies don't even try to challenge him so I don't know what his problem is
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Oh, I should add that I also tried covering them in yogurt in hopes that they'd interact with one another and groom it off but it didn't work. And now my rex boys really need a bath.
 

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I think you should go into the bath tub again. And maybe you should be in it as we'll so that the rats can have a "home base". I would also have a towel on hand. I hope the baby is ok.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good idea. Ive never thought of getting in the bath with them. Need to prepare myself for being covered in a LOT of poop.

Which reminds me, my in tact boy was the first to fear poop when they met in the bath the other day. Is it possible he's scared and acting out of fear rather than dominance?
 

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For the intact boy being fearful it's definitely a possibility. My dog is a shelter dog and she is sometimes scared of other dogs. So she gets aggressive and dominant. Maybe you want to cuddle him in the bathtub while the other rats are working things out. Also rats can sense fear from you. And if they sense it they will be scared to. Good luck.
 

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I agree about being in with them. It will basically make you the "safe spot" and if anyone seems to start getting aggressive/ dominant you can try to distract them. Worked with all my girls. I've only had two boys but had no problems with them
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Had everyone in the bath with me tonight for just under 2 hours. Wasn't planning on being that long, but it was going well. No great interaction, but a few scuffles and sniffs at one another. I didn't force anything. One of the babies spent a lot of time on my shoulder and no one really bothered him there, but that was fine. Think my in tact boy is definitely scared as opposed to aggressive, but don't know what to do about that as the babies aren't actually trying to fight back. They roll over almost instantly. Hoping a few more of these bath time sessions will ease him up
 

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I would just reassure the intact boy. Some pets and scratches.
 

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I skimmed through and it looks like your intro's are starting to get on track, which is nice... but for the most part you really can't screw up intros... each one is different and the best you can do is try and manage them and keep everyone safe.

We adopted 4 week old Misty about 3 weeks ago, I was planning to do intros in three weeks when she was 10 weeks old, but the other day I got hung up on a phone call and Misty fell off my desk and wandered off... After the call I went looking for her and found her in the other room hanging out with our big old girl Cloud in Cloud's secret nest in the metal cabinet... Intros are over and I missed them. Oops.

I've had nightmares introducing rats, especially younger pups to older girls. And I've had a couple like this now... Just when you think you are an expert and you have a foolproof method, your rats go and screw everything up.

So just be patient, and try to have some fun, good intros or bad they tend to work out in the end. Apparently they can even happen when you aren't looking.... And to be honest... I'm not complaining, Misty is out of my bed and I can sleep without being rat attacked under the sheets. Cloud on the other hand looks very much like she needs a nap. Poor old girl.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ah but I enjoyed my easy intros! I feel like I could handle an aggressive intro more easily than this 550g rat being scared of a baby a third his size!

Tonight's bath play went a little better...a couple of squeaks but no fighting as such. I think the big boys even fell asleep on me at one point, which I would take as a good sign but when I left them all together in the cat carrier, they all fell asleep at opposite ends of it so it's not like they can't relax around one another - they just don't like to be near each other :/

I did try randomly grabbing everyone in a big squishy rat hug, but the big boys just squeaked and wriggled free. I'm hoping the continuous cage swaps that I'm doing every night will mean they all end up smelling the same anyway at some point and things will just fall into place
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, tonight my in tact boy, Lestrade, took a chunk out of both the babies during separate one on one intros. I don't understand how they're still so anxious of one another. They've lived next to each other for over a week now, they've been swapping cages every night for the last few nights, their scent SHOULD be familiar and non-threatening by now.

The immediate plan is to let the babies recover for it, and then try one on one intros with my neutered boy to see if that's any different. If it is, I guess we neuter Lestrade. If it's no different, then I guess I've got two rat packs that just won't ever be friends
 

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Oddly, and this is just my personal experience... swapping cages and putting rats near each other usually drives my rats more insane... It's like they are being invaded by an enemy they can't defend themselves from. Familiarity breeds contempt. My best intros have always been pretty much cold intros... Meet your new friend, fight it out and it's over.

We kept Max and Cloud near by apart, because Cloud was too small for a few weeks, and by the time I started intros, Max was already clinging to the outside of the cage drooling and snapping at Cloud through the bars. They fought for three weeks... I kept Misty downstairs and when she got away while I was on the phone... the two rats met pretty much for the first time under the cabinet and by the time I got there they were already friends.

As all of our intros have taken their own path and gone differently, I don't like to give advise on intros, but some of the older techniques have definitely worked against progress... I watched Max go from a big squishy hermit to a raging maniac in just a few weeks... Every day she could see and smell Cloud but not touch her she got more vicious looking... And that's not the first time I've seen it.

I suspect that some of the older techniques are designed to make the rat owner more comfortable, kind of a voodoo ceremony or rain dance to calm your nerves and give you something to do to build your own courage... Most do little harm if no good, but I feel that intros are best done without getting your rats all wound up before hand. I mean in nature, if one group of rats is circling another group for a long time and they don't meet and bond, I'm thinking both sides will start preparing for a fight. But that's my own take on it and I've never found an exact cook book recipe that always works. Max was big old and fat, but she drove herself to exhaustion for three weeks chasing Cloud around the house... Cloud was young and fast and could escape Max... together they knocked over just about everything fragile or near an edge, but eventually Max gave up territory and accepted Cloud. It was actually kind of funny... it was like watching Wily Coyote chasing Road Runner or Elmer Fudd chasing Buggs Bunny. First Cloud would come to me for security and then Max would come to me for help finding Cloud... "Which way did she go? Which way did she go?

I know letting two rats tear up my house was unorthodox, but Cloud bit me when I was trying to protect her, so I just stepped back and told her she was on her own... As soon as I realized she could outrun Max and escape getting killed... the rest was more amusing than unnerving.

I know it's taking a lot longer than you expected, but some intros take longer than others... Another week of intros between Max and Cloud, and I'm pretty sure I would have been out of breakable objects, but everything worked out in the end.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
While I appreciate that being separate but being able to smell one another may be driving them crazy, the babies still pose no threat whatsoever to the older boys physically - they're much smaller and never fight back. One of the babies actually nipped me instead of Lestrade when I was holding them, and I'm sure it was a bite meant for him, but it didn't draw blood, so they're not even trying to hurt the older boys - just a little "you're getting too close" warning nip.

Anyway, the bit I find really strange is that Lestrade doesn't even try to power groom them or anything that I've seen in my intros before. He just sidles up to them and huffs at them, and they usually respond by freezing or falling over playing dead. It's like he doesn't want to try and ingratiate them. Any physical contact he's had with them has usually ended in blood
 
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