I have a male rat right now that I have had for about 2 months. He was a baby when I got him so I am not possitive how old he is. Well, i want to get him another 1 or 2 companion rats. how would I go about introducing them safely?
You will want to keep the new rat in a separate cage; close enough to the others cage so that they know each other is there. When its play time take them into the bathroom or a separate room so that they are away from anything that could be territorial. Lets them get to know each other slowley that way...After they get comfortable that way, you can start to let them into each others cages (with supervision). It will take time, but they will learn to become friends.
I would seperate them completely for about two weeks so as to be sure there is no virus or mites I follow that rule everytime i get a new rat i keep the new one in his cage in a seperate room usually my kids bathroom or their bedroom that way i know the new boy is healthy
The new rats should be as far away as possible from your current rats, for at least 2 weeks (to avoid airborne illnesses transmitting to your current rats). Once you are sure that they have no illnesses, you can put them in cage next to your current rats, to enable them to get used to each others scents. Take care not to put them close enough that they can reach each others tails.
Once they seem to have settled down and going about their business in side by side cages, you can start introducing them for playtimes. Choose somewhere neutral, well away from the cages - like a bath tub or a bed.
They will need to establish dominance. There will be some squabbling, squeaking, wrestling, sniffing and chasing... all of this is normal. If the fights get too bad, you can use a water spray to separate them (be careful not to get water in their faces or ears). The water spray works because they have to stop to clean themselves. But, unless it gets nasty, you should try to let them resolve it themselves. The basic rule is, "no blood, no foul".
Once you have them playing happily in a neutral territory (this could be days or a couple of weeks or more, it varies per rat), you can consider putting them in a cage together.
You have some work to do when preparing the cage, too. You need to make sure that you thoroughly scrub it so there are no traces of any rats, and rearrange the furnishings so that none of the rats feel like it is their home - it has to feel like a new environment to all of the rats, to avoid nasty territorial issues. When we put ours together, we also moved the cage to a different place in the room, too.
And that's it, really. For the first few days there will be a few squeaks as they get settled in and work out who's boss. There may be some hogging of the food/water, too, until they realize there is enough for everybody, so make sure that neither food nor water can be blocked from any of them (I put an extra water bottle at the other side of the cage so they could at least get to their water at all times).
Good luck with it! Let us know how you get on and if you have any more questions.
True quarantine means a completely different air space. Meaning, a different apartment or house. If you keep the new rat(s) in your house, even if you take all precautions possible, SDA and Sendai can still easily be transmitted to your rats.
For males, if you're able to, I'd suggest neutering them all. It makes introductions a lot easier, and the rats fight MUCH less or even stop completely.
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