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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone! I've become a little discouraged by the introduction process because my Phoebe is the only one out of my 3 rats that is giving me any problems with introducing my new baby. I admit I am trying to go a little fast through the introduction process, and I feel as though once I have time to spend a day on a carrier introduction, it will go better. But, I was hoping you guys could share some stories about introductions you've done with your rats that ended up okay!
 

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I actually just did my first introduction in neutral territory today with my two female rats and my newest addition, a neutered male. I kept a spray bottle out just in case things got too crazy. I set up a space on my bed which none of the rats have gone on (they usually play in the bathroom) and it went pretty well! Dibs, my male rat, did some dominance humping, but for the most part it was fine. I've had them in separate sides of my cage for a while so they can sniff each other and I was worried about Vanilla Bean being mean but she was relatively well behaved. I used the squirt bottle just once because the tussle was getting a little noisy with Bean and Dibs but after that they were fine. Some intros can take super long, you just have to keep at it and try again every day. Cage swapping beforehand will usually help in my experience. Patience is key and sometimes it can take weeks or months for successful intros.

Have you tried dabbing some vanilla extract on every rat so they won't have their specific scents?

Anyway, to a story that has a conclusion, I had a rat named Millie who would zone in on my new baby rat Polaris when I got her and it was so bad. She would scare Polaris the whole time during the neutral area introduction times. I was persistent and it did end up taking a few weeks to finally get Millie to accept Po, but it ended up working out. Polaris took some getting used to Millie and eventually they became good friends. It just took a while of playing on the bed and I made sure Millie wasn't too rough with her and diverted her attention when she would get too rambunctious.

Keep up the intros and good luck!
 

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I’ve got to say I’ve never had an introduction that’s not worked out in the end, though I’ve had one or two patches where the rats have had difficulties. Here’s a few ranging from very simple to more challenging, finishing with a friends introduction story to show how even the most challenging intro can work out in the end. Interstingly the first 3 are actually all one after the other, but the run shows a good amount of varying difficulty.

Wisp and Cirrus to Loki and Odin, then 2 weeks later to Isamu and Yoshi
Wisp and Cirrus were 2 brothers around 25 months old, they were both showing that age a little with obvious HLD and generally very calm lads. Wisp was currently the alpha but neither were dominant rats having lost their two dominant brothers earlier that year. The other 4 were 2 pairs of baby bucks, they were introduced at 6 and 7 weeks old respectively, all were breeder lads and all 3 pairs were unrealted. First stage – W&C to L&O, I got home with the babies in their carrier and put them on the sofa with the old men, the old men sniffed interestedly but that was about it, the babies were pingy and happy and the old men just couldn’t keep up. It went so well that I just put them straight in the big cage together. There was no problem here either and they quickly settled. 2 weeks later I took L&O with me in a carrier to pick up the next pair of babies. I just put the new babies in with the slightly older ones and they immediately started playing together. On getting home I again tried them on the sofa together. To be frank the old men didn’t seem to notice that the number of babies had doubled and just accepted them. Within the week the babies had established a rota so neither old man slept on his own and spent lots of time grooming there old companions.

Loki Odin, Isamu and Yoshi to Luke and Limi
The babies had grown up and despite Loki being alpha for a while when Mu caught up in development (Loki was a quick grower, Mu less so) he took over as alpha, both rats were good alphas, Yoshi was a happy go lucky beta and Odin was bottom ranking and actually perfectly happy with that, all in all a good strong group, all aged roughly 12 months. Luke and Limi were 2 unrelated breeder lads aged 8 weeks old. I introduced them in a neutral place, first adding Mu, he was very interested in the babies and whilst he did sniff them forecefully they are pretty ok with that. I added the others one at a time, next Yoshi, then Odin and finally Loki who is was mildly more concerned about. All went well though Yoshi was a bit too insistant at times and absolutely fascinated by the babies. I then moved them into the carrier. At this point the babies got a bit scared by the attention and after being mauled ended up both huddling in a corner in a defensive posture. The adults kept going up to them and they’d squeal and push them away, Loki in particular was insisting they submit but they were just to scared to. This is where my Alpha Mu chose to step in, sensing that the babies were just too upset he stepped inbetween them and the others and with his back to the babies lay down and settled. He turned the others away and they soon all settled down for a sleep, the babies slowly relaxed and then began to sleep with the big lads. Later that day I moved them into a small part of there cage. This went fairly well though I had to remove the wheel that I’d left in (it was a pig to remove) as the babies were hiding in there. Agin there was some squeaks and upset at first but as the cage was empty they soon settled down. Within a couple of weeks the boys were great friends. Amusingly Yoshi became a virtual mother to the babies and would follow them around to wash them and makes sure they were ok, much to the babies annoyance when they were heading into the teenage phase.

Luke and Limi to Thom and Astreaus
Luke and Limi were now 14 months old, Luke had had to be neutered at 9 months old after he became a real pest to the old men Yoshi and Odin and generally showed that whilst he had the interest in being alpha he just wasn’t a stable enough personality. His neuter helped a lot and he settled well into the group, Limi went on to make a lovely stable alpha. The babies Thom and Strea were related to Yoshi and Mu but not to the current boys, they were 7 weeks old for the introduction. I started out on the sofa (my standard neutralish space) first adding limi who was very matter of fact and settled and the babies didn’t mind his fussing much at all. Then added Luke who was a bit rough and insistant but not too bad. I then moved them to the carrier, Luke promptly turned into a Russian blue coloured pomp om, a few taps on the carrier later and he settled a bit but was a bit grumpy and the babies were a bit scared. I took them outside with me to try and change the dynamics. This worked and after an hour or so they were better. Moving them back into the house I gave them another couple of hours then put them in my second small cage. Luke turned into a pomp om again and started stomping round after the babies winding Limi up too. Tapping etc didn’t help, so I put them back in the carrier. Poor little Thom was quite upset by this and ended up in the defensive stance in the corner, which he maintained for about 4 hours shrieking whenever anyone came near, meanwhile Strea had given up and curled up with the big boys. In an effort to shake the tension I put Thom and Limi (who was most insistant that Thom submits as per his alpha status) in the smallest carrier I had (rather than my useual cat carrier). This forced them into contact and within a hour they were much more relaxed. I put them back in the cat carrier and it was better. They spent overnight in there and most of the next day (I wasn’t rushing ahead again) then this time when I moved them into the hamster sized cage I emptied the substrate from the carrier in with them. This seemed to help and there was minimum fluffing from Luke. After another day in the small cage they moved into half my big cage for a week, slowly adding furniture. Then up into the full cage after they proved to be working well together.

Most of my intros have been similar, well since I’ve been using the carrier method, I could tell some amusing stories prior to that such as the rat that got stuck up the chimney lol. To be fair these intros are fairly standard straight forward intros, the next one was not.

Tony – Tony was a very damaged rescue rat with a back story of being separated from his cagemates through no fault of his own then handed from owner to owner, before being neutered and then taken on by my friend. He had the additional complication of one defective and probably blind eye. Since first living with a small group of does then seperated he became very aggressive to other rats and over the various changes of owners he became human aggressive too. He was generally a very miserable unhappy boy when we picked him up. Knowing this and clearly seeing how cage territorial he was we both agreed the carrier method wasn’t suitable at this time and so my friend began very slow neutral space intros at his pace, typically he would flip and go for the rats he was introduced to unless there were very few and they left him alone. She chose a group of friendly affable breeder girls as his first potential friends figuring them both relaxed enough to deal with him and solid enough to withstand it if he flipped, these proved a bit boisterous for him and she began to rethink who would be best for company. Unfortunately at this point something went badly wrong and the girls staged a break out of there cage, opening there cage door, they got on top of Tony’s cage (thankfully not inside) and it was carnage. He bit them so badly it was a miracle they all survived, there were several tail amputations needed and one rat took weeks to be able to walk properly again. At this point I think its fair to say many rat owners would have given up (not least from the massive vet bills) but my friend stuck with it, instead going for a couple of very placid older ladies with really steady temperaments (and a decent amount of mass). It took her weeks of very gradual introductions and the girls calmly ignoring him until she got them in the same cage. Several weeks later tony was a different rat. Instead of sitting hunched in the corner visibly flinching whenever someone came close he was relaxed sleeping with other rats and just looking content with life. He still had his issues, when one of his girlfriends had a lumpectomy he went for her a few days after when she was put back in the cage, this seemed to be related to her bald patch post surgery. After a bit of healing time and another gradual introduction though they lived happily together again. Over time Tony did accept other cage mates and became easier to introduce to them and less unpredictable though he was always a challenge.

I’m not sure they last one is that reassuring lol, but its worth saying that during the controlled meetings Tony never did more than lightly scratch the other rats, it was the uncontrolled meeting through the bars where the damage was done. That’s not to say bad injuries cant happen, but as long as you read signals well and don’t eb afraid of going back a step these are very unlikely. The worst I’ve personally had is a sctrach or removed tuft of fur. Some of my friends have had worse but the worst I can think of was clearly an accident and happened overnight when the rats had been moved a bit early into a large cage. The young buck in question got a slash to his stomach and it did end up with a put to sleep ( I wont go into details). It wasn’t an aggressive type situation though and the bucks went on to be introduced successfully after a period of time.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Wow thanks for all those stories! I'm currently sitting here with my alpha-female (Phoebe) and new baby (Muzzy) in a cat carrier. The new baby is holding on to the bars for dear life, just begging for me to let her out and I feel so guilty :(. There was a fight a few minutes ago where it just looked like Phoebe wanted to pin her down and groom her, but Muzzy was standing up in defense so Phoebe couldn't get her down. They are a little more calm now.
 

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How old is your "baby"?
It's worrying me that you call her a baby...
Is she at least 8-10 weeks old? If not you should definitely not be attempting introductions yet. Rats under 8-10 weeks old are not big or strong enough to defend themselves and can be very easily killed by adult rats.
 

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My breeder has always given the okay on younger girls being introduced, I know everyone doesn't agree with this but I have a very laid back mischief, no aggression from any of my ladies and that varies in every mischief, that is a call you have to make. The youngest I have intro'd was 6 weeks. My last intro was 8 almost 9 weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
She's 6 weeks, but because I know she's young I've been extra careful about it. If I thought that Phoebe intended to do anything more than show her who's boss, I would stop and wait until Muzzy was older. So far I've only seen Muzzy get scratched once, and I think that things are getting better rather than worse from here. Muzzy gets along fine with my other 2 girls (one who I have put in her temporary cage with her to keep her company).
 

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I would intro does at 6 weeks to the right rats though i'd prefer 7 weeks (they are just a bit more mature), defintily bucks as long as they had a decent amount of mass to them, typically around 200g is a good guide but it does vary a little on the size of your rats and their energy levels. Whilst some does can get fed up of young babies and take a dislike to them they are very unlikly to kill them, sometimes these things do happen but it is rare, espeically once the babies get to a decent size.

If shes being very defensive i would try the pair of them in a smaller space and take them somewhere unfamilier and scary, a friends house or a different room is good. Or a walk or car drive. This helps snap them out of being terrified of the rat and see them as asource of comfort
 

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yesterday, I just had the best introduction I've ever had to do.

My girl Rixi passed away about a week ago, and I came home to a surprise rat that my boyfriend picked up for me. I named her Bambi, but alas, she needed a friend.
Fast forward a few days, I went to a local pet shop that sells and takes wonderful care of their rats and they're greatly socialized. so I came home with two little critters... I opened the door to my critter nation and just put them in and supervised the meet and greet between these two new girls and Bambi. A bit of power grooming and an hour later, they were all cozied up in the hammock together and not a single squeak or boxing match to be heard!

The two new girls have drastically changed Bambis attitude overnight, too. Bambi was alone in the pet store (poor girl :() and very skittish. Used to seeing people but not used to being handled, I presume. today she came right to the front of the cage and gave me licks when I picked her up. What an amazing thing companionship does for these little ones! im very pleased :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
omg that is awesome. Last night Muzzy was scared because of some noises I made and was clinging onto the bars in the corner of her cage. I felt so bad, and nothing I did made her feel better until I put my 2nd littlest girl, Pippa, in there which made her jump right down and start playing.
 
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