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Discussion Starter #1
This is a bit of a long story, but I think the history is important to the query.

We've had a rat (Ratty) just over a year, now. I hope I don't upset too many people when I say she was bought as a feeder rat, so for the first couple of weeks we had her, she wasn't handled. We grew very fond of Ratty, and decided to keep her as a pet.

We've had a year of fun with her, she's been playful, entertaining and a pleasure to have around. She hasn't really been one to be picked up and handled, but considering she wasn't handled while very young, we have been thankful that we have at least been able to pet her. She has seemed to be a happy rat.

As time went on and we learnt more about rats, we realised that it wasn't right to keep a solitary rat. So, three weeks ago, we went and bought another female rat. We kept her separate from Ratty for 2 weeks, being careful to wash our hands and change tops in between dealing with the two rats.

Eventually, we placed the two cages next to each other. Both rats were showing a real interest in each other. Occasionally, they would get a little too excitable and I would worry that they were getting a bit stressed, so I would dab them both with a little vanilla extract and this would calm them down.

They stayed side by side for the most part of one day, one night, and then into another day, before we got a phone call to say that my Dad (over in England) had a heart attack and was unconscious. We dropped the rats off with family, leaving strict instructions to keep them as far apart from each other as possible, with the intention that we would start the introductory process again, when we returned.

A week later, after Dad was home and recovering, we returned to South Carolina. The new rat was the same bundle of fun as she was before we left - she can never get enough attention and play time. Ratty was more withdrawn. I didn't worry too much because she always is a little withdrawn after we've been away, and it usually takes her a couple of days to settle again. She was eating ok, and apart from being a bit quiet, seemed as normal.

After 2 days, I went to clean her out. Because we weren't quarantining the new rat any more, I stupidly didn't think to wash my hands after handling the new rat, before I reached in to pet Ratty. She sniffed at my hand briefly and then bit me hard, digging in with her bottom teeth and biting me several times with her top teeth, trying to get a grip on me. My first reaction was to try and pull my hand back. My next reaction, in my panic, was stupid! I tried to pick her up with my left hand, to pull her back away from my right hand. This made her squeak and attack more. I eventually remembered something my Dad taught me about ferrets and I took her front foot between my thumb and forefinger and squeezed, slowly adding more pressure until she released my hand. (Her foot is fine, in case anyone is worried - I didn't squeeze her that hard and I did check it later, several times.)

It took me 10 minutes to control the bleeding enough to get to Urgent Care. I break out in hives if my skin is even slightly scratched by a rat, so I washed the wound and somehow managed to keep pressure on it while I took an antihistamine and called for help. I am now on a week's course of heavy antibiotics and have my hand bandaged up.

I tried to get straight back to normal with her. I was obviously hesitant, but I did go back and pet her and give her treats and try to play with her. I had to wait a day before I could try and clean her out again - because of the swelling in my hand, I couldn't grip anything with my right hand. She was a little hesitant to accept the petting at first, but she was ok. She has been back to normal for the last day, really, apart from she doesn't seem to want to play. She will ask for treats, she's eating her food, she just doesn't want to play.

Right now, I am at a complete loss for what to do. I don't know if her attack on me would've been so bad if I had "played dead" or surrendered. I am obviously concerned that she attacked me in the first place - I know their eyesight isn't good, but I'm sure she can see the difference between a hand and a rat. She has always been reasonably gentle, and has only taken a proper chomp 2 or 3 times in just over a year. She has always been fond of trying to grab the fleshy bit of your palm at the bottom of your fingers, if you are not careful, though. If the ferrocity of her attack was purely down to the smell of the other rat (which she has smelled before, just not as strong a scent), then I am scared to death to introduce her to the new rat!

I am also concerned that keeping the rats in the same room (though far apart) is disturbing for Ratty, but I don't want to move either of them to a quieter part of the house because they're both used to being where the activity is.

I don't want to keep two solitary rats, either, but the new rat is fast outgrowing the spare cage and if we have to have two solitary rats, we will need to get her a bigger cage.

Ideally, I would love for them to live together as friends, but I just don't know what to do, now.

I would be most grateful for any suggestions or ideas.

Thanks in advance.
 

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i wouldn't be concerned. its likely that she did just mistake your hand as the the other rat. rat really can't see much at all. to get a sense of what they do see close your eyes until you're just looking out through your eyelashes then take away all color. if humans had the same eyesight they would be considered legally blind. before you get too worried though, its not just the smell of the the other rat that got her to attack. it was the smell of the other rat in HER space. there's a reason introductions take time. rats get possessive of the their space and strange rats are not readily accepted. its not that they can never be accepted and the process of introductions (smelling each other, swapping toys and play dates) is the way to get around this.

giving the, a bath together in the tub i find helps them accept each other quite a bit as well. and when you're ready to put the two rats together in the same cage make sure you have thoroughly scrubbed the cage and changed it around some so its not to familar with anyone. there are other posts on this site about introduction issues as well. look around a bit and you'll be able to find them and the advice offered there might be suitable for you as well.

in sum, just start over and don't worry too much. there is always a possbilty that Ratty is a solatary rat, they do exist but they're not that common and from what you said i don't think she is. besides, introductions are worth a try.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you very much, Twitch. You have put my mind at rest quite a bit.

I have spent some more time with Ratty today and I must say she does seem to be her normal self. I am starting to come to the conclusion that we might just be able to start the long slow introductory process again, but it's so comforting to hear someone else (with more experience) say it!

I'll give it a few more days, give her lots more loving and attention, and then start again... verrrry slowly! :)
 

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Also, before introduceing them in neautral territory try putting vanilla oil on their private parts as well as the back of their neck. That way, no competing scent wars :)
 

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Wow,you have way more patience than me. I love my rats to death,but if one of them ever did that much damage to me I propably would have kicked her to the curb.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Poppyseed said:
Also, before introduceing them in neautral territory try putting vanilla oil on their private parts as well as the back of their neck. That way, no competing scent wars :)
Um, ok :lol: I'll try anything once!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
codcommando said:
Wow,you have way more patience than me. I love my rats to death,but if one of them ever did that much damage to me I propably would have kicked her to the curb.
It is frustrating and upsetting, and it hurt like ****, but you just have to remind yourself that there is an underlying problem that is making her upset or grumpy... it's not really her fault.

Now, finding out what the problem is is a real pain in the arse, and is proving to be quite painful - she's nipped us a couple of times since this incident, though fortunately none of them bad enough to require medical treatment again... yet! :roll:
 
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