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Discussion Starter #1
After aborting the mission last time of introducing our two rats (Dad had a heart attack so we had to fly to England), we're now starting the process again.

Yesterday, we cleaned out both cages and then put them next to each other. Last night, they seemed fine. There was an obvious curiosity, but the new one was just going about her business. The older one was too, to a certain extent, but she was also spending some time just staring at the other cage.

This morning, they have been taking more of an interest in each other. The new one is quite calm, but the older one is definitely a bit unsettled. She's not acting aggressive or anything, other than she's lying in her hammock all puffed up.

My question is, is this just her defending her territory (highest point in the cage, making herself look bigger) or is there something more we need to worry about?

One other question - how long should we leave the cages side by side before we attempt to introduce them in the bath tub? I know it varies between rats, but are we looking at days or weeks? Will it be stressing them out more by not getting it over with?

Thanks in advance :)
 

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the foofiness is just her being protective of her space and saying to other rat that she is bigger so back off. the highest point in the cage is typically where rats like to hang out anyway.

as for the speed its really up to your judgement. i tend to go a bit faster then most other people when introducing rats. sometimes it works out great other times i have to slow it down. if you feel that waiting is only stressing out your rats then introduce them and see how it goes. you can always slow down again if you have to. just make sure you're right there to be able to break apart any real fights (though if these are going to happen it doesn't seem to matter at what speed you go at-at least in my experience). i find giving them a bath together also helps them get over the whole territorial phase a bit faster. after a bath they will smell the same and if they take one together they often will comfort each other through the evil that is the ratty bath. i'm not exactly sure all the details on to why this works but those are my theroies. keep us posted on how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, Twitch, I always like to hear your opinion on these things.

She only seems to have puffed up that one time. She's been quite calm and normal for the last couple of days, so I think she might be getting used to the idea, now.

I'm planning on introducing them tomorrow or Friday. They don't seem to be at all stressed in side by side cages, so I'll just bide my time and pick the ideal moment and go for it - water spray, garden gloves and towels to hand, of course! :lol:

I'll keep you posted.
 

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what Twitch said is perfect, thats the same to what i do. I clean "their" cage and them so nothing has too much of a "MY HOME" smell to it and they go along with each other just fine. :), When my little one is older i'll be moving him in with his dad :).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
After two weeks of our ratties being side by side, today, we decided to put them in the tub together.

I was terrified, and I think the young one ("lil buddy") felt it. I dabbed vanilla extract spots all over her, and my husband did the same with the older one ("Ratty").

I threw 4 or 5 towels in the bath, some paper towels and a cardboard tube for them to retreat to if they needed a bit of security. I also had a water spray and a spare towel to hand, to break up any fights that got out of hand.

The first time they met, Lil Buddy lowered her head and closed her eye while Ratty sniffed and pawed at her a little. They then sniffed at each other a bit before continuing to explore the bath tub. It was such a relief after the last time we tried this and Ratty lunged at Lil Buddy. Lil Buddy is the same size as Ratty now though, so I think Ratty is a little more cautious.

After a few minutes, and a few more encounters, we had a little scrap. I left it a while (maybe 5 seconds :lol:) before I sprayed them to break it up. I realise I need to let them play it out, but I was way too nervous to let that happen on the first meeting.

The water spray did the trick, and they were a bit more courteous when they sniffed each other after that. Unfortunately, it happened so fast that we didn't see which one started it, but we're guessing it was Ratty.

There were a few more squeaks as they climbed over each other to try and gain control of the tube, but nothing too frantic or serious.

Just before we fetched them out, there was another minor squabble that again was probably normal but I wasn't prepared to let them carry it to the full extent, so I sprayed them a little and broke it up. I let them dry themselves off (they weren't that wet, but still) before we took them out.

They both got a couple of treats and a lot of praise. The towels are in the washing machine and I will dry them and air them ready to have another "session" tomorrow. I will do this every day for a month if I have to, until I'm happy we're going to have no injuries. (overprotective? me? never! :lol:) I'm going to try and let them work out their squabbles on their own a bit more tomorrow.

I'm so relieved we still have two unharmed, albeit stinky*, rats!

* I didn't realise that females scent marked until we put these two side by side. I'm hoping they will stop doing it so much once they are friends and living together.
 

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glad to hear its going well! congradulations!

but yeah, let them have their squables otherwise they're never going to sort out who's boss. but certainly its a good beginning!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks! :D

That's what I thought - as I get braver and they get more used to each other, it'll be easier for me to let them sort it out on their own. I think I'll be much better with that when it comes to tomorrow.

I think they've pretty much established Ratty is the dominant one, with the little one lowering and letting Ratty paw at her, but I think they still have a bit more debating to do. :lol:

If all of our sessions go as well as (or better than...) today, I will be quite happy. I can't tell you how much of a relief it is - I had horrible visions of Ratty killing the other one and us not being able to stop her (yes, I'm a terrible worry wort! :lol:).
 

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as any mom is! but its ok, everything seems to be going along just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks ever so much for the reassurance. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So, day two of the introductions...

This time we didn't use the vanilla extract, and all we put in the bath were the towels and a couple of treats.

They checked each other out for a couple of minutes, then there was a tumbling squabble. I let it run it's course! *beams with pride* :lol: Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be a victor.

After about 5 minutes or a bit more, I put a few pieces of fruit in there, as I have read that if you can get them to eat together, it is a good socialising thing. They both took it in turns to eat the watermelon, ignoring the grapes and pineapple. Each rat approached the other while it was eating the watermelon and neither of them attacked, so we were pleased with that.

There were no more scuffles after the first tumble. Ratty (the older rat) did puff up on occasion and twice started siding up to the little one, but soon stopped with a stern "Ratty!" from me.

We think Lil Buddy is in heat, today. We are never quite sure with her, as she's not as obvious as Ratty when she's in heat. LB spent a lot of time running away from Ratty - though she did her share of checking Ratty out, too. She was also squeaking and kicking with her back leg, if Ratty got too near her rear end - she didn't do that yesterday.

I do have one question, though (if you've read this far :lol:) - Ratty kept trying to slowly push her way under LB. She didn't do this yesterday, and of all the media I've read on introducing rats (believe me, I've been obsessing in my reading :lol:), I haven't read about that behaviour. I will do a bit more searching to see what I can find, but has anyone seen this before? Any idea what it means?

Anyway, we were up there about 20-30 minutes with just that one scuffle, so we're very happy with today's progress. :)
 

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sounds like today went great! a couple more sessions like that and it'll be time to swap cages and then get them in together! congradulations!
about your question though. i have seen it in my own rats during and well after introductions. with the younger ones it almost seems as if they're trying to intice the other to play. its the same with some of the older ones to but i've also seen them do that when they want to snuggle. they do it to ME all the time. though not being a rat myself i cna't really be sure what it means. but either cuddling or trying to get other to play would be my best guess. neither of which is a bad thing at this stage!

though maybe i have a different mental picture then what actually happened... now that i think about it. did she nose under her and try to get a sniff at the others bottom? i've seen that done too and that perfectly normal. so either way, good signs!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm guessing it was the latter, then. Not that that's a bad thing, like you say. I just don't think she was trying to cuddle or play just yet.

I've read mixed reviews about swapping cages. Some say it's a good thing and then others say it can make the rats more unsettled. Is this something you always do? What has been your experience with it?

I'm really hopeful for tomorrow, when the lil one isn't in heat :) Mind, you watch, Ratty'll be in heat and skittish tomorrow! :lol: I'm in no rush.
 

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i don't often switch everyone. mind you i have more rats then you too. but what i do is take the most accepting and put it in the baby cage so the baby has a older buddy when they go in teh big cage with everyone else.

with violet though i ended up rotating all the rats through her cage with her there. it really helped too. i have some less territorial ones and they went in first. two residents at a time. there was some puffing up and sulking but nothing serious. finally i rotated iedani in there with violet and kakushi (they seem to be inseparable now too) and left them for the weekend. when i came back i tok the cage to the car wash, rearranged it and put them all in together. haven't had a problem.

but like i said, normally i don't swap cages i would think with them being side by side for so long they should be used to eash other's scent. just make sure you scrub the heck out of the main cage before you put them together. i've found that that was he most significant factor if they were going to accept the new one. but i also go fairly fast too so really its up to you. you can always slow down if you're going to fast.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I'm not sure how we're going to do it, yet, but we did plan on putting our two Superpet cages together.

I have been thinking lately that I might try and persuade my husband to let me but yet another cage, then scrub these two up and sell them on ebay or something. We saw lots of lovely cages when we were at Petsmart looking for one for Lil Buddy, but she was too small for some of them - they had really wide bars. Thinking about it now, we could've gotten the bigger one and put Ratty in it, then used Ratty's old cage for LB... d'oh!! Oh well, we'll think of something. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So, today's question is... :lol:

Is it normal for a rat to roll over and submit one minute, then refuse to roll over the next? Lil Buddy rolled over about 5 times in the course of the half hour they were together today, then in between times she was putting up a fight!

Today went really well. Much less foofiness from Ratty, and not a single squabble... just a bit of wrestling and pinning down. I didn't need to use the water spray at all. We went bobbing for peas, too. Well, Ratty and I did - Ratty for her own, me for LB's to pass to her, 'cause she didn't like the water. There was only just enough water in there to cover the peas! :lol:

Oh, I do have one more question. When they say rats eating together is a good thing, do they mean eating together side by side, or eating at the same time within a reasonable vicinity of each other?
 

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I think I'll keep updating this thread as a reference for anyone else that is going through first time introductions... it might be helpful :)

Day 4 of introductions

The last two nights, Ratty has been the one to say "ahem! Isn't it playtime, yet?" LB has been happily sleeping and had to be woken up.

Tonight's playtime went well, again. Ratty barely puffed up at all, and she was quite nice. LB is still submitting one minute and then being stubborn the next. They managed about half an hour again, before they were both trying to jump out of the bath. Towards the end of the playtime, LB was trying to hump Ratty and was generally being what we think was playful, although we're not certain.

I think it might just take time for them to learn each other's personalities. I just wish that the little one would learn to submit every time, not just every other time. I think if she would do that, we would have this stage of the introductions beat.

I plan to have playtime twice a day, from tomorrow - morning and night. They were both lively this morning and when I put Ratty in her ball, I think she thought we were going for playtime. Twice a day might speed up the process, too.
 

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fist question: yes, that's normal. sometimes she's like "ok ok! you win!" other's she's "look! i JUST told you you won! back off! not this time bugger! owie! ok you win again..." its just normal ratty behaviour.

second question: both is good. the point is is that they are sharing and not fighting. play fighting is different. they take the food so the other will chase them. which is another good sign so long as a fight doesn't break out over it.

all in all it sounds like all is going great.

give me some pictures of the cages and i bet i cna find you a way to conect them. i seem to have a knack for that.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
twitch said:
"look! i JUST told you you won! back off! not this time bugger! owie! ok you win again...
haha! Love it! :lol:

I'll take some pictures in the morning. They're both the same as the link I posted before, though, if you want to look in the meantime. We're in no rush, though; I think we'll be another week, yet.

Thank you again for the encouragement. It really does mean a lot. :)
 

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Day 6

Grr! I put them in the tub today and, because they have been trying to jump out sooner and sooner, I put a few more things in there and made it a bit more of an obstacle course. This kept them occupied for all of 5 minutes. :?

They are not fighting any more. Ratty is still wrestling the young one onto her back, and the young one is occasionally winning and wrestling Ratty onto her back. Ratty is barely puffy any more. She only puffs up if the young one is winning a wrestling match.

If they are not going to stay in the tub when I put them together for a playtime, I'm out of options. I have nowhere else for them to play together. I'm wondering if they are now ready to go into a cage together? If so, I'll do that tomorrow morning, so I have a whole day to monitor them before they are alone at night.
 

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you could probably put them in a cage together so long as you make sure the scrub the heck out of it beforehand so there's one rat smell. did i mention how much i love carwashes recently? takes all of five mintues to get it clean back to store bought perfection. takes me hours to that by hand and it never gets as clean as i would like it. car washes are wonderful things... even if the people look at you a little odd.... *grins*

but another placee to put them to play would be the couch, bed or chair with you there with them. my girls love to play or chill out with me there, i bet your would like it too. if you let them play on the bed though just make sure the bedding that's on there is something that you wouldn't mind a bit of chew marks on.
 
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