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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yesterday I brought home my two new baby boys, who are about 5-6 weeks old. Still too little to be in the big cage (not considering alfie, they can slip through the bars of the cage with NO problems what so ever). With high prey drive cats in the house my Quarantine options are non-existant, all three boys are in the same room, and at first I was worried about Alfie showing aggression and being frustrated that he could smell/hear/see the new boys, but not reach them. This may become an issue, but there are no signs of aggression from Alfie so far. In fact, Alfie seems ecstatic to have other rats in the house. He's been alone for at least 6 months, maybe longer since his previous owner bought him from a petstore, and he was the only rat in the cage.

Alfie hasn't done any puffing up, or thumping around his cage or posturing to indicate introductions are going to be an issue. He's sniffed the boys through the bars of his cage (while I held one of the babies)... I am mildly concerned however that Alfie's reached through and tried to grab the baby. He did try to nip the baby's nose once as well... Is this a sign of aggression, or merely a "HEY!!! You're a rat!!! C'mere and lets play" type of action? When I said no and bopped him lightly on the nose Alfie backed off immediately and looked at me like "What?!"

Once the babies were away, I offered Alfie some outside cage time (which he actually does not usually enjoy) and he readily crawled up to my shoulder, under my hair (where the babies were hanging out earlier) and did some intense investigating. He bruxed, groomed himself, and hunkered down to a snooze pretty quickly.

I was considering doing some outside cage time with all three boys, see how they do together, though I'm not sure if the boys are too little yet to really be interacting with Alfie. They're used to being around a full grown male, they had an older cage mate with their last owner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Last night when I got home I decided to do a quick intro between Houdini and Alfie on neutral ground. My plan was to do only a minute or so, but Alfie surprised me. I was mildly concerned that Alfie would show aggression and I was ready with a spray bottle filled with water. The boys ignored each other at first, and then they both came together, sniffing, and Houdini crawled UNDER Alfie and on his way to explore. Alfie seemed interested, but not overly so (I think he was torn between wanting to check out the baby and getting back in his cage). Things were going so well that i decided to pull out little blue boy and again, Alfie didn't seem aggressive or too attentive. He'd groom the boys when they sat still long enough, and at one point, all three boys were in the little box I'd put in with them, alfie was grooming a belly of one of the babies (hard to tell which), and he lay down on his own side and showed his belly. I've NEVER seen him show his belly. The boys ended up staying out for an hour, playing and getting to know each other and me. Alfie voluntarily climbed up onto my shoulder, snuffled my neck and then went on his merry way. If he's out for free range he usually ignores me completely, so this was very encouraging!

Since things were going so well, and since my quarantine options are non-existant and the boys are in the same room anyway, I decided to see how Alfie felt about being in the quarantine cage. I put the babies back in, then alfie. He checked things out for a while, and then curled up in one of the hammocks. The babies crawled on top of him, and Alfie seemed to melt, he just looked SO content. I'm so glad I decided to into them early, Alfie seems so much happier now that he's got friends. This morning before work I popped in to say goodmorning to them, and Alfie came to the cage door, let me pet his head and cheaks (he normally doesn't let me initiate contact).

I apologize these are sideways, I'm uploading them from my phone.


At one point I had the babies out and they curled up in my shirt... Typical boys, going right for the boobies. I can completely understand now why people end up with a ton of ratties, these little ones are just SO addicting!
Sensitive content, not recommended for those under 18 Show Content
Ear Neck Mouth Gerbil Muridae


Alfie's the big guy, Little blue boy is next to him, and Houdini is tucked underneath Alfie.
Animal shelter Hamster Snout Rat Cage
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Rather than start another thread and clutter up this forum, I'm just going to add to this thread.

I am a natural worry wort. The babies are still little enough that I have a tendancy to hover while they're out playing. I'm not sure why, Ryker has already proven he bounces just fine when he falls from wherever he's climbed. Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing and interacting with well rounded ratties who basically had free range of their owner's home. This was the first time I've gotten the opportunity to watch, and play with, rats who were completely comfortable in their environment. It was absolutely enlightening to see one rat running across the floor to investigate a cubboard. And it made me realize, I'm not giving my guys enough freedom. I need to make a few adjustments, cover a hole in a boxspring in the rat room, and let my guys explore their environment some more.

Last night I had all three boys out, and I noticed a few things that I found interesting. The first being that Alfie no longer avoids me as completely as he usually does. He came to the cage door, sniffed my hand, held my finger, and didn't run away when I reached to pull him out of the cage. He wasn't thrilled with being picked up, but he was happy to realize getting pulled out of the cage meant he got to explore. It's been 8 days since the babies came home, and in those days, I've noticed some marked changes in Alfie, he's more outgoing, happier on the whole, and more eager to play. Another thing I've noticed with Alfie is when the boys are given treats, one of the babies will inevitably want Alfie's treat, steal it from him, and Alfie comes to the cage door to beg for more (nevermind that there's was a bowl full of treats on the second level of the cage). Alfie's looking to me for help, which makes me very happy.

I'm noticing changes in the babies as well. Ryker (the little blue guy) is still somewhat timid, and still needs encouragement to come to me inside the cage. He's become best buds with Alfie though, and they often groom each other and play. Houdini on the other hand, is very social, comes to me from the cage and is much less hesitant than his brother to crawl on me. He's a confident, outgoing boy and I'm trying to encourage those traits, hoping that they'll help with the other two boys.

A fourth baby will be joining the crew in a couple weeks, who is VERY outgoing, and I'm curious to see how his energy and inquisitive nature will play into the dynamics of my group now. I don't think it'll have any negative impact, since the current group is still so new, and establishing themselves.
 

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This makes me so happy to hear. I'm so glad that Alfie's mood seems to have improved and I'm excited to hear more updates about your new mischief. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yesterday the boys didn't get their usual free range time. I simply ran out of time in the day, and when I went in to see and feed them at the end of the night, all three boys rushed to the cage doors and peered at me expectantly. Now, that could be because I've stopped giving them free range blocks (Alfie's a chubster!) and am feeding them once a day, or because they actually associate me with good things, like food and free range time, and affection... I'm kinda betting it's the former. I made up some chicken last night specifically for them while I was making my own dinner, and they LOVED it.. Goodness, I don't think I've seen a rat snatch food so quickly!

Tonight I have to dogsit for a friend, but the boys will be getting some play time before I head over to take care of the dogs. They're getting more outgoing, and Ryker has no qualms whatsoever about jumping from the bed onto the Feisty Ferret cage and wiggling through the cage bars. Once he can't do that anymore I know that they're big enough to go into the big cage. I'm not sure what his fascination with that cage is.. but he sure loves it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm sure ya'll are sick of reading this, but this is my outlet for all things rattie. Family/friends don't get my joy at each new development in my relationship with Alfie, Houdini and Ryker.

Last night I brought the boys out of their cage and placed them on the bed in their room. They've all been doing free range there, but this time I grabbed a couple pillows, a book and my phone and settled down for a good read. I have never felt like Alfie really warmed up to me. He doesn't show affection, doesn't like being picked up, doesn't come to my hand voluntarily. It's been discouraging, to say the least. When I brought the babies home I started noticing personality changes in Alfie, all for the better. He's not as freaked out when I pick him up out of the cage, and while he still doesn't appear to like scritches, he doesn't run from my hand every single time.

The babies are inquisitive, friendly, and will engage me. They want to check out my face, what's under my shirt (houdini especially!), and I feel like they view me as a friend in varying degrees. The babies have no problem running all over me, Alfie doesn't do that at all. Until last night. He crawled up onto my chest, sat on my breastbone, put his paw on my lip and proceeded to investigate my funny human face. It didn't last long, maybe 30 seconds, but it's more than he's really ever done voluntarily before. He went on his merry way to play and explore, pausing to brux, or preen, or tussle with one of the babies. After about an hour he settled down a foot away from me, accepted head and cheek scritches, and started to doze off while I was petting him. Having the babies around has been key to Alfie's mental well being, and what I perceive as his finally accepting me as a friend.
 

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I'm sure ya'll are sick of reading this, but this is my outlet for all things rattie.
Nooo, I love your posts. I definitely feel for you on that one. My coworkers are absolutely sick of hearing me talk about my rats. xD


I'm SO happy that Alfie is much better. x) I love hearing stories about this. It makes me so so so SO happy.
Congratulations!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It's amazing what being away for two nights will do for a rat's personality... And not necessarily for the better. Alfie's attitude hasn't really changed much, he was still his standoff-ish self. Ryker and Houdini however, seemed like new rats. Both were more jumpy and timid, Ryker hid more, and both boys were more nippy than usual. They got 2 hours of free range time last night while I read on the bed they were playing on. Ryker eventually curled up on the pillow, in the bend between my neck and shoulder. Houdini was all over the place, and eventually crawled into my shirt for some "down time." Alfie of course was doing his own thing exploring. They seemed happy to see me, before I pulled them out of their cage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Yesterday I had the boys out for some play time and the little ones discovered that the pillows on the bed have these nifty things on them (pillow cases) which are HIGHLY entertaining to hide and play in. They played for a good half hour in there. I also checked to see if Ryker and Houdini could fit through the bars on the big cage, and they cannot! YAY! So last night I made the cage switch and cleaned out the rat manor. Perfect timing as my fourth boy will be coming home this week.

The boys were exceedingly excited to be in the new cage, running up and down the levels in what I like to call "zoomies." Alfie seemed pretty happy to be back in the big cage too. And I noticed last night, He's started begging to be let out of the cage. I walk into the room and he rushes to the door and puts his front paws on one of the bar and stares at me quite intensely. It still amazes me how much he's come out of his shell now that he's got buddies... He's like a totally different rat.

I recently started giving them Quaker oats with their oxbow - You'd think the oxbow was sawdust the way they dive into the oats!

I'm a little worried about the intros between my three and the new guy coming this week. When I introduced Alfie and the babies, alfie was so lonely, that transitions went really really well. Plus the new guy is a week or so older than my little boys (who aren't so little anymore!), and is a big boy. Ryker seems to be the alpha of the group so I'll introduce him first I think.

Houdini:
Ferret Rat Tail Floor Cat

Ryker:
Rat Leg Hand Muridae Tail

I should try and get a picture of all three boys together... but well... I'm sure you folks can guess at how easy that is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This weekend was the weekend from **** as far as introductions go. Friday night a fellow Ratforum member brought a youngster to my house. Fergus is an absolute sweetie, a bit of a spazz, but sweet. We introduced everyone slowly on Friday night, and had one major scuffle where Houdini was cut. I'm not sure who the culprit was, it could very well have been one of my guys and not Fergus who did the actual damage.

The boys spent the night in separate cages since I just wasn't feeling confident, and I didn't have hours to devote to monitoring introductions. Over the rest of the weekend I got Fergus, Houdini and Ryker all settled with one another. They were to the point they were tussling, but it looked like simple roughhousing and less dominance fights. The little boys were giving in and rolling over pretty quickly, and there was next to no squeaking. Alfie and Fergus however... To say they were at a stalemate would be putting it lightly. Every time I would put them together in the pet carrier they would draw blood on each other. I was getting frustrated and worried that this wasn't going to work out.

Yesterday when I got home from work I decided to give it one more go. Up until this point, we had stayed in the guest room where their cage was due to the cats in the rest of the house. Last night I brought them into the kitchen with me while I cooked dinner, and they still were posturing, and Alfie drew blood on Fergus once. I mixed some vanilla extract and honey together, and smeared them both with it. That actually seemed to help a lot, Alfie wanted to clean it off of Fergus; who didn't want anything to do with it. I did catch Fergus licking Alfie once, but no major bonding. Certainly not what I was hoping for.

Once I finished with dinner, the boys watched TV with me, and Alfie really seemed to calm down and realize he wasn't getting out of the cage any time soon. It took them about 5 hours, but they finally seemed to have gotten over the "must kill my opponent" mindset. They seem to have an uneasy truce at the moment.

I put the babies in the carrier while I really scrubbed the big cage down well, everyone got along fine for the short time they were together. When everyone got put back into the big cage there was a few dominance stand offs, but no blood. Alfie did mount Fergus once, but then Aflie groomed him a bit later and they seemed much more relaxed. This morning when I checked on them I saw no signs of fighting and they all rushed the door like usual.

After a rough weekend, and not being sure I would be able to integrate the boys into a happy mischief I am so very relieved that things finally fell into place last night. No pictures yet, but I'll take some tonight to post tomorrow :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Adventures of the boys continue!!

This weekend was hectic and the boys didn't get out quite as much as they're used to. They did get to come out, and got introduced to the big bin of water and frozen veggies. Took the boys some time to realize that the water wasn't going to eat them... and it wasn't too long after that the boys were just hanging out in the water munching.

@FiMarie Fergus has been doing very well, and he's actually kind of a snuggle bug. Not for long periods of time, but he loves coming over and checking on me, saying hi, getting a sniff in and then scampering off to explore and play some more. It was funny, last night he crawled onto the top of the cage, started circling the peremeter and then stopped and just stared at me like.. "Help! I can't get down..." Meanwhile both Houdini and Ryker are crawling up and down the sides of the cage like little ninja's. I put my hand up for Fergus and he scamper over to my shoulder. He's a smart boy! And not quite as independent as the little boys, which I love. <3
 

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Aw! I just saw this post. I miss him... :(

Cato has REALLY slowed down though so I get the feeling he's relieved to have the hellion out of his cage. I'm so glad he ended up with you! Thank you SO much! <3
 
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