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Discussion Starter #1
We adopted three older boys in August and hoped at some point to be able to house them in the double cage with my original three. We haven't been able yet though to even put the boys together in a neutral space, let alone put them all in one cage. My original three have been very territorial and huff and puff if they get wind of the adopted boys. They are housed in separate cages in the same room but just don't seem too keen on each other at all.

Is there any hope that we can one day introduce them all and have them love happily ever after? I am terrified of them having violent fights (experienced this a few weeks ago when two of my adopted boys had a big fight inside a sputnik and one ended up with the whole side of his face sliced open and a subsequent trip to the emergency vet!!).

Anyone have success stories of introducing two tight groups of rats to one another, each with a very definite established alpha?
 

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No one's answered this because there's no way to predict just how nasty this will get. And the longer the two groups have been watching and hating on each other from a distance the more likely it is for them to be aggressive when they meet...

Still most rats do work out their differences and form a social group. I've had good luck with managing the chaos from the middle with rats that all accept me as their human leader, and I've had it go wrong and done what I call the worst ever method where I just let the rats chase each other around the house for a few weeks until they worked it out. So far I've had some injuries, both rat and human but I've always succeeded in the end...

Rats usually bond in the end, but that's little comfort when everybody is tearing everybody else up.

Best luck.
 

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You've mentioned before that you just let your rats run around the house. I have a few questions about that...

1) How do you keep them from chewing on wires? Going into places that might be dangerous? Etc...

2) How do you keep from stepping on them? My Mom has small dogs and we're always tripping on them. With a tiny little rat seems like it would be very dangerous.

3) Do you make sure they're litter trained before letting them run free?
 

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1) My older girl doesn't chew wires and they younger rat only did it a couple of times when she got bored, she has to sleep in the cage now... My rats get into everything, but rats are experts at getting out of things too.

2) We tend to turn on the lights and watch where we step, close calls come with the territory and you have to be very careful around doors... We don't have dogs as we have rats roaming the home.

3) Yes our rats are litter trained, but they have taken up messing in their metal cabinet, we've put in a litter tray and are going to have to do a little more remodeling... I think our younger rat wasn't too well litter trained and our big girl is getting lazy in her old age. She hunts down paper and paper towels and stuffs them in her nest to use as a place to go... Basically she builds her own idea of a litter box... Still the mess is confined and the house in general is safe.

When I tried to introduce them there was just too much of a size difference, the smaller rat couldn't defend herself, so by letting them chase around the smaller rat was more agile and faster and could skirmish and withdraw rather than being massacred. Naturally it took a while and it produced some rather comical and slightly destructive chase scenes. But slowly the big girl started to accept the new rat, and at first she left her alone in my office, then the bathroom then room by room until the smaller rat invaded our big girl's metal cabinet and all heck broke out, the little girl got her ear permanently split, but the two finally emerged as friends. It was a really ugly way to do introductions, but it worked in the end.
 

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I just can't imagine having them running completely free like that. There are just so many things they could get into and ruin and/or hurt themselves on. We've rat proofed our dinning room and that's where they get to roam free. I have taken Buddy around to other rooms and let him play around a bit on the couch, bed, etc... But he's the only one I trust wont run away. The rest are just too unpredictable. And Buddy I wouldn't trust roaming around unsupervised because he is a chewer and would chew on wires, walls, furniture, etc...

But then again the main reason I convinced my wife to get rats over a dog is because they are contained and don't have a free rain of destruction over the house.
 

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Rats really become more competent with experience. A caged rat pretty much doesn't develop to it's full potential. Consider for a moment the life a wild rat has living in it's natural habitat... a dump, a factory, a mall or even someone's home... and yes there are even rats that live outdoors entirely... It builds it's burrows, it defends it's territory it forages for food, raises it's young, builds social structures with other rats, hunt's it's prey, finds sources of water, avoids traffic and humans and predators... And yes, I once watched a wild rat cross the road... it stopped on the curb, looked both ways and when it was absolutely quiet, it crossed the road. With all of the rats in the world, how many have you ever seen as road kill? And rats have colonized most of the world adapting to all kinds of environments. Your home doesn't present much of a challenge to the second most successful species on earth....

But are pet rats capable of becoming as competent as their super clever and wily cousins?

Fuzzy Rat enjoyed hanging out in trees...
IMAG0064.jpg

and she loved meeting new people, especially little girls...
meet and greet at the beach.jpg


And she liked to just explore new places on her own sometimes...
free range at the beach.jpg

I tend to think domestic rats can become very competent...
Hike to car.jpg

She's the little white dot next to the black trash can and the car is beyond the distant stand of trees on the right and she's on her way back with us in tow.

Seriously, this was the real Fuzzy Rat, the extraordinary rat co-founder of immersion. Not only was she perfectly fine exploring outdoors on her own, but she could find her way back to the car or the house from over half a mile away...

Now I should add the caveat that Fuzzy Rat was going outdoors and escaping, exploring on her own and coming back since she was 3 weeks old. She was actually a well trained and highly competent true shoulder rat. The very best I've ever worked with. Fuzzy Rat could also strip the insulation off of both sides of an extension cord without crossing the wires or getting a shock... (creating one heck of a fire hazard). I definitely don't encourage anyone to take their untrained cage rats outdoors, as it's dangerous and they will get lost or killed, and there are certainly shortcomings with free range rats, but with training and experience, you might be very surprised by how competent some domestic rats can become.

We currently have two true shoulder rats Max and Cloud, neither is Fuzzy Rat level outdoor competent, but neither is as destructive indoors either. Max is actually totally house safe.

This is Max passing her final true shoulder rat test...

A IMG_0610.JPG

Fuzzy Rat liked fireworks, Max doesn't panic but prefers a more quiet lifestyle... still outdoors, among a crowd of people, in the dark, under a town sponsored fireworks show... is somewhere even wild rats wouldn't be...

Never underestimate your rats... while most can't be true shoulder rats, free ranging around the house a little isn't much of a challenge for them, given the right training and bit of experience.
 

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Tempy is smart. I've seen him do things that the others haven't figured out yet. But he's also unpredictable and not much for obeying commands, so I just can't really trust him to roam free. Buddy isn't quite as smart but he's sweet and loving and will come when you call and stop doing something wrong if you yell at him. Unfortunately he's also a chewer and almost the exact same color as our carpet so letting him roam free seems dangerous for both him and us. The two new guys I don't know well enough yet. Zeek is bold and friendly. Not quite as friendly as Buddy but he's warming up to us fast. Nibbler is tiny and still a big scaredy cat. He still doesn't even like to be held and will run away if you even try to reach in and pet him. He's not quite as bad as Tempy was when we first got him, but he's still got a long way to go.

As much as I admire what you do I just don't think I could do it. I'd be too stressed out about it. We don't have kids so our house is not even kid safe let alone rat safe. I would just constantly worry that they would get hurt, destroy something or create a fire hazard without me knowing.
 

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I would love to let my rats roam my entire house freely. It's not my rats I don't trust, it's really myself. I'm a slob and I often forget things, I'm also extremely clumsy. I barely remember to feed my cat some days lol and he's free roaming. I honestly think my rats are getting bored confined to only one free range room, but it's all I have. I love watching their minds work, it's so cool to see how they really are able to interpret you. When Naydeen is doing something bad, I will scold her and tell her to stop it and get over here, and she will look back and forth from me and the trouble she's creating, and you can tell that she's deciding if she wants to disobey and keep having fun, or listen to mom. I have to use my super serious voice to get her to listen to me :p
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks rat daddy :). We don't think we're going to have much luck having the groups accept one another.... Had an interesting experience yesterday when my boyfriend forgot that one of the adopted boys was asleep on the sofa and let out one of the original boys.... Wasn't pleasant!!!!
 

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When rats meet they fight to defend their territory and to establish dominance. No matter how well it will turn out in the end, most intros are ugly... I've only ever had one good intro. Fuzzy Rat hand picked Amelia and when they got home they boxed for 5 minutes than Fuzzy Rat toppled over on her side and let Amelia groom her belly. Intro's over... But keep in mind with her prior roommate, out part wild rat, Fuzzy Rat had her throat punctured and trachea almost ripped out. Fuzzy Rat was anything but stupid and never made the same mistake twice... Amelia was a full year younger than Fuzzy Rat and she was huge, she may have been shy and sweet, but in any fair fight Fuzzy Rat would have been massacred. Fuzzy Rat maintained control of her roommate through cunning and manipulation. When it came to intelligence and cleverness, the two rats weren't even the same species. But every other into we've done has involved at least some blood loss before things got better. There's just no easy way around it sometimes.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I think we are actually just going to have to put up with the time and effort involved in caring for the two groups separately. Answering my own original question then I guess, I think it's a lost cause. Just don't want to take the risk of major injury or death. Even my most placid boy from the original group gets very angry when if we hold him near the adopted boys or their cage.

The frustrating thing is that the original boys are super lazy and don't really utilise their big double cage whereas the adopted boys, though quite old, are very active and are stuck in a much smaller cage (haven't got the room for two double cages). I would so love to have them all together in the double, but it's just not going to happen (can't swap cages either as my original three are much bigger rats, almost double in size and weighing in at around 800g on average compared to the 450g of the adopted boys. The smaller cage would absolutely not be big enough for them).

Oh well....they all just have to have lots of free range time, separately.
 

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I've seen some pretty awful intros.. a few involved blood shed and in one case it was my own. If you think your rats look scary when you show them to each other, imagine how frightening it is when they are chasing and tearing at each other.

I suppose when I put my hand between two rats that were fighting I realized that they were mock biting... the bite should have gone to the bone, but it didn't... It looked horrific, but oddly no guts were spilling out.... so I backed at and let the rats have at each other... and eventually they made friends. Yes sometimes things do go terribly wrong, but for the most part it looks way worse than it is.

But there's always a risk, I'm pretty used to it and find that things usually work out in the end, but it's your call. And I don't want to be the person who talked you into one of those freak cases where a rat gets killed or injured.
 

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We've been lucky I guess. For the most part our intros have been flawless. When we introduced Buddy and Tempy they got along perfectly from the start. Tempy was a lot bigger so Buddy relented almost immediately. We threw them into the same cage after just an hour of being together in a box and they've been together ever since, never had any blood shed. When we introduced those two to the new boys, Zeek and Nibbler, we did it a little different. We had them in separate cages in the same room for almost two weeks and let them out to have free time at different times so they could smell each other but had the safety of the bars separating them. After about 9 days we introduced them on top of the kitchen table. They all seemed more interested in trying to jump down then each other. There were a few dominance squabbles, but nothing major. Mainly just Tempy holding the other two down and power grooming them. The next day we let them have free time together. No incidents, even when the little guys went inside the big guys cage. So the following day we moved them all in together. The only blood shed we've had at all is once time Buddy and Zeek got in a minor squabble over a Cheerio and Buddy cut his foot. Not sure if he caught a nail or if he scraped it on a near by wooden toy that was in there. But it was right between his toes and bled for hours, really scared me. And him. He didn't want to go back into the big cage the next day. But I forced him to anyway and it's been fine ever since.

But my boys are all young. Even Tempy is only like 5-6 months old. So that may be why the intros were so smooth.
 
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