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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So long story short, Oxnard's cagemate passed away suddenly a month ago and I got 3 new males with the intention to introduce them to him. I thought they were younger than him, but it turns out they were just really small for their age and ended up being the same age as Oxnard. So this complicated things, and one of the new 3 is aggressive towards Oxnard and it's unlikely they will be able to live together, unless I am able to get the aggressive male neutered.

Anyway. One of the 3 is just fine with Oxnard. As in, I'm able to trust them in Oxnard's fully furnished cage together and I know they won't break out into a fight. Dill still squeaks and tries to push Oxnard away but they have slept together and ARE able to relax with eachother in the cage... Oxnard's just obsessed with being close to him and trying to wrestle since he's lonely.

Is it fair to keep Dill (the rat that has been visiting Oxnard's cage) in with Oxnard, separated from his brothers? I feel bad about it, since their cages are close and in the same room and they can still smell and hear each other. Do rats form close bonds with rats like that, would he miss being with his brothers? Would it stress them out? Whenever Dill squeaks, his brothers in the other cage seem distressed by it.

I planned on getting 2 more male babies (for sure a lot younger than Oxnard this time haha) so that Dill could live with his brothers. But I just wanted peoples' opinions on this to help me with my decision. The cage I am going to keep Oxnard and the new babies in is big enough to fit 4 rats anyway, so if Dill CAN live with him then all will still be good, but Oxnard's cage will more comfortably fit 2 rats rather than 3.

Also thought it was worth to mention this: I've seen the aggressive rat I talked about earlier puff up and go sideways at Dill. Once I came into the room and they were both puffed and in the corners of the cage so I think they got into a fight once... Perhaps Dill would get along more smoothly with Oxnard? Since the puffing up from his own brother is kind of worrysome.
 

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From the sounds of it, it should be fine for Dill to live with Oxnard and the two brothers to live on their own.
They do form close bonds and he might miss his brothers to an extent. However, you could schedule play times between Dill and his brothers - out on a neutral play area, not in a cage.
I don't think it makes sense to split Dill and then try to put him back with his brothers when you get the new babies though. Then you are breaking the bond between Dill and Oxnard and honestly that sounds like a lot of stress to put Dill (and Oxnard) through.

If your rat is really aggressive and is aggressive because he needs a neuter, that means he can't control himself. So it's likely that he will turn on his cagemate (and you) at some point. When you bring even more rats (the future baby boys) into the room, he will be even more aggressive. So if it is testosterone related aggression, you will have to get him neutered at some point.

How many intros did you do between all 4? Maybe the "aggressive" guy isn't so much aggressive as he is not used to Oxnard. What is the aggression towards Oxnard, does he attack and rat-ball him?
 

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Personally, I don't think it's unfair. I have had to separate brothers before due to aggression. As long as they all have cagemates they should be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Dill hasn't been living with Oxnard full-time. I put him in with Oxnard for varying times, and then return him to the cage. The longest he's spent in Oxnard's cage is about 5 hours. I don't think Dill and Oxnard really have a bond, I'm doing it so Oxnard can have 'rat time' until I'm able to get his new little brothers, but Dill may join the mix depending on the answers I get from you guys.

He's not REALLY aggressive - Dill does have a notch taken out of his ear but he had that before I got him, though I'm assuming it was the aggressive one who gave it to him. I didn't plan on letting the aggressive guy meet the babies at all, would he just hear them and respond to that and their smell?

Oxnard and Lugo (aggressive guy) met 4 times in the bath tub, after getting them used to each others scents for a few weeks. First time was with his 2 brothers, and that time he did get puffed but it didn't escalate too much. The next 2 times it was just him and Oxnard. All times he would get extremely puffed and would go sideways at Oxnard, and he actually gave Oxnard a scratch that drew blood. I tried my best, but Lugo just really hates Oxnard and doesn't want to be around him. I didn't let them get into a 'rat-ball'. All of this stressed me out really badly, too, unhealthily so. Headaches and whatnot, so I decided to spare the rats and myself the stress of future meetings. I may try it once more just to see if there's any change.
 

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I just meant, if you move Dill in full-time with Oxnard, then they will bond. It'd be rough for Dill to leave his current cagemates to join a new cagemate to have to leave again.
But if Dill would be staying with Oxnard and the babies that wouldn't be an issue anyway.

So you don't think Lugo has testosterone related aggression?
If he does, then yes, the smell of other rats can set him off. True aggression based on hormones that require a neuter can be escalated by other rats / new rats.
If you don't actually think he has a hormone problem then it doesn't matter.

Intros and colonies tend to do better in larger groups. So it doesn't much surprise me that intros went better with all four
than it did with just the two of them.
Being puffy isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world. Some rats will stay puffed for several intros but then calm down.
Where was the scratch?
Four times is not very many at all, many rats will require upwards of twenty intros before living together.
If it's unhealthily stressful for you, that's understandable. You might reconsider getting those babies though, there is no guarantee that those intros won't be stressful too. So your best interest may be to have 2 colonies, Oxnard & Dill and Lugo and your other guy.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I just meant, if you move Dill in full-time with Oxnard, then they will bond. It'd be rough for Dill to leave his current cagemates to join a new cagemate to have to leave again.
But if Dill would be staying with Oxnard and the babies that wouldn't be an issue anyway.

So you don't think Lugo has testosterone related aggression?
If he does, then yes, the smell of other rats can set him off. True aggression based on hormones that require a neuter can be escalated by other rats / new rats.
If you don't actually think he has a hormone problem then it doesn't matter.

Intros and colonies tend to do better in larger groups. So it doesn't much surprise me that intros went better with all four
than it did with just the two of them.
Being puffy isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world. Some rats will stay puffed for several intros but then calm down.
Where was the scratch?
Four times is not very many at all, many rats will require upwards of twenty intros before living together.
If it's unhealthily stressful for you, that's understandable. You might reconsider getting those babies though, there is no guarantee that those intros won't be stressful too. So your best interest may be to have 2 colonies, Oxnard & Dill and Lugo and your other guy.
Yeah, Lugo is set off by the smell of Oxnard. I have a ramp that they all use to get from their cages to my bed or desk, and Lugo will smell, then dig at the rug that's on the ramp and puff up. Also when I let the 3 go into Oxnard's cage (without Oxnard in there obviously) he got really puffed and got into a scuffle with his brother. Lately when I let him on my bed on the blanket I put down for all the rats, he smells Oxnard and puffs up then tries to rub himself over the blanket and will stamp the blanket with his paws.

Oxnard's scratch was on his shoulder, all healed now.

I'd read different information about intro's, I didn't know it was worth it to do so many introductions. I thought it was pretty much determined if they could get along within the first 5 or so. This is my first time dealing with all of this and all of the contradicting info I've read has only made this more stressful lol. I don't think I could handle so many aggressive intro's honestly...

Also I read that it's mostly really easy to introduce baby males to older ones since it's clear who the boss will be between them; the older rat, so they don't have to fight much about it. Plus, Oxnard is a good 'boss', he's calm, sweet, and has never shown any aggression whatsoever.
 

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I'd say Lugo is definitely an alpha type of rat.
A scratch on the should could be accidental. Not really a red-alert type of area, so that's good. I was just curious.

I personally disagree that you will always know if rat groups are compatible within 5 meetings.
But, ya. People's experiences are different and everyone has an opinion, of course. There are a lot of opinions on intros, especially. Whatever works for you personally in the end is what matters.
The SOP I personally stand by is roughly 7 days of neutral ground and 7 days of familiar ground. A lot of people I know do 28 day intros just to be safe, or because they like to take things slow.
The intro between my group took over 40 days, I have a "grumpy" male.
If you can't handle that, it's fine. Some rats are more difficult than others. Some you put together and they are best friends the same day. ^_^ (Aren't those people lucky haha!)

It is usually easier to intro baby males to older ones. I have seen intros where a younger rat has won the alpha role too, though.
It's possible Oxnard is not even an alpha. There isn't usually an alpha in groups of two, and that's what the situation was before, right?
It's very likely that intros with the younger rats will be easier. I'm just saying, it's not always the case and it's not /always/ less stressful.
 
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