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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We got our newest rat a few weeks ago after obsessing for a week over how sweet she was. We were pleasantly surprised that she wasn't claimed from the pet store, so we snatched her up.

Either she is the most unflappable rat ever, or she is deaf. She hasn't reacted to noises: paper bags rustling, a sharp clap when one of the other rats gets naughty, and even the rustle of the Cheerio box, which is enough to send the other rats tripping over one another to get to the cage door.

This of course causes a problem when the rats are exploring the top of the cage, and it's time to put them back in. Normally we shake the Cheerios, but Little Tuck doesn't notice. I've taken to beating the cage shelf four times whenever I give a treat so that Tuck has a stimulus to react to that she can feel.

What are other ways that people may have used to interact with a deaf rat? I know they can respond to hand signals, but I don't know what to try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Incidentally, we've agreed on the four rapid taps on the cage (ala, Doctor Who if you know what I mean). I've been banging on the plastic shelf of the DCN prior to bringing the food out. Though now I'm thinking I should make sure to bang on the solid floor of the top level and not the movable shelf. I've had one of these shelves fall twice. I don't want to shake this one loose, especially since I have a litter box on that shelf now. Not sure the hooks would hold it up in the air. More importantly, I don't want a rat to get injured.
 

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I have never had a deaf animal but you could probably just move slowly around her and if her back is to you than make sure she can see you. Rats usually can hear you before they can see you but if she is healthy than i don't think it is a giant deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We saw her be startled by her cagemate coming up from behind. Rats are normally pretty silent anyway when they walk, but I imagine a rat could hear another walking up behind her. So, poor girl was startled by that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We found another issue arising from the deaf rat. Now that she's almost as large as her sisters, she's able to better hold her own in grooming battles, and she's able to hold down her older sisters at times. When a rat's had enough of being held down, she usually squeaks to show her submission. The problem is that Tuck doesn't let up when the squeaking happens. I'm not so worried about the adult rats since they should be strong enough to wriggle free, but I am concerned about what this means in the future when Tuck is an adult and we eventually replace our oldest rats with younglings.

Fighting has died down since we first had her move in with the established rats, but every so often I hear a loud squawk. This used to happen primarily with the alpha rat and Tuck, which was to be expected with changing the group dynamic. Now that it's been several weeks, I'm starting to wonder if the rare big fights that happen are the result of Tuck getting aggressive and not hearing the cues to back off, so her older sisters have resorted to boxing. Unfortunately, this may be the only way for Tuck to get the hint, and maybe she'll pick up on nonverbal cues when a rat has had enough of her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, since I have a question specifically about my deaf rat, I may as well post here so the background is available.

Tuck is our youngest rat, and the others are getting on. In fact, I'm taking the oldest rat to be euthanized tomorrow morning. Eventually the other older rats will die off, and I'll have to consider adopting new rats.

So Tuck still overgrooms since she can't hear the rat protest. This has been an issue with my oldest rat being unable to defend herself, so I've been separating them in the DCN when we are in bed and at work. Once the oldest finally finds peace tomorrow, I can let the rats roam in the DCN freely.

But if I get young rats, I'm certain Tuck will overgroom them and possibly traumatize them. I don't want that to happen. I'm looking for possible insight when that time comes. Some options that come to mind:
  • Get young rats and keep the DCN separated until they get big enough (how big is that? 4 months?).
  • Don't get young rats and see if rescues have older rats and hope they gel with the rest of the mischief.
  • Assuming the rats die off according to age, let Tuck be alone in her senior years (this sounds terrible, but I list it as an option, no matter how bad I think it is).
 

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Oh my this can be a issue i would consider choosing a rat who is more dominant than your current rats because if the grooming gets to much even if she cant hear they will show her its unacceptable to force groom she can still learn even though deaf.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Oh my this can be a issue i would consider choosing a rat who is more dominant than your current rats because if the grooming gets to much even if she cant hear they will show her its unacceptable to force groom she can still learn even though deaf.
Yeah, my other rats will get sick of it eventually and get into boxing stance. Sadly, Tuck still hasn't learned when to stop before it gets to that point. But my rats are apparently really patient, because they will just sit there and take it while squeaking loudly. It takes a lot before they get fed up and really start squawking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
They spend a few minutes circling and chasing each other once it gets to that point. I don't know how long it normally lasts because I'll usually intervene and distract them. I imagine they wander off on their own. I don't come home to injuries, so there are no horrible incidents when I'm away.

But that's against older rats. When Tuck is no longer the youngest, I worry that she will overpower young rats. I'd hate to give her up. We'd like to have younger rats because it is pretty awesome to see them grow up, but we may have to adopt older rats until Tuck passes. I just worry if the introductions don't work out, and they end up being incompatible. I haven't adopted an older rat. I looked at one last year, but she was really skittish and bitey, and we declined to take her because we didn't think we'd have the time to work with her. She seemed a special case.

It's still early. For all I know, Tuck won't be the last rat standing. I say this an hour after putting my eldest to sleep at only 19 months old. So who knows? I'm a thinker, and I think ahead.
 
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