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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,I'm looking for some feedback regarding introducing a new rat to my two older boys. Fenton and Bastien are brothers and are just shy of six months old. Tavey is about two and a half months old.Bastien took really well to Tavey. There is the occasional wrestling match, however most of the time they can be found snuggled up together. The whole introduction took about 48 hours. Fenton had to be separated from the cage as he bit Bastien's ear. The vet suggested removing him from the cage until Bastien's ear heals. This is very atypical for Fenton. The day that it happened Bastien and Fenton had had zero contact with Tavey. Anyways, whenever Fenton comes into contact with Tavey, he puffs up and attacks. I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas as to how to go about this. I've tried switching items in the cages to get them used to the smell of each other. I've tried reinforcing with treats but then I've noticed Fenton becomes food possessive and the aggression escalates. When I intervene, Fenton is good about not biting me. So at least I'm able to get in between if I need to. I've also put the two cages right beside each other. I'm at a loss. :(
 

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You could try the carrier method. Or as a last resort you could neuter him.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
What is the carrier method? :$ I want to avoid neutering. My vet has somewhat talked me out of it unless I absolutely have to have it done.
 

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I've experienced both the good and the bad with introducing males. What I've found works are a few different techniques.

First method I've tried successfully is filling a spray bottle with vanilla extract and water. (buy the big bottle of vanilla extract). I've sprayed the ratties down, put them in a smaller area (i.e. carrier method - I think Isumurat has a fantastic article on her site about it), and monitor them. The rats are so engrossed in grooming themselves, and then each other that there was very little scuffling going on. Downside to this is that any white marking on your ratty is going to get stained from the vanilla. I usually keep them in the carrier for 14 hours, and in the beginning keep them "vanilla-fied".

Another method that has worked for me when the Vanilla doesn't is to give the rats a bath using baby shampoo. I just introduced a gruop of 5 rats, 3 are 7 months in the beginning of February, and two are a couple months younger. I started with my most dominant rat, gave him a bath, rinsed him really well, and then put him in the tub, which was filled with a couple inches (at the deepest end) of warm water. Second dominant rat bathed, and also placed in the tub. Then one of the new guys. I had a very fearful, reactive boy who freaked out anytime anyone look at him. He was washed (took my time, moving slowly and gently with him as he was petrified), and then placed in the tub. Since I had added the fearful boy I monitored the group for 10-15 minutes. They were mainly concerned with getting OUT of the tub, and less interested in each other. Once they stopped trying to get out of the tub, they paid attention to one another, but none of the usual dominance stances were happening, so I continued bathing the last two boys (one used to the group, and one new boy). I had had several failed attempts at getting these guys introduced successfully - to the point of blood being drawn a couple times. All five stayed in the tub for probably a half hour. I had a big tote modified into a birth box ready with fleece in the bottom, and began pulling the boys out one by one and drying them. Each went into the tote, and they spent the next 24 hours in the tote together. By the following evening they were a bonded group and TB (the very fearful boy) was smack in the middle of a rat pile. I had no trouble reintroducing them back into the DCN with the rest of their cage mates and since then (couple days) have had no issues whatsoever.

Good luck with your guys! And if you go the route of the bath - be prepared to come away with a LOT of scratches. Three of my boys are super docile and were easy to bathe, but the two new boys were set on getting AWAY from that water... which mean climbing up my arms.
 

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There is a sticky in this section explaining it really in depth. And I would completly understand if you didn't want to neuter your rat. Mine aren't neutered either.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The carrier method worked well for about 24 hours. The three of them squabbled a bit at first but then spent the rest of their time snuggled up together in a pile. I put them into a bigger cage - no toys or levels yet, just the actual cage and fleece lining with food scattered and three water bottles - and my aggressive boy almost immediately puffed up and started attacking the new rat. No blood was drawn from the rats. Not yet anyways. Before I put them in the carrier initially I washed them off with puppy shampoo and let them "play" in a bath with vanilla extract in it as well. I'm unsure of how to proceed. Should I put them back into the small cage/carrier?
 

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The thing with the carrier method is the time you spend can vary a lot by group. I've done some intros where they spent maybe an hour in the carrier then jumped up to a full cage, and others where they've needed several days in the carrier and intrim cages before moving into the full sized cage. I would move back to the carrier for a few days at least, and look to see if you can shrink the size of the existing cage (like a false roof), then when you move into it transfer the stuff from the carrier into it. It can help a lot. If oyu could move the cage to a different room at first this may also help.

The final step into there normal cage is often the most difficult.
 
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