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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Please help. I just began introductions with my adults rats and 2 new baby rats a few days ago. I was doing it in a neutral space because they kept escaping the bathtub. One of my girls is extremely unhappy and keeps siding up to the babies and squeaking loudly and puffing up her fur. No real fights, a few attempts to pin but mostly just anger. One of the babies is following her and is not giving up on being friends. The other baby prefers to be in the bonding pouch. I am so upset that it is going this way and just want them to be able to live together eventually. I have a small crap cage I can use for the carrier method but Margot is down right mean to the babies who couldn’t be sweeter. Please help.
 

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Out of the many introductions I have done with my ratties, patience is key! I know that desperate feeling of wanting your rats to get along as soon as possible, but some rats take more time to adjust than others. The fact that your rat isn't causing any real aggressive fights is a reassuring sign that there is still a chance at bonding and a big room for improvement. Based on her behavior though, I would try and take things a step back seeing as to how she is reacting to the baby rats. Start by simply keeping their cages close to each other and swapping toys, hides, or even just bedding with each other scents to get themselves familiar. If she's responding well to this after a few days of adjusting to their scent I would then try introductions again. It's best to keep them brief at first and then slowly increase the time spent together as they begin to feel more comfortable around each other. It can also be helpful to leave treats scattered around the neutral area to reinforce a positive environment. Always make sure to keep an eye on their body language and if you think the interaction might start to go sour, it's best to cut it off early and end it on a positive note. Another thing you could try is putting a little bit of liquid food like yogurt or something on the baby rat's fur to incentivize your adult rats to groom and bond with them, as well as associate them with something positive like a treat. The bottom line is always patience and consistency, don't feel defeated! I've had rats get along in only a few days while I've had some take over a month to get accustomed to each other, but more likely than not they will learn to get used to one another with time. Trust me, that feeling of seeing them snuggling together after all the hard work will be worthwhile.
Hope this helps and best of luck!
 

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I agree completely with julia0404. Introductions are hard and one of the hardest things you have to do as a rat owner. They are stressful for both you and the rat, but it will work out! As long as she is not starting fights and not biting to injure, just keep on having hope! Maybe take a step back, but at least keep an eye on them 24/7 so that if any real fight happen, you can break them up (NOT WITH YOUR BARE HANDS, you do not want to get bitten). One video that really helped me was this one:


I am doing introductions at the moment where my alpha female is being a real bully. What my vet recommended might be something to do if things would get worse (it might not be something for everybody and honestly, I am struggling with it as well). My vet has had rats for over 20 years and she always does the following; when one of the rats is being really bad and trying to bite a new rat to serious injuries (which happened in my case) she puts the aggresor aside in her/his own cage for about 1 week, alone. Then she lets the others of the pack get all comfortable together (which in my case is 2 females that I already had and 2 new females). This usually goes quite well, as the aggresor is now not in the picture. It is super sad for the aggresive girl, as she now is spending time alone in a cage (which is familiar for her) without any attention or friends. In my case, I put her in my room where I work, so she does know I am around and I can keep an eye on her health etc. Then the vet says to switch the rats, the new girls + old girls go into the cage of the aggresive one, and visa versa. This you keep for another couple of days and then you start introducing the aggresive one again in a small cage. This should go much more smoothly because the aggresive one has had some time alone, and wants to be with friends again.

My vet has done this for all her very difficult cases, and it always went great she told me. I am trying it now for the first time (and having a rough time because I do not like to have my baby stuck in a cage by herself) but if it helps the common good, it is worth it! So just keep on having patience, also with yourself. It is hard! But you can do it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
She’s being a little b even from her cage just huffing and puffing up her fur. Is there still hope?



Out of the many introductions I have done with my ratties, patience is key! I know that desperate feeling of wanting your rats to get along as soon as possible, but some rats take more time to adjust than others. The fact that your rat isn't causing any real aggressive fights is a reassuring sign that there is still a chance at bonding and a big room for improvement. Based on her behavior though, I would try and take things a step back seeing as to how she is reacting to the baby rats. Start by simply keeping their cages close to each other and swapping toys, hides, or even just bedding with each other scents to get themselves familiar. If she's responding well to this after a few days of adjusting to their scent I would then try introductions again. It's best to keep them brief at first and then slowly increase the time spent together as they begin to feel more comfortable around each other. It can also be helpful to leave treats scattered around the neutral area to reinforce a positive environment. Always make sure to keep an eye on their body language and if you think the interaction might start to go sour, it's best to cut it off early and end it on a positive note. Another thing you could try is putting a little bit of liquid food like yogurt or something on the baby rat's fur to incentivize your adult rats to groom and bond with them, as well as associate them with something positive like a treat. The bottom line is always patience and consistency, don't feel defeated! I've had rats get along in only a few days while I've had some take over a month to get accustomed to each other, but more likely than not they will learn to get used to one another with time. Trust me, that feeling of seeing them snuggling together after all the hard work will be worthwhile.
Hope this helps and best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It really looks like the alpha really only goes after the most confident baby maybe cause she refuses to submit


I agree completely with julia0404. Introductions are hard and one of the hardest things you have to do as a rat owner. They are stressful for both you and the rat, but it will work out! As long as she is not starting fights and not biting to injure, just keep on having hope! Maybe take a step back, but at least keep an eye on them 24/7 so that if any real fight happen, you can break them up (NOT WITH YOUR BARE HANDS, you do not want to get bitten). One video that really helped me was this one:


I am doing introductions at the moment where my alpha female is being a real bully. What my vet recommended might be something to do if things would get worse (it might not be something for everybody and honestly, I am struggling with it as well). My vet has had rats for over 20 years and she always does the following; when one of the rats is being really bad and trying to bite a new rat to serious injuries (which happened in my case) she puts the aggresor aside in her/his own cage for about 1 week, alone. Then she lets the others of the pack get all comfortable together (which in my case is 2 females that I already had and 2 new females). This usually goes quite well, as the aggresor is now not in the picture. It is super sad for the aggresive girl, as she now is spending time alone in a cage (which is familiar for her) without any attention or friends. In my case, I put her in my room where I work, so she does know I am around and I can keep an eye on her health etc. Then the vet says to switch the rats, the new girls + old girls go into the cage of the aggresive one, and visa versa. This you keep for another couple of days and then you start introducing the aggresive one again in a small cage. This should go much more smoothly because the aggresive one has had some time alone, and wants to be with friends again.

My vet has done this for all her very difficult cases, and it always went great she told me. I am trying it now for the first time (and having a rough time because I do not like to have my baby stuck in a cage by herself) but if it helps the common good, it is worth it! So just keep on having patience, also with yourself. It is hard! But you can do it!
 

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She’s being a little b even from her cage just huffing and puffing up her fur. Is there still hope?
I wouldn't give up just yet, things like this take time. This week just focus on getting her acclimated to the baby rat's scents. Does she have a favorite hammock or bed that she tends to sleep in? Try putting that one in the baby's cage and let them sleep in it for a while. I would then put it back in her cage and see if she's still willing to sleep in it with their scent, hopefully she will. It's only the first day of getting used to their scent but in the next few days she should grow more accustomed to it. Once she starts to act more relaxed in the presence of their scent, I would then move onto the next steps. If you wanted to as well, this might sound silly but, swapping their poop into each other's cage can also help transfer scent and almost kind of act as a territorial marker. If she responds alright to that I would try cage swaps, where each of them spend some time in the other's cage and see how she does with that before you even consider another face-to-face introduction. Keep it up and remember patience is key, I wouldn't be surprised if this takes over a week or so to resolve but don't get discouraged! Resistance is a normal behavior and especially if she seems to be in charge, it will take her time to get used to things not going exactly her way, but eventually I'm sure she will give in and learn to accept them.
 

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Again completely agree with julia0405. It seems like we are in exactly the same situation though haha, my alpha does exactly the same. She goed completely ballistic when the cages are close together. But indeed have patience, let's keep each other informed to see how it goes. I'm now doing the method that julia0405 suggests, keeping the alpha apart and then swapping things in the cages and doing a full cage swap eventually. Maybe this will help: I've spoken to the Rat sanctuary that I got my new ones from and she's had rats for over 26 years. She said that there are very little introductions that do not work out at all, if you have enough patience! In her 26 years, she only had 1 or 2 not work out at all (even with dominant males, which is much harder). Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So things in a neutral space are good but my alpha who is nervous and not confident chases and tackles and pins the babies wherever they are if we are in the big room which the alpha has claimed as her own. This means that she is aggressive even from her cage to then in the cage next to her. I put them in a small cage for an hour but they never really settled. Any suggestions?

Out of the many introductions I have done with my ratties, patience is key! I know that desperate feeling of wanting your rats to get along as soon as possible, but some rats take more time to adjust than others. The fact that your rat isn't causing any real aggressive fights is a reassuring sign that there is still a chance at bonding and a big room for improvement. Based on her behavior though, I would try and take things a step back seeing as to how she is reacting to the baby rats. Start by simply keeping their cages close to each other and swapping toys, hides, or even just bedding with each other scents to get themselves familiar. If she's responding well to this after a few days of adjusting to their scent I would then try introductions again. It's best to keep them brief at first and then slowly increase the time spent together as they begin to feel more comfortable around each other. It can also be helpful to leave treats scattered around the neutral area to reinforce a positive environment. Always make sure to keep an eye on their body language and if you think the interaction might start to go sour, it's best to cut it off early and end it on a positive note. Another thing you could try is putting a little bit of liquid food like yogurt or something on the baby rat's fur to incentivize your adult rats to groom and bond with them, as well as associate them with something positive like a treat. The bottom line is always patience and consistency, don't feel defeated! I've had rats get along in only a few days while I've had some take over a month to get accustomed to each other, but more likely than not they will learn to get used to one another with time. Trust me, that feeling of seeing them snuggling together after all the hard work will be worthwhile.
Hope this helps and best of luck!
 

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So things in a neutral space are good but my alpha who is nervous and not confident chases and tackles and pins the babies wherever they are if we are in the big room which the alpha has claimed as her own. This means that she is aggressive even from her cage to then in the cage next to her. I put them in a small cage for an hour but they never really settled. Any suggestions?
I would keep reinforcing the environments that she acts favorably in for a while so that they can adjust and get used to each other without too much aggression. As for the little squabbles, this is completely normal as the alpha is asserting her dominance and is putting the babies "in their place" so to speak. I would always advise keeping an eye on these disputes, but let them resolve on their own unless blood is drawn or it goes to far. Make sure to always have a towel or spray bottle at the ready in case you do need to break up any fights. As for any additional advice, reinforcement is key, key swapping scents between cages, keep doing introductions. It might even be beneficial to do multiple, shorter introductions throughout the day as opposed to a single, longer introductions. Consistency is important as well when doing these introductions as slowly your rats will come to understand that this is not a temporary situation and must learn to live with one another. As for other things you can do to help, if you haven't done so already I would recommend leaving treats out during introductions to reinforce it as a positive experience as well as trying to put a liquid-based treat on the baby rats' fur and encouraging the alpha to try and lick it off of them to promote a positive bonding experience, hope these tips can help. And as Nynie7 said, it is almost impossible for rat introductions not to eventually work out in the long run, just keep on at it and stay consistent and hopefully they'll be getting along in no time!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for your response. In a neutral space, she’s annoyed with them but not aggressive and then during free roam she actively pursues them and chases them all over and attacks. No injuries or long fights yet but the free roam is in the room her cage is in. They have spent time in an carrier and settled slightly but I don’t know what else to do to stop her from being so mean in the main space. She will go into their cage and start aggressive behavior too. It makes my rat mommy heart so sad

I would keep reinforcing the environments that she acts favorably in for a while so that they can adjust and get used to each other without too much aggression. As for the little squabbles, this is completely normal as the alpha is asserting her dominance and is putting the babies "in their place" so to speak. I would always advise keeping an eye on these disputes, but let them resolve on their own unless blood is drawn or it goes to far. Make sure to always have a towel or spray bottle at the ready in case you do need to break up any fights. As for any additional advice, reinforcement is key, key swapping scents between cages, keep doing introductions. It might even be beneficial to do multiple, shorter introductions throughout the day as opposed to a single, longer introductions. Consistency is important as well when doing these introductions as slowly your rats will come to understand that this is not a temporary situation and must learn to live with one another. As for other things you can do to help, if you haven't done so already I would recommend leaving treats out during introductions to reinforce it as a positive experience as well as trying to put a liquid-based treat on the baby rats' fur and encouraging the alpha to try and lick it off of them to promote a positive bonding experience, hope these tips can help. And as Nynie7 said, it is almost impossible for rat introductions not to eventually work out in the long run, just keep on at it and stay consistent and hopefully they'll be getting along in no time!
 

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Thank you for your response. In a neutral space, she’s annoyed with them but not aggressive and then during free roam she actively pursues them and chases them all over and attacks. No injuries or long fights yet but the free roam is in the room her cage is in. They have spent time in an carrier and settled slightly but I don’t know what else to do to stop her from being so mean in the main space. She will go into their cage and start aggressive behavior too. It makes my rat mommy heart so sad
I totally understand that feeling! It took me over a month to get my two adult males to cooperate so I definitely understand where you’re coming from. The biggest take away from my own experiences is being patient and not taking the next steps until your rats are ready. From what you said it sounds like the neutral space is going the best so far, so what I would maybe try is only letting them interact in the neutral space for a week or so until the alpha’s annoyance goes away and she gets more comfortable with them. Taking them from a neutral space and then putting them somewhere where the alpha is more territorial only seems to be hindering progress because she goes from tolerating them in the neutral space to then feeling the need to be defensive around her cage in the free roam space. I would just focus on making the neutral zone a positive environment and keep reinforcing multiple introductions in this space until the annoyance seems to go away. You never want to move onto the next step until your rats body language is showing that they are comfortable with doing so. Keep at it for a couple of days and see how it goes, by the sounds of it the alpha is already getting more used to the babies in the past few days, but it just seems like she isn’t ready to live with them in her own turf in the free-roam space so it’s best not to force her to do so until she is comfortable. Don't get disheartened, any progress no matter how small is progress!
 
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