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A recently adopted rat (Especially from the pet store) could have any number of rat diseases that just haven't shown up yet. One of the big ones is SDA, but lice and mites could also be on the rat, or any kind of respiratory problem. This is why quarantining is important. Quarantining gives enough time for symptoms to develop in the new rat if there are any unknown diseases. Your old rats are protected from potential diseases from the new rat, and your new rat is equally protected in case your old rats have just come down with something.

To quarantine:

It is advised that you store your new rat(s) in a separate airspace. A separate airspace means a different house entirely, not just a different room in your house and definitely not outside. The rat will need to be in this airspace for three weeks, at which point you'll be able to begin introductions if the rat seems healthy.

If you do not have a separate airspace:

If you are completely unable to store your new rats in a separate airspace, then you may try to store them as far as possible from your current rats in the same house. NOT in the same room and preferably not even in an adjoining room.

Additionally, using this method, you must be very careful when handling one rat then handling another. Some people have recommended going so far as even having a change of clothes when switching rats, which I would have to recommend as well. Also, wash your hands thoroughly before switching which rats you are handling.

Not storing your rats in a separate airspace greatly reduces the effectiveness of quarantine, so try to do two airspaces if possible.

If you see a health issue

Take the rat to the vet. Every time the rat has to go to the vet, start over the three week timer on the quarantine until the rat is healthy. I know it can be hard sometimes to wait so long, but it's very important for the rat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My rats broke quarantine because <insert excuse here>

A: Once your rats meet outside of quarantine, the entire purpose of quarantine is pretty much blown. Though you may continue quarantine as usual, you may also continue on to introductions and simply hope for the best. In the future, try to take all precautions and don't repeat the same mistakes again. Sometimes we get lucky, but sometimes we don't.

Q: Do my rats really need to be quarantined? They look perfectly healthy.

A: Yes, they do. Some rats can have diseases that show no symptoms (Or even that they personally are immune to), yet they can still pass these diseases on to other rats. Skipping quarantine is never worth the risk.

Q: I don't have a quarantine cage!

A: That's not a question. You MUST get a cage, and since this article assumes you already bought a rat, then for some reason decided to sit down and read this before dumping your rat in with the others, it is imperative you get one immediately before introducing your rats to each other. The Dapper Rat has an article on making a quick cheap cage that I wouldn't recommend for any length of time, but may be good for a week or two until you can find a better one.

Q: What if the rat is coming from a reputable breeder who takes good care of their rats? Do I still need to quarantine? Original post by ScootersPet

A: Yes, quarantine is still necessary. Remember, quarantine is not only to protect your old rats from new diseases, but also to protect the new rat from random diseases the older rats might come up with.

Sources

Rat and Mouse Club of America
The Dapper Rat

(Originally written by: Cjshrader--Thanks!!)


i would also like to add a bit of trick i have learned when introducing rats. give them all a bath TOGETHER. normally its easier to bathe one rat at a time (though time consuming, there's less rats trying to make a break for it) but i've found that when you add just a bit of water (just enough to get their feet wet) any aggression that they were thinking about is out the the window and after only a short session they will at least tolerate each other if not becoming the best of buds.

this worked especailly well for Iedani, my cage aggressive and slightly territorial rat when introducing violet. i did step one, then went to intro them in the tub (at the time i had 6 rats plus the new rat). iedani was the only one that issue with her but had a HUGE issue. before i could intervene iedani had ripped open violet's side and i had to take her to the vet to have her skin glued to back together.

while violet was healing i kept their cages close and after she was better i tried the tub again. again iedani got huffy, but as soon as i put a bit of water in there she settled down and all of them were huddled together (it sounds bad but the water was warm and most were used to baths anyway, they're just like cats though and are complete wimps when it comes to water). after the bath i put them out on the couch (semi-neutral) and they were ok. i did the bath thing a few more times and rotated partners into violet's cage. iedani was the last to rotate in and by that time she was nearly perfectly fine with violet. they both went foofy but neither made any more signs of aggression and after an hour both were cuddled together in the hammock.

so, now whenever i intro a new rat, they all have a bath together. i am fairly lucky though as well. except for iedani, all of my rats have been fairly easily accepting of other rats. and i have not had to rotate the rats again either. so between the bath and the rotate you may be able to get that territorial rat that you had pegged as a solo rat to actually accept the others as well. its worked for me at least.

(Added By Twitch--Thanks!)
 
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