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Discussion Starter #1
Tried again to introduce all the boys - 15 minutes later, Beemo has bloody spot on his side and my daughter has a huge gouge in her hand that we're debating whether or not may need stitches. Of the five guys, Billy (one of the two hairless) is the major aggressor. He and Jake went at it, and my daughter, trying to protect her mouth rat (being Jake, the one who would live inside her mouth cleaning her teeth the rest of his life) went to break it up. Beemo latched on to the side of her hand and opened her up right below her pinky. She's a trooper though - she isn't crying, and she doesn't blame Billy (much).
The thing is, the way this is going I'm not sure neutering will help matters. Has anyone had experience? Or is this a thing where they'll always have to be kept separate?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Sorry, Billy grabbed her, not Beemo - I just re-read and caught that.
 

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A couple things I can think of, you could try putting like 1/2 inch of water in the bath tub and just setting them down in it, I've read that having rats do something that they don't like together can help them fight less. Also the better way to break up a rat fight is with a loud hand clap, blowing on them, or other way of separating them that doesn't involve sticking your hands anywhere near the rats when they are fighting :p How old are Billy and Beemo?
 

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We tried clapping - Sorry, I probably should have mentioned that - a few times prior with smaller scuffles, and it doesn't tend to have much effect. I think they're more or less used tot he sound of it. Reaching in and grabbing seemed to be an automatic response for her, as Jake is her rat. He's definitely her baby, so she jumped to save him without thinking about it. I think, if we decide to, for some reason, try this again, I'll bring a wooden spoon or something with me to stick in the middle of the fights to break them apart, so no hands take the teeth.

Beemo, Jake and Finn are all brothers, about four or five months old now I think. Billy and Prismo are rescues, and are larger, so I'm guessing them between five and six months maybe?
 

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From what I've hear 5-6 mo is prime time for hormones in male rats :p You could also try a spray bottle full of water to break up fights, out of curiosity where are you doing intros? If it's in their free range area then you could try entirely rearraing it so it looks different... I also had success just taking the cages of the rats that are being introduced and opening them, but the two rats I tried this with were not interested in fighting each other so I don't know how much that would help.
 

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I don't know - This is the first time I've tried intros with males, so I'm trying everything I can think of. The girls were SO much easier. We cleaned up the free-range area to make sure it smelled neutral, moved everything out of the way just in case it went badly again (this was the second attempt, after all, although there was a great deal less blood last time) and hoped for the best. We really wanted everyone to get along because it would be rather nice to combine the DCN back into one unit for the boys instead of the two apartments for them. I'd been debating to just hold off and get everyone fixed to see if that helped, but then had the idea to just give it another shot first.

I'm thinking giving it another shot may not have been the best idea.
 

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The worst intro we did was just to let the rats fight it out around the house... the battle lasted 3 weeks and lots of stuff got knocked over and broken... One rat was big and fat and was chasing the other that was smaller and faster... in the end they became very best friends....

Normally I do intros in a smaller space and keep hands on, but after I got bitten by the new rat, I decided to just give them space and let them work it out... and they did...

If you are going to try managed intros again, wear thick gloves or oven mitts.

As to neutering, rats fight during intros, it's normal... I'm not sure if new rats fighting would be considered hormonal aggression or not. My first thought is not... but I suppose there is a point where it could be.


I've done a lot of intros, some I've managed hands on and a few got out of hand... my experience is that the rats almost always work their way through it... but as I never found a formula that works all of the time, I don't consider myself an expert, I still play it by ear and make the call to intervene on the fly. It's one of those dishes I cook to taste rather than following a recipe, if you know what I mean.

I hope your daughter feels better soon.

Best luck.
 

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Oven mitts would have definitely been a good idea for this one - I wish I'd known! One of those learn as you go things I guess. I just wish it'd been me and not the kiddo :-/

@Rat Daddy is it worth trying again, do you think?
 

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A water spray bottle is good for fights, since they're a little too distracted to respond to just clapping if they're in the middle of a scuffle. Spray them with the water and it's a physical interruption that startles them and they may stop fighting for a second until you can separate them. I hope you have better luck next time! We have some bad luck with intros too most of the time and it takes a while. I also recommend trying putting them in the tub that's filled with a little water. That's worked well for me in the past.
 

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Rats are stubborn,, but I tend to be even moreso... I tend to get my way, so I personally would persist. I had good early success with intros and thought myself quite adept at once. Then things that worked once, didn't the next time... I've had two intros that ended with long brawls under the photocopier when they got away from me.. They went completely out of my control and 45 minutes later there was peace and both rats were cuddled up with each other exhausted.

I've done intros in my immersion space, that were over in less than 5 minutes and I've taken stubborn rats to my 40 acre safe site where they shouldn't fight over territory and sometimes it went well and sometimes I brought home wounded rats... because one rat learned to use tree branches to pounce on the other. I did the intro with my part wild rat in my lap on an easy chair and that went pretty well and I've gotten bitten by the new little rat I was protecting from the larger older one. I could write a novel about things that worked a treat and then didn't the next time I tried them. And yes, I have come up with a few general rules... like intros require that both rats be able to defend themselves so one doesn't just stomp the other. But a smaller faster more agile rat can do pretty well against an older slower rat for instance. I still prefer to start out hands on, but when that doesn't work I give the rats lots of space and step out of the mix... All in all, I play it by ear.

Still, in general when your rats are all socialized to see you as the parent they will build a social structure around your guidance. The outcome is almost inevitable despite however lumpy the process gets. In the end, rats are practically designed to build social relationships and live in orderly societies. So far, at least I've always been successful in the end.

But yes, things can and do go wrong... rats can get injured or even killed in the process. It's very uncommon, but it happens.

So last week we adopted Misty and Cloud has already gotten at her twice, once she yanked her out of my hand and tried to run off with her and once she pounced on her when my daughter left Misty in Cloud's cage and not realizing Misty was in the cage I put Cloud in... both times were brain farts on our part, but there were no injuries... Both were mock attacks... as rats have very sharp teeth it would only take a split second for Cloud to kill Misty. It's going to be another six weeks before Misty is going to be large enough to do intros, and I expect plenty of fireworks, but the fact that Cloud only mock attacked is a promising sign. The first time Amelia got at Max, there was a lot of blood, but they became best friends in the end after Max got her revenge.

So, I don't personally like to give too much advise on the mechanics of intros. So far, we haven't lost any rats yet and we have yet to fail... Some intros were almost instant and very easy and some were bloody and messy. Some very controlled and orderly and others absolutely out of control and one that lasted 3 weeks. I've got a 100% success rate. And I sort of have a process but no recipe. Sometimes intros work due to my clever management and sometimes despite it. But in general they do work out in the end.

Remember, your rats have to fight for status, this is very important to them and will determine how they will interact for the rest of their lives and they know it. One rat may be defending his home and his status while the other doesn't want to be pushed around or in fact wants the top job himself. On the other hand, if you are a real hands on alpha, your guys might not feel there's too much to fight for... you never know how things will play out.

So yes, I'd suggest the oven mitts and persistence, try the carrier method... perhaps or try a really large room with lots of hiding and climbing places, let the rats fight it out, but be ready to step in when necessary... Definitely make sure everyone is bonded to you before trying to intro them to each other.. But in the end the rats are going to do whatever they are going to do and it usually gets worse before it gets better.

I realize that some of the things I've mentioned seem contradictory... It's like teaching someone to cook... If the pan is too cold you will produce a steak as tough as shoe leather, so make sure it's hot.... but if your pan is too hot, you are going to wind up with a blackened steak that's raw on the inside so don't over heat the pan... you need to use the right heat... now how would you explain that to someone who's never cooked a steak before? Thankfully to some degree with rats they will help you out.

I hope that helps.

Best luck.
 

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Thanks Bob,

Today my daughter is teaching Misty the wonders of exploring the floor on her own, I went down to join in and lure her out from under the bed to romp around in the open... Getting rats to be confident in open spaces is one of the hardest parts to training a true shoulder rat... but she came out from under the bed to play with me and jump on me so we're making decent progress... My daughter already introduced Misty to the kids at the park... but we really didn't let her explore the ground too much yet... she's still really clingy, which is nice for a tiny pup.

Training a new rat pup is always so exciting and challenging. It's incredibly time consuming, but it's worth every minute of it. And yes, I'm sleeping on bath towels again... I'm letting Misty sleep in her cage at night, but I'm letting her nap with me... sort of a compromise.

Some people might wonder why we do so few rats... and perhaps why we are working on hopefully training our fourth true shoulder rat. It's because we put so much work and training into each one starting from a very young age. We've had Misty for about a week and a half and most likely we've got over a hundred hours in with her already, she knows her name and comes when called and she's learning to point to where she wants to go. Not too shabby for a rat that's about 5 weeks old. Soon she will be ready for the safe site... There's a very long way to go before she'll even have a shot at the fireworks final exam...

So few rats make the grade to become true shoulder rats and even fewer become great explorers and adventurers like Fuzzy Rat... it's an exciting time around our household and an anxious one with so many things that can go wrong between now and then.

In the mean time, we've got to get Cloud back up to speed outdoors, she's been indoors too long, but she's loosening up a bit already with two trips out last week... She's been alone by herself too long and it's starting to show. She's starting to get all lazy, apprehensive and reclusive. Winter is hard on shoulder rats. But if all goes well, we hope to have both girls ready to go for summer fun!
 
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