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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi! We have a small water bottle in our rats' cage. The kind with a roller-ball nipple. They're used to it and they know how to drink from it.

Recently, we purchased a bigger bottle that can be refilled without being removed from the cage. It has a different nipple on it...a leak-free one that you need to tap to release water. It's a different shape and they just won't use it.

We kept the old bottle in the cage because we were hoping to have two, but they won't touch the new one (except to sniff around it sometimes). I've tried tapping the nipple and bringing my finger to their snouts; they'll lick the water up, and when I try to lead them back to the nipple, they just sniff.

How can I teach them that this is water? Will they figure it out over time? Should I keep up the tapping/feeding/leading back to nipple? Or will they figure it out on their own eventually?
 

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Sugar & Cookie
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In general they're going to prefer the roller-ball style, it's easier for them to get water out. So if you want them to start using the new type, you'll need to take out the original one first. I've switched styles with two sets of rats, and they both adapted quickly once I took the old bottle out.

Once they figure out that the lever releases water, they should get the hang of it quickly. You can press it to make sure there's some water on the end of the spout, which your rats will smell and investigate. If that isn't enough, dab a little honey or something soft on the spout, to encourage them to lick & explore.

If they don't use the new water bottle at all within five or six hours, give them the old style again so they don't dehydrate. Leave it in for a couple of hours/overnight, and then take it out to try the new style again. It may take a couple of tries before they are thirsty enough to get over their reluctance.

If that doesn't work, then the lever may be too large or stiff for them to work comfortably. The Lixit brand "wide mouth" bottle that most stores carry is actually meant for rabbits, so it's got a pretty big lever that I decided was too much for my rats. You can work the lever with your finger for a couple of hours to try and loosen it up. Or you can replace it. The one I use is from bunnyrabbit.com with their "rodent" spout ( https://www.bunnyrabbit.com/price/waterbottle.htm#cavy ) which is much smaller, and I haven't had any problems with it. There are some bottles in this top-fill style marketed towards birds that also have a smaller version of the lever spout but I don't have brands or links offhand.

Also, since you want two water bottles in their cage, I would suggest getting a second lever style and not use their original bottle at all. Otherwise in my experience they will keep preferring the original roller-ball style and ignoring the new one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
In general they're going to prefer the roller-ball style, it's easier for them to get water out. So if you want them to start using the new type, you'll need to take out the original one first. I've switched styles with two sets of rats, and they both adapted quickly once I took the old bottle out.

Once they figure out that the lever releases water, they should get the hang of it quickly. You can press it to make sure there's some water on the end of the spout, which your rats will smell and investigate. If that isn't enough, dab a little honey or something soft on the spout, to encourage them to lick & explore.

If they don't use the new water bottle at all within five or six hours, give them the old style again so they don't dehydrate. Leave it in for a couple of hours/overnight, and then take it out to try the new style again. It may take a couple of tries before they are thirsty enough to get over their reluctance.

If that doesn't work, then the lever may be too large or stiff for them to work comfortably. The Lixit brand "wide mouth" bottle that most stores carry is actually meant for rabbits, so it's got a pretty big lever that I decided was too much for my rats. You can work the lever with your finger for a couple of hours to try and loosen it up. Or you can replace it. The one I use is from bunnyrabbit.com with their "rodent" spout ( https://www.bunnyrabbit.com/price/waterbottle.htm#cavy ) which is much smaller, and I haven't had any problems with it. There are some bottles in this top-fill style marketed towards birds that also have a smaller version of the lever spout but I don't have brands or links offhand.

Also, since you want two water bottles in their cage, I would suggest getting a second lever style and not use their original bottle at all. Otherwise in my experience they will keep preferring the original roller-ball style and ignoring the new one.
Interesting, thanks! I'm not sure if the problem is with the nipple size--I don't think they understand it's meant to be licked for water. They've had a roller ball bottle their whole lives. The size looks suitable for them...but I won't be able to tell until I get them to try licking it. I'll try a little bit of honey on the tip and keep that in mind.

And so far it seems like you're right about preference for the roller ball, lol. I'll try removing that one for a while. Money is a little tight right now, so I was hoping to only have to buy one bottle...but you make a good point about preference.

Thanks!!!
 
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