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Discussion Starter #1
I have an opportunity to foster 2 boys for an indefinite time or adopt a neutered male. I have 4 girls who are sisters and they've been with me for about 3 months. I don't know what to do? Of course, I want to love them all, but would it be difficult to introduce a new adult male to my girls? Would it be difficult? Would having a pair of boys kept separately but in the same room be something I'd regret? I don't know. Opinion?
 

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It can be hard to say no. I have some friends who have a menagerie, because the wife adopts every stray they find. It's like you have to divert her attention if there's a free animal in the vicinity.

I suspect that adopting the male would work. I never had mixed sexes before, but I've read pretty good success with neutered males and females.

I suspect one danger of fostering is that you might get attached to the rats. But then again, rats have shorter lifespans, so it must be common to become attached to rats and then lose them anyway, so this may be nothing new. I don't know the situation of your foster rats, but I think one thing to consider is what if the person cannot take the rats back? Then you are adopting these two full-time. Are you prepared to do that if it should happen?

I know that there are people with segregated rats, but I think I would prefer to keep all my rats in one home/play area, which you couldn't do with these two males. But then, I have limited space. People with segregated rats probably have adequate space to house both sexes separately.

So if I were in your shoes, I'd say no at first since three rats are plenty for me. But if the neutered male is a real sweetheart, I'd probably be okay with introducing him to my females and keeping him.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ok. I think you're right. It's so hard to say no, but I do find it to be a good amount of work to take care of my four. I also have cats and kids and parents and a husband. I keep my rats in my bedroom, and their 2 attached cages take up too much room as it is. I think ill decline the 2 fosters, but maybe accept the neutered dude. They are all laboratory rescue rats who have never had a proper home nor love nor kindness. They all appreciate everything that they can get. So, it's soooooo hard to turn away.Thanks for taking the time to offer your ideas on the matter.
 

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Sometimes you just need a little time to detach yourself from their plight. It's hard to do, because rats can be very personable, so it's easy to get attached to some. But in the grand scheme of things, there are just so many rats out there. With their crazy reproduction rates and short lifespans, rats just cycle on and on. So when we meet a new rat, we're only seeing a small portion of waves and waves of rats. And the sad fact is that there are likely some really awesome ones out there that end up on the rotten side of luck; they get fed to snakes, they get sacrificed in labs, or they simply die in the wild. It sucks, and now I managed to depress myself.

But because of the high mortality of rats and the statistical impossibility that we can save them all, we have to turn our focus to the rats that we can care for. I have three lovely rats who will never be fed to animals, experimented on, or left to their own devices in the wild. I spoil them, and I'll keep doing that until they reach the end of their lives.

And we need to balance their current needs with the future. It's tempting to take on more rats, but new rats will take up space, money, and attention. As such, we need to be discriminatory in our selection. I almost got a fourth rat. We were at a pet store the other day and found the friendliest rat ever. Well, not as friendly as our, but for a rat who spends her time in the back room, this one was really friendly. We were tempted to get her, but we remembered that the three we have take up plenty of time. That fourth rat has to be special. In the end, my wife rejected her because she was a) larger than our current rats so we weren't sure how they would get along and b) not a Dumbo rat. Personally, I was willing to overlook those obstacles for this rat, but this is something we both have to agree on, so we ended up not buying her. I still think about that rat. She was included with the feeders if you can believe that. I told the employee that this rat was so sweet that she should absolutely be a display rat. She could sway any newcomer who was on the fence about owning a rat (though such a newcomer would likely only purchase the rat singly, which would be unfortunate).

So yeah, all that just to say that you sometimes have to stand your ground and say no. But you know, be open for that rat that wins you over. We're still waiting for that fourth rat to win both of us over.
 

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I started with two rats. I bought them a FN. Then the rat rescue in town got some in and there was no housing available at the rescue for them. I offered to foster, but wound up adopting. Then there was a major rescue effort in Ojai, California. I still had room in the FN and they were desperate for homes for over 100 rats, so I took in a few more, including a neutered male. I decided 8 is enough. Then another 3 brothers came into the rescue and I offered to foster them until an adoption event when I expected to see them go. Just before the event one of the brothers became hormonal, they weren't adopted, and I got them neutered and kept them. My sister decided she wanted another rat and I took her to a breeder who turned out to be a feeder breeder to find one. Out of that trip I wound up with two more, because one ran into my shirt and I wouldn't give her back and one that my sister got bit her and I got her by default. So, I wanted 2. 8 was enough. And I wound up with 13. Long winded way of saying you really have to decide when to say "No". It's all too easy to become overwhelmed by the number of needy rats, and we can't save them all.
 

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If I were in your place, I would definitely go with the neutered male. Having two "extra" rats that can't be in the same cage or play area is a big downside to me. I used to keep both males and females (intact) and while I loved all of them, it made everything more difficult. Separate playtime, separate cages, separate cage-cleaning... The cage cleaning was the main thing because essentially I had four cages to clean (two double critter nations)... and then I had even more than that because a male decided to go all hormonally aggressive and nearly kill one of the other boys, so both of them had to be separated from everyone resulting in six cages that needed cleaning. THEN one of the other males became hormonally aggressive as well, but thankfully I had already reintroduced the injured rat and rehomed the murderous rat, so I didn't have as many cages. No more intact males allowed in this house. =/ Never ever ever. I've had nothing but bad luck keeping groups of intact males. >.<

It's soooooooooo much nicer for everyone to be able to live together. It simplifies everything. For that reason, the two intact males wouldn't be an option unless they could be neutered which, since you're just fostering, is probably not an option. And let me tell you... I've only ever had one neutered male, but man a single neutered male in a cage of females has it great. All of my girls adore him. He is the go-to for cuddling and play. Even my old girl, Eevee, who is close to passing adores him. He never bothers her (whereas the young girls annoy her) and she seeks him out specifically if she wants cuddling. He is so chill and sweet to everyone (human and rat). I highly recommend having neutered males. Pooka is the only one I've kept (I temporarily took in two males and had them neutered), so I don't know how they are in general. I just know I wouldn't trade mine for anything.
 

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All 13 of mine (4 neutered males 9 spayed females) got on great. Once the three boys were neutered, there were no more problems with them.
 

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Some time ago, I met a lady who had mice and rats, she didn't consider what she had to be an actual rattery, but she did breed. She was a very charming person and she had a great deal of knowledge and experience...

Then she mentioned something about the health department in passing... seemed an odd remark, until she got to the point where she said she had 80 cages in her basement... This was a normal and pleasant person... and as best I can gather it took a few years to work up to 80 cages. But I can't even comprehend how many rats and mice that was. But as much as I love our rats, I can see just how easy it would be to get there if you don't set some hard limits before it's too late.

I might note that we met when she was complementing our true shoulder rats... True shoulder rats attract other rat owners like flies. But she remarked that she had never seen an actual TSR and didn't think it was possible. That also makes a whole lot of sense. If you are caring for dozens of rats you'll never have the time to train one to be amazing.

Everyone has to set their own limits... but "just one more" is a very bad plan or rather it's a great first step to 80 cages. Seriously, the lady I met was very nice and by any definition "normal". It's easy to dismiss hoarders as crazy or strange, but once you meet one, you realize that "there by the grace of lack of self control go I".

And yes... I'm sure there's at least one, if not a few folks lurking here who aren't about to admit that they have a few dozen rats. I mean them no offense. I'm just suggesting that for anyone who really intends on keeping hundreds of rats might think it through and make a plan for it rather than back ending themselves into a situation they can't get out of without the help of multiple rat rescues and a convenient local snake farm.
 
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