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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I thought intros were going well. All 5 seemed to get along fine with no scuffles in the carrier or outside the carrier with me. The older two were grooming the new younger two boys but nothing aggressive.

So after a long time I decided to try putting the new two into the main cage. This is where it started to go wrong. Every time my older rats go near the two newer ones for a sniff, they squeak at them and if they ignore the squeak, a fight starts. Since the new two are smaller than the adults, they never win the fights and end up being very vocal about this. I can't see any physical damage to anyone but I don't know if it's just a dominance thing and it will ease off or the new ones are aggressive.

I'm trying not to intervene so they can settle their differences and accept who is the more dominant one. I just don't want this to carry on as it's not fair on my older 3 rats especially. Charlie, my 3rd rat who isn't as old as my first 2, just stays out of the way and hides from all the action. Eddie and Alfie my oldest boys aren't starting the fights. I've been watching their body language very carefully and it's the new 2 that are causing all the rucuss. This has been going on for several days now and has woke me up during the night a few times (which is unusual as I'm such a deep sleeper!).

But it's just so strange how as soon as I take them out of the cage and put them together in a small space they don't seem to start anything. The cage is massive so there is plenty space for all of them.

They're not aggressive with me either, they are still a bit nervous but they can handle me picking them up and taking food off me.

It's just the awful shrieking sound that they make which is making me more concerned. My boys have little play fights but aren't vocal like that at all. I just want everyone to get along or at least put up with each other. The two newer ones were from a rescue so I want to keep them as they've not had the best past, so I'm told.

I'd be grateful for any advice. Thanks in advance! 馃悂
 

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Caveat: I'm new at this and have no experience. I'm only basing my opinion on what I've read, so expect me to possibly get trumped.

Does the original cage still smell like the older rats? Perhaps the younger rats feel intimidated because they're in new territory. I've read something somewhere about cleaning the cage thoroughly. When meeting in middle ground, the rats are all discombobulated, so they don't have an advantage. Perhaps the younger ones are worried about the older ones dominating them since the cage smells of their urine?

What if you put them in the mutual zone for now and thoroughly wash out the cage to get rid of that urine smell. Vinegar or bleach seems to work, I hear. Maybe it'll put the younger ones at ease since they can start to call that home their own.

Again, remember my caveat.
 

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I'll second asking if the cage was cleaned, ha! Definitely do a super good clean and the other part of the trick is to move everything around. Make the cage look completely different, hang hammocks in different spots, move food and water, move hidey huts and toys, etc.

You will have some fights, it's just part of a normal colony. Since there are no wounds, it sounds pretty typical. Some rats scream bloody murder and it sounds awful but if there isn't an injury, it's not the end of the world.

They've been in the same cage for multiple days now, correct? If so, I would carry on (unless someone does get injured). You can also try putting more toys and chews in the cage to distract them. Maybe hang a roll of toilet paper for them to destroy or get a new toy that they can all play with. It is not unusual at all for rats to have a harder time getting along in a cage versus outside of it. How many days has it been?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies! Turns out the fighting is a lot less frequent now and my new two are tolerating the older ones now too. 馃槃

They're lovely little boys, they're called Harry and Harvey 馃槉 Harry is the rex in the picture.

Thanks for the advice, you put my mind at rest! And for good reasons too! 馃悂
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok so I thought they were getting better but it's gotten worse again now. Harry one of the new ones keeps squeaking at any rat when they come near where he is in the cage. He's fine with me, just not other rats. He gets defensive about where ever it is he is currently sleeping in and he barely leaves this spot. When he squeaks at other rats coming near, they all just leave him alone apart from Eddie who is the alpha out of the pack.

The closer he gets, the louder, higher pitched the squeaks get and when Eddie responds by giving him a little nip (usually on the tail) to tell him who is boss, Harry goes mental and literally flips and jumps all over the place. I don't know why Harry keeps picking fights as he isn't going to win them as Eddie is a lot bigger and stronger than him.

I'm going to try using vanilla essence on them to see if that helps at all. No one has any visual signs of being hurt, it's just that Harry is exaggerating completely by his squeaks. Outside the cage I've not noticed any of this happening. I deliberately try not to get involved when they have their little disputes, as I want them to settle it themselves without me interfering.

If anyone has any clue on how to stop this behaviour I'd be most grateful as it's keeping me up at night now and I just want them all to at least put up with each other and be civil.

Thanks in advance!
 

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have you tried the carrier method?
 

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Vanilla extract won't do anything, they all already know each other's smell.

Is it possible that Harry is ill or injured? Maybe given him a real good check? It sounds like there might be something wrong with him.
Can you get a video of the squeaking behavior?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've already tried the carrier method plenty of times.

He seemed fine when I picked him up earlier but I'll check him thoroughly to double check. I'll also record a video next time it happens.

Thanks for the replies!
 
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