Introductions after cagemate's death...

Discuss rat companionship, introductions and behavioural problems such as biting or shyness or tell us about your rat's unusual habits.
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marilyn
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Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by marilyn » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:30 am

This is kind of soon for me personally to be writing this but at the insistance of everyone else at home and looking at how depressed my ratty has been, I'm having to consider this option a little earlier than I'd hope.
George, my lovely little roan ratty, passed away last week from a pituatry tumor.
Towards the end of his life he did begin to lose himself, become confused and... for lack of a better way of phrasing, 'lose his marbles' (not my words but a family member's who said this whilst upset about his condition- so not maliciously meant). This meant that he distanced himslf from his brother and cagemate, Rufus, who became depressed as a result. George (RIP) is very badly missed by the family and his beloved brother. To the point where Rufy isn't eating as much as he used to and is retreating to his little yellow submarine, rejecting his new house (its a cottage with little windows, it is adorable honestly), when socialising he isn't as active as usual and his appetite (for which he was famed for) has reduced quite a bit. We've all given him endless cuddles and have been helping him through it.
He is a very very playful rat and when George was declining, he'd become frustrated because George wasn't playing with him or cuddling him.

My parents have suggested that Rufus has a new cagemate to cheer him up.
I agree even though personally for me it is a bit soon but I can see that Rufus is lonely and that it will do him good.
I feel it is cruel to leave him on his own and is only just turned one yrs old this july.
I'm hesitant to get him baby rats so I'm thinking of rehoming a rescue rat about is age for him.

We found an advert advertising a lone rat for sale but this rat has never had company :-?
Its a male that hasn't been neutered and I'm reluctant to rehome him because I fear he may harm Rufy because he isn't used to being with other rats. Is this a legitimate concern? Is it likely for it to not work out if I rehome this lone rat and try to integrate him?
Reading up, I've realised that rats are often only rehomed in pairs so I'm willing to have a pair but am concerned that the pair would form an alliance against Rufy, would tha ever happen? He's very very friendly, playful, cuddly and kind but is used to being the leader in a duo. I thought maybe rehoming a pair of neutered females might be a good option? The local animal shelter said they had a pair of females that hadn't been spayed. They said I could rehome them with him if he is castrated. He's a portly rat though so I'm not sure I want to risk him going under anaesthetic considering his weight (we are working on his weight issue, for the record :) )

So I'm just wondering what everyone's thoughts ae on all of this? What options are out there for me to take and what are your experiences in this area?
Thanks,
Marilyn
Arthur (2008-2010) George (2010-2011) Rufus the Ralphous is most likely cuddling me now so he says hello :)


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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by Alijane » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:32 am

I'd think about getting two more ratties, rather than just one, then you won't be left with a lone rat again. Baby boys should be easy to intro. My older (neutered) boys adored the babies.

I'd think about the possibility of girls, though, because my experience is that mixed sex groups are generally more interesting. Talk to your vet about neutering Rufus. I would also think about contacting good local rescues and asking for advice about appropriate rats and help with intros - the folk on this forum who rescue are all lovely and will help you loads. Also, if things go badly wrong, folk here will take rats back again, so you have got rescue back up. I've never needed it, but it is comforting to know it is there. Whereabouts are you?

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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by MarieM » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:48 am

What age is he and what is his general health like? That may help you with deciding if neutering is an option. If not, introing two young boys is another option.
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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by Mulberry (Jane) » Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:19 am

Sorry to hear about George, RIP.
You've got several options, any of which should give Rufus the company he seems to crave.
Rats do grieve if they are bonded with their companion and your description movingly illustrates this. It does seem to help if the lone rat has company as soon as it is feasible.
If you get another single rat, you will be left in this situation again sooner or later, so consider getting 2 more rats anyway as companions for Rufus, for your sake as well as his. I know some people worry that their existing rat will be "left out" and that the newcomers will pair up but this doesn't seem to be the case. In the groups of 3 rats that I have, at different times of the day and in different situations I find different combinations of the 3, and this appears to be others' experience too.
If you get a pair of buck kittens there are unlikely to be any difficulties introducing Rufus & the kittens; Rufus is used to being boss, and kittens will accept this. The kittens would be more active & playful than Rufus (probably) but would have each other to pester when Rufus wants a nap.
As has been said mixed sex groups can be interesting, and Rufus may enjoy living with a harem. If you were going to get girls, then either kittens or older rescued does would be likely to integrate with Rufus easily. Although it's small, however there is a risk when neutering a rat. It would leave you feeling very guilty if Rufus died in your quest to find him company.
You could try introducing Rufus to the lone rescue buck. This could be a traumatic experience for him, but occasionally works amazingly quickly. It may be that you could "borrow" the advertised adult male on the basis that he could be returned if it is quickly evident that Rufus and he are not going to make easy companions? Has the advertised rat been well handled, is he human friendly? If not I would worry that he may experience any move to you as very traumatic & if he does have "issues", poor Rufus is left to deal with them.
Of all the options personally I would think this is the most risky and a pair of buck kittens the least risky, but good luck with whatever you decide to try!
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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by Neotoma » Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:05 pm

I think your best bet is a pair of baby boys - if he likes playing they'll give him what he wants, and intros like that, whilst not infalliable, have been done many times.

The lone boy is a potential option - rats who have never had company can accept it, but intros are a bit more interesting as they often don't have the normal social skills for interpreting rat interaction. Also two mature boys can be harder to intro than babies (tbh, although it's not necessary every time, there is a reason why my lone boy adoptees end up neutered). I'd only take him if you are prepared to neuter one or both if intros don't work.

I wouldn't neuter just to get girls if he isn't a great anaesthetic candidate.
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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by marilyn » Sun Aug 07, 2011 8:44 pm

Thanks everyone for your replies, they've really helped a lot :)

I wouldn't want to neuter him because he is quite prone to respiratory problems and is quite chubby... we're not sure if the resp stuff is asthma or not because it does flare up when he gets stressed or excited, a few days on baytril usually does the trick though in getting rid of it. So the anaesthetic is a worry in that department.

I'm going to university in september and will be back home most weekends as well as visiting him whenver I can because its only 5 mins away on the train (or an hour in the car) :) I love him too much lol the thing I'm not looking forward to about uni is not seeing little ratty 24/7!
My mum doesn't mind looking after him on the days when I cannot be home as she has been joining in with caring for him and his brother from day one.
She says she found it very difficult when they were babies and that kittens intro will be a last resort option.
To be honest looking back she loved it when they were babies but would be scared when handling them because they were so quick :lol:

We're in the Lincolnshire/Cambridgeshire area, I emailed Lincoln Rat Rescue who said they had 3 boys coming in who couldn't be split :-? but no spayed females. We're ringing Woodgreen tomorrow to ask if they have females around his age that are already spayed which seems to be an option we're hoping for. I would have thought a rescue centre would be very pro spaying/neutering because of potential mammary tumor risks associated with females that haven't had the operation.

I'm just really pleased that 2 rats are not likely to gang up on him lol.
Even though I know he can look after himself quite well, I don't want to rock the boat too much because he's had a lot happen to him recently with George.
Today he has perked up a bit and has been wanting to play a lot more so it is looking good :) I do think he'd enjoy the challenge to 2 buck kittens, although foodwise I think there would be conflict! I think the idea of two girls will suit him a lot though, I've heard female rats can be quite hyper and a couple his age would be mature enough to know when its time to have a nap and rat cuddles as well as accepting him as being the dominant rat. I'd worry about a young buck that's still maturing trying to take over... but I think he'd soon learn that Rufus is boss.
Fingers crossed Woodgreen pulls through :luck: , if nothing else turns up after that then it looks like we're getting buck kittens! : :baby:
Marilyn
Arthur (2008-2010) George (2010-2011) Rufus the Ralphous is most likely cuddling me now so he says hello :)

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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by Neotoma » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:42 am

Spayed females are quite rare in rescue - rescues don't do it because it's expensive (I don't think wood green even neuter their boys now), and although it does give significant benefits in terms of preventing mammary tumours and pyo, it's also quite a serious invasive op, so not everyone agrees with it.

If you want spayed females, you are probably going to have to adopt intact, and arrange the spays yourself.

Just to mention with the resp disease, if it clears up on a few days baytril it's very likely to be a reccurent infection. The best thing to do next time it happens is give the ABs for a reasonably prolonged period (if you don't already) - e.g. three weeks, even if the symptoms stop after a couple of days. It's like humans where you have to finish the course even if you feel well - if you only give the drugs for short periods, some of the bugs will dodge them and lurk, and then come back later, more resistent and harder to kill.
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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by Mulberry (Jane) » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:48 pm

Don't assume Rufus would be alpha with 2 girls.... my (biggish) male was, in the prime of his life, totally dominated by his much smaller sister, now after her death (he is now elderly) he is dominated by one of his 2 new female companions.
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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by marilyn » Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:22 pm

Had some news just now from someone local who breeds rats and has 6 month old rats available. I'm just waiting for a text back about how many of these are bucks.
Would think 6 months old isn't too young or too old either... I'm just weary because I've never had to do intros before but it should be okay because all would be used to other ratties.
So if there are two bucks, Rufy might probably have some new friends soon :luck:
Marilyn
Arthur (2008-2010) George (2010-2011) Rufus the Ralphous is most likely cuddling me now so he says hello :)

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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by marilyn » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:47 pm

Just want to add that she listed the 6 month old ratties as 'baby rats'... I'm not sure if 6 month old would qualify as a baby but I know she also has younger ones too.
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Arthur (2008-2010) George (2010-2011) Rufus the Ralphous is most likely cuddling me now so he says hello :)

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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by Ratty_Rhian » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:53 pm

marilyn wrote: but no spayed females. We're ringing Woodgreen tomorrow to ask if they have females around his age that are already spayed which seems to be an option we're hoping for. I would have thought a rescue centre would be very pro spaying/neutering because of potential mammary tumor risks associated with females that haven't had the operation.

I'm just really pleased that 2 rats are not likely to gang up on him lol.
Even though I know he can look after himself quite well, I don't want to rock the boat too much because he's had a lot happen to him recently with George.
Today he has perked up a bit and has been wanting to play a lot more so it is looking good :) I do think he'd enjoy the challenge to 2 buck kittens, although foodwise I think there would be conflict! I think the idea of two girls will suit him a lot though, I've heard female rats can be quite hyper and a couple his age would be mature enough to know when its time to have a nap and rat cuddles as well as accepting him as being the dominant rat. I'd worry about a young buck that's still maturing trying to take over... but I think he'd soon learn that Rufus is boss.
Fingers crossed Woodgreen pulls through :luck: , if nothing else turns up after that then it looks like we're getting buck kittens! : :baby:
Marilyn
Wood Green like most other rescues don't spay females as routine, only if the doe has pyo or similar. It may be worth a call anyway in case some babies have come in since I last worked (I'm a volunteer there) but we don't get many in tbh. Hope it all goes well with the breeder. Just to add, 6 months is well into the realms of adulthood.

Good luck with the intros :luck:
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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by marilyn » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:52 am

I shall give Woodgreen another try tomorrow to see if they have buck kittens, I did think 'hmm 6 months is a bit old for a baby' :lol: but had to double check because she's listed them as 'baby rats'. I spoke to her on the phone and she didn't really talk about the care they've received etc... the ad is a bit misleading.
We've found another local breeder who really knows their stuff. She's selling rats that are 14 weeks old which is about 3 months old. She gave us a few tips on intros like rubbing a little vanilla essence on their bellies so they smell the same etc. She had 12 bucks :o :D and that the rats had been together and handled. This option at the moment looks most promising.
Marilyn
Arthur (2008-2010) George (2010-2011) Rufus the Ralphous is most likely cuddling me now so he says hello :)

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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by KellyTheCrazyRatLady » Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:16 pm

i had this problem not ling ago woth toffee. his cage mate vanilla was pts due to cancer. toffee is 2 years old and has ages left in him yet so i wont let him live alone for the rest of his life to get depressed. i went straight to my local pet shop (not p@h) and found only 1 rat, i bought him as toffee has already been alone for 2 days. i did want to get 2 rats as i would have to introduce another rat when toffee died. so i went back after 3 days and found 3 rats at the pet shop. i did want 2 rats to go with toffee and his new cage mate serin but i couldnt leave a rat alone so i bought all 3, who were obviously brothers. i bought all 3 and introduced them to toffee and serin and they got on fine, no problems whatsoever. they are now in a nice new cage as toffee and vanilla were in a mary due to vanillas eye being removed and going blind in the other eye. they are now in a furet plus with lots of toys. everytime i have had a rat doe and leave a cage mate alone i intoduce other rats to them. i now have a lone rat as he is rat agressive and beat up my 7 week old rats when trying to introduce them. he is ok alone, he has always lived alone.
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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by marilyn » Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:55 pm

Thank you so much for your replies :D all of this information has been extremely useful in helping with what to do about this situation.
A couple of days after my last post on this topic, I bought two of the 14 week old rats :smileyrat: the owner assured me that if any problems occured then she'd welcome them back and since they are young it seemed like the best solution. One is brown with a white belly, called Bertie, and the other is a sort of ginger/honey/beige sort of colour with fur that looks as if it has had a crimping iron on it, called Alex.

A cage was set up next door to Rufus' for him to smell the two babies. Immediately he was interested and began to brux and boggle at them. He was trying to reach them through the bars and began hopping about which he does when he wants to play. The next day they were all introduced and they're obsessed with each other :lol:
They're so tiny, they look younger than 14 weeks to be honest but I trust the lady we bought them from. When they are next to Rufy it looks like a ratty version of Jurassic Park! The meetings went well although Rufy did show himself up by what can only be described as pinching with his teeth :-? ... not a full bite, it was like a pinch of their skin then pulling them towards him because he didn't want them to leave. He did sometimes do that to George when playing but he was always stopped by one of us when we saw and he knew it wasn't allowed. Been keeping an eye on it though and it is pretty rare.

Alex, who was very forward and sociable with us, was struck with utter terror when first meeting Rufus outside of his cage. We think Rufy perceived him as a threat because he was the most dominant of the two. He ended up in a little scuffle but now enjoys having cuddles with Rufy.
Bertie has officially become Rufus' right hand man. The pair have started grooming and chasing one another about as well as play fighting. Alex is still very timid in this area though. Since the hierarchy has started to shape, he's become pretty introverted thoughso we're making sure he gets extra attention to boost his confidence.

After a week, they've finally gone inside the cage together... which wasn't a disaster but the results were unexpected.
The babies were excited and running round exploring but when near Rufus scuffles broke out. This never really happened when they met each other during their play time and no signs of aggression were shown. in the end we cleared the cage of their houses just incase they were cornered. Everything is quiet and clam now and Rufy went to fall asleep next to Alex which is a good sign. Bertie kept bothering them with wanting to play so Rufus ended up going on the second shelf alone. He did eventually let Bertie groom him as he fell asleep so things have calmed down.
I'm just wondering whether to perhaps do cage visits or is it best to put them in and leave them to it?
Marilyn
Arthur (2008-2010) George (2010-2011) Rufus the Ralphous is most likely cuddling me now so he says hello :)

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Re: Introductions after cagemate's death...

Post by Mulberry (Jane) » Fri Aug 19, 2011 10:31 pm

I'd go for it, if Rufy can relax enough to go to sleep with the youngsters, and they are allowing him to be alpha, I'd leave them together (initially minus furniture) I'm glad you've found a way to sort company out for Rufus.
Mulberry rats are: Tuck, Islay, Mull & Treshnish
Guinevere, Excaliber, Nymwai, Muddy, Lightnin' , BB, Monty , Brownie, Koko, Etta, Jensen, Fernando, Felipe, Vanilla, Tiffin & Matilda.

Remembered with love: Little Jon and my other sweethearts x

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