At my wits end!

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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izzerie
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At my wits end!

Post by izzerie » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:30 pm

Over the last few weeks we have tried to introduce our two baby boys (now 13wks old) to our bigger boys. We have two groups of older boys, one has boys ranging from 7-16months and one has an age range of 4-18months and we have tried both groups. We have tried a variety of things and nothing has worked, the result is always the same. There is no aggression from any rats involved- the bigger boys are not bothered by the babies and the babies are not aggressive, they are just totally petrified and spend the whole time screeching and on their back legs if anyone dares to move or go anywhere vaguely near them. I can not stress to you how awful the sound is and just how terrified they look. And after a while it begins to affect the older boys, they get so stressed from the constant screeching in their faces, all they want to do move near the babies or at most sniff them.

Things we have tried with both groups (all with the same result):
  • Putting all the rats in a neutral territory and watching from the sidelines
    Putting all the rats in a carrier together (this ended in the biggest pile of disgusting poo I have ever seen in my life!)
    Putting all the rats in a carrier together in another room and waiting for the squealing to stop (this took a good 2-3hrs) and then moving into an empty cage (at which point the babies climbed to the highest point and refused to come down)
We did try a suggestion from Ziggy about introducing the older boys slowly to the babies, adding a new boy at each meeting and starting with the most docile boy. This was the only method that produced a different affect. When it was the babies and one boy they were much more confident, to the point where they picked a couple of fights but nothing major. When it was the babies and two boys it just went back to the usual squealing and standing on their hind legs.

I really don't know what to do. Hubby suggested castration but there is no aggression so I don't think it would make any difference at all. I am appealing for anyadvice, any ideas, just anything really. If it sounds like they just won't be intro'd then I guess we'll just have to except it but I have a 4 month old boy in one group that is happily settled in his group but could do with some play mates to enrich his life.

Please help me!

(Btw, I don't have a bath so I can't do anything involving a bath. Someone also suggested I put then in a carrier and took a drive along a bumpy road to distract them but I don't drive so can't do anything that involves travelling!)
Albert, Annie, Matilda, Sidney, Ivan, Mozart, Samson, Pablo, Tabitha, Rose, Violet, Hettie, Billy, Horatio, Flash, Atlas, Bentley
At the bridge: Henry & Rupert

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Mulberry (Jane)
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Re: At my wits end!

Post by Mulberry (Jane) » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:45 pm

What about reintroducing one boy to the kittens and keeping them as a group of 3 until the kittens seem settled with their new companion (hopefully only a few days), then adding another boy, & repeating until you have all of the original group back together, plus the kittens. If you know who is alpha, it might be best for him to go in first (or second if you want to start with the boy who you tried before).
Just go on trying options, I can tell it's very frustrating, but you will find a way in the end, and it may be easier sooner rather than later as your babies go through hormonal adolescence.
Good luck
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Re: At my wits end!

Post by secretpennell » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:52 pm

Put them in the carrier and leave them there overnight.
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malude
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Re: At my wits end!

Post by malude » Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:01 pm

secretpennell wrote:Put them in the carrier and leave them there overnight.
I'd agree. If there are no actual major fights, just scuffles, stand-offs and squealing then I tend to be a bit cold hearted and just leave them to it :lol: It's sometimes stressful as an owner to watch beloved rats or new babies being stressed or squealing but I find the more drawn out the intros are the more stressed they get and it has no benefit to anyone in the long run. It's a case of being cruel to be kind unfortunately. I'd put everyone in the carrier and unless actual injury occurs/blood is drawn I'd just leave them to sort it out for as long as it takes in there before moving to the next stage :luck:
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Re: At my wits end!

Post by Ziggy » Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:04 pm

They sound very much like my boy, Dominic.
He did the same thing: would stand on his hind legs and scream at any rat that came anywhere near him, even when they meant him no harm.
Due to him kicking off in such a way, it would put the other boys on edge, and scuffles would erupt that would otherwise NOT have happened if Dominic had just chilled out and stopped being so defensive.
I tried him with a more docile, gentle rat, and he transformed from being the victim, to being a bully. Basically, if he was in with more dominant rats, he'd be petrified, but if he was put with more gentle rats, he would attack them.
It all just came down to him being very lacking in self confidence. Though he was wonderful with people.

In the end, I did have him castrated. Excessive hormones don't just manifest themselves as aggression in rats, they can cause anxiety and other problems too.
Since having Dominic neutered, he has improved a little, but its taken him a long time. He is still very cautious of other rats, and it only takes one rat to approach him with a bit of fluffed up fur or to give him a nip for him to go back to his old ways of screaming and freezing up. But he's definitely more confident, as he recently, completely of his own accord, moved himself into the igloo with the others, something he would never have done before.

With your lads being so young, I wouldn't feel comfortable with castration either. While rats that young can have hormonal issues, it tends to be rare in babies this young.

I think you may have to utilise the 'cruel to be kind' method and, as secretpennell says, put them all in a carrier and leave them.
It doesn't sound like your adults will do anything too bad to harm the babies. They might get a few nips, but honestly, I don't tend to worry about that. It just sounds now like they really need to learn they're not in any danger, and the only way they'll learn this is by being exposed to the thing they're scared of and learning first hand that its not so bad.
It can be hard doing the 'cruel to be kind' thing, especially when they scream like that, but it might be worth a try at least.

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izzerie
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Re: At my wits end!

Post by izzerie » Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:29 pm

If that's what people think is best then I'm happy to do it but I am a little concerned about the stress it may put the older boys under. After a few hours together on Saturday they were visibly stressed and unhappy- is it going to be ok to put them through this?
Albert, Annie, Matilda, Sidney, Ivan, Mozart, Samson, Pablo, Tabitha, Rose, Violet, Hettie, Billy, Horatio, Flash, Atlas, Bentley
At the bridge: Henry & Rupert

Sidney's Safe House for Rats

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Re: At my wits end!

Post by secretpennell » Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:20 am

I'm sure they'll be fine. I think it causes less stress to get the introduction process over with quickly.
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Re: At my wits end!

Post by annc » Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:27 am

When I'd had my operations and couldn't get down to the bath, I bought one of thise storage boxes amd made a mesh lid, so I could supervise them.
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