what is going on?! (INTROS)

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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tashapepa
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what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by tashapepa » Tue Aug 09, 2011 9:17 am

Hi,

I've got a rat that I could potentially foster in as he is a lone buck staying with me at the moment and I have been trying to introduce him to my buck, Melchy.

They have been in the bathtub a couple of times and Melchy walks around looking at me like 'help! get me out!' while the other rat follows him and presses his face under Melchy's head, as if he wants to be groomed. Melchy just ignores it, does not groom him and tries to waddle off. After about ten minutes, the other rat just lies down next to Melchy and they just sit together. The other rat sometimes grooms Melchy (i think it's power grooming as Melchy squeaks sometimes) but that is it. :o

However, they have met in the normal freeranging place a couple of times for a few minutes and it seems like the other rat is much more dominant with Melchy and I can see a fight almost develop. I have split them up and put them in their separate cages for separate freeranging when this happens.

I don't really know how to proceed. :???: Melchy seems to hate being with him and yet he is always asking to come out and have a sniff about where the lodger rat lives. Melchy is 30 months and I don't want to foster in another rat only for him to be bullied on his own turf and into grim submission for his final months.

Can someone explain the dynamics here and advise me what to do? Thanks!!! :)
Melchior, Moritz RIP

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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by Jemma » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:32 pm

The ‘head under teeth’ behaviour is a request to be groomed (or sometimes a demand) and this isn’t unusual in a rat who has been on it’s own for a while but is used to company. It’s also not unusual for a rat whose been on there own for a while to not understand what it is rat speak for.

I would really consider putting them together in a small neutral cage for a little while, or a larger carrier if you have one, and not interfering unless they are seriously fighting and injuring each other. There is a rough rule in the world of rats and that is ‘no blood, no foul’, rats need to have some level of discussion over who is going to be boss, and as such one needs to submit to the other. Fighting is a natural part of this in both situations, especially where there isn’t an obvious alpha. By stopping the fighting before it happens you aren’t giving them a chance to move there relationship beyond the initial greeting phase and into being friends.
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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by tashapepa » Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:41 pm

Thanks, Jemma,

I think Melchy knows what the other rat is asking for but refusing to do it?! If that makes sense. Like he is not happy being submissive.

Do you know what I mean about him being an old rat and not wanting to cause upheaval for him?? It breaks my heart to see him bossed about by a newbie when he was the boss with his old cagemate. :oops:
Melchior, Moritz RIP

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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by Jemma » Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:57 pm

Lol that's not surprising either, sounds like you have a stubborn old ma there. I know how hard and scary it can be when there old, you worry so much about them making themselves ill. Is he a healthy fit rat other than his age. There will always be some level of stress in any intro the thing to remember is most intros result in the rats being happier and less stressed long term. Do you have a local experienced rat owner you could visit for some help, having someone there to give a second opinion is really helpful.
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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by tashapepa » Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:38 pm

I don't have anyone experienced nearby... :( .

I've got them in the hamster cage as we speak. No problems to far, but Melchy is doing his 'i am ignoring the fact there is a rat here who wants to interact with me' thing! There's a lot of cleaning going on of themselves.

Melchy is quite healthy; he had a tumour removed from his arm about a month ago and he has improved greatly, although he is quite shy and quiet and still has a large abdominal lump that is inoperable. He's still very into his food and routine though! He has a gorgeous coat, especially compared to lodger rat here, who is quite dirty bless him and a bit overweight!

Argh....so hard to know what to DOOO. Thanks for your advice :) It's all really helpful!
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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by Jemma » Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:52 pm

I would keep them like that, it sounds like its going well,ignoring is a pretty good first reaction. Give them a night and they may be sleeping together.it may be worth going into a different room and doing something, I find this helps me cope better. You can still hear anything major and check (though o wouldn't interupt unless there was a proper foght not huffing, posturing or boxing). It sounds like your old man is fit and healthy, so shouldn't suffer from the stress.
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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by tashapepa » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:51 am

I kept them in the hamster cage for a few hours last night. They did settle, but I think the cage is too small for them. There was no room to put in water or food comfortably so I put them in their respective cages when I went to bed.

Is the next stage putting them together in one of their cages? What sort of things do you put in? Beds? Food?

Sorry to ask loads of ques, I have read the factsheet on intros but when you're actually doing it, you lose confidence! What a stressful process! On the upside, havent seen Melchy so active for ages. :D
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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by ratfan70 » Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:33 am

I would put them back in the hamster cage or a carrier and leave them there for a couple of days (including overnight) if you keep seperating them its kind of like starting from scratch the next time they meet. It does make you feel mean but it really is worth it when they beome friends. I recently intro-ed my 27 month old man to 3 little baby boys. He pretty much ignored them at first too, and i was worried about stressing him too much given his age.
I ended up having to leave them for a week in the hamster cage, which did make me feel really awful, but now when i see him snoozing and grooming his new friends it made all the stress worth it.
If you can`t fit a food bowl in just scatter feed, and i wouldn`t put any toys, beds or anything in for the first 24 hours, just an empty cage with substrate in the bottom and i usualy use 2 water bottles clipped on to the side and leave them to it.
Try to keep busy, do something to take your mind off the intro, as Jemma said go into another room. It is usually worse if you are constantly watching them waitingfor trouble. Good luck with it. :luck:
mum/slave to Casper, Rico, Todd, Pepper, Louis, Riley, Cosmo, Alfie & Loki.

Missing my little ones at the bridge: Ziggy, Snowy, Buddy, Rocky & Diesel. RIP Boys!

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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by tashapepa » Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:03 am

Melchy doesnt use a water bottle, he has a water bowl :o . Will he know how to use a bottle? (Hope I'm not being really thick).
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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by Jemma » Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:14 am

Most rats take to a bottle well, I would attach a coup cup (plus water) to the side of the cage and a water bottle and scatter there food on the floor (it’s better for them anyway, I do it all the time now). I wouldn’t put anything as a bed in there for now, though if there sleeping together tomorrow you could add one hammock.

A small hamster cage does feel cruel, if it’s any consolation I’ve had 6 bucks, 4 full sized adults, introing in a cat carrier. There’s not much room in there but that’s really the point, there so in each others face that they get to know each other quickly and it lowers the stress overall.

Once there comfortably sleeping together then you can move them into a bare cage (the smaller of the two I would say first, water bowl, bottle and no bed at first), I would say in this case as there’s not an obvious dominant rat it’s worth having it very clean and smelling neutral. A trick I’ve recently found helps is to put the substrate from your first intro cage on top of that cages substrate, it helps transfer the smells.

Again once there settled you can add hammocks and such, for the first few days don’t get them out for free ranging, and for the first week always get them out together in a relatively confined space with you. After this they will probably be ready to free range, but bare in mind this can spark off a bit of a debate now and then, if so just put them straight back in the hamster cage for an hour or so and then back in the cage, they soon settle down. I tend to keep my intro cage set up for a week or two after they’ve moved into there perminant cage, just in case, and I always have my carrier around.
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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by tashapepa » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:04 pm

Thanks :)

The hamster cage was so darn uncomfortable for them (has an annoying wire ladder that you can't remove that meant they couldn't move more than a few cm) that I have moved them to the bottom of my Explorer with no ladders so they cannot move.

They had one fight I head from the next door room. I came in, opened the door and they stopped. I left them and they are now asleep (not quite together, nearish). I'm going out this afternoon for a good few hours, do you think it's safe to leave them like this? They've got water, but no food as I'm worried about fighting. What if they fight when I'm out? Sorry to be such a rookie.

Thanks anyone and everyone who replies. :D
Melchior, Moritz RIP

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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by tashapepa » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:06 pm

ps. There is nothing in the cage but a water bottle, water cup and a litter tray.
Melchior, Moritz RIP

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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by tashapepa » Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:45 pm

Could someone please advise me how to feed them together? I don't want to create a flashpoint and Melchy prefers to eat soft food... not suitable for scatter feeding...
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Re: what is going on?! (INTROS)

Post by ratfan70 » Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:15 pm

Hi I am doing an intro just now as well, i have been using a wide bowl to feed my boys, it`s wide enough for everyone to get around it, i also scatter some food onto the floor incase someone is not getting much from the bowl, but mine are all on dry mix so a bit easier. Maybe you could take out the boy on the wet food and feed him in carrrier and then feed the other boy his dry mix at the same time, then when they`ve eaten put them buck in together?? I`m not sur if this would work as i`venever had this situation myself, it might be an idea to set up a thread on the new Fancy rats forum as most of the people on here have moved over to that one, you may get more replies. Good luck, hope you get it sorted. :luck:
mum/slave to Casper, Rico, Todd, Pepper, Louis, Riley, Cosmo, Alfie & Loki.

Missing my little ones at the bridge: Ziggy, Snowy, Buddy, Rocky & Diesel. RIP Boys!

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