Help! New cage/fighting problems.. (Word heavy sorry!)

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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Mini-moon
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Help! New cage/fighting problems.. (Word heavy sorry!)

Post by Mini-moon » Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:38 pm

Hi all, i have just upgraded my ratties (5 bucks) in to a Ferplast furet tower. In short, its HUGE.

Heres a pic of the cage just to visualise:
http://www.justcages.co.uk/ferret-cages ... 2i6w#v_850

3 of the rats are my year old boys (Marley, Calvin and Salem) the other two are approx 2 and 1/2 months. (Hoodsey and Syd) Have been doing introductions for about a month and no major problems to be seen. The first day/night when i moved all the rats in went fine no problems.. except now the two new babies (Hoodsey and Sid) have taken to squidging themselves in to the tube that connects the bottom level to the top and just do not come out! This is obviously a problem as its the only way between the two levels. Anytime another rat goes anywhere near them or the opening of the tube that theyre sat in the babies start rearing up and screeching in their face!! Monday night was terrible, no bloodshed or anything but could hear squeaking most of the night. I took most of the bottom tube out the next morning to stop them sitting in it so theres just enough left for the rats to climb up to the top level. This just meant that Sid stayed in the lower level clinging on to the cage wall bars for ages.. then dominant male (Salem) started sniffing him (Sid stayed still but started screeching at this point) and then out of nowhere Salem went to bite Sids tail, and then chased him round the cage. I know i probably shouldnt interfere but i shouted and splashed Salem with water to tell him off.

This is my third intro I've done but seems to be the most difficult and unpredictable. I imagine that if there really was going to be problems with them getting on they would have made this known when i first started mixing them over a month ago and the unwelcome rat(s) would be attacked/bullied until out of the group.. It just seems that Salem is restating his dominant role by challenging everyone, not just the babies. Hes had a few little pops at his old cagemates (Marley and Calvin) and they all seem fine together now as always, but with the babies it just seems like when ever they cross paths with any other rats, they get too defensive and rear up to attack/screech when really all my old boys are doing is looking at them or having a little sniff. They react far too much and too soon. I Dont know what to do! Theyve now decided to squidge in the tube in the top level since i took the lower level tube down, they take food in there and everything so im guessing this is the only place they feel safe! I noticed this morning that baby Sid does have what looks to be a little bite mark at the base of his tail...:S but other than that no injuries..

SO, i ask for any suggestions..Shall i leave them to it and just hope this all settles down in a few days? Also, should i take all the tubes out to minimise the tempation for the babies to hog them (Ive got plenty of ropes and things and they can get from A to B without the tubes..)

OR i was thinking of shutting off one of the levels completly so that they all have to stay in a slightly smaller cage for abit and get used to eachother? Cos the way i see it, the cage is so massive, they could go days without crossing paths.. Was thinking the top half would be best for this as i can hang up hammocks/sputnicks in there unlike the bottom so that if things do get hectic theres lots of escape routes. (Although this does mean taking the tube down which took aaaaages to get positioned right)
I am also a bit worried that it could go the other way and that if theyre in a smaller environment together that'd really *please do not swear* them off and theyll attack even more. Although it could just force them to sort out the hierarchy properly... aaargh not sure!

Another thing i could try is taking them out and mixing them together on my bed or something (Almost like re introductions) but i definatly want to try house them all together, so i do want the whole group going back in the cage afterwards so that it doesnt just become the babies' cage or oldies' cage...

The OH suggested bathing them and dabbing them with some lavender oil or vanilla essence.. just dont know what would be best!!
Sorry if this all seems muddled info..

Thanks!

meesh xx
Meesh and the ratty-lumps: Marley, Salem, Calvin, Hoodsey and Syd

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Re: Help! New cage/fighting problems.. (Word heavy sorry!)

Post by Jemma » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:02 pm

I would move them back into a smaller cage, once they settle again move them into just half the cage for a good week, then open it up.
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Re: Help! New cage/fighting problems.. (Word heavy sorry!)

Post by Mini-moon » Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:07 pm

Thanks for your reply :)

Only issue with that would be is the only other cage ive got is A) too wide bar space for the babies to escape. and B) Used to be home to the three older boys so thatd be likey to cause some aggro..

I do have a super small cage though..literally only suitable for like 1 rat.. I can probably squeeze all 5 in for a few days as a sort of forced bonding thing, but literally its like a box and would probs be able to just fit 1 tube and a few wood chews as enrichment once theyre all in.. No hanging space or anything.. And this also used to be home to the two tiny babies before the tower came along.

Maybe i should just leave them in the big cage but close off one half? Its still massive though so the babies have loads of space to hide from the adults which really isnt the point..

Cheers

meesh
Meesh and the ratty-lumps: Marley, Salem, Calvin, Hoodsey and Syd

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Re: Help! New cage/fighting problems.. (Word heavy sorry!)

Post by Amzy » Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:16 pm

Scrub the tiny cage out, pop all 5 in with nothing but food, water and substrate and leave them in there until they snuggle up together - don't feel mean! Then move them into a bigger cage and add cage furniature one item at a time, nothing closed, just open. You don't need the tunnel for the rats to get through to the other level of the cage. You can use a shelf or lava ledges. It'll encourage them to climb!

If I were in Bristol I'd come help!

Edit: http://www.fancy-rats.co.uk/community/v ... hod+intros I use this method =]
Amy&the girls: Mary Miffy Lily Cupcake Lucky Pickle Dina Seven Fortune Rowena Tianna Leila Aurora Enya Texalina Kiara :dumbogirly: & the boys!: Heinz Branston Hellmans & Dave
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Re: Help! New cage/fighting problems.. (Word heavy sorry!)

Post by Mini-moon » Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:55 pm

Fab Amy, Big thanks! I dont feel so bad about forcing it now. Was thinking of getting rid of the bottom tube anyway as itll encourage more climbing :) Have nto long cleaned otu the Tower though so once ive got them loving eachother in the little cage, shoudl it be okay to stick them straight back in to the tower with all the old substrate? Cheers! xx
Meesh and the ratty-lumps: Marley, Salem, Calvin, Hoodsey and Syd

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Re: Help! New cage/fighting problems.. (Word heavy sorry!)

Post by secretpennell » Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:01 pm

I'd just let them have half the tower to start with and only open it up when the group is harmonious. I wouldn't give them any tubes, sputniks or igloos until they completely settle either.
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