Quantcast

In desperate need of advice

Help Support Rat Shack Forum:

azara

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
7
Location
NL
My boy Winston has been alone since his brother Stew died in June. 2 weeks after Stew's passing I got 2 young boys from a breeder to introduce to him.
Since then I've been trying to get them accustomed to eachother via various introduction methods, but none of them have worked. My boy Winston, while being a very passive rat before w/ his brother, is acting very agressive and territorial. There's always hissing and puffed up fur during the introductions, and I have to be really careful for him to not end up in a big fight with one of the babies. Blood has also been drawn before twice.

I recently tried moving them onto neutral territory again after implementing the cage swap intro method for 2 weeks, but once again they ended up in a rat ball and the little ones were TERRIFIED. I'm not sure if I should or even dare to continue in fear of one of the babies getting injured again. I don't know what to do. I don't want my older boy to be alone for the rest of his life. He's 1 year and 9 months old, for all I know he could live to be 3 years old. Not having a companion for that long wouldn't be good for him. He really needs a friend; when he isn't with me he lies in his hammock pretty much the entire time. I try to keep him stimulated but sometimes he isn't even interested in free roam time and goes back into the cage the moment I take him out.

I don't know what to do to make things go more smoothly, or if it's even possible. Getting him neutered isn't an option - I've spoken to my vet who specializes in rodents/small animals. She advices against a neuter since he's old and could have underlying health problems that could complicate things during surgery. Which is really unfortunate cause a neuter seems like the only solution so far. Please give me advice on what else I can try, and thank you for reading.
 

lilspaz68

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
23,516
Location
Toronto, Canada, Earth
Oh dear, a 21 month old rat who is vehemently saying Nooooo to other rats may have to live his life alone. But it sounds like it's his preference I've seen this. 3 nakie sisters, one by one they passed leaving the last girl. They were so gentle with each other but when I tried hemr with any other rats she told me Noooo. So she got lots of attention from me and lived very happily til the end.
A neuter in this case if he's not showing any change of behavior to you,probably wouldn't work.
 

azara

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
7
Location
NL
Oh dear, a 21 month old rat who is vehemently saying Nooooo to other rats may have to live his life alone. But it sounds like it's his preference I've seen this. 3 nakie sisters, one by one they passed leaving the last girl. They were so gentle with each other but when I tried hemr with any other rats she told me Noooo. So she got lots of attention from me and lived very happily til the end.
A neuter in this case if he's not showing any change of behavior to you,probably wouldn't work.
Hiya, thanks for your reply! I hadn't thought about that possibility yet. He hasn't shown any change in behaviour towards me. He's still as cuddly and loving as ever! He's only agressive towards the babies. Even now when they are separated he occasionally hisses at them when he can't even see them. (I've split a double CN in half with him staying in the bottom level)

Is it really possible he might not want any new friends at all? I always thought, and have always read/heard that if a rat doesn't get along with others it's usually a a hormonal or behavioural issue. If only I could look inside his little head to know what's actually going on! I just don't want to give up on him and leave him alone for the rest of his live when maybe there is still a chance he might accept friends at one point. During the months of trying introductions there was a glimmer of hope at one point - for 2 days they seemed the biggest of friends and none of the usual negative behaviour occurred. But it hasn't been like that since.

It's just really puzzling what's in his best interest atm. I guess if you are correct and he wnats to be a solo ratty, then there is no point in continuing to attempt introductions, as it will only cause him more stress. But I just don't know! I guess I'm just trying to hold onto that sliver of hope I had when they did get along for a brief moment, since it showed that there is still a chance, you know? I just don't want to give up too early and have him live alone because of that. I'd feel terribly guilty as he looks quite depressed already on his own. :(
 

Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
168
Location
British Columbia
He's probably still depressed from losing his brother. My girl did the same thing after she lost her sister. I adopted 2 babies and she hissed and hissed and puffed and blew at them while they were in the cage and she was free. She bit them through the bars a couple times. I worked HARD to get them introduced. I took them into a completely new, scary territory and let them free on the bathroom counter. It was a little over a month to finally get them settled.

My girl was PISSED. How dare I bring two new babies into HER territory. She was already unhappy from losing her sister and I dared to bring in two new ones! THIS cannot stand! She bit Simone the baby rat on the snout and drew blood. She bit Queenie the baby on the front paw. The babies wanted to be with her but she wanted them GONE. She'd stalk the cage and wait for her opportunity to take a bite out of them.

She was approaching 1 yr old and I knew she wanted company and needed it because her sister was the dominant rat who would, each night, aggressively clean her and I'd hear little chirps from her as her sister groomed her.

So, I just HAD to keep trying and eventually it all worked out. Over a month! It was probably 6 weeks or so to finally get them all integrated.

One of the babies now does the grooming of my older girl and most times I can find them sleeping together.

I don't know when you give up. I really don't. I don't know about boy rats. I've only ever had girls so I can't say.
 

azara

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
7
Location
NL
He's probably still depressed from losing his brother. My girl did the same thing after she lost her sister. I adopted 2 babies and she hissed and hissed and puffed and blew at them while they were in the cage and she was free. She bit them through the bars a couple times. I worked HARD to get them introduced. I took them into a completely new, scary territory and let them free on the bathroom counter. It was a little over a month to finally get them settled.

My girl was PISSED. How dare I bring two new babies into HER territory. She was already unhappy from losing her sister and I dared to bring in two new ones! THIS cannot stand! She bit Simone the baby rat on the snout and drew blood. She bit Queenie the baby on the front paw. The babies wanted to be with her but she wanted them GONE. She'd stalk the cage and wait for her opportunity to take a bite out of them.

She was approaching 1 yr old and I knew she wanted company and needed it because her sister was the dominant rat who would, each night, aggressively clean her and I'd hear little chirps from her as her sister groomed her.

So, I just HAD to keep trying and eventually it all worked out. Over a month! It was probably 6 weeks or so to finally get them all integrated.

One of the babies now does the grooming of my older girl and most times I can find them sleeping together.

I don't know when you give up. I really don't. I don't know about boy rats. I've only ever had girls so I can't say.
Wow, I'm so glad you commented on my post. This is the EXACT same situation I'm having with my boy. EVERY single little thing you just described is still happening w/ my boy or has happened at some point. And just like your girl, my boy was a very submissive rat aswell, with his brother being very dominant.

Since I posted my original post, on thursday, I've been doing daily introduction sessions in the bathtub. While I'm still not sure whether it will pay off, I'll continue this method of introducing them since it eventually worked for your ratties. So maybe, even though all other methods so far have failed, this might work if I give it enough time.

Are there any specific things you did in those 6 weeks of introducing them? How many times per day did you have an intro session? Did you continue to do the intros on the bathroom counter or did you eventually move onto the carrier method?
Do you remember how long it took for your girlie to at least stop showing the major signs of agression? At the moment I really need to be on high alert during the tub intros or Winston might seriously attempt to get into a rat ball with one of the babies again! Even a simple sniff from one of the babies could set him off. Luckily I know what to watch for. On top of that - one of the babies absolutely hates Winston now because of what has happened during past intros, so that also complicates things.

Sorry for all the questions, but since your story is like an exact copy of what is going on with my rats right now I feel like this could perhaps really make a difference!
 

Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
168
Location
British Columbia
I put the babies in one carrier, and my 1 yr old in another. I brought them to the bathroom, put the bathroom fan on and turned on the cold water faucet to a drip. I put both carriers on the long, tall bathroom counter and simply opened them. I didn't say a WORD to any of them. I just sat on the bathtub rim and didn't interact with them at all. This was to prevent territorial aggression over me. If I had given them any attention, esp the 1 yr old female, she may have felt she had to get territorial over my affection and bite the babies.

So I ignored them completely. They did everything they could to get my attention, esp the older girl. The point of the whole exercise was to get them working together in a completely scary, new environment.

I did about 20-30 minutes each session and I waited for them to all go into the same carrier and to me, that was considered a positive result.

Not one bite happened. The older girl ignored the babies: Fight, flight, avoidance and submission. These are the stages in my mind that they all go through.

Big Schpog went through all of them. She first fought with them, then she tried escaping the counter, then she was avoiding them and wanting my attention. I didn't give it.

They couldn't escape the counter b/c it was high. So avoidance only worked to a point and I knew that she would HAVE to interact with the babies.

They all were trying to map out the new counter and so fighting wasn't an option. They had to rely on each other.

Finally, they all got into the same carrier after about 20-30 mins and settled a bit and I simply closed the carrier and brought it back to the main territory and opened it. My rats are free range rats. They have a cage but my place is rat proofed and they are allowed to roam free in it.

Yes, there were some scraps when I brought them back (but no blood) and opened the carrier. Once Big Schpog got into familiar territory she fought with Queenie baby. But here's the funny part. Her and Queenie are the best of pals now. They sleep together. So the baby she fought with the most is now her best friend.


I did a total of THREE sessions on that bathroom counter. I think the most imporant aspect of that was NOT TO INTERACT with them, unless there's a serious fight with blood of course. Your boy will look for you, and take cues from you. He will try to get your attention. But don't give it. No words, no affection. nothing. Ignore him. He needs to focus on his new friends and not get territorial over your affection.

Rats are like humans in their range of emotions.

I have seen the videos on Joinrats where the human is there to prevent fights and to steer the interactions so they're positive. I know that there are so many ways to integrate rats.

However, when you've got a rat that has fought with the new ones, and drawn blood things have to get a bit more drastic. My method was based on knowledge of my huffing and puffing territorial rat. She was territorial over the actual territory and territorial over my affection. I knew if I put them all in the bathtub and I sat in there with them that she would fight over my attention.

It's probably where your boy is. He's not only territorial, depressed and anxious about losing his brother but he's territorial over YOU. I took myself out of the equation so my girl didn't feel the need to fight over me, and it worked.

Find that new place where they can't avoid each other, a nice tall bathroom counter works. A room with a table that they've never been. Separate carriers, place em down. open the carriers and don't interact with them. Ignore them.

Let us know how that goes.
 

SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
17,140
Location
central New Brunswick Canada
I would suggest a neuter by a good vet with the knowledge and experience to safely neuter rats - most vets do not know how. Only gas is given until they are given an injection of Metacam after surgery is over.

I have had many rescue rats who were sweet with me but aggressive with other rats. Intheir cases, a neuter helped and they were able t be eventually introed in with other rats
See joinrats.com for helpful information .... most people do not know how to do proper gradual intros intros
 

azara

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
7
Location
NL
I would suggest a neuter by a good vet with the knowledge and experience to safely neuter rats - most vets do not know how. Only gas is given until they are given an injection of Metacam after surgery is over.

I have had many rescue rats who were sweet with me but aggressive with other rats. Intheir cases, a neuter helped and they were able t be eventually introed in with other rats
See joinrats.com for helpful information .... most people do not know how to do proper gradual intros intros
Heya, thanks for the advice! I was planning on getting my boy neutered, but like I stated in my original post I discussed it with my vet (who specializes in rodents) and I trust her advice on not getting my boy neutered. While I know some people do have their males get neutered at an older age, I trust my vet and I do not want to act against her advice since she has a lot of experience working with rats and rodents in general. She has been helping me and my pets for a couple of years now and has always been great and very knowledgable.
I'm already familiar with the website you listed. It's definitely a great website with lots of important information! I've already been implementing many things from it during introductions for a while now, but it unfortunately hasn't been groundbreaking stuff for me and my ratties as of yet. Since you mentioned it though; I'll go through it one more time to see if there's anything else listed I might've skipped over.
 

azara

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
7
Location
NL
I put the babies in one carrier, and my 1 yr old in another. I brought them to the bathroom, put the bathroom fan on and turned on the cold water faucet to a drip. I put both carriers on the long, tall bathroom counter and simply opened them. I didn't say a WORD to any of them. I just sat on the bathtub rim and didn't interact with them at all. This was to prevent territorial aggression over me. If I had given them any attention, esp the 1 yr old female, she may have felt she had to get territorial over my affection and bite the babies.

So I ignored them completely. They did everything they could to get my attention, esp the older girl. The point of the whole exercise was to get them working together in a completely scary, new environment.

I did about 20-30 minutes each session and I waited for them to all go into the same carrier and to me, that was considered a positive result.

Not one bite happened. The older girl ignored the babies: Fight, flight, avoidance and submission. These are the stages in my mind that they all go through.

Big Schpog went through all of them. She first fought with them, then she tried escaping the counter, then she was avoiding them and wanting my attention. I didn't give it.

They couldn't escape the counter b/c it was high. So avoidance only worked to a point and I knew that she would HAVE to interact with the babies.

They all were trying to map out the new counter and so fighting wasn't an option. They had to rely on each other.

Finally, they all got into the same carrier after about 20-30 mins and settled a bit and I simply closed the carrier and brought it back to the main territory and opened it. My rats are free range rats. They have a cage but my place is rat proofed and they are allowed to roam free in it.

Yes, there were some scraps when I brought them back (but no blood) and opened the carrier. Once Big Schpog got into familiar territory she fought with Queenie baby. But here's the funny part. Her and Queenie are the best of pals now. They sleep together. So the baby she fought with the most is now her best friend.


I did a total of THREE sessions on that bathroom counter. I think the most imporant aspect of that was NOT TO INTERACT with them, unless there's a serious fight with blood of course. Your boy will look for you, and take cues from you. He will try to get your attention. But don't give it. No words, no affection. nothing. Ignore him. He needs to focus on his new friends and not get territorial over your affection.

Rats are like humans in their range of emotions.

I have seen the videos on Joinrats where the human is there to prevent fights and to steer the interactions so they're positive. I know that there are so many ways to integrate rats.

However, when you've got a rat that has fought with the new ones, and drawn blood things have to get a bit more drastic. My method was based on knowledge of my huffing and puffing territorial rat. She was territorial over the actual territory and territorial over my affection. I knew if I put them all in the bathtub and I sat in there with them that she would fight over my attention.

It's probably where your boy is. He's not only territorial, depressed and anxious about losing his brother but he's territorial over YOU. I took myself out of the equation so my girl didn't feel the need to fight over me, and it worked.

Find that new place where they can't avoid each other, a nice tall bathroom counter works. A room with a table that they've never been. Separate carriers, place em down. open the carriers and don't interact with them. Ignore them.

Let us know how that goes.
Thanks so much for the detailed response! :) I'll definitely try out the trick with the carriers you mentioned, perhaps when they look a bit more relaxed when sitting close to eachother.
With three sessions do you mean 3 sessions per day? Or were 3 sessions in total all that was needed for your girls to act friendly around eachother?

I'm not sure if my boy is being territorial over me though. During the tub intros I'm not sitting in the tub with them, I sit besides it with only my arm in the tub in case I notice agressive behaviour. Though he does occasionally seek attention from my hand when it's near him. I don't think I can ignore them completely like you mentioned in your reply, as I don't trust them to interact with eachother in a completely safe way without some interference from my hand here and there.

The session I did today went fairly well though (6th day of tub introductions). I allowed Winston to get close enough to the little guys to get a few sniffs in and it went well! (Though I know it doesn't mean much at this stage since past intro attempts have had positive things happen in them aswell; and the intros still failed in the end) He didn't immediately turn into a fluffed up ball of anger while sniffing this time. Of course I am still very cautious and don't allow him to sniff for too long, as it can still set him off unexpectedly. What seems to really aggrivate him is when one of the ratties hisses at him. So when I hear any hissing from the babies I immediately push him away. (same goes for any other agressive behaviour ofc) So far so good; no fights have broken out since the first day of tub intros.

The method of intervering when agression starts to creep up seems to work pretty well. It has given the two other boys their some of their confidence back when they're in Winston's presence. Hopefully it'll continue to improve. Though I won't call the introduction a success until friendly grooming/consistent cuddling together has occured multiple days in a row and all agressive behaviour has become a thing of the past. Because knowing these guys it can still go very wrong even when they appear to be best buds.
 

Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
168
Location
British Columbia
I did three sessions in TOTAL. Each were appx 30 mins each.

Prior to those three sessions I had the babies in a cage and my Big Schpog was a free roam. She stalked the cage for the first 3-4 weeks and wanted to sniff them but also bit them twice. The huffing did die down a bit but as it was coming on 6 weeks and I felt the babies were big enough, that's when I did the 3 sessions in the bathroom. As I said, there were minor arguments in the main territory but it all settled down in a couple days and they were all sleeping together and grooming each other.

IOW, she got used to their smell for the first 6 weeks but wasn't allowed free time with them. I think she got the message that the babies weren't going anywhere.

Big Schpog is my heart rat, super close to me and I knew she was territorial over me as well. Any time I went up to the cage with the babies and she was awake she'd come to my leg and want attention. She was jealous. I was HER Momma and the babies were interlopers.

I read the situation as best I could and it did work.

A nice high tabletop in a foreign place will suffice for you if you decide to do what I did.
 

SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
17,140
Location
central New Brunswick Canada
while some use a table top as their neutral place, the only time I tried that I had a frightened boy jump off ... fortunately he was not injured .... there are better places to do a neutral intro
Please see the links on our Reference Thread REFERENCE Thread - Read Only

He might do well with 2 spayed young girls or a spayed older girl (only use a good vet with the knowledge and experience to safely spay rats)
 
Top