Farewell My Lovely Rats

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It’s been a few months since my last two lovely boys passed away. It was November 26th and Dublin was getting very feeble and off his food. Jinx took a bad turn during the night, and we were very upset to find him barely moving in the morning of the 27th, so I had to make the harsh decision to put them both to sleep. I knew that Dublin would only decline very fast without his brother so I thought it was kinder to let them both go together. It was not just the end of days for these two wonderful little guys, but the end of an era, I had decided not to bring any more rats into our lives for the time being, as it is not so practical having to house them in the garden shed (a consequence of my partners allergies), not to mention the heating bill. So I will make this my last post, a farewell to my sweet pixies Dublin and Jinx, and a tribute to all our rats gone by. To the Rainbow Bridge my little ones xxxxxxxxxxxx

Irresistibly Cute Dublin's 1st Day Home

Irresistibly Cute Dublin's 1st Day Home

I is a Mouse, honest

I is a Mouse, honest

Baby Dublin Fluffyness

Baby Dublin Fluffiness

Wassat?

Wassat?

Peek-a-Boo!

Peek-a-Boo!

I Gots it

I Gots it

Old Boy Dublin

Old Boy Dublin

Dublin in his Prime, a Handsome Ratty

Dublin in his Prime, a Handsome Ratty

Baby Jinx's 2nd Day Home

Baby Jinx's 2nd Day Home

Pixie Rat!

Pixie Rat!

Hi!

Hi!

Cute Jinxy

Cute Jinxy

How Whiskery Am I??

How Whiskery Am I?

Jinx on the Sink

Jinx on the Sink

Cuddling Rocky

Cuddling Rocky

Old Boy Jinx

Old Boy Jinx

Adorable Jinx

Adorable Jinx

The Big Boys

The Big Boys

Snuggly Shy-Shy

Snugly Shy-Shy

A Rat Party!

A Rat Party!

Sniff Sniff

Sniff Sniff

Today My Lovely Rats Say Bye-Bye

Rats Reunited

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I made another attempt to reintroduce all the rats on neutral ground with the following results.
Shy-Shy accepted both the younger two rats, and even groomed Dublin affectionately. Pip wasn’t so sure but seemed to tolerate the new boys for the whole duration, and he actually sniffed them a few times, rather than completely ignoring them like he normally does. Rocky lasted a whole 10 minutes before getting agitated, and I put him in his box before he got aggressive. Stripe was the first to go in the “naughty box” because he fluffed right up and began to chase the younger two. Jinx got in a flap and when Pip ventured too near him he yelped in a squealy voice. I will continue to repeat this, but I’m afraid I will have to consider keeping the new bucks separate for now.

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Stripe & Pip sniff Dublin

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“Fluffed up” Stripe calms down with mashed banana

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Jinx freaks out as Pip approaches

Today my lovely rats have been mostly eating mashed banana

I Smell A Rat

It’s Day 27 of the rat introductions and lots of sniffing rat bottoms going on! I’ve been putting the new boys and older rats together every day (the more often you do this the better) on neutral ground (a place neither set of rats normally go). Shy-Shy and Pip have been great big buddies to the baby rats, but Rocky and Stripe have been demonstrating the common signs of aggression: fluffing up their fur, sidling up and kicking with their back feet. I try to separate them before things get out of hand and give them some breathing space away from the newcomers. It is useful to have a plant spray and thick towel to retrieve the aggressive rat, if a fight breaks out, so that you don’t get bitten.

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Pip sniffing Dublin

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Shy-Shy sniffing Dublin

For information on the stages of ratty introductions I found these sites useful:

http://www.ratz.co.uk/ratintro.html
http://ratguide.com/care/behavior/introducing_rats.php
http://www.fancy-rats.co.uk/information/guides.php?subject=introductions

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Cuddling up to Shy-Shy for Protection

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Stripe sniffing Jinx

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Rocky and Jinx

Today my lovely rats are mostly eating salad

The Trouble With Tribbles

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Well, it’s Day 10 of the rat intros. It’s becoming apparent that it’s not going to be as simple as I’d envisaged. Getting two strange rats to get along and play nice is one thing but trying to encourage four big bruiser bucks to be best buddies with two complete strangers is another! I’ve had no problems with Shy-Shy and Pip. Pip is the tolerant kind, he doesn’t like any silliness from the two new boys, and let’s them know by giving them a quick power groom, then it’s all over. Shy-Shy has accepted them as his little brothers (he’s even protective of them). Rocky and Stripe however, are acting slightly freaked out, and continually “fluff up” (their fur stands up on end) until they look like tribbles. They then sidle up to the offending new rat, and kick one of their back legs at him. If I don’t intervene, Rocky begins an all out attack, and looks as if he’s going to take a chunk out of Jinx’s neck. I have had to squirt Rocky with a plant mister, to stop him in his tracks, and scoop him up in a towel. It’s a bit scary! I’ve been putting the aggressive rat into a carrier box for ‘time out’ and then trying again later. Stripe acts in the same way and has had a few time outs too, but he’s seems to just want to create a distance between himself and the new rats. I think Rocky and Stripe are actually more defensive than aggressive. There haven’t been any injuries, and hopefully it will stay that way. I’m going to need an awful lot of patience to succeed in this monumental task!

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Shy-Shy nose to nose with Jinx

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Rocky checking out ‘the Enemy’ Jinx

Stripe is missing from this collection of photos because he was in the Naughty Box!

Today my lovely rats have been mostly eating porridge

Introductions

After scouring the internet for gems of wisdom about rat intros and gaining some sound advice from a local rat fancier, I felt it was time to have a rat party for all the boys. In theory, it is possible to introduce any two rats together, but the age and sex of the rats can make a big difference to the proceedings. Two females (does) is supposed to be the easiest combination, especially two youngsters. An older female may attack a baby rat though if it is too young. With males (bucks) the younger they both are the better. According to my research, an adult buck will accept a baby buck (less than 10 weeks) because the baby hasn’t got the buck ‘hormonal’ smell yet. Therefore the most awkward group to put together are adult males. This is only a basic guide though, because anyone who keeps rats will tell you they are as individual as people, and it is going to be down to personalities whether they get on or not. The most important information I gleaned from various sources was that neutral territory was the key to ratty meetings. Neutral as in somewhere where there are no smells of either the old rats or the new ones. In another room, in the bath, on a table. That sort of thing.

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Day 1
So, here we go! On the 23rd July I brought the rats into the utility room. It’s a tiny room and the surfaces are all in easy reach so it’s ideal. I let the two new boys have a sniff around first, then unleashed one of the big boys onto the scene! It was Stripe. I thought he’d be the least likely to make a fuss, because he’s so soft and silly. He’s also at the bottom of the pecking order. All he did was sniff Dublin and then hid under a blanket with the two of them. The same happened with Rocky. He didn’t seemed to notice that the new boys were different. I let Shy-Shy have a look next, and bless him, he gave Dublin a gentle reassuring groom! Pip (the head honcho) was happy to snuggle up to the new lads also. It was almost too good to be true. The first intro couldn’t have gone better.

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Today my lovely rats have been mostly eating mixed cooked beans.