… or, Introducing New Rats.
We’ve made rat introductions before, and fortunately we generally meet with good success. This time we expected it to be a bit different … and for the most part, it really wasn’t all that bad.
A few tips for introducing current rats to new adopted rats:
- Find a neutral area to have the rats meet for the first few times. Give them some room to posture and practice their “rat-fu”. It can be quite comical when they stand on their hind legs as tall as possible and start slapping each other about with their front paws. Just watch for excessive fur flying and/or possible serious biting or scratching.
- Have your Rat First Aid Kit handy, just in case.
- Make sure the new communal home is well cleaned. Make sure you have thoroughly scrubbed and washed every part of the habitat as best you can. If you are not sure if it clean enough, do it again. When the new rats enter the habitat they will be less intimidated if there is a minimal (preferably none) of signs of the current rats.
- When you put the habitat back together, rearrange the items that you are reusing. If there is a “comfort” item from the quarantine home that the new rats liked you might consider adding it to the new home.
- Try to add a few completely new items into the habitat.
- Give all the rats a quick bath … at the same time. This can be tricky as they will be torn between jumping out of the bath water and keeping an eye on the strangers in the tub with them. Rats are not dirty, but the bath will help reduce the natural scents they have. Also, add a little vanilla to the bath water to help distract them.
- Another vanilla use: very carefully dab some on each rat’s snout (between the eyes and the nose), on their back, and near their genital area, or stomach. This really is not overkill on the vanilla. Most rats like the smell and will be more interested in why everyone smells so nice and not quite as concerned with who these interlopers are.
- After the bath, put the rats in the neutral play area you used earlier and let them reacquaint themselves. Make sure they are fairly dry before putting them into their shared home.
Time and patience are you best friends during the introduction. Keep a spray bottle of room temperature water nearby the cage to help separate the overly zealous or territorial rats. If they start to fight too much, give them a good spritzing and they will stop to clean themselves off. A rat’s self grooming obsession is a great characteristic to make use of.
Sometimes you will need to separate the rats and start the introduction process again at a later date. Sometimes it can take several attempts. Sometimes it just won’t work. Just remember to give as much equal attention to each of the rats as possible. Let them know they are all loved and cared for … and in the rare case when there are one or two rats that will not settle in with the others then you will have to accept that an additional habitat will need to be kept for these special rats.
There are no guaranteed methods of making a successful introduction of rats. It is important to keep in mind when adopting more rats that you may need one more rat home than what you currently have … be prepared.