Good day to you, my lovely little rat pack! Today, we’re going to talk about something that makes any rat parent a little nervous: introductions. Now, at this point I think its common sense to make sure everyone has been introduced and will get along BEFORE putting them into a locked cage together. But, in case you are super new to this sort of stuff DON’T DO THAT. There, now we’re all on the same page.
But how do you introduce them? Well, that’s usually personal preference. I recently adopted two 6 week old females (Stormy and Midnight) to keep my 18 month old (Lucy) company. And my biggest fear was Lucy deciding she didn’t want new friends and hurting the tiny ones. So, how do we let them meet up while keeping everything as safe as possible? Well, there are a few options that I personally have tried and prefer to use.
The first one is the bathtub intro. Stick them in the tub and let them do their thing. This one tends to be my favorite simply because if they need to be separated, it’s pretty easy to just reach down and grab someone. Plus, they get a little time to run around somewhere that isn’t their cage. When introducing Lucy to Midnight and Stormy, I used a combination of this method and the next one and it worked out pretty well.
The next one is close quartering. This works pretty well if you have a rather large cage that can be sectioned off. When I brought the tiny ones home, it was going to be a lot of stress on everyone to try and put them all together right away. 4 hours in a car will do that to a rat. And 8 hours round trip will do that to a human. So the best option at the time was to quarter everyone off until they had a chance to relax. My Critter Nation cage can be separated into a top and a bottom half to keep everyone apart if there is fighting or if I’m just trying to clean the darn thing and SOMEONE (little miss Lucy) won’t cooperate with the carrier or go to her dad. Doing this is a pretty easy way to get the ball rolling. Scrub down the section for the new rats, replace bedding and whatnot, and let them explore their new home. Plus, they’re close enough to start understanding the current occupant’s scent and will make a formal intro a little easier. What you can also do, if your cage can’t be separated off, is place two cages next to one another. They can still catch the scent, just not hurt each other.
The last one that I like to use is free roam. Rat proof a big, open area and let them go. Again, it’s easy to separate anyone who doesn’t want to play nice and they all get to run around. Since this is very similar to bathtub time, I won’t go into much detail. Same thing, different area.
These are just the ones that I like. There are a few others that I don’t particularly care for. But to name a few, I know some people like to place their new rats into a cage and introduce the current rat through the bars. I don’t care for this because if someone doesn’t like the other’s scent or just the look of them, someone can go crazy and get hurt or hurt you. Little hands and feet can get caught in bars and break, so I personally avoid this one. But, obviously, it’s a little safer in the sense of the rats can’t hurt each other and since you’re probably already holding one, it’s easy to just pull them away. Just watch the feets! Also, understand that this is something that should be kept short and sweet. I feel like this is more for letting them get the scent of the new addition.
Some people like to just put them in the same cage and just see what happens. Please, don’t do this, for obvious reasons.
Something you also want to keep in mind is not everyone will want a friend. Sometimes rats just want to be by themselves (which is weird but, hey, it happens) or they just don’t like who you picked out for them. You might have to accept that your rats won’t get along and shouldn’t be housed together. Keep an eye on everything to make sure things go well.
Some big things you also want to keep in mind is you might see some wrestling or boxing going on. This is typically nothing to worry about. That’s how they play and bond. Now, if there are loud squeaks coming from these “fights” or you see blood, then separation may be necessary. The biggest thing is going with your gut and doing what you feel is best. Even if that means being overprotective parent and keeping them apart for a little while longer.
I hope this was somewhat beneficial. If there’s anything in particular you would like to read about or like more information about, feel free to leave a comment. I would be more than happy to write about anything and everything and try to make it a little easier to find info you need.