Introductions - Advice Needed

Topics on behaviour, taming, companionship, introductions, and training
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Introductions - Advice Needed

Post by brennalynne » Sun Jan 24, 2016 11:49 pm

Long Story Short: Should I place my two new boys into the main cage and leave them rather than putting them back into their own cage after every play/bullying session?

So I've brought two new boys home to be introduced into my existing cage of two boys who are about a year old now.

Cages near each other/in the same room = success. There was slight puffing/huffing at first but then it was just normal sniffing.

Introductions on neutral ground = success. there wasn't much happening, I was using the bathroom floor. No fights occurred, just some sniffing.

Introductions on established play area = not so successful.

My most dominant boy, Mickey, is being a bit of a bully to the point where my two new rats (who are about 3 months old now) are very timid when he's out with them. I've finally gotten them bonding with me (they're comfortable hiding on me when they're being bullied by Mickey), but neither of them can relax as Mickey has started to puff out his fur and shoved them into corners. (he does a side step shove). There have been a few fights and squeaking which I don't break up (a lot of chasing too), the only issue is that there hasn't been any resolve yet. Mickey will bully them both into corners/onto me and then make his way back to his cage (which is accessible from the play area). Every time he comes back to the bed (play area) he continues to bully and cause the younger rats to freeze up and not move until he leaves/fights/chases them.

I haven't forced too much of this bullying on them due to their initial timid nature. They're only just starting to calm around me and bond with me.

Though there's been no injuries, I did not feel comfortable placing them into the main cage (aside from one time) due to Mickey's behavior - but should I be? I don't think Mickey would attack them to the point of injury so should I just let the bullying play out on its own?

Or should I wait until bullying has slowed down/stopped on the play area before I bring the younger rats into the main cage or should I force them into establishing their place/deal with a few tense days?

(side note: this was not just one play session, they've been in the same room for over a week now and every time they're out on the bed this happens. I tried to put some vanilla extract on all the backs of the boys but it didn't change much)

Sorry for the long post, thanks in advance to anyone who has any ideas.

Edit: I'm going to try the carrier method (through all my searching, I'd never seen this way of introductions before now for some reason), but I would still appreciate some advice with this situation. Non-urgent

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Re: Introductions - Advice Needed

Post by Caza66 » Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:44 am

Yes, it's basically a hierarchy situation and your alpha, Mickey, is being boss. I would strongly suggest the carrier method. Until I knew better, my first intro was very long winded but once I knew about the carrier method it is the only way I would try. Good luck.
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Re: Introductions - Advice Needed

Post by Jemma » Mon Jan 25, 2016 1:22 pm

I'd start off by moving there cages away from each other for a few days. Don't free range them together or anything, give them a little brake from the last unsuccessful meeting. Then start again, this time taking them to a different room, one your exisiting boys don't know. And start introducing them there in a small neuteral area, or straight in the carrier if it is proving difficult. Keep a towel on hand in case you need to separate, but I find if things get aggressive (so fluffy, huffing, side shuffling boy) then a loud noise or firm few taps on the carrier can sueually snap them out of it. I actually prefer a small cage to a carrier for access, but I seem to collect cages....

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Re: Introductions - Advice Needed

Post by brennalynne » Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:33 pm

Thanks for your responses, I'm giving them a break from each other for a few days.

I think Mickey is particularly territorial over places he considers his own. He only seems to get aggressive with the babies when in my room. I attempted a short play time with them all again in the bathroom and things went similar to how they first went. There was no bonding and the babies were very wary but there was no bullying/aggressive behavior.

I'll try the carrier method once things calm down a bit, I think everyone is a bit stressed out right now - including myself.

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