Introducing New Rats - detailed version
1. Place the new rat/s with your other rat/s in a neutral space, allowing them to see, smell and wrestle with each other. A neutral space is one in which your original rats have not had the chance to mark as their own.
2. If your rat has demonstrated signs of more serious agitation or aggression, time to slow things down a bit. Place your new rat/s in a separate cage than your original rat/s and leave their cages side by side. This way they will be able to adjust a little bit to the smell and presence of each other.
3. After your rats seem comfortable and have settled into their individual cages (probably give it at least a day for them to settle and adjust), try to place your rats together again in neutral territory. Follow the chart above to determine aggressive behaviour. After this second introduction:
4. The bathtub method!
- Run room temperature water in your tub. Fill it so that your rats’ paws will be covered, but no more. We want it at a level where they will be annoyed, but not need to put in any effort!
- Place both of the rats in the bathtub with a watching hand over both of them. The idea is that the annoyance of the water will make them forget their struggles for long enough to bond a little bit!
- Keep them in the tub and watch for behaviour. Follow the chart from step 1 to determine aggressive behaviour.
Repeat the bathtub method each day for as long as necessary. If one of the rats is continuously aggressive and continues to draw blood during introductions then, after a week or two of attempting to introduce them, it may be safe to say that the new rat/s and your original rat/s cannot live together.
However, in most cases even if there is a shaky start for your rats, they will adjust and grow to love each other.
NOTE: A basic rule is that if there is no blood drawn, intros are going well. When blood is drawn is when a rat owner should be a bit concerned and wary during introductions. All other introduction behaviour is productive for your rats and likely leading towards friendship.
- Try putting coconut oil on your rats. They will lick it off of each other and this can help them bond.