Here are Patch, Ralph and Bug.
Patch is the hooded, Ralph is the roan dumbo and Bug is the black berkshire dumbo.
I fell in love with these boys in a pet shop last March (something which I would strongly recommend against doing.. I’ll explain why below!)
Things went really well with these boys for the first few months, they were quarantined at my mums (really important to quarantine rats from “questionable” places for two weeks in a completely different air space before introducing them to your rats!). They introduced into my group of little rats really well and lived there without issue for a good couple of months.
Then Patch started picking on Mowgli and Ruben. I mean really picking on them, to the point where Mowgli did not leave the small sputnik (which he really did not fit in!). I realised he was actually very much hurting him, and decided to remove Patch. This was not going lightly, but needed to be done to keep my boys safe. Patch was puffed up all the time, and seriously unhappy. As soon as he was out of the group, Ralph became alpha and took over where Patch left off. He made my boys as miserable as Patch ever did. I took him out for a few hours and Bug started. Bug was always the calmest of the boys, but stepped right into his brothers’ shoes picking on the Little Rats.
So now I have Patch alone and Ralph and Bug in together. Patch ended up being alone for around three months. Bug and Ralph started picking on each other very badly, waking me up at night with their fights.
I sat down and had a long thought, I decided that all three needed castrating, initially I was thinking just Patch but all three were so miserable, puffing up and screaming as soon as they went near each other that I thought it needed to be all three.
One Sunday, I decided to give an intro one last try, if it didn’t work, I would call the vets on Monday. I told the boys that they would become nad-less if they didn’t sort it out and like an absolute miracle it did! (All three had been living as lone rats at this point!)
We started with the bath with two inches of water. They all went in together, no puffing up and no one even looking like they might start a fight. After about 15 minutes, I dried them off and let them free range on the sofa for about half an hour – again, no issues. I put them into the carrier together and set up the hospital cage (very small cage!) with just substrate and no food. They all went in there and after a couple of hours, I scatter fed them. We started off with them all sleeping in separate corners of the empty cage and after three nights they were sleeping in a pile, there were a few minor scraps but no puffing up. After a week I added a single hammock, we had some fights over the next two weeks, but nothing major.
After three weeks I moved them into the mamble cage and they had their hammock and nothing else and they fought badly, Bug was terrified and clung to the bars at the top of the cage. I took the hammock out and they calmed down, after a few days they had the hammock back and I tried adding some toys, they fought, but not as badly as the last time. So I took everything out and left the hammock – no issues. At four weeks I added a dome bed on the bottom of the cage, at five weeks I added the toys.
They only got their food bowl back this week and they feel very settled. They all sleep together, either in their hammock or in their bed and we haven’t had a scrap in weeks. They are happy and settled and can free range together and go back in the cage with no issues! I would ideally like them to be in my group, but thats just me being fussy and actually, they’re happy as they are.
It doesn’t work all the time, but having patience (and bravery when they fight!) can pay off. I was terrified about trying this intro as I was sure they would seriously hurt each other but we took it slowly, and they have learnt to trust each other again. All throughout the boys have been lovely and calm and cuddly with me.
If you have any questions about difficult intros or any intros in general, please get in touch and I’m happy to talk it though.
Thanks for reading!
Little Rat Rattery
Below is the work in progress.. starting with the bath, moving to the boys ignoring each other, to cuddling up together!
EDIT – an update on their progress
Very sadly, about a month after, all was still going well and we suddenly lost Patch, very unexpected and he has just passed away in the night. I was heartbroken but very grateful that he had managed to calm down and enjoy his brothers company in his last few weeks. He was around 10 months old when he passed away.
Ralph and Bug were always the calmer two of the trio and one day I just decided to try again with putting them in with the Little Rats. I started the process again, they started in an empty bath, into the carrier and then into the small hospital cage. There was not one fight. After a few hours with no issues I cleaned the Savic, blocked off the bottom half and rearranged the top half. I then just put all the boys into the top half of the Savic and there were no issues. A week later, I opened up the Savic and now, for around 4 months, Bug and Ralph have lived very happily with the Little Rats and since I have added boys from another breeder and they stayed as settled as before.
I couldn’t be happier with the final outcome, I am sad that Patch never made it this far but my boys are so much happier now and no one needed to be castrated. Sadly, Ralph has stared to look very elderly, despite having only just turned a year old. He is already slowing down and acting like a rat more than twice his age. My boys are gentle with him and he still makes the best nests out of any of my boys, carrying mouthfuls of bedding around and rearranging all the substrate on clean out day!
We got there in the end ❤