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Introducing Rats – Step by step guide to success

Rat

Rats are social animals and should not be kept alone, this means that you will need to get comfortable with introducing new rats to each other and this guide will help you do so safely and without injury.

1. Place the cages next to each other

The cages need to be kept far enough apart so the rats cannot reach each other but should be close enough for them to be able to smell each other, rats sense of smell is incredibly strong and is one of the main ways they understand their surroundings. You should look to keep this in place for around a week, this will give your rats enough time to familiarise themselves with the new smell and become comfortable in its presence.

2. Introduce them in neutral territory

It is important that you use an area where neither rats scents are already present, my preferred area to do this is in a bath tub you can put down a clean towel to stop them sliding around so much and place treats in the middle. Start by placing a rat on each side of the tub and allow them to approach each other at their own pace. Don’t be alarmed if there are a few minor scuffles this is more likely to happen when introducing adult rats as they work out the hierarchy, the general rule is as long as their is no blood then it’s ok but there is no rush and they can be introduced across multiple play dates.

3. Introduce them in familiar territory

Once your rats are comfortable with each other it is time to move to an area where they may feel more territorial, the ideal spot for this will be wherever you normally let your rats play when outside of their cage. The rats will feel familiar with this location and more protective but not to the same level they would in their cages. You will be more likely the see little scuffles here than in the neutral territory so make sure you are on hand to separate them if this gets overly violent, once they feel comfortable together in this environment it is time to move on to the final step.

4. House your rats together in the same cage

If you have made it through all the steps before then it is finally time to put your rats in the same cage. The first step is to do a thorough clean of the cage they are going to be housed in, the aim is to cleanse it of the smell of the rat you are currently housing there so it feels as neutral as possible when they are placed together. You should also rearrange the cage as much as possible so it feels unfamiliar to the rat who currently abides there, this means moving hammocks changing where the water bottle and food are located. This is also a good time to introduce any new items into the cage you may have whether this be toys or any of the essentials needed for your rats care. There is a chance that further scuffles will happen again at this stage but after completing the earlier steps this should hopefully be minimal. You should ideally do this on a day where you can monitor the rats as much as possible but as long as the rats aren’t drawing blood or making audible noises of pain then any encounters will either be playing or establishing dominance, rats love to wrestle and box so don’t be alarmed if this is happening as this will mean they are bonding. Once your rats are comfortable sleeping together in the cage there shouldn’t be any real risk outside of the normal rat relationships moving forward.

5. Congratulations!

You have successfully introduced your rats together and they can live a happy life in their new social group, if you have any questions please drop them into the comments section below and we will try our best to answer them.

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