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Old 08-28-2013, 10:15 PM
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Default Rat question

So, the Mr. Rat I brought home about a week go went to his lovely new home today. She has multiple ratties and loves working with the difficult ones, and I think he will be in brilliant hands.

But, on my way home, I couldn't help myself. So....this guy:



The cutest, sweetest blue dumbo male. About 6-8 months old, supposedly. He's going in to work Tuesday to get neutered, and he has a case of the sneezes right now. He was in with a TON of other rats of various ages from various litters, so I'm sure he caught something.

Now, I have a conundrum. I don't really want more than one rat. BUT, I know they are a species that "does better in pairs". So, I'd like to know if they are an animal that NEEDS to be kept in pairs, or if they are merely "happier" in pairs. I have had a single mouse, single Guinea Pigs (twice), and also a single ferret. All of those species "do better in pairs", but my single animals did just fine with other forms of enrichment. (And I've had pairs of all of those species, too, so I know comparatively how they act with a buddy versus alone.)

Would I be doing him a huge disservice by keeping him as a single rattie, but providing plenty of enrichment and socialization?
And if I were to get him a buddy, I would get one from the same cage he was in at the petstore...but is there a set amount of time I would have to bring one of them home to make the introduction go smoothly? Aka, would he remember the rats he was with?

I have a feeling if I end up with two, Mike will kill me.
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:35 PM
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I've always felt my rats were happier with buddies. It's not that I really noticed a change in behavior or anything when a cagemate passes and they're left alone, it's just... when they have a buddy, they play together, snuggle together, groom each other etc etc and they seem to enjoy and thrive off that. I do really believe that it's important for them to live in at least pairs, seems like they'd be awfully lonely otherwise.... since they are nocturnal and we do have lives where unfortunately we can't spend every moment of our day with them.

My trio now are always together. Always. It is really rare that any of them get "alone time," they are always interacting with each other in some way.

That said, I am also not one of those people who thinks it is horrible and neglectful to keep a single rat. There are worse things.

As far as bringing another home, I've never done introductions and don't know if there's any certain timeframe that will make that easier. However, I'd look at it from a health standpoint: if you start to get this boy on the mend, I wouldn't want to wait too long to bring another one home from the same environment, otherwise you might just reinfect him.
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:44 PM
Brattina88 Brattina88 is offline
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It can be done, long introductions, even neutering could help.

I went both ways. My first rat (Korben) I kept as a single rat. He was happy, well socialized, I even taugh him tricks. He shoulder-rode and I took him places. Maddie liked him, too. I made a lot of envoirnment enrichment toys and changed his cage daily. I truly think he was happy

A couple years later I had several. They slept together and ate together and were very happy with eachother, they didn't care if I was late coming home from work or whatever. I did less with them, I worked more.

I've read where rats got depressed after their cagemates died. My last rat, Bella, didn't seem to care at all when her cagemate died. Actually, she liked having all the food to herself I think

A rats lifespan is so short I think they're all individuals and you should choose what's best for you two.
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:53 PM
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I think I'm going to keep him as a single buddy. His littermate (looks just like him, only has eye patches instead of a mask and isn't a dumbo; also a bit more skittish) is still at the store, but...I can't really afford to neuter two guys right now (and their testicles are gross ). He doesn't seem like he's depressed in any way and as long as it stays that way, I'll keep him single.

When I had Choco and Bees, they interacted with one another for sure...but they also fought like sisters and I think Choco was happy whenever Bees escaped from the cage and was gone exploring. Unless he gives me reason to believe he is unhappy, I'll keep him as a single buddy.
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:41 PM
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I had one rat as a single for a few months before getting him a friend. He did not seem depressed when single, but seemed much more content when he had rat friends to cuddle with.

I've decided I am the only one who honestly doesn't pay attention to rat testicles, lol. We recently had a surrendered rat at work and, while the vet was removing his mass, she neutered him as well. Because she felt his testicles were too large...
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Old 08-29-2013, 10:02 PM
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I had an old man single and he seemed content. Then I got some babies. I thought they would bug him or be too much but he was SOOO much happier once they were around.

Personally, unless the rat was aggressive to other rats, I would not keep a single. I actually think even a pair is not really ideal, but better than a loner.
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Old 08-29-2013, 10:13 PM
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We worked with rats a lot in the lab and another group of students did a behavior study on this.. rats were healthier and thrived in general when kept in pairs/groups rather than those left alone. Even though some of our control loners had MUCH MORE enrichment/nearly constant student interaction and socialization.

They were all friendly.. but the rats kept in pairs/groups (short from a few who were aggressive/territorial) were across the board healthier (there was some awesome study notes on cancer growth/general health towards the end of their lives and paired rats showed much slower aging and quicker healing but I can't for the life of me find the **** study study) behaviorally, physically.. and IMO much happier in general.

The loner rats who had "their own students" and were taken home, had amazing enclosures and played with constantly in the lab were also happy in their own way! Don't get me wrong.. it's just impossible, as a nocturnal animal, for a human to provide the same amount of companionship as another rat.
Even the rates who didn't seem cuddly or "into" their companions seemed to reap the benefits.

It's just ONE study by students, and I wasn't ON the study (I just saw their presentation and read their notes) and I'm not a pet rat person, at all lol but just given working with them in the lab environment SOLEY and the rates of healing/general long term health (I do believe with one or two exceptions, the paired rats all outlived the loners)..

personally, I'd get another one.

I'll link the PDF to this thread if I can find it, it was a very interesting project!

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 08-30-2013, 11:57 AM
Brattina88 Brattina88 is offline
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Fran that's very interesting! Personally speaking, my Korben did not live as long as the others. I also go him as an adult, however, so my personal experience would not be able to attest to that, because of food/lifestyle/ differences etc.... But it really makes you wonder!!!
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Old 08-30-2013, 09:41 PM
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Very interesting, Fran! And, if you think about it, it makes sense. I think any social species would be happier with interaction with their own kind versus something different. (Save for your odd aggressive animal. And maybe excluding dogs. Lol)

I've wrestled with it, and still kind of am wrestling with it, but I think I really will keep him single. Do I think he would probably be happier with a buddy? Yes. Do I think he is unhappy now? No. And I just can't afford the vet care two will require, as well as a quarentine cage if I were to adopt one after he's on the mend. :/ Not to mention I think Mike would have a fit. I probably shouldn't have bought him to begin with if I knew I couldn't have two (can I say impulse purchase?), but considering his living conditions were less than stellar before I brought him home, have to say its a step up for him.

Bleh. I hate not providing the "optimal" highest standard of living for my little guys. :/

ETA: *sigh* If I talk to Mike this weekend and he doesn't chew me out for having one rat...what is the best way to introduce another rat? And would it be best to a.) get a male he was housed with or b.) wait until after he's healed from his neuter and adopt a female? (So I'm not out another $70 to get rid testicles? Lol)
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