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Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The Introduction Of Mouse And Dumbo

By Shellyane Bryan
A rat owner from England shares tales of living with her first rat, Queen Dumbo Duncanson-Bryan, and a rat named Mouse.

rat introduction Dumbo and Mouse
Photos Courtesy of Shellyane
The introduction of two rats can be unpredictable, but Dumbo and Mouse were good pals after a couple weeks.

Not too long ago I bought a new baby rat to keep Dumbo company. I noticed that Dumbo seemed bored, even though I let her run around the bottom floor of my house for two hours twice a day. She had started to get an unhealthy amount of blood-like discharge from her eye.

When I first bought Dumbo and Fidget, this used to worry me. A lot. But after a little bit of research, I discovered that this strange goo is called porphyrin and is quite common in rats. They can also get it from sneezing too much, which is often mistaken for a nosebleed. This is not the case with Dumbo and is really nothing to worry about. I also investigated whether the bedding/litter might be causing this problem, and I that found some litter, like cedar, can cause irritation. I provide my rats with a litter that won’t cause irritation.

Anyway, going back to the porphyrin around the eyes. It’s the equivalent of what we call “sleep” — that irritating gooey or sometimes crust-like substance humans sometimes get in the morning. For rats, it tends to happen when they become particularly stressed. This worried me a lot and I tried everything to make Dumbo feel better. I bought her new toys, I changed her food, I played with her more, but nothing seemed to work. My main concern was that the holiday cage was too small for her. Dumbo’s usual cage is huge and provides her with plenty of room to play, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t fit into the back of my tiny car. When I come home from university, I transfer her to a smaller cage. Yet even when I did return her to the original cage, nothing seemed to improve.

I decided I would get a baby rat, believing that Dumbo could very well be lonely.

Introducing new rats to each other can be very risky. It’s impossible to really tell what will happen, and needless to say, I felt nervous before I introduced Mouse and Dumbo to one another. The most important thing to do when putting unfamiliar rats together in the same cage is to give the cage a thorough cleaning to rid it of any territorial smells that might make the newcomer nervous. Honestly, I wasn’t too worried, because Dumbo has always been quite a soppy, docile rat that makes friends with anyone. She is even quite accepting of Leon the Hamster (even though he isn’t exactly her biggest fan).

Turns out I had absolutely nothing to worry about. They were mostly just curious about one another. Dumbo wasn’t exactly impressed that her space had been invaded, but Mouse quickly made it her own, springing and clambering all over the place and generally getting on Dumbo’s nerves. I could just imagine the thoughts going through her head while this baby rat stood on her head, tugged on her ears and nipped her tail. I didn’t think it was possible for a rat to have any particular expression, but Dumbo’s was definitely utter disdain. Mouse had invaded her home, was eating her food, drinking her water and sleeping in her bed — on top of her! Who wouldn’t be a little peeved?

Two weeks later, my rats are happily snuggled together in a newly sewn hammock. I like to make their hammocks out of old T-shirts, because whenever I buy a hammock from a pet shop, they have a tendency to chew it. I’m hoping my rats will soon be the best of friends, though I do have a feeling that as soon as Mouse is big enough, she is going to show Dumbo exactly who is in charge.

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The Introduction Of Mouse And Dumbo

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Reader Comments
How adorable.....I have seen that same expression on my black german shepherd when the little baby chihuahua does the same thing to him....it is hilarious....

robyn
Robyn, hampton, TN
Posted: 2/10/2009 8:35:59 AM
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