Sunday, May 26, 2013

Confessions of a Rat Owner

Ha ha... Daisy vicious?
No one is perfect. That includes rat owners. And well, since I am someone and a rat owner, that includes me. I feel like I've made a few string of mistakes with her lately and all of them have made me feel guilty as hell for everyone involved.

The first mistake happened last night. I didn't shut the gate on Daisy's cage properly so she got out. Of course, on her stroll out of her cage, she decided to chew up the spine on one of my books and say hello to my parents. At 1:40 in the morning. I, amazingly, was asleep. My parents were too. And then my dad rushed into my room, furious. "Get up," he snapped. "Get up. Your fucking rat woke me up an now she's running all over the room. We have to catch her."

I groaned. Seeing exactly how angry he was, I got up as quickly as I could. Shit, I thought. Shit. I knew that if we gave her enough time, she would probably go back to her cage on her own but my dad was too impatient and pissed-off for that to happen. On the way, he ranted about how he woke up to her crawling all over to him and how traumatic it was having her tail swipe over his face. Oh and how irresponsible I was and all that.

Conveniently, Daisy decided that she liked playing around under my parents' king-size bed and was playing around under there. In other words, completely unwilling to come out. Both of us were sleepy and grouchy so it wasn't fun. Neither of us could catch her running out of there for quite a while until Dad finally did.

Yeah, I got a lot of shit for that one. Better my dad being woken up than my sister who threatened to "chop her and [I] up in pieces" if Daisy so did that to her (and she claims to love the creature). I'm still getting shit for that, with each retelling of his becoming more and more exaggerated.

If that wasn't bad, my second mistake was even worse. I recently got Daisy a companion, Buttercup. The only problem is that Daisy and Buttercup aren't really getting along. After a few plays for dominance, Daisy decided to get away from Buttercup as far as possible. But Buttercup kept pestering her and Daisy kept getting more annoyed. Eventually, Daisy started to puff out her fur and get a hunched back: not good. Daisy, doing the rational thing, decided to cool down and retreat to the third level of the cage. But this was worrying me. Daisy was supposed to be reveling in her social interaction, eating it up. Instead, she was doing the opposite. I knew that she only had one more chance after that and that was with the dumbo rat in the store she was supposed to have less of a chance of getting along with. So I wanted to make this work.

I gave them some space. I did. Or at least I tried to. But me, being the chronic worrier that I am, started to think of all of the terrible things that could happen if they were left alone or if they didn't get along, so I wanted to interfere. So... Regrettably I did.

Again and again and again, I tried bringing Buttercup up to the third floor with Daisy. And then... It almost looked like something was going on between them because Buttercup always went down to where she originally was. And Daisy, as cute as ever, pressed her little paws against the cage and begged for me to take her away.

So I did, mistake number uno of my handling of that situation. But it got worse. I decided for a little tough love and took Buttercup out too. With one of them each in my hand, I set them on the table near their cage. And... A fight broke out. A fight chock full of hissing and biting and whimpering and all that goodness. Not that playful wrestling I was told might happen. So I was forced to set them and they went on their own separate ways. I yelled at Daisy, who came to me, for her appalling treatment (sure, Buttercup was being annoying as hell but surely there was no reason for her to be so cruel). Yeah, I'm lucky one of them didn't get seriously hurt. Stupid me. They were doing fine and I decided to meddle. I guess poor Buttercup will have to be swapped out for Dumbo, who might very well have to get swapped out too :(

Why does my sweet, loving Daisy always have to be the one to start all of the problems? And why can I barely handle them.

Yeah, that's all pretty bad... But, like I said, no one is perfect. Newbie rat owners least of all.


  1. Hi,
    I have some advice for introducing rats.
    First, get to know the new girl. Show her some love seperate from Daisy and let her trust you.
    Then, take Daisy and Buttercup and put them in a neutral area where Daisy has never played before (a bath tub works if you don't play with her there regularly) then bring in the rat you suppose to be least dominant and let it explore.
    Then bring in the more dominant rat. Supposing your in he bath tub, you can sit in there or you can sit out side.
    Oh! Make sure you shower the place with treats. Maybe put a bit of water in there to distract them. Wipe something like vanilla extract on their noses and the base of their tails so they are encouraged to clean each other as well as masking their scents.
    Do his for no less then three hours. I know it sounds like a super long time but it's necessary.
    Within this time, if you could get someone to watch them you should go clean the cage, and I mean really clean the cage. Reorginize ramps, whatever. It should be an entirely different place.
    Once there seems to be no more fights breaking out you can watch them for a bit more (eating is a good sign, my rats don't eat heir treats when nervous).
    Finally, put them in the freshly cleaned cage together. Then sit on a bed or couch or something near by and watch for any sings of aggression suh as the puffing up you mentioned.
    Scatter a wide variety of treats all oer the cage as well.
    Good luck <3

    1. Thank you for the advice!

      Fortunately, though, it's been a few months and Buttercup and Daisy are now super close. I didn't follow your advice fully, but I did put them in the bath tub together and that helped.