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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Burt Has Been Introduced

A very sleepy Burt (left) and Bela (right) napping in the Critter Space Pod

Introductions between Burt and the girls have gone really well. As we pretty much expected, Bela and Ruby were afraid of him at first, but didn't put up any kind of challenge to him, and so the three get along really well. I have caught both of them sleeping with Burt at one time or another.
Jo, on the other hand, is Jo. Just like with Pirate, she feels the need to challenge any man rat's authority, but when he stands up to her, she puts up a fight but is quickly overwhelmed and ends up squeaking uncle. Burt gets the better of her every time, but that doesn't stop her from coming back for more. Of course, there is no biting - no blood, no foul - just challenges and brief wrestling matches (in which Jo is quickly overwhelmed) and then back to normal until Jo decides to stir the pot again.
Jo will eventually mellow out. She did with Pirate. It just takes a little time.
The most surprising thing about Jo is that the day we first introduced her to Burt, she was acting like a rat in heat. Of course, that is impossible, because she has been spayed (I saw her shaved belly and the incision site so I know it is true and she lived for a long time with Pirate without any babies). But she was poking him and then presenting her rear, and vibrating her ears, which I believe is typical behavior for a rat in heat. I don't know what inspired that behavior. Of course, after the first day of intros, it was normal Jo again - so I guess she was just excited to see a man in the house again.

Burt (front) having breakfast
with the girls (L to R: Bela, Ruby, Jo)
On the whole, Burt seems really happy in his new home and has adapted well. He loves to explore and is very active and inquisitive. He has no fear of people and is very friendly and outgoing, but is not the snuggly type - at least not at this age. He doesn't want to sit still on your lap, he wants to be out in the world, stopping by to visit for a moment, then hurrying on his way to the next thing. He is not crazy about being picked up unexpectedly, and will sometimes squeak if you do. We try to give him plenty of warning before picking him up, holding him gently and securely for a moment before lifting him up, and then he is fine. He has developed a taste for pomegranate, as my youngest son likes to eat frozen pomegranate right out of the bag while playing with the rats - and Burt likes to sneak by and steal some. He always wants to come out and play - any time you walk by the cage, he comes right up to the door and waits for us to take him out. He is really a sweet rat.

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