|Burt and Ruby on the lower half of the Critter Nation, together again.
Bobo, Jeremy, and Hammie on the upper half of the CN - getting along for a change.
On Friday, Hammie and Burt got the okay to resume normal living with other rats in a normal cage environment and to begin introductions. They have recovered nicely from their neuters.
There is already a noted improvement in Hammie's temperament towards Bobo and Jeremy. I reintroduced them and they all got along fine. No wrestling, no fighting, no squealing, no hiding from each other. It was way more than I hoped for this soon. I cautiously tried adding Ruby into the mix without incident. That is a noted improvement over the last time I tried to introduce Hammie and Ruby and a very welcomed pleasant surprise. Hopefully, that behavior will continue.
Adding Burt into the mix was a disaster, however. Jeremy avoided him, so he left Jeremy alone. Bobo challenged him and got bit (but surprisingly, I saw no blood or open wound - just an indentation where the bite mark would be). After that, Bobo stayed away from Burt and Burt left him alone. But Hammie and Burt were a no-go - getting into a terrible fight that looked like one of those Japanese anime fight scenes out of Pokemon or something (where both contestants take flying angry leaps into the air and collide in an explosive confrontation). Both ended up with cuts that bled and that put a stop to any further foreward advancement with intros. I realized I should have left Burt out of the mix for a while - I rushed things a bit. I was just so optimistic by the positive results so far, that I pushed forward a little too quickly.
I plan to continue intros with Ruby and Hammie (with Bobo and Jeremy present), but will keep Burt out of the mix for now. It can take several weeks for the hormones to subside after a neuter, and Burt and Hammie are not ready to be introduced to each other yet. We will try again after some time has past, perhaps starting with Burt, Bobo, and Jeremy before going all out with Hammie.
In the meantime, Burt is really glad to be reunited with Ruby. They are living together again in the lower half of the Critter Nation. Bobo, Jeremy, and Hammie are together in the upper half. Ruby and Burt were snuggled together in the Critter Space Pod this morning, taking comfort in a safe relationship. I installed a brand new set of Halloween-themed hammocks in the DCN, but don't have it fully back to normal yet. There are still a few baskets, some lava ledges, and the wheel that need to go back in the cage.
One thing I need to watch is Burt's weight. He lost between 30 and 40 grams after the surgery. Fortunately, as a big squish of a boy, he could afford to lose that weight. Perhaps when he lived with other rats, he ate a good chunk of their portion of fresh foods. Living alone, he was limited to a single rat portion. However, I am beginning to wonder if stress may have factored in. He wasn't as quick to eat breakfast this morning, which made me think there might be something else going on. I haven't noticed any signs of illness and he checked out good at his post-neuter vet visit, so for now, I am just going to keep an eye on him and try to keep him stress free (no introductions or stressful situations) until I know that he is eating fine. If his appetite continues to decline, it may be there is something else wrong.