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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pre-Neuter Appointments Scheduled

Quarantine officially ended and the new rats moved into the rat room several days ago. It was time to start thinking about intros, and intros with males can be tricky. This time, they will be especially tricky.

Hammie tries to find an escape route
out of the rat room.
Hammie's hormones are clearly coming in and there is no lack of testosterone there. Most of the time he lives peacefully with Bobo and Jeremy, but every now and then, he gets a little crazy and has started picking fights. It was pretty obvious he was going to need a neuter. If he is having trouble getting along with his friends, he is definitely going to have trouble with intros to Burt.

Burt is not pleased with
his new neighbors

After moving the new guy's cage into the rat room, it also became pretty clear that Burt would also need a neuter if intros were going to proceed. He became obsessed with the new boys and their cage, pacing the side of the cage nearest to them, and biting the cage bars when they would come out to play in the rat room. There is no way I want to try intros with Burt in the state he is in when the other rats come out. Somehow, I think if Burt and Hammie were ever to be put in the same place together, they would have a fight to the death. I am unsure who would win. Likely, they both would lose.

Hammie, a bully? No way. Look at that cute face.
I did begin to try introductions with Ruby and the three new boys in neutral territory. Hammie quickly had to be removed from that equation as he instantly attacked Ruby, putting a one-inch gash in her side. It was my fault. I should never have tried to introduce him to anyone until after the neuter. I thought he might be accepting of a very calm spayed female who was no challenge to his authority, but he didn't seem to care. Intros with Ruby and Bobo and Jeremy were okay. I had hoped for great, but with Hammie removed from the equation, both Bobo and Jeremy wanted to show off as top dog to Ruby and with Ruby being once bitten twice shy, she didn't want much of anything to do with them. However, despite posturing and a little chasing and some posing, there was no biting. I think these three can eventually be introduced with time and patience if we take things extremely slowly.

Bobo and Jeremy will probably be successfully introduced to Ruby with time and patience.
In the mean time, I have scheduled appointments for Burt and Hammie to be examined to ensure they are healthy enough to be neutered. I am confident they will check out okay and neuters will then be scheduled. I have never done neuters before, but it was pretty clear they were called for in this case. I'd be okay if the two groups of rats had to live separately, but Burt is not happy being in the same room with them and Hammie is sometimes too aggressive with his own cage mates. I have heard good things about neuters calming boy rats down, so I am hopeful their dispositions will improve afterward, but I also know that sometimes neuters don't fix everything, so I am also prepared for that result. If they do have positive results, it may be that Bobo and Jeremy will need neuters next.

Bobo explores the rat room. It is pretty cool.

My regular vet does not do neuters so I scheduled the appointment with the exotics practice that she refers more specialized procedures out to. I have never been to this vet. One of the avian veterinarians who works there is well known in the bird community in the Chicago area and I have heard him speak at bird club meetings in the past. So I am optimistic that they hire good people.

Jeremy favors his left side to keep weight off his right leg
One other thing that I have observed about Jeremy is that his right back leg appears to be lame. It has been that way since we adopted him. I noticed his unusual gait right from the start. He kind of holds that leg out away from his body a bit more and doesn't always put weight on it. He can move it and use it and there are no outward signs of injury. He does not show any signs of pain when I touch his leg or move it. He just doesn't seem to have a lot of strength or dexterity in that leg. I am guessing that it may have been injured sometime in his early life in the overcrowded cage and it never healed properly. In his cage, you can't really tell. When he moves about greater distances in the open space of the rat room, it becomes more obvious. Sometimes, the only sign is that he tends to lean a little to his left, probably avoiding putting weight on that back leg.

Forget the toys, I want to play with you!

Jeremy and Bobo love their people!


  1. Hi, I'm not sure the comment went thru the first time, if it did I apologize. I've looked for but have not found this information -- where did you find the large tunnel pieces?

  2. Hi Annette,

    They used to sell this large kit on Amazon for about $35-$40: Unfortunately, it has been unavailable from all sources I have checked for over a year now. I think they discontinued it.

    You can still by a two-piece set, but it is ridiculously expensive for just the two pieces:

  3. Thanks for letting me know. That's too bad that they don't make the large set any more.