Come Saturday night, I’d had enough of small meet-and-greets on my lap. I just didn’t feel that we were advancing the cause of Rattie Harmony with them.
So we got a tub of vanilla yogurt, laid an old, rat-chewed bathtowel in the bottom of the bathtub, and took the next, drastic step.
One by one, beginning with the little girls, each rat was smeared with a large swath of vanilla yogurt down their back, and placed in the tub.
We didn’t get the mutual groomfest that I hoped for. But neither did we see a bloodbath. The five Ratties seemed to reach a tense tolerance of each other in their shared misery. And they were miserable, I could tell. They milled around, trying to find a way out. They postured and posed at each other a little. But mostly, they sat in one place, and only decided to attempt to clean themselves up when they seemed sure they weren’t going anywhere for a while.
I deemed the lack of blood a good sign, and decided they were all going into one cage together immediately. Gryphon cleaned the large cage, and did his best to change the furnishings a bit.
For the next 36 hours or so, until sometime overnight last night, we observed Lola carefully following Lily and Laurel around. Occasionally, she would jump on one of them, turn them over, and hold them down. Sometimes, the little girls stood up to her before getting jumped. Lola always backed away after a moment, seeming to think she’d made her point.
By this morning, Lily and Laurel had earned the full run of all areas of the cage. Things are quiet right now – afternoon is Rattie snooze time. I looked in the cage to see where everyone had put themselves for their nap, and found this scene:
Lola is clearly still a bit fluffed up, as if to say, “Okay, I’ll snuggle up to the babies for my nap. But I’m not going to pretend to like it! Harrummph!”
I think, however, this scene of peaceful, communal snoozing shows the newly-grown Rattie colony is going to be A-OK.
So where are the boys? Somewhere off to the left of this picture, snoozing inside an old tissue box. They just can’t be bothered with drama!
As for the yogurt method for Rattie introductions – the jury is out. I was pretty unhappy seeing the yogurt-sopped rats milling about unhappily the way they did. In the end, however, it seems to have worked. Maybe it’s the shared trauma; maybe just the fact that it made for an abrupt change between “before” and “after”, making it easier for all the Ratties to start fresh.
It will be some time before I have to attempt introductions again, and I won’t have to decide whether to use the yogurt method or not until that time. If you asked me to do it tomorrow – I’m not sure I would. Ratties are resilient creatures, however, and they are forgiving as well. They don’t seem to hold a grudge against me for what we did.
For now, however, we accomplished a peace in the valley, a colony of five rats of varying ages all living together. And that’s a good thing!