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Introducing new

Rodents to

your Pet Rodents

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When you bring home a new rodent, what to do to
pacify your current Rodent Pets

Many rodent species naturally live together in families or
even in large colonies in the wild, and even wild rodent
species that normally live alone as adults still have
occasional interaction with other rodents of their own or
different species. In trying to give their rodent
pets as good and natural a life as possible, many rodent
keepers want to put more than one animal in a cage or

While introducing a new rodent to rodents already living in
an established environment is easier with some species than
with others, it is seldom simple and never guaranteed to
succeed, as rodents are often very territorial animals. But
some species that are normally so aggressive to other
members of their own species that even animals of opposite
genders must be kept separate except at mating time may
actually welcome a companion of a different rodent species
altogether, so here are some suggestions from experienced
keepers that may help you succeed in your efforts.

Tips that may Help

* Put the resident rodents and the new rodents together in a
completely different habitat so that the scent is new to all
the animals. Don't add boxes, tubes, or nests that may
invite possessive disagreements. That way the resident
rodents shouldn't feel so obligated to defend their
territory and the new rodents won't be frightened and so
stressed by the previous scent-marking of the residents.

* A large cage with deep bedding will give a nervous rodent
refuge so that it can adjust to the changes slowly. It also
won't be as likely to invite fear or aggression from the
other rodents because of its stress and stressed behavior,
and the other rodents won't become frightened themselves
because of the fear of the stressed rodent.

* Male rodents are usually more territorial than females, so
if you are combining the genders, make sure that females
outnumber males to cut down on some of the male competition.

* Make sure that female animals, whether resident or new,
are not pregnant or nesting, females become much more
aggressively defensive and territorial when pregnant or

* Try to introduce rodents while they are still young. The
older a rodent is and the longer it has lived a solitary
life, the less likely it will be to adjust to living with
another animal.

* If, despite all of your efforts, the rodents start to
fight each other, take them all out of the introduction cage
and try again tomorrow. They shouldn't be such strangers to
each other then.

* Even if all seems well, be sure to check them very often
over the first few days just in case. Sometimes disputes
take a while to get started.

What if they just won't adjust? Here are some ideas that
have worked for others:

1. Put the resident and the new rodents into each side of a
cage divided by a wall of wire. That way they can get used
to the smell and appearance of each other, and begin to
smell similar to each other, without being able to fight.
Take the wire wall out after a while and see what happens,
if they fight, put the wall back and continue to wait. This
method will work on all but the most determinedly hermit-
like rodents.

2. Put mint oil or mint ointment onto the rear and nose of
each rodent so that they all smell the same. Just be sure
not to use anything that can be toxic. Any of the
menthol/mint ointments that some people rub on their chests
when they have a cold should work well.

If all your efforts fail, simply try pairing different
animals with your pets. Some rodents are more aggressive or
more timid than others, and a different pairing may work
next time. If your rodent is aggressive, try offering it a
calmer roommate, or vice versa. That helps with the pecking
order conflicts.

One last point, be aware that some related but different
species of rodents can mate and hybridize, so take care when
choosing which animals to cohabitate.

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