• What to Do When You’re Down to One

    Posted on February 28, 2016 by in Behavior, Care, Health, Introductions
    about pet rats, pet rats, pet rat, rats, rat, fancy rats, fancy rat, ratties, rattie, pet rat care, pet rat info, pet rat information, travel with rats, travel with pet rats, pet rat supplies, pet rat health, pet rat friend, pet rat companionship, always have at least two pet rats, always have at least 2 pet rats

    When Evan (left) became single, he was introduced to Hank (right). They loved being together. It was as if they’d been friends all their lives.

    It may be the last thing you feel like doing. but it’s most often ESSENTIAL your remaining rat acquires a new friend.

    Here are a few of the many reasons you’ll want a buddy for your newly single rat:

    Rats Enjoy….

    • Playing together
    • Cuddling and sleeping snuggled up close to each other
    • Grooming one another

    Introducing a new rat is good for YOU, too:

    Opening your heart and home to a new rat is very satisfying and rewarding.If you always have at least two rats, you’ll be thankful there’s still one left to care for when one dies. You’ll console one another.

    The two exceptions—when it’s not a good idea to introduce a new rat—are when your remaining rat is either very old and/or very sick. In these cases, the introductory process is too stressful to be of benefit.about pet rats, pet rats, pet rat, rats, rat, fancy rats, fancy rat, ratties, rattie, pet rat care, pet rat info, more than one rat, pet rat friends, pet rat information, rats need rat friends, pet rat health

    “But my rat seems so happy alone…..”

    If your remaining rat is lonely, you may notice changes in appetite or activity level. Sleeping more and/or playing less can also be indications of lonesomeness. On the other hand, your lone rat could seem perfectly happy. Even so, once you introduce a new friend, you’re likely to see your remaining rat become even happier.

    I recently introduced my 2-year-old spayed female to a new friend, an 8-week-old unneutered male. I’d thought my female rat, Twyla, was doing fine on her own after her friend had died. However, knowing it’s best for her to have at least one rat friend, I went ahead and adopted Henderson. Once they began living together, Twyla literally acted as if she was reborn. She now plays much more and even has a new bounce in her step.

    How soon should you adopt a new rat?

    In my opinion, the sooner you adopt a friend for your single rat the better. Your new rat will need to be quarantined for three weeks and then the introductory process can take as long as two weeks. It’ll be a month or more before your remaining rat will be living with his or her new friend. Even though it may seem lengthy, the quarantine period is a wonderful opportunity for one-on-one time, helping to deepen your bond with each rat.

    about pet rats, pet rats, pet rat, rats, rat, fancy rats, fancy rat, ratties, rattie, pet rat care, pet rat info, best pet, cute pets, pet rat companionship, pet rats need friends, pet rats need rat friends, always have two rats

    After Twyla (left) was introduced to Henderson (right) she had a new bounce to her step.

    Should I get a male or female? A young rat or an adult?

    When adopting a friend of the opposite sex, you’ll want to make sure at least one is spayed or neutered. If needed, you can always have a rat neutered or spayed during the quarantine period. This gives them the added benefit of recovering from surgery while they’re in their own separate housing.

    As for age, adopting an adult as a new friend can work out fine as long as their personality is compatible with your current rat. My last two rats were adopted from our local animal shelter. Both times I was able to visit with several rats before adopting. While sitting quietly with each of them I could get a good sense of their personalities. On one occasion, I was surprised an adult female seemed like a better fit for my remaining rat than the babies with whom I’d visited. The adult female was so calm and gave off such a sincere quality that I could just FEEL she was the right match.

    With young rats, keep in mind that their personalities aren’t yet fully developed. Even so, you’ll get a good idea after visiting with a younger rat whether or not s/he may be a good match for your current rat.

    Number One

    about pet rats, pet rats, pet rat, rats, rat, fancy rats, fancy rat, ratties, rattie, pet rat care, pet rat info, more than one rat, pet rat friends, pet rat information

    Twyla & Vera were both adults when introduced to one another and became best of friends

    During your new rat’s quarantine period, be sure to give your current rat lots of love and attention. This is a special, healing time for you both. Even during introductions, make sure your surviving rat knows s/he is #1. Your new rat won’t be able to tell the difference if you show extra love to your current rat. Your original rat will be even more accepting of a new friend when you demonstrate the reassurance of your continuing love.

    You may also be interested in:

    How to Ace Pet Rat Introductions


    Always Have at Least Two Pet Rats

    20 Ways to Show Your Rats You Love Them


    Follow About Pet Rats:

18 Responses so far.

  1. DogVills says:

    I did not know that rats were so social

  2. Absolutely adorable pictures!!

  3. Carol Bryant says:

    I love that you are sharing all this info about pet rats. I for one am learning a lot!

  4. Maureen says:

    Oh your rats are so cute. I really didn’t know how social they are. What fun!

  5. Beth says:

    I never had a rat, but I didn’t realize they were happier in pairs. Good information to know!

  6. Jane says:

    They are adorable together! So happy your female has a new snuggle buddy.

  7. Robin says:

    I think most mammals are happier when they have a buddy of their species. It sounds like rats are highly dependent on socializing. It is very interesting that they need to be quarantined. I haven’t heard that before.

    • Thanks for your comment, Robin. I used to think the quarantine period was such a difficult thing to do. Now I actually enjoy my one-on-one time with each rat before they meet one another. It also serves as a wonderful transition into the introduction process.

  8. Sherri says:

    I didn’t know you could fix a rat. This is good to know because of the people I’ve known who have had rats, they’ve had just one.

    • Good to know you weren’t aware rats can be neutered or spayed. I’m currently working on a spay and neuter page to add to my health section. Ideally, it’s great to get females spayed since spaying helps prevent mammary and pituitary tumors and can, consequently, help them live longer. However, finding a veterinarian who’s experienced and competent with pet rat spays isn’t always easy.

      Glad you can help spread the word now that you know rats can be spayed and neutered! Thanks for stopping by, Sherri.

  9. I think a lot of the small animals do better in pairs. Dogs seem to go either way. Either they really crave canine company or they’re happy being only pets. Mr. N really enjoys being the only and having all the attention but he has proven himself to be capable of living with other dogs.

    • I don’t know a lot about hamsters, but it sounds like they generally do better without friends. Glad to hear Mr. N likes being an only dog! I guess for some pets there can be benefits to being an only child….. 🙂