October 6th, 2008


One Big Happy Family (Only Slightly Dysfunctional)

We introduced the rats yesterday. The actual introduction on neutral ground went really well; Calliope was pretty upset when she first met Hera and Aphrodite, but didn't seem too bothered about new rats this time. They all hung out on the bed with rotating supervision from chinders and andres_s_p_b while brooksmoses and I cleaned out the big cage. That took a while, so they were pretty done with being out by the time the cage was ready for them. Hera and the little guys retired to a couple of pasta boxes to pretend the rest of the world wasn't still big, and Calliope and Aphrodite kept up the exploring and trouble-making.

After the initial exploration of the cage, Tethys decided that it was time to make sure everyone else knew she was the dominant rat. This didn't go as well as she was hoping, but hasn't really settled out into a stable state yet; so far Hera and Aphrodite are mostly ignoring her, while Calliope fights, loses, gets annoyed, and beats up on Calypso to prove she can. Somewhere in there Calliope managed to scratch her other eyelid. It doesn't seem to be serious, but boy does she look a mess. Poor thing. (I was more sympathetic yesterday; as of this morning, Calliope seems to be picking all the fights. Still losing.)

Tethys and Calypso are both quite fond of the wheels. Calypso is probably setting land speed records of some kind -- she is fast. We rearranged the wheels, so now the big one's at the bottom of the cage. It does seem like Aphrodite prefers the larger wheel instead of the higher position. The little guys seem to like the smaller one better, but they'll also use the big one if it's available. Hera has taken to occupying the big wheel for naps and general lurking. She hasn't run more than a few exploratory paces (more of a stroll, really) in it yet, but we are hopeful she will get more comfortable with it over time.

Tethys is much more confident about checking out the humans with the example of other rats who are not afraid of us; Calypso is still wary. Hera and Calypso have spent most of the day curled up together in a paper bag, so they seem to be getting along well. The other rats have been napping in various places alone -- and of course as I wrote that sentence, I heard squeaking and had to go check on them. Calliope had woken up and gone looking for little rats to stomp. Calypso didn't want to be stomped; Hera, wanting no part in this mess, exited the paper bag and went to the very top of the cage; Calypso and Calliope wrestled for a while; Hera wandered back and Calliope stepped on her, so then they had a fight, during which Calypso escaped and hid elsewhere. When Hera and Calliope were done, Calliope went to poke at Calypso a bit in the new place, but couldn't really get at her, so wandered off again. Tethys appears to have come round to "if I hold real still, she'll get bored and go away" so the wandering did not lead to any more fights. Aphrodite slept through the whole thing.
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