I was finally able to merge JP with the other three boys. I am so happy about that. I tried two new things this time which may have lead to success but I think there could have been even more variables involved.
- I took all four animals into the shower with me and I took a long shower. They stayed up high and dry on the roosts and places I have for the sugars to play, but, the noise and the moisture and such managed to shake them all up a bit and even modify their smells. So they end up being more fixated on me and their situation than they do each other.
- I sprayed the butt of each animal with this tiny spritz bottle of mouthwash in order to alter their own smell and mask the smells of others. The mouthwash is not harmful if they eat it and it is extremely powerful and nulls their sense of smell for a bit.
- I put them together into a tiny cage with a single tiny pouch where they stayed for two nights. In a small cage, they cannot get very far from each other so they are forced to get familiar. In a large cage, the newbie can run away and hide and the others will go into hunt mode and start chasing the newbie to get rid of him. The small pouch forced them to cuddle and normalize scents while sleeping.
- After two nights I upgraded them to a medium sized cage with one more nesting spot. And they are all cuddling in the nestbox like I want. It is important that the new cages are neutral as possible, so clean them very well with soap and do what you can to remove the smells of the previous owners. I let mine soak overnight in suds after scrubbing very hard.
- After a week or so in the medium cage I will move them back into the large cage and all should be great!
I think the mouthwash spray and the tiny cage helped to get past their instinct to attack the new male. But it has also been more time since JP's neuter so his scent glands have shrunk more. Also, it has been pretty quiet this week in the cages so I dont think anyone is in heat or such. I think all of these things have aligned to where the boys were able to accept JP.
I kept the mouthwash handy for an additional spray on everyone if it was needed, but it never was. Again, I think the small cage helped keep everyone close so that they were forced to familiarize with each other to the point of no contest.
I can already see a difference in JP after these few days with the group. He has learned to come to the side of the cage for treats and he has no problem competing with the others.
Me so happy!
Here is a phuzzy photo of all four cuddling:
If you want to see what they are up to, here is the misfit webcam