Now that I'm a bit more comfortable with the safety of all parties, I can spend more time spying on them with the camera :O)
Mom hasn't made a move for the bird yet but I'm still really cautious about her. She watches Retro closely. I can't figure out if she thinks he's dinner or if she's confused about this misplaced child. I guess we could always find out by waiting to see if she grabs him by the neck and tugs him inside with her. For now, Retro has learned to expect a big "SHOO!" any time he gets near her. As for himself and the babies, however, they are teaching each other many new tricks.
One such trick got canned really fast. Some rats have this thing for cigarettes and cigarette butts. Our old Slinky was one such rat. One of these babies is also such a rat. Retro, being the quick learner he is, decided that if she (young rat) was doing it, he, their big brother, should also be pack-ratting cigarette butts. Problem is, I don't think he saw the excitement in it, so he just picked them up, flew over to their cage, and dropped the gift of butt in. Quite amusing, but now the butts have moved far out of reach.
The little rats also have a thing for pecking and nibbling at anything that sticks its toes through or on the wires of their cage. This is typical rat behavior. Retro learned the typical rat response of squeaking when he didn't like the nip or tug. The rats back off when he does this. Smart bird. On the other hand, Retro thinks this is some kind of rat-bonding and accordingly has taken to pecking at their toes as well.
They in turn "Eep" and he backs off. Fun game, I guess.
I'm still working on the Retro-Preens-Rat's-Tail photo. That one is a bit rough to get. Although he isn't hurting the rats when he does this, he only seems interested in doing this when the rats are in motion.
He is still preening the ears and fur though. He's really intent on it too.
Retro still hasn't gotten the hang of "Sniffin' Rat's Butts" to check I.D. I've been able to figure out which rats he's met and which he hasn't, however, by noting whether they sniff his behind or not. Those that have sniffed, don't seem to sniff again as it seems Retro has left his I.D. card behind. They're not sure about big brother's name or purpose in rat life, but they accept him all the same. He seems to like it when they pluck at his face feathers with their teeth.
Lastly, the rats have finally decided to share Retro's seed with Retro. They even allowed him enough space to keep his head in the bowl!