Advice with an aggressive rat

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munkeymajik
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Advice with an aggressive rat

Post by munkeymajik » Thu Jul 28, 2016 11:49 am

Hi,
I've got 2 boys almost 6 months old. They've always squabbled and I took it as normal as there was lots of squeaking and never any foul. Also it's been difficult to determine who is alpha. Over the last month however I noticed Jin becoming a little more dominant/aggressive with Mugen. When I get them out for free range, Jin ALWAYS starts something and over the last week or so has also started arching and siding up to Jin.
When I first noticed this change in behaviour I was thinking of getting 2 more boys in the hope it may calm down, if not I could keep 2 groups in my explorer separate. A change in my shift pattern has stopped this as I won't have the time to give to 2 groups of rats.
Last night I noticed Mugen has a bite on his scrotum. It appears clean but going to the vets tomorrow to get him checked out.

Should I separate them?

I'm also thinking my only real option is to neuter Jin.

Advice?

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izzerie
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Re: Advice with an aggressive rat

Post by izzerie » Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:00 pm

At this point I wouldn't separate but I would be keeping a really, really close eye. I would also say that neutering Jin is probably the best course of action. 6 months is prime age for hormones to be coming into play; some rats ride this period out with little incident but others don't and it's always better to neuter sooner rather than later, so the behaviour doesn't become a learned behaviour that continues post op. I would watch out for Mugen though; with Jin neutered and, eventually, more submissive, Mugen may try and be top dog and his hormones may become a factor as well.
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munkeymajik
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Re: Advice with an aggressive rat

Post by munkeymajik » Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:43 pm

Thanks for the reply.
Like you said I have been watching them very closely the the last couple of weeks. I think it's a saving grace that mugen is far more agile than Jin and can get around the cage much quicker.
One thing I forgot to mention is that Jin marks EVERYTHING at the moment, he'll even climb over my hand or arm just to mark me and the last couple of weeks the cage seems to get smelly really quickly. At first I put it down to the hot weather but I'm having to change out hammocks and basket liners every 3-4 days as opposed to once a week. I'm guessing this could be down to high testosterone?
After looking at previous threads on this type of thing I have already thought about what you said about Mugen then becoming aggressive towards Jin (trying to think of worst case scenarios). These boys being my first rats this is all new to me. I'm thinking it might just be less stressful in the long run to get them both done at the same time?

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izzerie
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Re: Advice with an aggressive rat

Post by izzerie » Fri Jul 29, 2016 12:56 pm

munkeymajik wrote: After looking at previous threads on this type of thing I have already thought about what you said about Mugen then becoming aggressive towards Jin (trying to think of worst case scenarios). These boys being my first rats this is all new to me. I'm thinking it might just be less stressful in the long run to get them both done at the same time?
This is certainly an option. If you have a competent and knowledgable vet, a castration is a relatively low risk procedure and is less invasive than a spay for a female. I routinely castrate my rescue bucks (if they are under a year when I get them) and most sail through the procedure. Obviously all surgery carries risks but I personally feel castrate is one of the lower risk procedures.

I would say his behaviour, including the excessive marking, would make him a good candidate for castration. Whether or not you do Mugen at the same time is obviously your decision :)
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munkeymajik
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Re: Advice with an aggressive rat

Post by munkeymajik » Fri Jul 29, 2016 1:13 pm

Seen the vet today, he was honest enough to say his experience with rats is not great but he has given some antibiotics to cover the bite. He thinks that the best option is to neuter Jin and see how things go. izzerie, thanks for the advice.

munkeymajik
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Re: Advice with an aggressive rat

Post by munkeymajik » Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:54 pm

UPDATE
So I had to impromptuly separate the boys because Jin became far too aggressive to a point where I actually felt wary of him his behaviour changed so much. This settled down once he was on his own.
I had him neutered today, I decided to wait until I had annual leave so I could keep a close eye on him due to my working pattern.
Now I have to think about re introducing them both in the next couple of weeks once Jin has recovered.
Bearing in mind they have been separated for a couple of weeks I'm open to suggestions as I've said before they are my first rats and would appreciate advice.
Both boys have had their own level in an explorer.

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Re: Advice with an aggressive rat

Post by [cub] » Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:55 am

As I understand it, it can take several weeks for hormone levels in males to drop following castration: viewtopic.php?f=40&t=27886
So I wouldn't necessarily start introductions immediately after Jin recovers from the surgery; I'm not an expert, but I'd give it 4 weeks unless there are clear indications earlier on that his hormones are easing up.

When you do re-introduce, try the carrier method: http://www.fancyratsforum.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=52
Treat it like a first time introduction, take things really slowly. You'll feel horrible and mean keeping them crammed in a tiny bare cage, but the slower you take it, the more likely it is to go well. Increasing cage space/toys too quickly tends to start fights, which means they'll need to go back a step (or even back to the start), and means they'll spend even more time in a tiny bare cage in the long run.

I personally like to do intros away from home if possible. (I've only done 2 so far though, and both were with girls.) A bumpy train journey followed by being in a strange environment means my rats are less sure of themselves, and therefore less likely to try throwing their weight around. Of course they start asserting themselves once we get home, but by that time they've had a bumpy train journey back in the company of their new little friends, so everyone's at least had a chance to introduce themselves before they start arguing about which way round to hang the toilet paper. :lol: This may not work for all rats/intros (I can see a rat with fear-based aggression becoming more aggressive in a strange environment) but if you have a friend/relative that lives nearby who is willing to help you introduce your rats, you may wish to consider letting them have their first post-neuter meeting there.

And after you've introduced them, if you think they need a bit of help with peaceful coexistence, sticking them in a carrier and taking them on a walk/drive/bus ride can give them something mildly traumatic to bond over. ;) :twisted:
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munkeymajik
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Re: Advice with an aggressive rat

Post by munkeymajik » Wed Aug 24, 2016 7:29 pm

Thanks for the advice.
I read up on the carrier method last week. It seemed a little extreem for 2 rats that have already been cage mates but at the same time I want to do it right and do it once (hopefully) so I'll go with your advice. Would 1 level in the explorer be too big for this method do you think?

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Re: Advice with an aggressive rat

Post by [cub] » Thu Aug 25, 2016 3:09 pm

munkeymajik wrote:Would 1 level in the explorer be too big for this method do you think?
Yes, that's far too big for the first step. Ideally, you want to start them in the smallest, lowest cage/carrier you've got which can have water bottles attached to it. It should be so small and low-ceilinged that the rats can't really get away from each other, so they can't ignore each other or escape confrontation, and have to work through any disagreements they might have.

I use a too-small-for-a-hamster cage for my first step cage, similar to this: http://www.cagesworld.co.uk/p/Rotastak_ ... r_Cage.htm
A popular alternative is a small cat carrier: http://www.petplanet.co.uk/product.asp? ... f_id=53484

For the second step, I use a Freddy 2: http://www.cagesworld.co.uk/p/Savic_Fre ... t_Cage.htm
However, the introductions I've done so far have been of very young does to an established group of adult does, so they've been pretty straightforward. For a higher-risk intro, I'd be inclined to use a lower-ceiling cage for the second step, like this: http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/small_pet ... ges/284288

From there I'd use half the Explorer as a third step, and then finally the full Explorer.

In terms of accessories, I don't put anything in the first step cage other than substrate and a couple of water bottles. Some people add a hammock once the rats have settled (i.e. once they seem to be getting on well and have spent at least one night sleeping together), but in the cage I use, adding a hammock would cut off my access to the bottom of the cage so I just leave it bare.

Once the rats graduate to the second step cage, I leave it bare for the first night, and if they're behaving themselves, I slowly add a flat hammock, then some simple rope toys, and finally an open wheel. Nothing enclosed, and not all at once: every time I make a change (whether it's adding accessories or moving them to a bigger cage), the rats have to behave themselves for at least a day and night before they get anything more. If the group was showing signs of trouble after a change, I'd require a longer period of good behaviour before moving forward. In general, taking it too slowly doesn't do any harm, whereas taking it too quickly absolutely can.

I don't put in any enclosed accessories (anything that a rat can bunker down inside, or that a rat can keep another rat trapped inside) until they've moved into their final cage and have been behaving themselves well with the open accessories they already have.

Good luck. :luck:
Poo-shoveller to: Lia and Lita.
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Delanynder the big floofy eejit (NLA28), Falere the contrary (NLA36), Mirala the best and finest (NLA36), Zephyr Opold the serene, and Rila the rodentist.
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munkeymajik
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Re: Advice with an aggressive rat

Post by munkeymajik » Thu Aug 25, 2016 8:04 pm

Once again thanks for the advice.

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