Register    Login    Forum    Search    FAQ

Board index » Fancy Rats Forum » Rat Care » Behaviour




 Page 1 of 1 [ 5 posts ] 



Author Message
 Post subject: Bad influence from other rats?
 Post Posted: Sat Dec 10, 2016 9:33 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:56 pm
Posts: 6
My rats are getting more and more skittish by the week.

Background:
I got two females from a pet shop about 10 months ago. Obviously, they were abused because they were piled up in a fish tank. I could never manage to win their trust to the point where I could touch them. They will spend time in my shirt, or on my lap, take food from my hands but go berserk when you touch them. The one will not hesitate to bite and draw blood. I have accepted the fact that their behavior will probably never change.

Because I felt a bit “unwelcome”, I bought two super friendly males from a breeder (now 4 months old). I kept them separate for some time from the females, had them neutered and successfully introduced to the females. Before introduction, I was in rat heaven because of my awesome relationship with them. They loved being touched and only wanted to be on top of me.

Disaster:
One month after the introduction, I discovered a huge change in the behavior of the two males. They started to run away when I want to pick them up. Two months later disaster struck when one male was diagnosed with cataracts. From here, everything went downhill. Both started running away if they get the idea they are going to be picked up. When I stroke them, they squirm to get away. None of them comes to the gate anymore when I enter the room.

I can understand it from the blind boy that he feels insecure. I have also noticed that every time they came back from vet check-ups they are a bit “wilder”. I live alone and they never see other people – maybe that is why they are skittish when coming back from the vet. Their health is perfect, their diet is balanced and playtime is an average of five hours a day. During the entire night, the cage is open for them to go to their huge potting soil digging box. I want to make it clear, they are not afraid of me – they just hate being touched.

Suspicion:
I suspect this is a classic case of “learned behavior” – if I understand the definition correctly. More and more the males behave exactly like the pet shop females. On a couple of occasions, I have noticed a warmer reception from them when they are alone with me – maybe I just want to see that :roll: …lol. It also crossed my mind that maybe the cage is so big and luxurious with external digging boxes and free roaming areas and all, that they don’t need me. I am afraid that this situation will escalate.

Anybody that can help?


Top 
 Post subject: Re: Bad influence from other rats?
 Post Posted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:28 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:59 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Newcastle
I don't know how much I can help, but I thought I'd have a go! I've only ever heard of learned behaviour acting in the opposite way - that if you put skittish rescues with social outgoing rats, it will help them become more confident. Not all rats like staying still and being cuddled - could it just be that they enjoy being active and exploring more? Do they ever seek out your company if you're sat in their free range area?

It might also be worth clarifying a few things:

You said the males are 4 months old, but then it sounds like it's now at least 3 months since introductions, and factoring in them being old enough to neuter and time after the neutering, it sounds like they are older?

4Happyrats wrote:
One month after the introduction, I discovered a huge change in the behavior of the two males.

This makes it sound like you saw a very sudden change in behaviour - is this what actually happened or was it more a gradual change?

4Happyrats wrote:
I have also noticed that every time they came back from vet check-ups they are a bit “wilder”. I live alone and they never see other people – maybe that is why they are skittish when coming back from the vet.

How many times have they been for vet checkups? Are you with them at the vet and have you noticed any change in behaviour while they're there?

Regarding the females, it sounds like they've settled quite a bit if they're happy to be around you to come and climb on you or take food from you. It's possible that if they were roughly handled initially they just don't like being physically picked up because it makes them feel restricted. I had a rescue that hated to be picked up with hands around her - you had to scoop her up with hands underneath, or eventually I would just lower my hand down to her when I wanted to pick her up and she'd climb up my arm.

_________________
Jenny x
:girly: Dory, Silvermist, Pocket :dumbogirly: Belle
:rattyrainbow: Poppy, Tarka, Jasmine, Flora, Penny, Lyra, Cassandra, Luna, Wren, Merryweather, Harper, Izzy, Tigger, Squeak, Bandit, Vandal :rattyrainbow:


Top 
 Post subject: Re: Bad influence from other rats?
 Post Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2016 9:07 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:56 pm
Posts: 6
squeakrat wrote:
I don't know how much I can help, but I thought I'd have a go! I've only ever heard of learned behaviour acting in the opposite way - that if you put skittish rescues with social outgoing rats, it will help them become more confident. Not all rats like staying still and being cuddled - could it just be that they enjoy being active and exploring more? Do they ever seek out your company if you're sat in their free range area?

It might also be worth clarifying a few things:


Squeakrat, thank you for the reply. Goodness, I have made a really good mess with the rats’ ages – my apologies. To answer your questions:

Learned behaviour (according to some experts), kicks in (for instance like my one female who bites when stroked) when they discover / learn that biting discourage any form of touching. The owner will eventually stop doing it, and the biting rat gets what it wants. They recommend that you keep on handling such a rat to show it that the biting won’t work, but I don’t believe in handling rats with gloves – I am scared it would worsen the situation.

My two boys are 6 months old now and were neutered at 4 months. At 5 months I introduced them to the two females (now 10 months old). Within a matter of 3 weeks since introduction, the boys change (gradually but fast) from super friendly lap rats to ‘don’t pick me up’ – like mimicking the behaviour of the pet shop girls. (The females are the alpha and beta rats). Would this perhaps have an influence on the boys’ behaviour to act like the girls?

After the boys were neutered, they had 6 vet check-ups each (in 2 weeks’ time) because of inflammation; including me cleaning wounds in-between. Maybe this can explain their behaviour. Maybe they experienced those vet trips as ‘being mishandled’. Also during this time the one male was diagnosed with cataracts – perhaps this is part of the problem? Or are my boys just still young and adventures?

I must admit, being a first-time rat owner, I do not have the foggiest idea of how a real tamed rat behaves. I have never met somebody else with rats to have a decent reference – all I know is what I see on YouTube –big squishy rats sleeping on their backs …lol :rollred:


Top 
 Post subject: Re: Bad influence from other rats?
 Post Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:32 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 2:50 pm
Posts: 1229
Location: York, UK
I think the internet may have mislead you. In 19 years of rat keeping I can count on one hand the number of rats that are more interested in me than "interesting things".
What may help, and I use it for socialising new rats is having them in a relatively small cage, something like a jenny or ruffy, that has good access so you can easily handle them. I also dip my fingers in something like baby food so the come and lick it off and associate me with food.
Have you talked to the breeder of the boys about the temperament in the line and the cataracts?

_________________
Slave to: Rescue boys Howard, Archie Broadstripe, Ray Shortstripe, Norman Wonkystripe, Albert, Bisley and Walter
Too many on the bridge to list.


Top 
 Post subject: Re: Bad influence from other rats?
 Post Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:41 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:59 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Newcastle
4Happyrats wrote:
Learned behaviour (according to some experts), kicks in (for instance like my one female who bites when stroked) when they discover / learn that biting discourage any form of touching. The owner will eventually stop doing it, and the biting rat gets what it wants. They recommend that you keep on handling such a rat to show it that the biting won’t work, but I don’t believe in handling rats with gloves – I am scared it would worsen the situation.


I don't see why your boys would start biting when they were perfectly happy to be handled before though. Like you say, biting behaviour is only reinforced if they learn that biting does discourage touching/picking up, so it's important just to ignore the biting and handle them normally. They'll soon learn that the biting does no good and stop. I wouldn't recommend handling them with gloves, it can cause them to bite harder, and they won't associate the gloves with your hands anyway.

Your boys are still young, so it's entirely possible they are just having a much more exciting time exploring. Maybe the girls have taught them to be more adventurous! Continue to handle them and give them treats. You can try playing with them as well - for example with a cat chase toy (feather on a string type of thing).

_________________
Jenny x
:girly: Dory, Silvermist, Pocket :dumbogirly: Belle
:rattyrainbow: Poppy, Tarka, Jasmine, Flora, Penny, Lyra, Cassandra, Luna, Wren, Merryweather, Harper, Izzy, Tigger, Squeak, Bandit, Vandal :rattyrainbow:


Top 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
 
 Page 1 of 1 [ 5 posts ] 




Board index » Fancy Rats Forum » Rat Care » Behaviour


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

 
 

 
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: