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 Post subject: Poorly socialised rescue rats won't stop biting
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:06 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:13 pm
Posts: 75
Location: Yorkshire
Four months ago we picked up two intact males from the RSPCA. We have kept lots of rats before but we are facing challenges with these two that we have never had to deal with before and the whole thing has been a disaster from start to finish.

They had clearly not been socialised either with people or with other rats. We have been playing with them daily and while they are no longer frightened of us, they haven't stopped biting and one of them has just bitten my wife really badly for no apparent reason. She is very upset and saying she doesn't want them any more. My daughter, who absolutely loves rats, won't go anywhere near them, neither will my two sons.

We also tried to introduce the two of them but that was a disaster too. We tried the carrier method and then moving them to a bigger cage. They seemed to calm down but they never showed any sign of friendliness to each other. After four weeks they had a fight that resulting in blood spattered all over the place so we had to separate them again.

I have been very reluctant to neuter them but I've had enough now. Any sympathy I may have felt for them has evaporated. However, I am not convinced that this is going to make sufficient difference. I take pet ownership very seriously and I fully accept the responsibility that goes with taking on a pet but it's got to the point where no-one likes them and we are all nervous or actually frightened of them. I had only been bitten twice before having kept 11 rats and one of those occasions was my own fault. Each of these two has bitten me at least ten times, some of the bites being serious.

Are these rats a lost cause? Does anyone have any suggestions?


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 Post subject: Re: Poorly socialised rescue rats won't stop biting
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:17 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:04 pm
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I've never kept male rats, but I've heard of so many instances of aggression in intact males (both against other rats and against humans, as you're experiencing) that were solved by neutering that it's absolutely worth a try. If the rats are otherwise healthy, and you go to an experienced veterinary team, the surgery is relatively minor and the risk is quite minimal. Neutered males also live longer on average than intact ones, so even if it doesn't do anything for their behavioural problems, there will at least be potential long-term health benefits for them. Although, given everything I've heard, I'd be surprised if it didn't at least reduce their aggression.

After they're neutered you'll need to keep them on their own for a number of weeks until their hormone levels reduce. How long depends on the rat, and I'm sure some more experienced members can chime in with specific recommendations. :luck:

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 Post subject: Re: Poorly socialised rescue rats won't stop biting
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:40 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:13 pm
Posts: 75
Location: Yorkshire
They are both young and apparently in perfect health so they should have no problem with the surgery.

All of the rats we have had have been male. Most were kittens when we got them but we have adopted three intact males and one neutered male in the past but none of them has behaved like these two.

I have to say that if neutering them doesn't solve the behavioural problems, having them live longer is not necessarily a good thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Poorly socialised rescue rats won't stop biting
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:06 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:13 pm
Posts: 75
Location: Yorkshire
I have booked them in to be neutered on Friday. I really hope this works because I'm now the only one who is prepared to have anything to do with them and if they don't stop biting, I doubt my wife will be prepared to tolerate their presence in the house any longer.


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 Post subject: Re: Poorly socialised rescue rats won't stop biting
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:54 pm 
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Location: warrington, cheshire
I can't say I've had problems with bitey rats but would certainly agree with neutering. Just remember that it isn't a quick fix, it will take a couple of weeks for their hormones to reduce to a significant point. Good luck and I hope it solves the problems and your family can get involved again.

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 Post subject: Re: Poorly socialised rescue rats won't stop biting
 Post Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:58 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:13 pm
Posts: 75
Location: Yorkshire
I never had either. Out of our previous 11 rats, I was bitten once because I accidentally poked one in the eye (he never bit anyone else so I accept the blame for that one) and once because I intervened in a fight.

When we went to the RSPCA rescue centre, the chap there didn't know anything about rats. He offered me his thick gloves but I said that wouldn't be necessary and reached in to stroke one of them. He immediately bit me really hard (the rat, not the RSPCA chap). I felt rather stupid but this had never happened to me before at home or at rat shows.

They were both very nervous to start off with and were clearly frightened of us. That has worn off but the biting hasn't.

I do appreciate that it will take a while for them to settle down. The whole thing has been frustrating and upsetting. I really want them to be our friends like all our other rats. They look very like the rat in your avatar. The are lovely looking large athletic rats but they are overly aggressive. Let's see what happens.


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 Post subject: Re: Poorly socialised rescue rats won't stop biting
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:06 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:13 pm
Posts: 75
Location: Yorkshire
I thought it might be worth providing an update on our situation, which has improved considerably.

We have Rocky and Percy castrated three and a bit weeks ago. I was really upset about this but I felt I had no realistic alternative. We kept them separately while they healed and then we went on holiday and took them to a lady who does rat boarding. She knows far more about rats than we do but was clearly surprised at how jumpy they were, particularly Rocky.

On her advice, we put them together as soon as we brought them home from her house and I am delighted to report that it appears to be going much much better. They haven't quite got to the point of proper friendliness with each other but they aren't at all nervous and there has been no fighting. They no longer avoid each other and quite happily clamber over one another. Their behaviour is completely different to the last time we tried to introduce them when they looked extremely tense all the time. They are currently in a little hamster cage but we are going to move them to an intermediate cage in a day or so.

Not only are they more friendly to each other, this seems to have resulted in a general lowering of anxiety levels and they are quite happy for us to stroke them. There has been no more biting and we are feeling much more optimistic about them.


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 Post subject: Re: Poorly socialised rescue rats won't stop biting
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:48 pm 
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That's such great news. :D It does sound like an absolutely classic case of too much testosterone for their own health and happiness (and that of their humans). Hopefully they can now live much more relaxed and fulfilling lives now that you've solved that problem for them! :luck:

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Poo-shoveller to: Zephyr Delanynder, Lia, and Lita.
Fondly remembering: Falere the contrary NLA36, Mirala the best and finest NLA36, Zephyr Opold the serene, and Rila the rodentist.
Avatar by Ursula Vernon.


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 Post subject: Re: Poorly socialised rescue rats won't stop biting
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 5:52 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:13 pm
Posts: 75
Location: Yorkshire
After a few days we moved them to a larger cage with a single hammock and they now seem to be genuinely friendly towards one another. When they are not trotting around the cage or playing with us, they cuddle up together in the hammock, like all our other rats have done.

It's a huge relief. The whole experience has been very stressful but we are delighted that they are friends and now me wife and daughter are happy to play with them. We haven't got to the point of picking them up, but they are properly friendly with each other and happily walk over us and let us stroke them.


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