Rat aggression - to neuter or not?

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shojam13
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Rat aggression - to neuter or not?

Post by shojam13 » Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:30 pm

Hi all, apologies for long post but really hoping I can get some good advice here.

For background: We bought our 2 bucks from a local independent pet shop that breeds their own rats, in the hope that this would mean they had better temperaments/health (than, for example, Pets at Home). They are brothers, born on 1 June 2019.

One rat, Pascal, has sneezed on and off (mildly) since we bought him - after 2 trips to the vet it was agreed by our exotic vet that he has a low grade respiratory infection that currently isn't affecting his health but we need to keep an eye on it and take him back if it gets worse.

In the meanwhile, the other rat (Ratatouille) had a habit of humping Pascal just a little bit TOO much every time they came out to play.

Pascal started to fight back... After a few serious fights (2 where blood has been drawn by Pascal) we have, under vet advice, separated them. We've tried reintroducing them at playtime every day but although they have seemed a bit better at first... It still ends up in a rat ball fight. Ratatouille is pretty terrified of Pascal now and has started refusing to even come out at play time.

Our next option realistically is to neuter them. Next available appointment at our vet is 11th October (we've booked it).

My concern is... Will neutering actually help, or is this just a temperament / aggression problem? And if we do neuter them, I'm still worried that reintroducing them to each other might be really tricky / may not work?

I am worried that we may end up spending circa £300 on neutering to find that they still fight and then having to re-home them.

I should add, we love them both dearly. Pascal has bitten me a couple of times (hard!) but this seemed to be triggered by me cleaning the cage whilst he was there which he didn't like. I have stopped this and he has since been fine with me. They are lovely boys - to us - but the fighting is a big concern, especially as We have a 3 year old daughter. We have not let her play with them yet for this reason, which is sad as I wanted them to be our family pets!

I guess I'm looking for similar experiences (of aggression / neutering) or even advice on what the best thing is to do for the boys at this point. We love them and want to do all we can to make them happy, but I am wondering whether they will ever be friends again or whether it would be kinder to re-home them each with someone else who can offer a large group to keep them company? Alternatively if neutering could really solve the issue then we would go down that route and keep our 2 boys <3

Help!

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ScissorCrow
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Re: Rat aggression - to neuter or not?

Post by ScissorCrow » Sun Sep 29, 2019 8:05 pm

I don't feel experienced enough to give advice on your situation, but wanted to know if you're in England?
£300 for 2 neuters seems extortionate to me, but perhaps you're in another country where vet fees are different.
For comparison I paid £50 at one vet (2014) and £35 and £45 (2017 and 2018) at another practice.


I think as they are young I would go ahead with the neuter (after shopping around for a better price if possible). The three rats I had neutered for hormonal reasons all calmed down and were able to go back into their groups, but they were not separated for a long time beforehand.
I wouldn't keep putting them together and apart again as it sounds stressful for them both - though I imagine being lone rats is also awful for them.
Hopefully someone with more experience can advise when to start the intros after the surgery.

shojam13
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Re: Rat aggression - to neuter or not?

Post by shojam13 » Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:51 pm

I'm in the UK yes - and London! The vet we are looking at is a specialist exotic vet, and is London based so that could be the reason for the higher price... When I say £300 that's including the neutering, drugs & an overnight stay at the vet for 2 rats.

I know, it does sound expensive :( but we figured it would be better to get them neutered at a specialist vet? I don't know though, I'm a first time rat owner so open to advice / suggestions!

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cyber ratty
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Re: Rat aggression - to neuter or not?

Post by cyber ratty » Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:23 am

Neutering will reduce hormone levels that are responsible for the aggression, and although they are quite young to be hitting hormonal aggression, it is highly likely to be the cause. You should report this to the pet shop so they know that there is hormonal issues in their rats.

It can take up to 6 weeks after the operation for hormones to drop enough for re-introductions, but some rats relax sooner than that, so I would test out a re-intro at 2 weeks, but use the carrier method.

If the vet is experienced, then a neuter operation is quick and shouldn't need an overnight stay. I recommend a pre-emptive long lasting antibiotic injection before the op though, as a post neuter abscess is a common complication.

It might be worth shopping around as some vets charge a much reduced rate for neuters as they like to encourage owners to have their pets done (more applicable to cats and dogs of course), mine charges £30 for a neuter or a spay, but that is very cheap.

For future reference, rats do best in groups of 3 or more so there is less friction when their companion doesn't want to play at the same time or in the same way. Once the reintroduction is over you might like to consider adding a pair of buck kittens from a good breeder who has bred hormonal problems out of their line. :luck:

shojam13
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Re: Rat aggression - to neuter or not?

Post by shojam13 » Mon Sep 30, 2019 12:13 pm

Thanks for your reply.

When we discussed this with the vet they recommended the overnight stay due to the fact that rats have a habit of trying to take their stitches out, so said they would keep them overnight to keep an eye on them. They are very experienced in small mammals so I took their word for it - although yes I must admit it does seem quite expensive! I am not sure if other local vets in our area have as much experience in small mammals/rats so was aiming for the vet I felt would give them the best care. But I may ask around and see.

Yes we had considered introducing a couple more bucks to the group for that very reason - I am in touch with a couple of breeders and would like to consider this as an option. Although if we have these two neutered, will it be ok to introduce a couple of un-neutered buck kittens to the group or will that eventually cause dominance issues...?

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cyber ratty
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Re: Rat aggression - to neuter or not?

Post by cyber ratty » Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:48 pm

A mixed buck group should be fine.

I find it's very rare for rats to mess with their stitches (< 1%), but they do need to have adequate pain relief and companions. A solitary rat in pain is far more likely to mess with them.

Ratty0292
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Re: Rat aggression - to neuter or not?

Post by Ratty0292 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:26 pm

Hi I had 2 of my boys done this year it cost me £120 but I took them home in the same day, they also had problems with them as they are over weight which is my fault, but they were completely fine after they didnt mess with there stitches to be honest it's probably too painful for them to mess about with them any way, there hormone levels have dropped alot, I got them done as they live with their sister and they were humping her all the time and I didn't want to separate them, but they are sooo relaxed now and they absolutely love cuddles now too, it's my female I'm having problems with on the hormonal side now, I hope all goes well.

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