1 male being restricted food by other 3, please help

Pingu

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Jan 24, 2019
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United States
Hello. I have 4 un-neutered male rats living together in a single critter nation. They are all around 5-6 months old.
I've recently started noticing that one of the boys, Pigeon, is always thinner than the rest of them. It's very noticeable upon picking him up that he's much skinnier than the other 3 boys. The other three are plump and healthy but Pigeon is just barely avoiding skin and bones.
I feed all of my rats on lab blocks and keep the food in the cage since they do a good job of self regulation. So I know its not due to lack of food.
I feel the other boys may be stealing his food and keeping him from eating and I'm unsure what to do. He's not even the smallest one, in fact he's the 2nd largest boy. There's no fighting that I've noticed except for the normal tousling that all rats do, and he doesn't seem to stay in one part of the cage like he's being ostracized at all. He cuddles with the other boys normally and exhibits no signs of fear or aggression when being approached by one of the
I'm just sort of stumped at how to fix this issue. I'm worried about his health. Do I need to separate him?
 
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CruisinCritters

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Sep 11, 2021
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campbell river
Do you feed them in a bowl? Maybe try creating foraging situations for all of them by hiding the blocks in toilet paper tubes, wrapped up in paper balls, mixed in bedding, etc? Keeps everyone busy and gives Pigeon a chance to eat....
 

Rattdad

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Mar 9, 2019
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Rhode Island
He might just be smaller than the other ones, but rats will definitely bully and steal food from one another. I dealt with this a lot in the past year. I've also noticed that male rats will cover up the food to keep others from getting to it. I do believe that, when a rat is sick, the other rats will make the rat's situation worse by stealing food; but I also have seen rats grieve and show tremendous compassion for their ailing fellows. My advice to you is to take the little one out and spend some regular time with him in another room, then start supplementing his diet when he's on his own. He's young, so you may be able to train him to eat when he's with you. (I've had trouble feeding older rats when they're by themselves.)
 

Bex5381

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Jul 26, 2021
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Devon
I would feed him separately if possible. Take him out on his own for some tasty, healthy treats that will get a bit more weight on him. If there is always food in the cage, then he will get a chance at some stage to access it without the others hogging it all first. One of my does has always been slimmer than her 3 cage mates, but is still a healthy weight. She had a URI recently, think maybe she is just a runty one that isn't as physically strong and healthy as the rest. I have 4 unneutered males too, one is slightly smaller, but he certainly makes sure he gets his share of the food 😅
Has his weight suddenly dropped recently?
 

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