Aggressive behavior

Tabirat

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I got two new rats, Meisha and Iris, at the end of May this year. We had a rough start when getting to know each other: Meisha had gotten sick shortly after I got them, but she's completely fine now; and Iris was super skittish for a while, often resulting in her hiding from me during playtimes. Their general shyness has gone away for the most part, and they have been exploring the room with confidence.

However, I have noticed that Meisha has been acting more shy when it comes to leaving the cage instead of her usual adventurous self, to the point where she just hides in my shirt for a few minutes before finally leaving to explore. Iris is more adventurous now, and can't wait to run around. When she gets into my shirt during playtimes, she usually climbs up on something for me to get close so she can climb on my shoulder and go back in her cage so she can eat or drink. Today, instead of doing that, she got into my shirt and outright attacked and bit me. Due to this, I don't intend to let them back into my shirt. Since I got multiple bites and some blood was drawn, do I need to get a tetanus shot?

I have noticed them get a bit aggressive with each other at times, but so far they haven't wounded each other. Could this contribute to Meisha's newer timid behavior? Iris has been acting a bit more aggressive at times, to the point where she'll nip at my fingers and toes. Could this be hormonal? What can I do to try to help bring down the aggression? Would lowering the cage to the floor during playtimes help?
 

lilspaz68

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I'm sorry I didn't see your post sooner. Bites hurt, especially unprovoked ones but usually cleaning, bandaging and a bit of ibuprofen takes care of them.
I sure wouldn't let her in my shirt from now on!
Ok back to her behavior. When did it change? I'm assuming she was young when you got her in May?
What does she do when you offer her the back of your hand? It's harder to nip/bite. As for feet nipping I'll assume you had socks on? Some rats feel they must kill the Sock Monster and will bite your feet with socks on. Try bare feet or slippers while she's out.
 

Tabirat

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Her behavior changed a week or two ago. She and Meisha were little when I got them.
At most, Iris will sniff the back of my hand. And yes, I did have socks on. I'm going barefoot during this playtime (they're out now) and so far I haven't been nipped.
Thank you!
 

lilspaz68

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Her behavior changed a week or two ago. She and Meisha were little when I got them.
At most, Iris will sniff the back of my hand. And yes, I did have socks on. I'm going barefoot during this playtime (they're out now) and so far I haven't been nipped.
Thank you!
Good. OK so the next time she does some behaviour you don't like try to make a low but shrill "eeep" sound. It doesn't have to be loud but it needs to be shrill. She should stop and listen. This is rat language, for "Ouch you are hurting me!" Stop!"

And don't let her back in your shirt again. :p
 

Tabirat

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Good. OK so the next time she does some behaviour you don't like try to make a low but shrill "eeep" sound. It doesn't have to be loud but it needs to be shrill. She should stop and listen. This is rat language, for "Ouch you are hurting me!" Stop!"

And don't let her back in your shirt again. :p
Okay, will do. And yes, I won't let her in my shirt again.
 

Tabirat

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Okay, this just happened:
Meisha was licking and tugging on Iris's scruff and ears despite Iris trying to push her away, then Iris bit at Meisha's ear, causing her to squeak in pain. Upon looking at Meisha, I saw a red mark on her right ear, but it wasn't gushing blood. I let Iris out of the cage to let her blow off some steam as I tried to look more closely at Meisha's ear, but Meisha was too wiggly. I'm nervous about using soapy water on it, since water in their ears can cause infections. Is there something else I can do? There were no other injuries on either of them.

On top of that, Meisha started acting aggressive towards me after I let her run around as well. I put her back in their cage for a minute, then let her back out. Meisha seems to have calmed down in terms of aggression, as she's no longer nipping at me.
 

CruisinCritters

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Sep 11, 2021
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campbell river
I got two new rats, Meisha and Iris, at the end of May this year. We had a rough start when getting to know each other: Meisha had gotten sick shortly after I got them, but she's completely fine now; and Iris was super skittish for a while, often resulting in her hiding from me during playtimes. Their general shyness has gone away for the most part, and they have been exploring the room with confidence.

However, I have noticed that Meisha has been acting more shy when it comes to leaving the cage instead of her usual adventurous self, to the point where she just hides in my shirt for a few minutes before finally leaving to explore. Iris is more adventurous now, and can't wait to run around. When she gets into my shirt during playtimes, she usually climbs up on something for me to get close so she can climb on my shoulder and go back in her cage so she can eat or drink. Today, instead of doing that, she got into my shirt and outright attacked and bit me. Due to this, I don't intend to let them back into my shirt. Since I got multiple bites and some blood was drawn, do I need to get a tetanus shot?

I have noticed them get a bit aggressive with each other at times, but so far they haven't wounded each other. Could this contribute to Meisha's newer timid behavior? Iris has been acting a bit more aggressive at times, to the point where she'll nip at my fingers and toes. Could this be hormonal? What can I do to try to help bring down the aggression? Would lowering the cage to the floor during playtimes help?
It sounds like there's some stressor in the situation... maybe the environment? Position of cage? Are there lots of places to hide? Like dogs, rats sometimes need to be taught to be optimistic. They also need to be mentally engaged. Do you set up any enrichment activities for them, such as foraging for food in crumpled up paper and small boxes?
 

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