Aggressive female living with submissive female causing problems

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Dec 6, 2018
kent, ohio
I have a bit of a weird dynamic where in a few short weeks my rat colony has gone from having four rats to having two rats living together and one sick rat in a separate cage.

Essentially, I now have the most submissive rat, Illyria, with the most aggressive female, Fred, of the pack housed together and my dynamic having suddenly shifted is starting to cause some tension and a dynamic that once worked is frankly not. I'm suddenly finding scratches on Illyria from fights that I've never seen before. Now to give some background:
  • Fred is rescue rat with a difficult past. Fred's sister, Cordy, developed various tumors about a year ago that impacted her health and caused Cordy's hormones to spiral out of control resulting in aggression towards other rats and people. Ultimately Cordy needed to be put down shortly after I got the pair of sisters. I'm a little worried this is what is happening with Fred but Fred doesn't have any lumps and bumps on her .When I first got Fred she was dealing with some cage aggression whenever I would put my hand more than six inches into the cage and fear of humans but we have since worked through that and gotten to her sensitive side. She's been able to come out of the cage to cuddle and let me reach my hand into the cage to clean out the literbox for a while now. Fred is unspayed and about 3-4 years old now.
  • I've had Illyria since she was little (I think 8 weeks) and she's a very friendly rat just a little shy. Illyria suffered with anorexia during puberty as her sister stole all her food and Illyria basically started to be afraid that if she tried to eat she'd get "beaten up" by her sister. We typically feed Illyria on her own a few times a week which helped her to gain weight and overcome her fear of food in the cage. Illyria's always been a really submissive rat. Illyria is spayed since the age of 1 and is currently 2 1/2 years old.
Its only been a few days but the fact that I'm already seeing blood is making me worry about their safety. They've both been through so much in the past few weeks that I don't want to separate them and further isolate them. Will this even itself out or do I need to separate them for safety?
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Apr 8, 2020
hi, I hope this dosen't come too late!
I'm having similar problems with my girls as well. It really sucks, and unfortunatly I'm not going to be a big help since I sill have not figured out how to solve my girls problems.
For me it's been going on for some time so I can give you a few tips that might help you deal with the situation but scruffles will still happen.

What I have done is figure out what the trigger for the attacs are and eliminate that situation, or try to limit it as mutch as possible. In my case it is food/territory related... my dominant rat will usually attack only if food is involved so, come feading time, I take them out of the cage and feed them separately. The territorial part stemms from her hording most of her food in some box, as she will attack only if her sister comes near one of the boxes where she is hiding stuff. Since I only feed outside I only very rarely get scruffels in the cage.

I never separated them, like most peaple would have suggested, because I could see a clear cause that would not have changed after a reintrudoction. Since I obviusly can't put foraging toys in my cage, I keep them outside of the cage as much as possible and, even if they have a scruffle they will still decide to sleep together.

I hope thi helps
keep us updated on any devlopings

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