Aggressive or extremely shy?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Nadia, Feb 13, 2019.

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  1. Feb 13, 2019 #1

    Nadia

    Nadia

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    Hi all,

    I have 4 ratties, they are divided in 2 groups in a large cage and I am slowly introducing them. My issue is with 2 males (around 9/ 10 weeks old). They came together and have known each other since really young. One of them, Remy, is really shy. Initially I thought it was just with me but now I’ve started to find the other male with what seems bites. The other male, Lilly Boy, is very outgoing, he is bigger then Remy and he’s warmed up to me already. Remy though, he is always hiding every time I come in the room so I never get to see the two of them properly interacting. I’ve noticed that Remy squeaks in dislike when Lilly Boy grooms him but I have also noticed Lilly Boy pushes Remy away when, for example, they are both going for treats.
    I’m sorry this is a bit long. But bottom line it is Lilly Boy that I keep on finding bites (well, if Remy has them I can’t see as he’s very skittish) At first I thought it was just rough play but now I’m not so sure. Could Remy be aggressive towards he’s cage mate or is he just too shy... or Is it normal for ratties to accidentally bite each other.

    Many thanks
    Nadia
     
  2. Feb 14, 2019 #2

    ViciousCurse

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    Some rats can take a really long time to warm up. For that, I would just do more trust building with Remy. For me, I stick my hand and arm in the cage and let them explore and groom me as they please. Food is another method, but from the sounds of it, Remy's being out-competed for food.

    When you say that you're finding bites on Remy, is it large scabs found on his body, or is it small spots on his shoulders and back/butt? If it's the latter, that's a sign of mites or lice, which need to be treated. Do you think you can upload a picture of these bites?
    When Lilly Boy and Remy are near each other, are they puffed up and arching their backs? If so, this a classic sign of aggression in rats.
    If there is fighting and blood being drawn, please separate them for Remy's safety. Lilly Boy will likely need to be neutered to lower his aggression levels. Please find a reputable vet who is experienced in rats to do this sort of procedure. If Remy is alone, I suggest finding him a less dominant rat as his partner, or put in a stuffed animal so he won't be lonely while Lilly Boy is recovering. The same goes for Lilly Boy.

    Rats, while extremely social, are quite possessive of their food. Even adults will try to keep others from stealing their food. I usually give the more dominant rats food first and then give the more submissive ones food afterwards to minimize competition. If this a food bowl issue, I recommend putting food in various locations with multiple food bowls. Then if Lilly Boy is pushing Remy away, Remy can still get food, just from a different spot. I like to also make stashes for my rats, so that there is always food available, even to the timid rats.
    This same rule of thumb should go for water bottles. Also get bowls that can't be tipped over and pour water in there.
    When Lilly Boy is grooming Remy and Remy is squeaking, so long as it's not a pained squeal or scream, Lilly Boy is just asserting dominance by force grooming him. It's a natural display of dominance in rats. Some rats protest more to this than others. As long as there is no blood drawn and rat that's being groomed doesn't seem to be distressed, he'll be okay. Young males do this to establish a ranking system. As they age, they'll do this less and less, hopefully.


    Good luck, I hope everything works out!
     
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  3. Feb 14, 2019 #3

    Dena

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    The scabs sound like mites or lice, like vicious said. Often they will look like rat bites, but if you aren't seeing blood, I'd assume they are from the bugs.

    Rats like to force groom, and often the groomee will be a little vocal. Protest squeaks, and just little eeps here and there. Just watch to make sure it doesn't get too crazy. The shy one might be just shy. Some are. Some stay that way. They have different personalities like us. Good luck!
     
  4. Feb 14, 2019 #4

    Dena

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    Also, I'd look into getting them neutered for health reasons.
     
  5. Feb 14, 2019 #5

    Nadia

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    Thank you all,

    I don’t think I’ve explained myself properly. Although Remy is very shy and skittish and Lilly Boy is more outgoing, it is Lilly Boy who’s being bitten. I will try to take a picture but these are bloody bites. I can see the blood on his fur. I have seen Lilly Boy push Remy and Remy doesn’t seem to like Lilly Boy grooming him but I have never seen Lilly Boy being aggressive to Remy as in biting. Hence my confusion, surely the shyest rat shouldn’t be biting the bigger and more outgoing rat but it seems like this is the case. When I put all 4 rats together in the bathtub for introductions Remy hides straight away while all the other 3 boys are sniffing around etc and if one of the boys goes close to Remy he’ll squeak in dislike and sometimes he wasn’t even touched.
    Many thanks
     
  6. Feb 14, 2019 #6

    ViciousCurse

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    Hmm, that is a weird then. For that, I'd still recommend removing Lilly Boy then. If introductions are going well and he isn't getting bullied by the other two, perhaps he could move in with them--but don't speed up the process if they're not ready. Remy may need to be neutered then if he's drawing blood on Lilly Boy.
    Remy may have previously been bullied and then in turn, like humans, became very defensive and aggressive because of that. Either way, if he's drawing blood on Lilly Boy, he needs to be removed from the situation and neutered for his and everyone else's best interest. If he bites Lilly Boy that hard, he may bite the other two as well.
    Dena also mentioned neutering for health reasons.

    Some baby rats get very afraid when new ones approach them, especially if they've been bullied by other rats. These rats usually get way too stressed out to do proper introductions. With this stress, various health issues can arise such as developing a URI or anything of the like because their immune system weakens.
    For now, slow Remy's introductions down and help him build up his confidence. Confidence building is key. If he gets neutered, he may be alright with introductions later on. Maybe later on, once Remy's calmed down, he can be introduced to another rat and see how it goes.
     
  7. Feb 14, 2019 #7

    Nadia

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    Thanks Viciouscurse,

    I’ll definitely have him neutered as per your advice. I’ve looked around and there’s a few vets that do it and one that actually specialises in small mammals.
    Today I’ve put the boys in the bathtub and Remy seemed more explorative, which is good I suppose. One of my other rats, Ghost, was force grooming Remy and Remy screamed! He really didn’t like it and struggled out of that situation. I’ll definitely do as you say. Thanks a million to all
     
  8. Feb 14, 2019 #8

    Dena

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    I'd also have the vet look, and make sure the bloody bites are actual bites, and not from them scratching so much that they bleed. This was the case when mine had mites. I thought it was bites from them being too rough with each other. I treated with revolution, and within maybe a week, the "bites" healed up. If they are overly itchy, and sensative, this will also make them flinch in pain, or squeak when being groomed by the others. I had a rat that wouldn't let me touch him. He was losing fur on his face, and had bites all over his shoulders and back. I realized that when I touched him, he was moving away in discomfort. That's what made me realize I may have a mite issue, since I had already moved them away from the dominant rat. I promise after I treated them all for mites, his demeanor changed totally. Now he's the first one out for cuddles, and no more bites on him or the others. Many times rats come to you with mites and it's hard to tell they have them. Or you can get them from New bedding, toys, etc.
     
  9. Feb 14, 2019 #9

    Nadia

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    That’s interesting because I feel it’s weird that it’s the shy boy doing the biting. I’ll definitely have the vet look at them.

    Many thanks
     
  10. Feb 15, 2019 #10

    Dena

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    Since it can be hard to see mite bites, until the rat's fur gets wet, it's very possible the shy boy has them, and you just haven't been able to see them. Just a suggestion. I could be totally wrong. I have just got to where, when I get a new rat (which is often here lately:p), I just assume they probably come with mites. Especially since the ones I've gotten have been rescues. It's just easier to treat for it, and get it out of the way. That way, I don't end up with eat up ratties again. ;)
     
  11. Feb 15, 2019 #11

    ViciousCurse

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    I had a case of mites/lice about six months ago and it was easy to see with my hooded rats. It looks like very small black dots on their hind quarters and shoulders. Some rats can actually itch and scratch that it turns into actual scabs. I saw that mostly on the shoulders and head. I treated mine and it cleared right up, haven't seen hide or hair of it. But I did treat every rat, even if I didn't spot mites/lice on them. I have eight adult males who made it very clear they did not appreciate the treatment, but they seemed so much happier afterwards.
    I was in the same boat. I had one rat who didn't like when I'd rub his head or shoulders and I thought he was being picked on it. As soon as I treated him for external parasites, it instantly cleared up. And then he became my little buddy who constantly hovers around me. He never did bite or get defensive, but every rat is different.

    (I didn't want to talk about my mite/lice issue at first because I was worried I did something wrong, but Dena talking about it made it easier for me)
     
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  12. Feb 15, 2019 #12

    Dena

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    Oh geez! I think EVERY rat owner deals with mites or lice at least once! Don't be shy about it! It's the fact you recognized it and treated it. It's so very common, and sometimes rats don't show signs of it. Mine hated the dots being put on their back too. Looked at me like I really offended them or something. But they get over it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
     
  13. Feb 15, 2019 #13

    Nadia

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    I had no idea that mites could cause such trouble poor things! Do I have to go to the vet to treat mites or can I buy the spot on and treat all the rats at home (like I do with the dogs). I suppose as you both mentioned it’s best to treat all of them just in case.
    Many thanks
     
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  14. Feb 15, 2019 #14

    jorats

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    From your description... there's no aggression there. I would definitely treat for mites. That is most likely what is going on.
     
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  15. Feb 15, 2019 #15

    Dena

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    Wouldn't treat with anything other than ivermectin, or salemectin. The first one you can get at a farm supply store, the second one you get from the vet. It is the safer or the two. It has to be kitten or small cat one. There is a thread on here that tells the dosage, or Lilspaz, or SQ or jo can tell you how much to use. I have 7 rats, and one tube will treat all 7 of mine, since I did one drop on each.
     
  16. Feb 15, 2019 #16

    Nadia

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    Thanks everyone,

    Just got a spot on from the pet shop. Contains ivermectin like you said Dena. This is the only one I found here so hopefully it’s good enough. Will treat them and see what happens. Hopefully it’ll help them. I couldn’t spot any mites but then again they are minuscule so you never know.
     

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  17. Feb 15, 2019 #17

    ViciousCurse

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    Glad we got some good input and we have a way to help them now! Don't be afraid to give us updates. I'd like to hear how it goes after the mites have cleared up.
     
  18. Feb 15, 2019 #18

    Nadia

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    Thank you viciouscurse, it’s great that I found this forum as I never had rats before and I have always strived to do the best for my animal buddies. So the input from you guys , who are obviously experienced with rats, is super precious for me and my beautiful boys :D
     
  19. Feb 16, 2019 #19

    Dena

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    Just check the forum, to find the dosage of ivermectin before using it. That's cool that they make one for rats! I think with ivermectin, you have to retreat after so many days. I know with salemectin, I only use it once in 30 days. Usually I don't have to repeat it.
     
  20. Feb 17, 2019 #20

    SQ

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    For future reference, please be aware that medications (including medicine for fleas, mites and other parasites) from pet stores etc is often toxic and very dangerous for animals. In North America animals often die from medications purchased at pet stores.
    Ivermectin needs to be given several times but since you purchased a medication containing it (not ivermectin), hopefully the medication will have safe dosing information on it.
    There is dosing information about ivermectin on ratguide.com, however it may not be safe to follow depending upon the other ingredients in the medication you purchased

    For mites (and most parasites) the easiest, safest, and best treatment for rats is kitten revolution/selamectin
    It is usually purchased from a vet
    The amount used is based on the strength of the med and the weight of the rattie
    and one treatment is usually enough
    All rats need to be treated, even if they are symptom free
    Please see http://ratguide.com/meds/anti-infectives/selamectin_revolution.php
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019

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