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Aggressive Rat??

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yamper

New Member
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Sep 24, 2020
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4
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Hello!! I semi-recently adopted three young girl rats, and the rescue had brought two out together, and one (Maple) out with other rats but said they had been socialized together and through the introductory period. So when I brought them home I put them all in one cage, and they seemed to get along very well!!!

As I have been working on socializing them and making them comfortable, the two that were together, have come out of their shell a great deal and are very happy and friendly girls! But my other girl, Maple, is being very aggressive towards them and me as well. I had read previously that if a rat bites you should "eep!" as they do, to let them know it hurts and she has always been the most nibbly, so it was something I was working on with her, but lately if I "eep!" she only bites harder as a response.

She has gotten to the point where she isn't comfortable being taken out of the cage (I haven't forced her) but allows pets in the cage, and I believe she may be in heat due to her stopping completely and arching her private parts towards me if I scratch her butt.

She is aggressive towards her cagemates, not to a horrible extent, but where I have to stop their playfighting that gets too rough on multiple occasions, and I am not sure what to do. I did read that separating them and re-introducing them is an option, so I plan to do that, but any advice on how to help her make progress would be amazing and greatly appreciated, since she seems to be regressing if anything the more I work with her :(

She's a very shy sweet girl, but as she gets older she seems to be getting meaner, she is a harley rat, so I don't know if it could have something to do with her genetics, but any advice is REALLY appreciated as I want to do as much as I can to make her happy here!
 

Dena

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Joined
Nov 13, 2018
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185
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Texas
How long have you had them, and how old are they? What you may think is rough play, may not actually be that bad. As for the biting, make sure your hands don't smell like food, or other animals. Don't offer food through bars, and if you're going to offer your hand for a sniff, offer the back of your hand. Pay attention to her body language, and cues. Don't push her. Check out www.joinrats.com for some good info on socializing.
 
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yamper

New Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
4
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United States
How long have you had them, and how old are they? What you may think is rough play, may not actually be that bad. As for the biting, make sure your hands don't smell like food, or other animals. Don't offer food through bars, and if you're going to offer your hand for a sniff, offer the back of your hand. Pay attention to her body language, and cues. Don't push her. Check out www.joinrats.com for some good info on socializing.
Thank you for the reply!! I got them late July (I think the 28th!), and they are all around 3-4 months! I do wash my hands frequently to prevent food smell, but she might also smell my dogs / other animals on my hands and be biting out of interest. I only offer food through open doors and with my palm instead of fingers, so I don't believe that's the issue )):

Her body language varies but it's been stiffer than usual so I've been abstaining from furthering her into discomfort, today she came out and hung out with me for a few hours but peed LOTS more than usual.

For the playing, I have had 9 rats prior to these 3 girls but they have never played this rough, it is where they one Maple is initiating "play" with will continuously squeak out of discomfort and run away, only for her to chase after them and pin them down roughly again.

I'll definitely check out the link as well, thank you so so much again for the reply! <33
 

Big Schpog

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Jul 8, 2020
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250
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British Columbia
Maybe they're establishing who is top rat? Both my babies that I adopted in June were really 'rough' with each other. They would squeak and chirp and play pretty rough but they were babies and were establishing hierarchy. There was a lot of agressive grooming with my babies too. One would pin the other and groom really hard. But I knew it was play because of the running and popcorning.

Once they were integrated with my older female there was still aggressive grooming and chirping once in a while. I think that's all normal. They are establishing boundaries with each other. When my babies were integrated with my older girl they tried this aggressive play with her a few times and she let out a scream. She's telling them her boundaries.

Have your babies seriously hurt each other?

When Maple nibbles on you does she draw blood?

I had a baby who LOVED nibbling on the corners of my fingernails. She did bite down a bit hard but a simple 'OUCH!' let her know where the pressure line was. I always encouraged my rats to explore with their mouths so they can learn where the limits are for nibbling. I let them nibble on the little hairs on my fingers and legs. I want them to feel comfortable with their mouthing. I let them nibble on my ears too. I don't mind an occassional hard nibble because I can squeak and teach them. Now they are very confident with their mouths and will nibble me freely, all of them knowing where the line is.

The last thing you want is a rat that isn't confident with her ability to sense with her mouth. I know it's hard because you want to pull away but this is where trust part comes in. You want to trust them and they want to trust you.

Of course if your rat is drawing blood and attacking you, that's a red line. But it doesn't sound to me from your description that any of that is happening.

What 'other animals' do you have other than the dogs? It is possible that other animal scent is the culprit.
 

yamper

New Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
4
Location
United States
Maybe they're establishing who is top rat? Both my babies that I adopted in June were really 'rough' with each other. They would squeak and chirp and play pretty rough but they were babies and were establishing hierarchy. There was a lot of agressive grooming with my babies to. One would pin the other and groom really hard. But I knew it was play because of the running and popcorning.

Once they were integrated with my older female there was still aggressive grooming and chirping once in a while. I think that's all normal. They are establishing boundaries with each other. When my babies were integrated with my older girl they tried this aggressive play with her a few times and she let out a scream. She's telling them her boundaries.

Have your babies seriously hurt each other?

When Maple nibbles on you does she draw blood?

I had a baby who LOVED nibbling on the corners of my fingernails. She did bite down a bit hard but a simple 'OUCH!' let her know where the pressure line was. I always encouraged my rats to explore with their mouths so they can learn where the limits are for nibbling. I let them nibble on the little hairs on my fingers and legs. I want them to feel comfortable with their mouthing. I let them nibble on my ears too. I don't mind an occassional hard nibble because I can squeak and teach them. Now they are very confident with their mouths and will nibble me freely, all of them knowing where the line is.

The last thing you want is a rat that isn't confident with her ability to sense with her mouth. I know it's hard because you want to pull away but this is where trust part comes in. You want to trust them and they want to trust you.

Of course if your rat is drawing blood and attacking you, that's a red line. But it doesn't sound to me from your description that any of that is happening.

What 'other animals' do you have other than the dogs? It is possible that other animal scent is the culprit.
I agree 100% on the nibbling! I usually just offer my hands for investigation for them, but she hasn't been well responding to my warning eeps (she did ACCIDENTALLY, draw blood, she ripped my cuticle open and it started bleeding but I do not think she was doing it out of malicious intent, I just want to figure out if the eeps aren't the way to go with showing where the line is and should say like you said, "ouch" as almost a word for her to learn.)

And they have not hurt eachother seriously yet! I am just a worrywart and want to make sure I'm taking measures if they are needed, and I can't tell with her :( It is good to know she could be just simply asserting dominance also!!

Also I have lots of other animals, birds, ferrets, a lizard and my dogs! I do wash my hands between handling each of them but I am sure especially with the ferrets, the musk is still buried within my skin.
 

Big Schpog

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Jul 8, 2020
Messages
250
Location
British Columbia
Wow, you've got a whole menagerie! Yeah, the rats can still smell the other animals on your hands and yes, that could be the culprit. Only time will let her know that your hand is gentle and kind. Are your other animals allowed near the cage? Do any of your other animals terrorize the rats while they're in their cage, Barking dogs, ferrets infringing on territory etc?

I think she's probably feeling overwhelmed and she is still a baby. She's only been with you for a couple months.

I'd start putting really good lickable treats on your hand for her. Offer the back of your hand first with a fave lickable treat and then switch to your fingers. You have to build up that trust with her. IOW, she has to feel good about your hands and you have to trust her enough to take the risk and time to get her to see your hands as positive. She's going to need more time.

DO they have free roam time where they can interact with you outside their cage? Do you do bed free roam with them and allow them under a blanket with you so they feel safe and get used to your scent?
 

yamper

New Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
4
Location
United States
Wow, you've got a whole menagerie! Yeah, the rats can still smell the other animals on your hands and yes, that could be the culprit. Only time will let her know that your hand is gentle and kind. Are your other animals allowed near the cage? Do any of your other animals terrorize the rats while they're in their cage, Barking dogs, ferrets infringing on territory etc?

I think she's probably feeling overwhelmed and she is still a baby. She's only been with you for a couple months.

I'd start putting really good lickable treats on your hand for her. Offer the back of your hand first with a fave lickable treat and then switch to your fingers. You have to build up that trust with her. IOW, she has to feel good about your hands and you have to trust her enough to take the risk and time to get her to see your hands as positive. She's going to need more time.

DO they have free roam time where they can interact with you outside their cage? Do you do bed free roam with them and allow them under a blanket with you so they feel safe and get used to your scent?
So no animals are allowed near the rats! I have three dogs that are in my room and none of them go near the cage or bark, and I do not leave them alone with the rats in their cage as well, just to be safe.

I'm glad it's just that, she does seem to very much like me, she's just very timid and dominant with her sister's, and I can't tell but her possible heat (or sexual dominance) has definitely made her have some mood swings towards both of us the past few days!!!!

I have been putting yogurt on spoons and then the back of my hand to introduce her to it, it's a slow process as she likes run and hide treats more and usually won't come around for stay around treats unless I wait a few hours (which I have, I'm more stubborn than she is haha) And they have full roam of my bedroom and bed!! My room is completely rat proofed so they are allowed to free roam, though I do tend to keep them on my bed with a big fluffy blanket to burrow in, she prefers behind the pillows though! I was considering putting some old shirts that I wore in the cage for her, but I'm not sure if that would overwhelm her or make her more comfortable.

Thank you for all the advice, I really, REALLY, appreciate it!!! Want this lil sweetpea to be happier with me more than anything!!
 

Big Schpog

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Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
250
Location
British Columbia
You'll get there. Sounds like she's still getting used to it. I would put the dogs elsewhere during free roam. I mean, rats can get along with other animals. Do the dogs stay in the room while they're free roam?

I'd try something more yummy than yogurt. It's called cheating! Whipped cream, something completely irresistable. Something that is soooo good that she goes nuts for it that is lickable. Vanilla pudding, anything.

Most rats, as you know, love to eat in private. This is where you come in! You gotta find her weak spot with lickable treat.

Old shirts are GOOD. You know, when I got my first two sister rats at 8 weeks old. I had a nice chair with blankets draped over it that would form a pouch like hammock on the sides of the chair. My babies first few days were spent sleeping in that little blanket pouch with Momma in the chair. They smelled me and they were right next to me and they were safe. They were ADORABLE when young all snuggled next to Momma's body warmth in their little pouch. My rat Baby Schpog RIP, LOVED to sleep under my arm and under the blankets. I miss her so much. That warmth and safety is very important to little ones.

Do your young ones hand wrestle with you?

How do you get her out of the cage?
 

SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
17,164
Location
central New Brunswick Canada
see joinrats.com for info on intros, and videos etc showing rough play as well as aggression, socialization etc
I will reply more in the future as only have a min right now. Check out the above link
 

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