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Behavioral Issues

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JuliaMoacyr

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Hi, I'm Julia, I have 4 rats, all from the same breeder, in a very large Ferret Nation style cage. My breeder is quite reputable and well known in my area, she's great and breeds amazing healthy rats with great temperaments. However, for about a month now, one of my rats Mick has been demonstrating some very unwanted behaviors here and there. He's a big dumbo rat, and the biggest in my mischief by a long shot. I would say 90% of the time he's extremely friendly and he's very bonded to me. That other 10% though he can be quite difficult. He plays very rough with his brothers, to the point where they're squeaking way more often than when they play with another rat besides him, I sometimes have to break it up bc I'm worried it'll turn into a small dispute. Let me preface by saying I've had all four rats for 4 months now, they're all coming up on 6 months old fairly soon (which I know can cause some hormonal issues). Another issue is that twice over the course of the last month he has bit me and drawn blood. Both times were very unprecedented and nothing about his body language told me he was going to do it. The first time I was cleaning their cage and they were all out and about in the room I keep their cage in, playing and exploring. And he love to hop on my lap and hop down and pull at the trash bag all playful, he was scurrying around and tackling my hand and I decided to rough house with him like I do my other rats, and he bit me hard. I brush it off thinking he may have gotten spooked or bitten me because I was playing too rough for his liking. But then over the course of the month occasionally when i was picking him up he would bite me. It wasnt nearly as hard as the first time and didnt hurt at all. I took the light bites as him telling me I was in his space and that he wasn't happy with being picked up. Every time he did it though I would say "no" and pick him up anyway and hold him close to my chest, so he would understand that biting me was not going to make me not pick him up. I didnt want him getting into the habit of biting when he want in the mood to be picked up. Fast forward to today, I was just letting them out for their daily play time and everyone was having a fun day and running around playing. He was jumping all over my lap, climbing my shirt, jumping into boxes, climbing his cage to get to the top, all normal stuff. I'd picked him p to set him on my lap 5 maybe 6 times and he was great. But then I went to pick him up again and completely unprovoked he bit me hard and drew blood. I immediately put him back in his cage bc playtime was done for him, and rounded up my other rats so I could clean the bite and stuff. And when I put his brothers back inside, he started picking a fight with one of his brothers which I split up bc I know it was completely unprovoked and he was the instigator. It's definitely aggressive biting and it's a behavior I'd like to get rid of. I am not quite sure what else I can do though, I've been trying to get him to understand that biting isnt a solution, and that it results in less or no playtime, but evidently it hasnt been enough. My breeder suggested I neuter him to get some of those territorial/aggressive tendencies that come with testosterone/hormone imbalances, but I'd like to know what other people have tried in similar instances. As I mentioned, he's most of the time a very sweet rat who loves to be around me and cuddle and climb on my lap, but this bipolarity isnt something I can just brush off, especially bc when it happens his body language never indicates he's scared or angry. I just wanna know if there's any good training tactics and solutions to help me get rid of that small part of him that's a little rough and mean. any suggestions would be great thanks!
 

Kye

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Feb 1, 2019
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I would highly recommend a snip.. Hormonal aggression can not be trained out sadly.. He may get better in time but he might not... I would get him neutered if possible
 

JuliaMoacyr

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I would highly recommend a snip.. Hormonal aggression can not be trained out sadly.. He may get better in time but he might not... I would get him neutered if possible
Yeah soon as the holidays are up I’m calling the vet to get a quote on how much it’ll cost to neuter, and make the appointment. I’ve been saving up for this pretty much since he bit me the first time in case it didn’t go away
 
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Dena

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Yes I agree. Y'all will both be much happier. So will his cagemates. Also, just telling him no isn't going to cut it. You need to be a rat in that instance. Make a loud eep noise to let him know in his language that it's not ok what he's doing. Also, body language you need to look for is puffy hair, side stepping, bumping you with his butt. In the meantime, stay away from his hind end, and if things get readlly ugly before you can snip him, you can use a box to let him jump into, then move him and let him jump out where you want him (like another cage for transport, or while cleaning their cage. Also you can use a towel to grab him if need be. Just toss it over him, and grab him with it. But don't scare him. I'd also suggest if you let them out to play while cleaning their cage, put a barrier up, like cardboard or something so they can't get in your space while cleaning theirs. Sometimes they can be territorial against you for invading their home. I have always just played it safe, used a smaller cage for them while I clean their cage, and let them play after I wash up.
 

JuliaMoacyr

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Yes I agree. Y'all will both be much happier. So will his cagemates. Also, just telling him no isn't going to cut it. You need to be a rat in that instance. Make a loud eep noise to let him know in his language that it's not ok what he's doing. Also, body language you need to look for is puffy hair, side stepping, bumping you with his butt. In the meantime, stay away from his hind end, and if things get readlly ugly before you can snip him, you can use a box to let him jump into, then move him and let him jump out where you want him (like another cage for transport, or while cleaning their cage. Also you can use a towel to grab him if need be. Just toss it over him, and grab him with it. But don't scare him. I'd also suggest if you let them out to play while cleaning their cage, put a barrier up, like cardboard or something so they can't get in your space while cleaning theirs. Sometimes they can be territorial against you for invading their home. I have always just played it safe, used a smaller cage for them while I clean their cage, and let them play after I wash up.
As I said, it’s not a common issue, it’s just definitely not something to brush off. He’s normally super friendly. So I don’t think I’ll need a towel, I don’t want to show that I’m afraid of him, bc that might feed his ballsy attitude he’s been showing me with these bites even more. And when I say his body language never tells me, I mean that like one second he’s tackling my hand and popcorn jumping around the house, hopping on my lap and down, grooming my hand and all these very friendly behaviors, the next he bit me. Both times there was 0 warning. It’s almost as if he has a little bubble and he resorts straight to biting to warn me I’m in his space instead of giving me any signs first. I’m pretty sure he does the same with his brothers when they are trying to play with him, which is why they squeak so often when they play. He doesn’t warn them that he’s getting fed up and just nips them. Some animals are like that, I’ve worked with several dogs who had similar issues of giving no warning before being aggressive. They’re super difficult
 

jorats

Loving rats since 2002.
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He's definitely hormonal and it could get much worse as he ages. I would get him neutered and the breeder should be made aware that she's breeding hormonal rats and needs to stop that line. Rats don't want to bite, they become overly aroused and lash out at times, a neuter will restore your rat back to the sweet baby he was. It will help him navigate his feelings and keep calm even when overly aroused. Arousal is not sexual but mostly like excitement but it's more intense.
 

JuliaMoacyr

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He's definitely hormonal and it could get much worse as he ages. I would get him neutered and the breeder should be made aware that she's breeding hormonal rats and needs to stop that line. Rats don't want to bite, they become overly aroused and lash out at times, a neuter will restore your rat back to the sweet baby he was. It will help him navigate his feelings and keep calm even when overly aroused. Arousal is not sexual but mostly like excitement but it's more intense.
Thanks for the advice, I figured as much. And I’ve been talking to my breeder, to see what she thinks and she’s said from my boys dumbo line Im the only one who’s reported any issues with hormonal aggression. Normally her dumbo Russian blues are sweet potatoes, which he is most of the time with the exception of the random excitement bites. I’m calling their vet when they open after the holidays to schedule an appointment.
 

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