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Chewing the fur off their legs

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kimba337

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Mar 4, 2020
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3
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Victoria, Australia
So both of my rats, Remy and Ace, have begun to bite the fur off around both their front and back legs. They are both male rats, 18 weeks old, and are both desexed. For Remy, this began before the surgery, and Ace has only just begun doing it. My partner and I are wondering whether this is normal and healthy for rats, and if it isn't, are there any ways we can stop them from doing so?
 

Fidget

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Jul 24, 2007
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Victoria BC
First I'd check for bugs (mites or lice).... Then I'd wonder if they're getting too much protein in their diet?... If their skin is dry some olive oil on their food 2 or 3 times a week could help.... Is there anything that could cause them to be itchy? Perhaps the laundry soap or cage cleaner you use?... And some will do that from stress or anxiety but unlikely they'd both be doing it, so I'd check the other things first..
 

lilspaz68

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If they are grooming off the fur on places they can reach, the skin looks healthy underneath it sounds like barbering which is a compuksion. It's probably only one rat who is self-barbering as well as barbering his friend. Usually it's one or the other but it does happen. Lark used to self-barber herself as well sep27Larksbarbering.jpg
 

MN Rat Pack

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Joined
Mar 22, 2020
Messages
9
Location
Minnesota
I am encountering the same issue with a new adult rat... chewing the fur down on both front legs but not damaging the skin. I've had her for about 4 months. She's adapted well to living with her new sister. They snuggle and fight like usual rats. She is timid but gentle with people. I was told she is a solo rat before and very friendly with people and likes shoulder rides. However, she does not and would prefer not to be touched. Her eyes are always huge when interacting with people or out of her cage. Is this an anxious behavior that will go away with confidence?
 

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kimba337

New Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Victoria, Australia
I am encountering the same issue with a new adult rat... chewing the fur down on both front legs but not damaging the skin. I've had her for about 4 months. She's adapted well to living with her new sister. They snuggle and fight like usual rats. She is timid but gentle with people. I was told she is a solo rat before and very friendly with people and likes shoulder rides. However, she does not and would prefer not to be touched. Her eyes are always huge when interacting with people or out of her cage. Is this an anxious behavior that will go away with confidence?
When one of my boys is scared I put my dressing gown on and hide him under it, I find that when he has calmed down he will slowly pop his head out.
I think the best thing you can do is to reassure her that she is safe. Does she have a place she feels safe? If so, when she gets scared then put her in her safe place and let her calm down a bit. Maybe open the cage door and let her decide when she wants to come out.
Limit loud noises, sudden movements and create places where she can hide when she is out of her cage (even just an old blanket on the floor that she can bury herself into)
I don't know if the anxiousness will ever go away, but try your best to soothe her when she is feeling unsafe or frightened.
Some rats are just very timid, while others are more confident.
It may be that she is not used to other rats so she may feel threatened by your other rats.
Chewing the fur off their legs can be a sign of stress, so if you do find that she is being picked on by the other rats, even if you think that it's normal, remove her from the situation. (When ace is picking on Remy I remove ace and put him in a carry cage as a time out)
Personally, I don't like the idea of separating rats because they are very social animals, but it could be a cause of stress which can cause an increase in nervous behaviour.
 

MN Rat Pack

Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2020
Messages
9
Location
Minnesota
When one of my boys is scared I put my dressing gown on and hide him under it, I find that when he has calmed down he will slowly pop his head out.
I think the best thing you can do is to reassure her that she is safe. Does she have a place she feels safe? If so, when she gets scared then put her in her safe place and let her calm down a bit. Maybe open the cage door and let her decide when she wants to come out.
Limit loud noises, sudden movements and create places where she can hide when she is out of her cage (even just an old blanket on the floor that she can bury herself into)
I don't know if the anxiousness will ever go away, but try your best to soothe her when she is feeling unsafe or frightened.
Some rats are just very timid, while others are more confident.
It may be that she is not used to other rats so she may feel threatened by your other rats.
Chewing the fur off their legs can be a sign of stress, so if you do find that she is being picked on by the other rats, even if you think that it's normal, remove her from the situation. (When ace is picking on Remy I remove ace and put him in a carry cage as a time out)
Personally, I don't like the idea of separating rats because they are very social animals, but it could be a cause of stress which can cause an increase in nervous behaviour.
Thank you for the ideas! I haven't seen Fern be picked on but will keep an eye out. They do have lots of places to hide so don't have to be near each other if they don't want. When I first got her, I know she could squeeze between the bars so she could've left if things weren't going well with Violet ;)
 

shaunavalon

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Joined
Oct 16, 2020
Messages
57
Location
Cape Town, South Africa
First I'd check for bugs (mites or lice).... Then I'd wonder if they're getting too much protein in their diet?... If their skin is dry some olive oil on their food 2 or 3 times a week could help.... Is there anything that could cause them to be itchy? Perhaps the laundry soap or cage cleaner you use?... And some will do that from stress or anxiety but unlikely they'd both be doing it, so I'd check the other things first..
Hi there, wrt giving them oil, I tend to supplement my rats with omega rich oils for dogs. Currently I am using a product called "Mirra-Cote". It comes in a bottle with a plunger so you can easily use it. It is designed for animals (larger ones) but it does seem to make their coats shine - it is good for hair and skin. They get a little bit on a bit of wholewheat bread weekly. Many rat keepers and breeders my side of the world use it to provide rats with essential fatty acids and omega 3 to supplement their diet.

Barbering does often prove to be more behavioural, and so long as their skin is in great condition and there is no evidence of skin problems or disease then usually there isn't much you can do about it.
 

Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
388
Location
British Columbia
I am encountering the same issue with a new adult rat... chewing the fur down on both front legs but not damaging the skin. I've had her for about 4 months. She's adapted well to living with her new sister. They snuggle and fight like usual rats. She is timid but gentle with people. I was told she is a solo rat before and very friendly with people and likes shoulder rides. However, she does not and would prefer not to be touched. Her eyes are always huge when interacting with people or out of her cage. Is this an anxious behavior that will go away with confidence?
She looks just like my Big Schpog. I love Agouti!
 

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