Fighting boys - time to separate?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Lookup, Sep 27, 2018.

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  1. Sep 27, 2018 #1

    Lookup

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    Hello everyone. I've always had rats in pairs - 2 brothers, 2 sisters, 2 unrelated males, and the worst they've ever done was a little power grooming. My 3 new boys, though, fight very badly. It's been almost 2 months and while Sulli seems to be dominant, Ki still sometimes sidles up to him and shoves or pins him. They have chases, with Sulli pursuing 80% of the time. This doesn't bother me as they don't draw blood on each other, but I've had to add hammocks throughout the cage since Ki once fell about 2 ft during a chase.

    The big problem is Olly, who is not bright enough to leave Sulli alone, and he gets beaten up. He's had multiple wounds near one eye, cuts around his penis, and now has a large gash on his back. He's about 1/3 smaller than Sulli, and he's harley, so having no undercoat leaves his skin more vulnerable. After one major wound, the fighting calmed down for a couple weeks, but yesterday he was at it again, biting on Sulli's ears and side, trying to pick a fight. Sulli did nothing because I was watching, and he knows I get mad at him. So last night they kept waking me up, squealing and screeching and slamming all over the cage. So I took the big guy out. I don't know what to do. I'd love to neuter Sulli, but the only vet around here who can do it wants almost $400. There's no way. It seems unfair to separate Sulli since Olly's being a brat, but I'm afraid he'll get badly hurt. If I do separate, will it be safe to put a baby with Sulli, with proper intros of course, or will he hurt it? I've never had trouble like this, so I'd appreciate advice from anyone with experience. Thanks for reading the long post, and for any words of wisdom...
     
  2. Sep 27, 2018 #2

    SQ

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  3. Sep 27, 2018 #3

    Lookup

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    Thanks for the reply.

    Olly and Ki are brothers, 5 mos old. Sulli is unrelated, 6 mos. The breeder had them all together in a cage of available babies. She did say, though, that she'd had Sulli in the DCN with the adult males "to teach him some rattie manners," but I didn't think much of it until we started having these issues. Now I realize he was probably aggressive with the babies. Anyway, she said they'd all been together for 2-3 weeks. She thought they'd be fine.

    The cage is 9 cu ft and has always been fine for 2, as they get out often. I've been looking at bigger cages, but I need to decide first if I can possibly keep them all together.

    There are no spayed females around here. Pet rats are not at all popular, as many people still living grew up on the mill hills where they had wild rats in their homes! There are no rats for adoption within an hour or more from me, and they are never spayed or neutered. People in the south don't even get their dogs altered, let alone rats! And there are no vets willing/ able to do it within several hours of me. No, most people look at me as if I've grown an extra head when I mention pet rats.

    Thanks for the options. I guess I just really would like to know at what point I should decide they can't stay together. I was hoping Olly would grow up a little and quit being such a twit, but he's altogether unlike any rat I've ever had, and I'm afraid he will only ever get along with his brother, who also beats him up now and then, in a loving, brotherly way, of course.

    PS. In my profile pic, you can see Olly pushing on Sulli; he wants the goodie all to himself!
     
  4. Sep 28, 2018 #4

    Luna&Ralph

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    The problem with separating them is that they really shouldn’t be alone unless it’s a last resort, which I’m sure you know. There is no guarantee that he’ll get alone with other rats that you may put him with in the future, and then you just have to get more cages for your new rats.

    My only suggestions would be to see if there’s any possibility of traveling to find a cheaper neuter, or getting the neuter done even though it’s expensive, because it’s probably your best option. It sounds to me like Olly’s the problem and that he’s the one who needs a neuter the most. I know that having to pay that much for a neuter is really frustrating, but it would be cheaper in the end than having to buy a new cage and then paying for the medical expenses of any new rats that you may get trying to give Olly a buddy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
  5. Sep 28, 2018 #5

    SQ

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    please check out joinrats.com to see if anything might be helpful
     
  6. Sep 28, 2018 #6

    jorats

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    A neuter is really the best thing but since you can't do that, I would do a time out cage. Each time you catch Sulli being a bully, put him in a very small cage. That cage needs to be completely empty, no toys, no bedding, no food. Leave him in there for 15 minutes, no longer. Be consistent!
     
  7. Sep 28, 2018 #7

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    Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions! Luna&Ralph, you're right about the cost of neuter vs new rats, cage, vet bills, etc., frustrating as it is. I think I'll check around Atlanta. There are probably more rats, and rat vets, in a big city. Olly is the problem as you say, but he's not aggressive, just a pain in the rear. He's like that really annoying kid nobody likes except his mom. All I can do is comfort him; he doesn't take my advice to chill out.

    Thank you, SQ, for joinrats.com. I've pulled it up but haven't had time to read much yet. Hopefully over the weekend I can spare half an hour. Jorats, the timeout cage sounds like a great idea. Sulli is very smart and loves to cuddle, so he won't want to keep getting in trouble. That's something I can do right now, and I think it will help! Thank you so much!
     
  8. Sep 28, 2018 #8

    SQ

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    Can you post pics of your cage as we might see something that can help

    Also, you might consider getting a young friend for Olly that he can play with and bug, to give Sully a break
    But trying to find a good vet in a larger center sounds like a good idea
    In June I took a 3 day trip to another province to get 9 rescue girls spayed and one rescued boy neutered, and it was definitely worth it
     
  9. Sep 29, 2018 #9

    jorats

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    If Sully is the one doing the biting and causing wounds on the other rats, he's the one who needs the neuter and the one who needs a time out cage.
     
  10. Oct 11, 2018 #10

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    Thanks again, everyone, for the words of wisdom. The timeout cage has definitely helped. They're getting along better now. I'm afraid their personalities will not change, but Sulli is learning to tolerate the little pest somewhat better. Olly is weird, but sweet, sort of an alien in a long-haired rat suit. Does anyone else have experience with Harley rats? I wonder if the oddities are genetic...
     
  11. Oct 14, 2018 #11

    jorats

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    My vet did tell me once that when there's mutations on the outside, we have no idea what that means for the inside. This is why I cringe each time breeders overbreed and create these new mutations.
     

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