Fur Missing and Skin Irritated

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MorriganGrimm

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Joined
May 20, 2020
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6
Location
Waterloo, Canada
So today I ended up taking my rat Whitechapel to the vet, thinking he had a respiratory infection. He had porphyrin around his nose and every once in a while I would hear a sneeze so I was super worried. Turns out he is actually pretty healthy, the vet thinks that he is stressed, not sick. She also noticed that he is missing fur on the end of his scrotum, the part farthest from his body and the skin is slightly inflamed. There was no blood or anything, just irritated skin. Since he is perfectly healthy besides that she thinks that my boys might be playing too rough. Whitechapel is my most laid back out of the three of them, and doesn't want to constantly play fight like the other two. My other rat, Codsworth is a lot more energetic than him and is usually the one to start any play fights. I'm pretty sure they're just playing, I've been checking for scratches just in case but there is nothing. I got the three of them two weeks ago and I think that they're around 8 weeks old. They seem to get along fine, and I always find them cuddling together, so I don't know what's going on. I'm concerned and want to get on top of this issue before it potentially escalates. I went out and bought extra toys to hopefully keep Codsworth more entertained and have been trying to get them out of the cage more (only Whitechapel will walk on the floor without freaking out, I'm working on the other two). They have no food aggression or anything, they are fine sitting on the dish together when they eat/drink. When they get treats I give them one each individually so they don't fight over those either. I don't have a picture, Whitechapel isn't comfortable with being picked up and I don't want to stress him out more than he is after going for a drive to the vets today, but I will try and get a decent picture as soon as I can. The vet said to watch them and interrupt any play fighting that looks more harsh than usual, and that if it gets worse I'll have to apply topical cream to Whitechapel, and potentially separate one of them (if that happens I will get another rat so they aren't alone). Does anyone know how I can try and fix this? I didn't have this problem with my previous rats so I don't know what to do, but I want to nip any potential bullying or aggression in the bud. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

lilspaz68

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Can you get us pics or video of the 2 boys interacting? At 8 weeks there's little chance of any serious aggression. There's always one baby that's more dominant than the other by that's normal. As long as they play together and sleep together they should be fine. :)
 

MorriganGrimm

Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Waterloo, Canada
Can you get us pics or video of the 2 boys interacting? At 8 weeks there's little chance of any serious aggression. There's always one baby that's more dominant than the other by that's normal. As long as they play together and sleep together they should be fine. :)
Thanks for the response! So, I spent this last week trying to watch the way the three interact more closely, (the video didn't work out, as soon as I try and get pictures or a video they stop what they are doing to watch me lol) and I don't think that the problem is aggression. After I got back from the vet I went out and bought a bunch more stuff for their cage and tried to fill it up more. Since then the amount of play fighting has lessened, and Whitechapel doesn't seem as irritated whenever it happens now. So I think part of it was boredom. Unfortunately, watching them have left me even more confused about whats going on! I read online that some rats do this thing called 'barbering' where they chew off fur right down to the skin. Which I think is what's happening with Codsworth and Whitechapel. I don't know why, though I think it has decreased recently, since the fur is starting to grow back. What I'm confused about though, is that I don't think they're the ones doing it, like I originally did. I noticed that my third rat, Valentine, is very mouthy with everything. He doesn't tend to move over to his brothers when he wants to play, he reaches over and grabs them by their cheek fur/ear and drags them over to him. He is also my finger nibbler out of the bunch, so I think he just explores things with his mouth. What I'm concerned about regarding this is that he tends to grab his brothers by the base of the tail, very close to where they lost fur, when they try to run away so he doesn't have to chase them. He's the lowest energy out of my boys I discovered this last week. He grabs the boys by some pretty sensitive areas, and I'm pretty sure I saw him trying to go after the problem area last week, which is when I broke up the play fighting.

Overall I don't think it's as serious as I thought it originally was, since their fur is growing back and the skin doesn't look as irriated anymore. I'm not sure there's even a problem with the missing fur, I was mostly worried because my vet said it could be an issue, and I'm pretty paranoid when it comes to my pets. Have you ever seen this behaviour in your rats? I know now that they are 100% play fighting, but is there a way to stop the hair chewing? I will again admit that I'm still not 100% sure whats going on, I have never had this situation pop up before so I'm more than a little confused. I really appreciate the reassurance everyone has given me with this, and I will still work on getting some videos. If for nothing else then at least the cuteness factor!
 

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