Help With Anxiety/PTSD

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by TheHermit, Sep 13, 2018 at 11:05 PM.

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  1. Sep 13, 2018 at 11:05 PM #1

    TheHermit

    TheHermit

    TheHermit

    Senior Member

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    Gosh, it's been a long time since I've been here!

    I'm wondering if anyone has some tips on helping rats with anxiety or even PTSD.

    Danzig, 24 m/o male, has some interesting idiosyncrasies. He was traumatized during intros with Henry Rollins - everything was fine, it was their second intro, but this time I sat in the bath tub with them instead of hanging out outside with garden gloves on (fight break-up protection). Danzig approached me and I started petting him. Henry, who had been alone for a couple of months, became territorial and attacked Danzig.

    I removed Henry first, then Graves (Danzig's brother and lifelong cage mate) and when I went to get Danzig, he reared at me and screamed. He was completely terrified. It took some time and coaxing but eventually I was able to pick him up and put him back with Graves.

    That was a year and a half ago. Since then, Danzig will not let me handle him. He hates being picked up and he shrinks away from any form of affection. He is fine if I lay my hand flat on the ground and he'll put his two hands on my fingertips and look up at me, give me a sniff, the occasional quick lick on the hand and then he backs off.

    I can understand him associating my hands with being attacked. BUT he also does this bizarre thing I have never seen before. When I clean the cage and put the trays/toys down on a towel to dry, he'll go to the items, scratch at the towel, aggressively groom his lower back and rub his back against the objects. He huffs and hisses when he does this. The second time I was concerned and put my hand out flat for him. He charged and bit me very hard and drew blood. He performs this ritual every time I clean the cage now (sans my hand).

    He's also always eaten less and been smaller than the others.

    Henry and him put aside their differences long ago - it's just me that he associates with the traumatic event. I've been happy to let him be a rat's rat, but Graves just passed on Monday and I'm worried that the sudden change and loss of his brother is going to be very hard on him.

    I also adopted an 18 m/o a few weeks ago. He had a check up, we did quarantine and I tried intros yesterday. Big mistake. I should have known better. He behaved just like he does during cage cleanings and charged the new rat. It was a violent fight. Leopold (the 18 m/o) and Danzig are fine, two small bites each and no bleeding, but Danzig was so upset by my breaking up the fight that he latched on to me instead and bit right through my glove. It's a 3/4" incision on my index finger - I can see the tissue under my skin.

    My hope is to get Leopold and Henry comfortable enough with each other to spend time together outside the cages, but there will not be more attempts with Danzig.

    He's an old man who's had a particularly hard week. Is there anything I can do to bring down his stress and help him have a calmer retirement? Any herbal remedies, oils, anxiety reducing foods?


    ((You'd think I'd have learned to condense my posts but nah, here, have a novel!))
     
  2. Sep 14, 2018 at 1:19 AM #2

    jorats

    jorats

    jorats

    Not So Much Staff Member Admin

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    All that background info is good to know. Honestly, Danzig should have been neutered. He's displaying serious aggression, the rubbing of the toys, the charging and attacking, those are all aggression. But he's old for that now so I would just let him live out his life. You could try to do trust training, not sure how much it would help at this point. But joinrats.com has some great tips on trust training.
     
  3. Sep 14, 2018 at 5:39 AM #3

    RatsDrawBlood

    RatsDrawBlood

    RatsDrawBlood

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    I'm willing to bet you haven't tried raw coconut yet.
     
  4. Sep 15, 2018 at 3:27 AM #4

    SQ

    SQ

    SQ

    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

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    If he is in good health, has no breathing issues and you have a good rat vet with the experience and knowledge to safely neuter rats, then you might consider a neuter ............................. ave life span is 2 to 2.5 years so he may not live much longer, or he may live another 6 months or longer
     

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