My rat is agressive towards me?

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Chiendelespace

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Apr 7, 2021
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Hi there and thank you to the admin who will validate this! (Bear with me, I'm french and my english is a bit rusted)

I'm a new rat owner. 5-6 months ago, I bring home a new baby rat called Ruben. I did a beginner mistake, I bring him alone. It was tough at first but after two weeks, he was beginning to be cute and friendly, licking my hand, staying on my shoulder, playing on my desk. A few months ago, I realized he was gnawing on the bars of his cage. Then he escaped for a few hours. I couldn't restrain him on the desk or the bed. This boy has quite a LOT of energy and is quite a climbing and jumping master. My appartment is an open space so I feel inconfortable but I let him wander with an eye on him, closing dangerous spaces like the kitchen. I was quite glad, he came to me every time I was calling him with a treat. Since gnawing on bars seems like a sign of deep stress, it was time to find him a brother and a bigger cage than the beginning one I've found.

There's enter Gilbert with the big cage. Someone was selling the cage with him and for me it was perfect. Gilbert is 2 years old and quite the Couch Potato. Very, very, very submissive. After proper intro and cleaning, Ruben and Gilbert are together since 10 days. But here's come the issues.... I realized two months ago that Ruben was less affectuous than before but was still licking my hand and coming to see me. But now... Ruben is quite the bully and won't have Gilbert share the food. Gilbert eat quite slowly and Ruben stealing his share by ripping it from his mouth while Gilbert play dead. Beside that.... it's ok, they sleep together.... But I had to separate them yesturday and I put Ruben on his back. Since then, the little boy show some agressivity toward me. He hiss each time I take him, refuse to be pet and avoid me and nip me a few times, when I try to take him back to his cage or pet him.,. He escape on the floor and was hiding far from me, even with treats.... He still move A LOT and eat very well.

What should I do with this?
 

SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
17,191
Location
central New Brunswick Canada
What type of cage do your have? Can you post a picture?

Is it possible for you to put water and food on the different levels/different areas in the cage so that Gilbert can eat? You may also want to take Gilbert out a few times a day to feed him separately.

IMO treat Ruben with kindness and eventually he will become friendlier. You will need to do some work to socialize him (see joinrats.com) as putting him on his back seems to have damaged your relationship with him. People use a short time out of a few minutes in the carrier or a small cage and do not put rats on their back.
If he continues to bully Gilbert he may need a neuter. How did you do intros and for how long?
 

Chiendelespace

New Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Québec
Yes, I think the relationship is quite damaged.... he won't evn accept treats or eating in my hand while he was coming towards me and climbing on my legs before. Now.... I don't even know if I will be able to pick him to put it in a safe space to clean the cage without being bitten. He try to bite me last time I pick him up. So I leave him alone and give him treats. He taking it maybe 30-40% of the time and seems way less energic ( he still eat adequately ). But he leave Gilbert eat.

I've read somewhere that you needed to show 'who was the boss" for a rat to accept you, love and respect you and not bully others... I was probably mistaken or I misunderstood. I'll never do that again for sure. Should I separate them and put Ruben back in his old cage, for a while?

I made a first intro in my bed for a 15 minutes ( but Ruben was ignoring Gilbert and made his way to the floor ) and in the bathroom (Ruben sniff him a bit and decide to explore the bathroom instead)

This is the cage : Ruben is at the top and Gilbert, in the basket.
 

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SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
17,191
Location
central New Brunswick Canada
I've read somewhere that you needed to show 'who was the boss"
I read that about 16 or 17 years ago as a way of asserting your dominance over a rat who wasn't behaving the way you want - We know better now. It is too bad that misinformation is still out there.
Please have a look at the suggestions and info at joinrats.com ..... you will need to work on socializing him and on gaining his trust, joinrats has info on how to kindly remove a rat that likes to bite from the cage so you can clean etc by using a transport box
 

SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
17,191
Location
central New Brunswick Canada
your cage looks like it has some good things in it for ratties, but it looks a bit too small .... with more space they might do better.

Did you do quite a few neutral area intros and then quite a few familiar area intros, each lasting about 20 to 30 minutes? ..... If they are getting along, then it might be ok to keep them together ..... but imo you need a larger cage (at least 4 cubic feet in size, with a base at least 30 in by 18 in and height with large levels - but bigger is better - so that you can have multiple food and water dishes, as well as several hammocks, houses, tubes, a 12 inch diameter solid wheel, etc .... that way they can be together or have their own space and Gilbert will hopefully be able to eat in the cage.
 

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