One lonely rat and one aggressive rat

Discussion in 'General Rat Chat & Photos' started by Pal4Pippin, Feb 10, 2018.

Help Support Rat Shack Forum by donating using the link above.
  1. Feb 10, 2018 #1

    Pal4Pippin

    Pal4Pippin

    Pal4Pippin

    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Hi all,

    My wife and I decided to get rats last summer, but we ended up getting two baby boys from what, in retrospect, was a bad breeder (smoked around the rats and had them on poor diets, etc.) Partly through our own inexperience and poor judgment and partly under pressure from a pushy breeder, one of the babies we took was sick with an upper respiratory infection (likely myco). By the fall, little Basil had succumbed to pneumonia and advanced myco despite many trips to our local vet and multiple courses of antibiotics. His brother Pippin seemed healthy, but started sneezing just a week or two after Basil died. We jumped in to get him on antibiotics and keep him from going down the same road, but the whole experience had left us both emotionally battered. After numerous vet consultations and a couple courses of antibiotics, Pippin seems to be mostly stable and has never done more than sneeze occasionally.

    It wasn't until mid-winter after more reading online that I fully realized just how important it was to keep multiple rats together and that it was not kind to keep Pippin alone. Given our past experiences (actually had a couple bad experiences with breeders when first looking for rats), we were very wary to look for a rat from a breeder and were hoping to adopt a rescue rat from somewhere. After a couple weeks of searching for such a situation and coming up empty, we switched to looking at breeders again. We found one that we both really liked and decided to give it a try, despite the breeder being almost 2 hrs away. So a little over a week ago, we brought home a ~ four month old male rat we named Bilbo in hopes of integrating him in with Pippin. The male was super sweet when we held him and carried him around at the breeder's house and got along great with his brothers, but his personality turned quickly in his new home. We started them off in separate cages next to each other and I suspect this was part of the problem (did not give him time to just get used to us away from this new, scary rat). Bilbo bit me hard and drew lots of blood the morning after we brought him home and has been unpredictably aggressive (both in and out of his cage) since then. We moved him into a separate room and hoped that gentle, positive interactions and time might help him revert back to his formerly tame demeanor, but its been over a week with no change. I read all the threads I could find on the "immersion" technique with rats but after one attempt with this, I don't think its something that my wife or I can handle (he just gets too crazy and is hard to control even with gloves on). I read up on neutering too, but it seems that many people end up having to deal with abscesses or infections and that the recovery can take weeks and that it may not solve the aggression at all.

    So we now have an aggressive rat (Bilbo) alone in one room and our very sweet Pippin still lonely in the other. We came into this knowing that keeping rats was not something super cheap and easy, but the multiple issues we seem to hit at every turn has really worn us down. I am constantly stressed and feel guilty that our rat has now been alone for a few months and frustrated that when we tried to fix this we just ended up with another lonely rat that's even worse off than the first. We've put lots of time, money, and emotion into trying to care for our ratties and it just feels like every move we make still ends poorly for the rats and only makes our home life more stressful. I have friends and acquaintances who bought pet store rats years ago and never had any health or behavior issues in the 2-4 years they were alive so I've got to think our experience is not the norm. It seems to me that we should try to find Bilbo a more experience rat owner that could deal with his behavior issues and integrate him in with other rats and then try to introduce a different rat in with Pippin. My concern is that we will just end up with another bitey/aggressive or sick rat.

    I'm hoping against hope that someone here might have some insight or an idea of something we could do other than just give it another shot and hope it goes better. At this point, we are not really keen on getting another 2-3 rats at once because we are not sure we want to keep rats anymore after Pippin dies. However, it seems really hard to find a single rat to be Pippin's pal over 3-4 months old anywhere in the central Ohio area from someone that looks trustworthy. Every week that passes where we don't find Pippin a friend makes me feel awful for another week of his life spent alone. I apologize for the length of this thread, but wanted to fully explain our situation and I appreciate any advice anyone might have to offer!

    -Andrew
     
  2. Feb 12, 2018 #2

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    Administrator Staff Member Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    23,074
    Likes Received:
    1,557
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada, Earth
    A 4 month old boy shouldn't be aggressive unless the hormones kicked in early which can happen. He may be a bit older and the breeder was telling you a younger age to get rid of him. Good breeders will take back their rats if it doesn't work out. Have you contacted them?
    Neuters can really really help, I've had hormonal boys neutered many many times and only a few didn't improve. Funnily enough the worst one was a rehome from an owner who got a 4 month old boy from a breeder. Oliver was neutered but acted aggressive all his life. The other 50 or so neutered boys turned out great :) A neuter surgery is very easy with a competent vet. Neuter abscesses can happen but aren't a big issue.
     
  3. Feb 12, 2018 #3

    Pal4Pippin

    Pal4Pippin

    Pal4Pippin

    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Thanks for your reply!

    We actually went to the breeder seeking a rat closer in age to ours but she told us her oldest were 3-4 mo olds. Would be odd of her to tell us they were younger than they were when we wanted an older one, but who knows. He is every bit as big as our ~8 mo old male.

    The breeder did offer to take him back and let us try a different one, but given the distance and this bad experience I’d rather not go back to her. If we rehome Bilbo, he’d be better off with someone more equipped to deal with behavioral issues, I think.

    Is it normal for a rat to be 100% sweet and loving handling one day and then turn aggressive the next after a move and scenery change? Does that sound like hormone-driven aggression? Sometimes he is sweet-looking and likes petted on his head and boggles/bruxes (often when sleepy) then he starts waking up and getting hyper and will chomp down on the glove when we try to pet him. His biting seems to be entirely reactionary (turns and grabs and bites when touched, but never comes after us to bite). This behavior holds steady in and out of the cage and in unfamiliar rooms.
     
  4. Feb 12, 2018 #4

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    Administrator Staff Member Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    23,074
    Likes Received:
    1,557
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada, Earth
    Yeah sounds like hormones. My hormonal boys that weren't really bad, would start off Out of their cage as fine, fur down, but would slowly get amped up, fur going up, wet flanks rubbing, getting mouthy.

    for now you can just have him out in an area or somewhere there's no other rat smells. Wash your hands, change your clothes before having him Out. Avoid his rump as this can set them off. Stroke him slowly and firmly. If he starts to get agitated, remove your tender flesh from his reach LOL.
     
  5. Feb 13, 2018 #5

    Pal4Pippin

    Pal4Pippin

    Pal4Pippin

    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Thanks again,

    I think he's currently far enough from the other cage to not catch any "rival" smells and we try not to bring them in with us. I may try to pay more attention to his behavior patterns to see if I can tell when he's had enough and just back off. We will probably look for someone to take him on still, but also look into neutering and try to make our decision based on what we think will give him his best chance at becoming sweet again and having a happy life. Would love it if we could get him turned around and eventually moved in with Pippin.
     
    lilspaz68 likes this.

Share This Page