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Please Help! I don’t know what to do…

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Joined
Mar 6, 2019
Messages
6
Location
El Paso, Texas
Hello! So, I adopted three unneutered male rats on September 19 of this year from a woman on Craigslist who didn’t have time for them, they were around 8 months when I adopted them. They all got along very well with each other, until one day when one of them (the biggest one of the pack) started attacking the two others for food - even stealing what they’re munching on right out of their mouths! He’s terrorized them to the point where they stay at the top of the cage, and can’t come down out of fear, and when we take them out they don’t want to go back in and desperately cling to us. They also squeak at him every time he comes near. It’s a very sad sight to witness.

To make matters worse, on November 6th, my hand brushed against the cage bars on accident while I was cleaning and he lunged at my fingers. I was bewildered and a little confused, thinking that maybe it was my imagination. Well, a few minutes later, I opened the cage door and my fingertips were barely inside when he suddenly lunged at my fingers. He latched onto the index finger of my left hand and refused to let go. I was so stunned that I don’t even remember how I managed to get my finger out of his mouth. He left three deep puncture wounds in my finger, because the skin in his mouth rolled so his top incisors actually exited my skin through a different part of my finger.

We quickly placed him in solitary confinement as we thought about what to do with him. We fed him and continued to give him water, and for three days we left him in solitary. It’s sad, because when he was in solitary, his cagemates seemed so happy. They were playing and eating just fine. When we put him back, he seemed to have learned his lesson and doesn’t lunge at hands anymore when they’re inside his cage. He gives licks and sniffs, and cuddles with his brothers. He even stopped stealing their food for a while, so we thought that he was okay and it was lesson learned.

Well, today (November 20th), I picked him up because he got out of his cage and he lunged at my face. He bit my chin, but quickly let go and stared at me for a while. Now I have two puncture wounds on my chin, and he’s also started snatching food from the others again.

At this point, I just don’t know what to do with him… I’m anxious and scared to have him around. I don’t know if I should get him neutered, because I read that if you neuter the dominant rat then the hierarchy will become messed up and aggression will spike in one of the other sub rats, and I don’t want a vicious cycle on my hands! Not to mention, none of the shelters around me are taking surrendered pets at this time, and I don’t want him to not get adopted because of this behavior. I don’t know what I should do, and frankly I just want to give him away to someone who has experience with this kind of behavior because I’m not very confident with this, but I don’t know anyone… The woman I bought him from has no idea about rats, and I couldn’t possibly push this off on to her.

Please. I have a trip planned in a few weeks and we’re leaving the rats with someone who’s going to take care of them. I don’t want him to bite her like he’s bitten me, this is her first time dealing with rats and I’m terrified of traumatizing her… The thought keeps me awake and scares me. Someone tell me what to do.
 

Kye

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2019
Messages
61
Location
Maine
That is clear hormonal aggression. Some rats age out of it but it's not a guarantee- I feel like the best option would be to neuter. The neuter would take away the hormones causing him to lash out but that doesn't mean he wouldn't still be the dominant rattie and it could save a lot of heartache
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2019
Messages
6
Location
El Paso, Texas
That is clear hormonal aggression. Some rats age out of it but it's not a guarantee- I feel like the best option would be to neuter. The neuter would take away the hormones causing him to lash out but that doesn't mean he wouldn't still be the dominant rattie and it could save a lot of heartache
Thank you! Sadly, we have been trying to save as much money as we can for this trip since we’re traveling a really long distance to visit our relatives by car, and then making the trip back, with the addition of other possible expenses…

We were given the name and number of a place that specializes in neutering by our vet, but if it turns out to be too expensive I don’t know what we’ll do… We’ll give them a call when they open tomorrow morning, but would you happen to know the price range of neutering a rat?
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2019
Messages
6
Location
El Paso, Texas
UPDATE: So, we called the place that our vet recommended and unfortunately, they will not have the proper tools for surgery until January 2021. There are also no other vet clinics around here that neuter rats. We researched rat rescue facilities near us, and were thankfully able to stumble across one that is eight hours away from us. However, the website stated that they are at full capacity, but they should have vacancies after Thanksgiving. Our trip isn’t until November 30th, so we will give the facility a call after the holiday and if they have room for him, then we will be taking him with us on our trip and making a detour to surrender him. We’re sincerely hoping that’s the case, because I simply do not know what else to do with him in the meantime. If not, does anyone know what I should do with him?? Would I have to euthanize?? If I have to rehome him, I would like for it to be someone who has experience with hormonally aggressive rats, but who knows how long it would take for someone like that to come along… I love all my ratties and I want them all to have good and fulfilling lives.
 

JPGG

Active Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
32
Location
United States
Thank you! Sadly, we have been trying to save as much money as we can for this trip since we’re traveling a really long distance to visit our relatives by car, and then making the trip back, with the addition of other possible expenses…

We were given the name and number of a place that specializes in neutering by our vet, but if it turns out to be too expensive I don’t know what we’ll do… We’ll give them a call when they open tomorrow morning, but would you happen to know the price range of neutering a rat?
Hi! Not sure about your area, but in my area it will range from $100-$200
 

Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
373
Location
British Columbia
Yeah, that's clear hormones. He needs the snip. He's out of control. He needs to be separated from the others until he gets surgery.
 

DoodleSmythe

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Messages
11
Location
Chester, UK
UPDATE: So, we called the place that our vet recommended and unfortunately, they will not have the proper tools for surgery until January 2021. There are also no other vet clinics around here that neuter rats. We researched rat rescue facilities near us, and were thankfully able to stumble across one that is eight hours away from us. However, the website stated that they are at full capacity, but they should have vacancies after Thanksgiving. Our trip isn’t until November 30th, so we will give the facility a call after the holiday and if they have room for him, then we will be taking him with us on our trip and making a detour to surrender him. We’re sincerely hoping that’s the case, because I simply do not know what else to do with him in the meantime. If not, does anyone know what I should do with him?? Would I have to euthanize?? If I have to rehome him, I would like for it to be someone who has experience with hormonally aggressive rats, but who knows how long it would take for someone like that to come along… I love all my ratties and I want them all to have good and fulfilling lives.
There’s no reason to have him put to sleep! His hormones are just too much for him to handle right now.

One of my boys went through exactly the same thing and neutering solved it. Just like you, I had rescued him and his brother so I was worried it was something from before we had him. I was so upset and a bit scared of him but we committed to taking care of them when we decided to bring them home. That’s what having a pet is - you are responsible for them.

Before you decide to surrender, just remember that it isn’t his fault and things can and will get better. You need to be patient with him and, if you think it’s best, have him live separately from the others until he’s been neutered. It’s late november, so jan really isn’t as far away as it may seem.

re your holiday - just give your friend all the info they need and tell them to be calm, not make sudden movements and just keep him fed, watered and clean until you return.

I did look into getting bite resistant gloves (they’re like a light chain mail) but I decided I’d rather risk it and get him used to being handled. This could be a good option for giving to your friend though while they watch him.

I get what you’re saying about not wanting to give them a bad experience of rats, but this is his life. That’s more important. (And your other two will be a fine example of happy, non-hormonal ratties)
 
Joined
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Messages
6
Location
El Paso, Texas
There’s no reason to have him put to sleep! His hormones are just too much for him to handle right now.

One of my boys went through exactly the same thing and neutering solved it. Just like you, I had rescued him and his brother so I was worried it was something from before we had him. I was so upset and a bit scared of him but we committed to taking care of them when we decided to bring them home. That’s what having a pet is - you are responsible for them.

Before you decide to surrender, just remember that it isn’t his fault and things can and will get better. You need to be patient with him and, if you think it’s best, have him live separately from the others until he’s been neutered. It’s late november, so jan really isn’t as far away as it may seem.

re your holiday - just give your friend all the info they need and tell them to be calm, not make sudden movements and just keep him fed, watered and clean until you return.

I did look into getting bite resistant gloves (they’re like a light chain mail) but I decided I’d rather risk it and get him used to being handled. This could be a good option for giving to your friend though while they watch him.

I get what you’re saying about not wanting to give them a bad experience of rats, but this is his life. That’s more important. (And your other two will be a fine example of happy, non-hormonal ratties)
Thank you for your input! I’ve owned rats for almost three years now, and these boys aren’t the only rats I own at the moment. So I know what it means to take responsibility for a pet when you adopt.

However, I would just like to remind you that he bit me in the face, and because I was looking down at the time I think to myself that if I had been facing forward instead when he decided to lunge at me, he would’ve gotten my throat. I was able to forgive him for the hand, but now I’m just worried that in the next few months he goes intact and I have to handle him, he’ll bite me somewhere more vital - my health insurance only covers so much and during these tough times, I can only afford so much. I’m also a paranoid person, so I worry about infection from these bites as well.

I have decided that if I can’t surrender him, I will keep him in a separate cage from the others, but I’ll still keep him close by so he has some form of socialization, and tell her not to interact with him but just keep him fed and watered. I’ll be back in time to clean his cage, so she wouldn’t need to worry about that. I’ll just keep him separated until I can get him fixed. But I was thinking that surrendering would be the best alternative because I’d feel bad not handling him due to this overwhelming fear I have now and leaving him in a cage all by himself until January, I fear that it will only make him more territorial and aggressive (I’ve never experienced this before throughout my time owning rats, so I don’t know what repercussions there may be). And the rat rescue I was researching seems to know how to handle these kinds of situations. I understand that this is something that is beyond his control and I still love him, but I just don’t want this stress for me, him, and his cagemates to continue until January. :(
 

DoodleSmythe

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Messages
11
Location
Chester, UK
Thank you for your input! I’ve owned rats for almost three years now, and these boys aren’t the only rats I own at the moment. So I know what it means to take responsibility for a pet when you adopt.

However, I would just like to remind you that he bit me in the face, and because I was looking down at the time I think to myself that if I had been facing forward instead when he decided to lunge at me, he would’ve gotten my throat. I was able to forgive him for the hand, but now I’m just worried that in the next few months he goes intact and I have to handle him, he’ll bite me somewhere more vital - my health insurance only covers so much and during these tough times, I can only afford so much. I’m also a paranoid person, so I worry about infection from these bites as well.

I have decided that if I can’t surrender him, I will keep him in a separate cage from the others, but I’ll still keep him close by so he has some form of socialization, and tell her not to interact with him but just keep him fed and watered. I’ll be back in time to clean his cage, so she wouldn’t need to worry about that. I’ll just keep him separated until I can get him fixed. But I was thinking that surrendering would be the best alternative because I’d feel bad not handling him due to this overwhelming fear I have now and leaving him in a cage all by himself until January, I fear that it will only make him more territorial and aggressive (I’ve never experienced this before throughout my time owning rats, so I don’t know what repercussions there may be). And the rat rescue I was researching seems to know how to handle these kinds of situations. I understand that this is something that is beyond his control and I still love him, but I just don’t want this stress for me, him, and his cagemates to continue until January. :(
You will be more cautious with him after the bites, it’s only natural. It’s easy to let your mind run away with the fear but he didn’t go for your throat and won’t. They don’t really do that - just one of those things that’s said enough times people believe it. They don’t have the eyesight or the inclination!

Separation won’t make him mean, don’t worry - when the time comes, reintroduce them slowly and outside of the cage. (Somewhere a bit more neutral with plenty of space for them to go their separate ways if they aren’t happy.) The same thing happens when one is sick or has an operation and has to heal separately. He will be sad, but it’s just over a month until January so it’s not that long in the grand scheme of things and will upset him far less than giving him away forever.

Even if you aren’t as cuddly with him after, he will have his family and get affection from them (after the op).
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Ratmomma2016

Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2020
Messages
15
Location
Idaho
I want to start by stating I mean the best with my reply and mean no offense. I dont mean to upset you but I'm going to be real and maybe a little bit brutally honest because I feel that rats deserve the best. They are living creatures with thoughts and feelings.

Euthanasia is never the answer to someone being unable to care for a rat properly. It doesn't matter how many rats you've had, if you've never had an aggressive rat before you need to do your research.

There are ways for you to coach and work with a rat, even if it is has hormonal aggression. 1 month and a couple of weeks of keeping him separated from his cagemates is more than worth it in the grand scheme of things.

Word of advice, if you plan on continuing to keep pet rats, keep a fund set aside for them or don't own them at all. Rats are expensive and you owe it to whatever animal you bring into your home to care for them to the best of your ability.

To be frank, if you are that willing to give up on a life maybe you should rehome the little guy. But don't surrender him to a shelter where he'll most likely be put down. Put in the work and find him a better home than you can provide.

Just warn whoever will be caring for your rats while your on vacation that they need to be careful when feeding him or changing his water.

Also, if you take care of your rats, there's no reason to be worried about their bites. I took the time and got a rescue to stop biting me but I was patient and cared enough to work with her for 3 months. You took that rat in. Take responsibility or don't own rats.
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2019
Messages
6
Location
El Paso, Texas
I want to start by stating I mean the best with my reply and mean no offense. I dont mean to upset you but I'm going to be real and maybe a little bit brutally honest because I feel that rats deserve the best. They are living creatures with thoughts and feelings.

Euthanasia is never the answer to someone being unable to care for a rat properly. It doesn't matter how many rats you've had, if you've never had an aggressive rat before you need to do your research.

There are ways for you to coach and work with a rat, even if it is has hormonal aggression. 1 month and a couple of weeks of keeping him separated from his cagemates is more than worth it in the grand scheme of things.

Word of advice, if you plan on continuing to keep pet rats, keep a fund set aside for them or don't own them at all. Rats are expensive and you owe it to whatever animal you bring into your home to care for them to the best of your ability.

To be frank, if you are that willing to give up on a life maybe you should rehome the little guy. But don't surrender him to a shelter where he'll most likely be put down. Put in the work and find him a better home than you can provide.

Just warn whoever will be caring for your rats while your on vacation that they need to be careful when feeding him or changing his water.

Also, if you take care of your rats, there's no reason to be worried about their bites. I took the time and got a rescue to stop biting me but I was patient and cared enough to work with her for 3 months. You took that rat in. Take responsibility or don't own rats.
No offense taken. Not to worry, I can definitely understand where you’re coming from.

But just so we’re clear, I wasn’t seriously suggesting euthanasia with the intentions of following through with it, I was only throwing it out there because it was an option, and like I said I don’t have any experience with this kind of thing. I would never want to consciously euthanize my rat without a good, validated reason.

Secondly, I didn’t say I was going to give him to a kill-shelter! I would never take an animal, no matter what type it may be or what it’s done, to a kill-shelter! I said I was going to take him to a rat rescue facility, where they don’t kill rats but instead work to find homes for them - or at least, that’s what it said on their website. Besides, I don’t live around any kill shelters. Also, I never stated that I couldn’t afford a neuter surgery. I was worried for myself in case of an emergency, and I was bit somewhere vital like on an artery.

No offense and I’m not trying to pick a fight, but I’m curious to know if you’ve actually, thoroughly read everything that I had to say until now? Because you make it seem like I’m so set on giving him away, when I’ve previously stated that I am willing to work with him, but I’m just scared that keeping him separated from the others for so long will only serve to increase his aggression towards me due to the stress of being alone (because that’s something I’ve stumbled upon while researching). If you had simply reassured me that something like that wouldn’t be the case, and provided your own experience to back this claim then I would have no reason to be so nervous. I mean, I would probably still be nervous at first but I would get over it.

So again, I am willing to commit to him. I’m just unconfident and scared at the moment, so I’m throwing suggestions out there to escape these problems because that’s just the kind of person I am - cowardly towards things that I don’t like or am unaccustomed to. But now, thanks to all of you and comments like these, I’m going to work with him until I can get him neutered, and show you all that I am worthy of owning him. Though it might take some time for me to recover and swallow this fear.

“Take responsibility or don’t own rats.” - I’ve only stated that I’ve had a problem with this one rat, it’s no reason for you to tell me to give up on all of my rats because of it. Furthermore, if I wasn’t taking responsibility I wouldn’t be here asking for advice, I would have simply given him away without posting here.
 

Rattdad

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Just a word of support for Gutsy Huckabee. I've only had a rat really bite me once, bite me like she really meant it, and that was because I made the mistake of wearing rubber gloves in her vicinity. I learned then that rats, like cats and dogs and other animals, can really sink their teeth into you if they want, and the regular little nips mean nothing. I would freak out too if one bit me on the face.

With regard to medical bills. It's true that rats can be expensive animals to keep. It's also true many rat owners take them in without thinking hard enough about the potential costs, unfortunately. But we shouldn't judge anyone too harshly. There's no amount of wise financial planning that can save you from every possibility. This goes for all pets, and here in the US, people as well. My dog got roughed up by a coyote three years ago and the emergency vet bill was $1200. I was able to pay it, and did, but not everyone has that amount and that's certainly not THEIR fault. I didn't myself, 10 years ago. I just paid a big vet bill for my beloved Sophie, who was suffering from rat lice, and not even a week later (last week), I had to euthanize her due to a PT--the lice were probably a result of her being immuno-compromised, the poor thing. The fact is, lots of rat owners have to juggle these different responsibilities and to me the OP sounds extremely thoughtful about her situation (if also frustrated).

Huckabee, one thing occurs to me that I didn't see mentioned so far... hormones seem like the likeliest answer, but have you considered the possibility that he's in pain for some reason? That something else might be bothering him and making him aggressive?
 

Big Schpog

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Jul 8, 2020
Messages
373
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British Columbia
No offense taken. Not to worry, I can definitely understand where you’re coming from.

But just so we’re clear, I wasn’t seriously suggesting euthanasia with the intentions of following through with it, I was only throwing it out there because it was an option, and like I said I don’t have any experience with this kind of thing. I would never want to consciously euthanize my rat without a good, validated reason.

Secondly, I didn’t say I was going to give him to a kill-shelter! I would never take an animal, no matter what type it may be or what it’s done, to a kill-shelter! I said I was going to take him to a rat rescue facility, where they don’t kill rats but instead work to find homes for them - or at least, that’s what it said on their website. Besides, I don’t live around any kill shelters. Also, I never stated that I couldn’t afford a neuter surgery. I was worried for myself in case of an emergency, and I was bit somewhere vital like on an artery.

No offense and I’m not trying to pick a fight, but I’m curious to know if you’ve actually, thoroughly read everything that I had to say until now? Because you make it seem like I’m so set on giving him away, when I’ve previously stated that I am willing to work with him, but I’m just scared that keeping him separated from the others for so long will only serve to increase his aggression towards me due to the stress of being alone (because that’s something I’ve stumbled upon while researching). If you had simply reassured me that something like that wouldn’t be the case, and provided your own experience to back this claim then I would have no reason to be so nervous. I mean, I would probably still be nervous at first but I would get over it.

So again, I am willing to commit to him. I’m just unconfident and scared at the moment, so I’m throwing suggestions out there to escape these problems because that’s just the kind of person I am - cowardly towards things that I don’t like or am unaccustomed to. But now, thanks to all of you and comments like these, I’m going to work with him until I can get him neutered, and show you all that I am worthy of owning him. Though it might take some time for me to recover and swallow this fear.

“Take responsibility or don’t own rats.” - I’ve only stated that I’ve had a problem with this one rat, it’s no reason for you to tell me to give up on all of my rats because of it. Furthermore, if I wasn’t taking responsibility I wouldn’t be here asking for advice, I would have simply given him away without posting here.
Keeping him separated until neutering is fine. It's the safest way possible. I'm glad you've decided to keep him because he does need you, even though he's being aggressive and a little stinker now. Once those balls come off and the testosterone literally drains from his little fuzzy body, he'll be a different rat. I know it must be hard taking a harsh bite like that but neutering will calm him right down. It does hurt your confidence. I totally understand and I know that we all do. It's not easy to have a biting, aggressive ratto.

I'm really glad you're gonna keep him and get him snipped. It'll work out. You'll see. Stay optimistic. We are all here to support you while you wait for the little guy to have the snip.
 

lilspaz68

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I've taken in many boys that had become hormonal with their prior owners or became hormonal while growing up here. It's not their fault, these hormones can make them act pretty insane. I've only had a neuter not work once. The boy was originally from a breeder and was mentally unbalanced. Poor lad had to live alone.
The majority take a few weeks or more for the hormones to ease, and they become nice normal boys again. Neutered boys are the best. :) Your other boys will be thrilled to not deal with him anymore. He must've been throwing out some pretty scary body language to them.
 
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SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
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central New Brunswick Canada
Neutering him is the way to go but make sure it is done by a good rat vet with the knowledge and experience to safely neuter rats - most do not.

If he is surrendered to a shelter, he will be killed because they will not spend the money to neuter him, will not know how to handle him, and since he bites he will be considered unadoptable.
An experienced rat owner or a good rat rescue might be the answer if you will not keep him and get him neutered.
 

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