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Undersocialized "nippy" intact male rat adoption

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Charlize

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Jun 25, 2017
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New Brunswick
I've been trying to find some more information about undersocialized rats and their potential for aggression to rats upon introductions/eventual living together.

There is a 7 month old intact male at the SPCA who was surrendered two months ago due to owner's inability to care for him. He wasn't surrendered with any other rats, so I suspect he was being raised alone/neglected. He has spent the last two months alone at the SPCA without rat socialization, and I'd guess limited human socialization due to his label as "nippy."

I visited the fella earlier this week and he is quite skittish and did nibble at my nails (never bit my flesh). At one point he did climb halfway onto my hand, enough to allow me to pick him up. I gave him a feel for lumps, pulled his lips back a bit to check his teeth, and he didn't bite me. A small child also placed her hand into his encounter and was not bit by him. There was no reported bite history by the family that surrendered him, but he is labeled as being nippy. After I put him back into his cage he had quite a bit of porphyrin discharge from his nose, possibly as a result of stress from being handled?

I'm considering rescuing this guy, but I've got three spayed female rats ranging from about 1 to 2.75 years of age. My first priority is the health/safety of my girls but I do feel very sad for the deprived life this male has been living.

I'm not sure that I'd label this guy as aggressive, based on how he interacted with me. But, I am concerned about potential aggression he may show in more threatening situations (e.g., vet examination, establishment of dominance hierarchy).

When rats have had virtually no socialized from rats/humans by 7 months of age, is it kind of a lost cause by that point? Or is it possible that he could be socialized enough to be able to live with other rats and be around humans peacefully.
 

SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
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Jul 21, 2007
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central New Brunswick Canada
Please see joinrats.com for good ideas on dealing with nippy rats.

He may just need to feel safe and learn how to treat people.
For example, one thing that can be done is if a rat is nips your hand, you pull your hand back and eeeep, that lets the rattie know that you do not like it.
Also there are several of us on here who have dealt with aggressive male rats.

It is never a lost cause … he can be socialized and may end up loving people or may just tolerate humans or be somewhere in between. Your girls will help him to learn that people are ok, and to help him feel safe, and he will likely love living with other rats once he gets used to them

Just because he is unsure about people does not mean he will not be fine with other rats …… and most aggression towards other rats is caused by hormones so if you find he is difficult to intro, a neuter will probably solve the problem.

I have taken in many single older rats that were not socialized, as have others ….. and the rats learn to trust you, and are so very happy once introed to other rats.
Single males adjust easier to living with spayed girls, then they would to living with other boys

Please let us know what happens
 
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Charlize

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2017
Messages
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Location
New Brunswick
Awesome! Thanks so much for this information. I definitely do not have any experience with adopting older rats and undersocialized rats, so it would be a new journey for me!

I'll definitely keep you posted.
 
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Charlize

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Jun 25, 2017
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New Brunswick
Vet thinks that this guy should probably be fine with my girls, plan is to get him neutered while they're being quarantined from each other.

Problem with quarantine right now is that I can't truly close off any airspace right now because it is too hot to keep the two bedroom doors closed. Any suggestions?
 

SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
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central New Brunswick Canada
Since you are not going to keep him in a different building for a full quarantine, it would be the same airspace anyway.

Glad that you are getting him :)
 

Charlize

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Jun 25, 2017
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New Brunswick
Okay, so it doesn't really matter if it's a matter of feet or across the house. Thanks!

Weather delayed my travels today.
 

Petunia

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USA
so nice of you to rescue him!! I agree with SQ, he's got potential, for sure

it's great he'll lick food off your fingers, you're off to a great start!
 

SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
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central New Brunswick Canada
Wonderful News !!!! :)
So great that he was brave and gentle enough to lick food off your finger, and that he knew enough that he did not bite your finger by mistake thinking it was food

He is a very lucky little rattie boy

:)
 

DanielZielwolf

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Aug 18, 2018
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Location
Melbourne
I've got two rescue rats who are under socialised and both very skittish. With time and patience I have bonded very closely with them but they will always be nervous guys. I can handle them fine but as soon as they leave the enclosure they freeze up and stress out big time. They want to be under cover at all costs. When they are, they are fine. I can even steal a kiss and a cuddle. When they're exposed they are very unhappy. So I avoid that. They would never ever bite though.
 
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ratgamer16

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Apr 28, 2018
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Fremont
My girl was a biter when I first got her but as long as I don't feed her through the bars and don't stick my fingers into her hidey-hole she doesn't bite my anymore. I've never had a male rat, maybe next time around?
 

Charlize

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Jun 25, 2017
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Location
New Brunswick
Thanks for all of the suggestions! He is slowly getting used to life with a human that wants to spend time with him :). He also seems to like to take cover when at all possible and mistakes fingers for treats if they are put through the bars. Definitely seems much less jumpy than when I first got him and tolerates being pet much better!
 
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jorats

Loving rats since 2002.
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Congratulations and bless your heart for choosing rescue.
I've adopted several lone rats and successfully integrated them into a colony of mixed rats. He sounds like he is going to be a great addition.
 

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