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Hi, so about six months ago I adopted two female rats. Theyve liked each other just just fine up until about two months ago, they'd occasionally get into little quarrels but I assumed it was just rough housing. Well the "rough housing" has gotten progressively worse and two days ago after they got in a fight during their free range time and fur literally flew, I decided to separate them.
Today I let them both out together to see how that would go, Atlas, who is normally shy, was thrilled to come out and excitedly ran around for a while. I'm guessing she was getting bored being alone and all. Jinx, however just went about her usual business.
Everything was going fine till Atlas ran up to Jinx (in a seemingly friendly manner) and Jinx puffed up and angled her rear end towards Atlas. I was curious to see what would happen so I just watched.
The wrestled a bit without biting or squeaking and Atlas pinned down Jinx and began to lick her. Then, they both got up and went back to scurrying around.
A few minutes later Atlas ran up to Jinx and licked her back, this time Jinx puffed up again but Atlas didn't fight back. Again, I watched. Jinx then tackled Atlas and I broke it up when Atlas began to squeak and struggle to get up. Jinx tried to attack again so I ended play time early.

I believe the main problem is my rat Jinx, she seems to be more dominant that Atlas and enjoys bullying her.. I could be wrong.. I'm not an expert on rat behavior (if I where I wouldn't be here).

I don't know what to do, I can't keep them separated forever and I really don't want to replace Jinx, even if she is aggressive...
Any suggestions/insight??
 

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At around 4-5 months old rats move from the "baby" period into adulthood, at this stage they have to establish whose boss, this tends to be when fighting takes a bit more of a serious angle until things are sorted and established. It sounds like Jinx is very much taking the alpha role and Jinx is a good submissive rat (shown by her not fighting back). do you ever see issues in the cage? It isn't abnormal for a new alpha to get a little overly pushy on free range as they've gone from ruling the cage (which is a nice small space) to ruling a massive area that they don't really control. This can lead them to being over the top.

You've got 2 main ways to deal with this. The first is to help Jinx feel more secure in her position, so that when she's free ranging she doesn't worry about showing shes boss and can relax and play again. The other is to take ownership of the free range area and let Jinx know so she can relax there too. Both can work well, it depends on the rat.

To help her secure her position I would give her a week or two of what I call back to basics. This involves making her cage fairly bare and shrinking it if that's possible (e.g. keeping them in 1 section). During this time you should limit free range to a small area such as a sofa, rather than a full room). This gives her a few weeks without distractions to reassure herself she's the boss of Atlas, and Atlas genuinely doesn't mind. During this time you will need to leave them to scuffle as long as Jinx isn't drawing blood

To take control of the free range area you need to be very vigilant during free range, if she starts showing signs of aggression like sidling (that bum first shuffle you saw) getting fluffy etc you need to pick her up and give her a firm stroking and tell her no, then pop her down again. Repeat if she repeats but this time put her in a bare carrier for a couple of minutes to cool down. Then its back out again for more playtime, again intervening if she gets grumpy. Gradually she will learn to relax in this area too and hand ownership to you.

To be honest theres no reason why you couldn't do both, see which you feel would work best for your girls and you.
 

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Thanks for the helpful reply!

They do fight every once in a while in their cage. I used to have them in a small cage that was pretty much the minimum ammount of space for two rats to live in comfortably but now I have them in a large, two level cage that according to an online calculator, could hold up to seven rats.
The fighting did get worse when they got the bigger cage (I suspect maybe it was because there was more "land to rule")
I will try what you suggested, also, I have a young male that I am going to introduce as soon as I get him neutered (after he's sterile of course) so most likely there will be another power struggle... Hopefully that goes well..
 
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