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I now have 7 intact males who are on day 3 of introductions (2 joining my original 5), but im considering if neutering my alpha Reggie might be a good plan.

Background - I started off with 3 8 week old boys, 4-5 weeks later i rescued Ronnie and Reggie (age unknown 1 year+ estimate) and did intros a week later, within 3 days they were best buddies and living together happily. Now the little boys are about 6 months old and for the last few weeks (mabey a month?) Reggie has been a right grumpy bugger! Hes always been fairly grumpy but the little boys have always submitted and it hasnt caused any major problems. But recently hes been going on little rampaged and scaring the life out of the little boys, The little boys have also got very vocal and have been standing still with there mouths open, squealing at him sometimes when he comes near them. Then he will go in a frenze and scare them so they hide on ledges and stuff for a while, but by morning they are always sleeping together,

A 10 days ago i brought home 2 more rescue boys (adults, age unknown 9months estimate) any plan to quarantine got breached when i took in 2 little girls over night for a ratty train the next day, so the new boys moved into the living room. For the last week Reggie got even more grumpey than usually and half way through the week i ended up taking my 5 boys down to half a cage (adventura) and stripping it back to basics with just 1 bed.

Saturday i started intros with the new boys (i figured settling them as a group of 5 to mess it up again later would be pointless) intros are going better than i expected, theyve been together 60 hours now and ive had no major drama, theres been some scuffling and Peanut (the alpha from the new boys) has a scratch or small injury on his side, from a scuffle this morning, its not serious tho and looks more like a scratch than a bite and is only a surface injury so im sticking the intro out.

Inside the cage (Zoozone 2, to keep it small but so they have some room) everything is peaceful appart from the odd scuffle but when out Reggie is mean! For a few weeks now during free range, the little boys run off when Reggie comes near them or he chases them and scuffles with them and now we have the new boys in the mix (literally they only came out for 15 minutes as i know i have to let them be bored together) i was watching Reggie and he was literally bullying everyone for no reason, everyone just runs off when he comes near them, and he will go out of his way to follow someone arround then hunch up and side step at them untill they end up in a whirl wind of squeaking and everything runs off and looks terrified.

I know its still early days with the intros, and everything is going pretty well considering, but in light of the troubles i was having before hand i am wondering if, in the new year when everyone has had a good few weeks for more to bond, if castrating might be neccisary if he keeps being mean?

Ive always been fairly against having him castrated simply because i know nothing about his age, history or anything like that and ive always said i would never have him castrated just to get him to accept more boys because that would be for my benefit not his. However if he is going to continue to be mean to the little boys (especially now they are all hormonal and growing up) im wondering if it might be better for everyone if i considered this? im just worried about the risks but even if i took the new boys out of the picture and just looked at the group dynamic for my original 5 im trying to figure out if the benefits outweigh the risks?

Thanks

Amy
 

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I would say if he feels tense all the time (you can really feel it in there bodies) and he is clearly wound up and distressed by how he's feeling then its for his benefit too. Whilst neutering carries a risk, which can be minimised by picking a vet whose done a lot of rat neuteres successfully In the past, it also carries benefits. Castrated rats live on average longer than entire, they don't get as many preputial abcesses and also wont get testicular issues like tumours, torsion etc. Its close to not a bad call even without them feeling wound up and grumpy. If they are unhappy then it becomes a lot more of a straightforward choice. Of course its still risky, so I don't blame you if you decide to give it a good go at intros first (I would). But as a bonus if it goes well and he doesn't settle with the bucks he could live a very happy life with those two girls. Neutered lads often love living with a mini harem.
 

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My vet is very good, shes actually the vet for the local zoological park and is a small animal/exotic specialist so i fully trust she knows what she is doing. I do think, looking at his behaviour, that you might be right and it is very possible that he is constantly tense. For the whole time he has been with me ive only ever really seen him in 2 distinct moods - sleeping and unwilling to move or do anything and grumpy and annoyed with everyone.

He never plays like the rest of the boys (apart for once for 10 minutes) any time he is out of the cage he either hides up a corner or takes him self back to his cage or goes on a rampage. When he walks he walks like his legs are stilts, if that makes sense. The other boys bounce and are evidently relaxed and having fun but when he does come out he walks very purposefully like is is on a mission with a very obvious gap between his belly and the floor and often charges at someone.

In the cage he is either asleep, eating or chasing someone and standing very ridgid as though he is just waiting for his next victim to come close enough for him to chase. Is this the type of thing you are referring too? I do think that he would settle with the bucks if i could get his grumpyness just dialed down a notch or 2, he is doing well with them especially for day for and he is sleeping as we speak up a corner with Ronnie and the 2 new boys all squished together. I also wouldnt want to get does to live with him as 1 cage with 7 buck is time consuming enough without 2 huge cages and 2 completely seperate play times and the worry that somehow someone would get to the girls (it would be just my luck!)

Thankyou very much

Amy
 

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Bless him, yes this is very much the tense unhappy behaviour I'm referring too. Some rats just cant take the responsibility of being in charge, it takes a special kind of rat to be a good alpha and its actually very harsh on them to force the wrong rat to take that place. I have and will neuter to relieve the rat of this responsibility, ideally when I've got a good second in place to take the lead. Regardless It does sound like its in his best interest to be neutered. I've had some lovely experiences where a previous tense and unhappy boy has ended up skipping around like a kitten once being neutered, it can be a real relavation for them. It can back fire a little if the rat is lacking in personal confidence a lot, but generally most do benefit from it.

In terms of practicalities if you go for it I would neuter him then after 2-3 days once the wound is healing I would put him in with the others in a small cage. If any are rough or he gets very wound up then split him and a calm friend off and then restart intros a couple of weeks post op. He wont have fully calmed down by that point but he doesn't sound like an ogre, just an unhappy alpha.
 

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You can also do a few one on one immersion sessions with Reggie... be a bit on the assertive side and try and get him to play... Try and show him that you are the leader of the pack and that he doesn't have to be... and he may relax. It will take some time for his hormones to subside, but if you take more hands on charge of your pack he should start to relax a bit. Studies show that when an alpha rat is dethroned his hormones reduce to normal.

In my experience human tend to either be assertive or passive. Assertive type humans don't seem to have as much trouble with rats going alpha aggressive, but some of the nicest and most laid back rat owners find that sometimes a rat will try to fill in the leadership void and that's where the problem starts. Sometimes you see the same thing when parents have too many jobs or are really laid back their kids will become spoiled brats or develop other behavioral issues...

I tend to be pretty laid back and have both pushy rats and kid... but only up to a point... On those rare occasions that I lose my cool and raise my voice my rats listen and fix their behavior fast. They may always be pushing their limits, but they know there are lines they can't cross, which is OK by me. So I'm in charge, even if I'm a soft touch overall.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
If any are rough or he gets very wound up then split him and a calm friend off and then restart intros a couple of weeks post op. He wont have fully calmed down by that point but he doesn't sound like an ogre, just an unhappy alpha.
Thankyou :) Im hoping to get him booked in for he firs week of January to have the snip and then give intros a initial try mabey begining/end of february. Unfortunatly i few days ago i woke up to a big sore patch on the back of pumpkins neck, it looks like the very thin layer of top skin have been sliced off (im assuming through excessive grooming?) its not a deep wound but it big and very raw but is healing nicely. But after this i am not willing to try intros again until he has chilled out.

I am now trying to ge the other boys settle as a 6, which hopefully will go well, there personalities are all far more relaxed and laid back than Reggie so fingers crossed!

[QUOTEIn my experience human tend to either be assertive or passive.][/QUOTE] In hindesight i do believe i may of made Reggie worse to some extent as i have been very passive. I assumed he was jus a grumpy old man who wanted to me left alone and not bothered so apart from when i had to get him out of the cage i have generally just let him mind his own bussiness and decide himself when he wants to come out and go back. Also after a few nasty bites (geeeze rat bites dont half bleed!) ive become very wary of him, i will still stroke him but as soon as he turns his head to me a back off, his tendancy to go from sniffing to violently lunging at me has made me very cautious. Also when he is crawling on me like my neck or something i freeze and tense as a bite on my finger is bad enough, i dread to think what a bite anywhere else owuld feel like.

I wish i had realised earlier how bad his hormones were :(

Th
 

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Unfortunately, letting him call the shots may have fed into his thinking he is the "boss". Even the most passive parent has to exert some authority as Rat Daddy says. No biting, none, not ever. I always let a rat know that that will not be tolerated.
 
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