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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone, I'm hoping for some advice regarding neutering. I have two male rats, one about 6 months (pig), one about 5 months (sweetie). They have been together as happy cage mates for about 4 months, and had no aggression issues once they figured out who was boss (though there was never much alpha behavior). Now my younger boy has started to display some aggression and we are considering neutering him. I'll give you an idea of what we've been experiencing.

A couple of weeks ago I got a really bad deep bite off of sweetie while I was cleaning his cage. I was in there with a rag and he just rushed my hand and bit me on the finger. He was clearly afraid, and I'm not even sure he didn't think he was somehow saving me from the rag, because he is really the sweetest most gentle boy I've ever met (hence the name). I forgave him and we moved on, but then the next week I picked up Pig and saw that he had a huge gash in his rear leg near the abdomen. It was a clean cut, about a half inch or so long and open like an oval so that I could see the muscle, and it looked like there was a small chunk out of the muscle too. This was clearly a bite, and I know a bite in the abdomen is an aggressive bite so I assume Sweetie must have done it. I separated them and the bite was closed up by morning and looks like it is healing well but I am separating them still and not sure what to do.

The funny thing in all this is that Sweetie doesn't display aggressive behavior (neither of them do really). No fluffing or sidling, etc. (though Sweetie is a velveteen so his fur is always sticking straight up, so I guess I can't say for sure he's not fluffing up :) ) They sleep together in their houses, and wrestle and dominate each other pretty equally but never with shows of overt aggression. Sweetie is a very vocal rat and will always squeak when they wrestle or fight, but never really scared squeaks, just more like "ok, you're the boss" squeaks.

They are desperate to get back together, so I let them have a playdate in neutral territory after a few days apart, and they did a bit of chasing but were otherwise fine, then Pig started to hump Sweetie. Obviously there is dominance behavior going on, as is expected, but there is just not that much aggression. We are seriously considering neutering Sweetie (in part because of the bites, but also because he is our youngest and we want him to have long healthy life. We found an experienced small animal vet very nearby who can do it for a very reasonable price, so neutering is not a big deal for us, but I am starting to wonder if it is going to solve the problem since it doesn't seem to be serious hormonal aggression.

I also wonder if we need to have both rats neutered or if just doing one will be sufficient. We had a trauma last year when our older pair of boys fatally injured a baby when we tried to introduce two babies to our older boys, so that fear is still with us in this situation (we are keeping the older boys separately permanently from our younger pair). We are desperate to keep our babies healthy and safe from each other, and but know they need to be together to be happy. Help!

TLDR:
  1. Is neutering a good solution for a rat who is biting but otherwise not showing aggressive behavior (fluffing, sidling, etc)?
  2. Do both cage mates need to be neutered to reduce territorial aggression or just one?

I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this. TIA!
 

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It sounds like you've never actually witnessed Sweetie and Pig in a real fight. Pig was injured but the circumstances of what happened don't seem clear. Personally, I'd just keep a close eye on Sweetie and if things trend in the direction of aggression, consider neutering at that point. It seems premature to me at this point.

Surgery always comes with risks. Some rats never wake up from even minor surgeries. It would be horrible to lose a rat if the purpose wasn't vital.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It sounds like you've never actually witnessed Sweetie and Pig in a real fight. Pig was injured but the circumstances of what happened don't seem clear. Personally, I'd just keep a close eye on Sweetie and if things trend in the direction of aggression, consider neutering at that point. It seems premature to me at this point.

Surgery always comes with risks. Some rats never wake up from even minor surgeries. It would be horrible to lose a rat if the purpose wasn't vital.
So do you think you would keep them together (once Pig's cut is all healed up)? We've had them separated, but they really want to be back together.
 

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So do you think you would keep them together (once Pig's cut is all healed up)? We've had them separated, but they really want to be back together.
I don't know the situation as well as you do. Based on your brief description, it doesn't sound like you've actually seen any aggressive behaviors from Sweetie. That makes me feel like I would try to keep them together but just keep a close eye on their interactions. You know your rats best, though.
 

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My rats used to fight a lot of the time, but now it's just one rat, the alpha, who force grooms the other. And I really just think that he is taking care of his younger brother who has health issues.
Basically the main rule is you should probably only neuter if you're keeping two different genders, or if the fighting gets dangerous, as in one of them gets injured, otherwise it's not necessary really considering their short lifespan.
At least that my opinion
 
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