Rat Forum banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
68 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I posted a thread here a few months ago about one of my boys, Lucifer, who had bitten me a couple times. I got a lot of great advice on how to go about gaining his trust and (hopefully) stopping his aggressive behaviors towards people. Unfortunately, things have gotten a lot worse. I've recently had to move him to a different cage because he started fighting with my other boys, which he hadn't been doing before. It got so bad that one of my boys ended up with a large gash on his tail.
I've been trying to work with him, letting him out of his cage and trying to spoil him with treats. For a while he was doing alright, taking the treats out of my hand, and letting me pet him a little bit. But things have suddenly gotten worse. Every time I walk near or even just past his cage he lunges at the bars (a couple times he's gotten a hold of my skirts and has torn holes in them if I pass by too close). He immediately goes in to bite at my hand when I'm going to refill his food bowl; I've started putting on multiple layers of gardening gloves just to be able to do this. Even letting him out has become hard on me; when I let him out now, I have to wear boots because he goes after my feet, and if I'm not careful he'll climb up them and bite at my legs.

I don't know what to do anymore, I'm at the end of my rope here. I've been trying so hard to get him to relax a little, but it seems that everything I've been working for has been for nothing. To be honest, I'm terrified of him now, and I just can't understand why he's so aggressive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
213 Posts
Has he been neutered? It could be hormonal aggression, which can happen in a buck's first year generally. If that's the case, you might want to consider getting him neutered. It could also possibly be a neurological issue, like a tumor. If it is then it might be kinder to put him to sleep, though from your description it sounds more like he's only aggressive towards living things, not anything he's near. Here's a link about aggression in rats, hope it helps. http://www.shadowrat.com/rats/biters.html

I'm sorry that I don't have any tips to make Lucifer less aggressive... I don't have much experience with that.

Good luck to you and your mischief, and keep us posted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
365 Posts
Neutering sounds like a good option here.

Have you tried the extreme immersion method? That, too, might be worth a try when you have a weekend free.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
68 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@CosmicKat62 He's not neutered, but I have considered that option. When I was younger we did that for one of the family dogs that was a little aggressive towards some people and that calmed him down. I just feel do bad for my Lucifer because the people I got him from were just going to dump him outside, and I couldn't let that happen. On another note, my roommate's cat is terrified of him too (he likes to sleep in my room, and doesn't bother my rats). He got too close to Lucifer's cage and got bit on the nose when he was sniffing at him. :(

@Mojojuju I haven't had a chance to try the extreme immersion method yet, mostly because I don't have a room I could do it in. The bathroom is far too small and he could hide in too many places in my room. I am working on a way to fix it so he can't get under the bed in my room, so that I could have a chance with him that way. I've heard it works really well, so I've been trying to set up a time to try that as soon as possible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Neutering is a very important thing to consider in territorial male rats. Where did you get your little monster? Did you get him at a pet store, breeder? The reason I am asking is because he may come from a wild rat family. Even if you got him from somewhere else, he may have been born in a wild family, and that is the reason he himself is so territorial. I know this suggestion may make him a bit irratated, however, I tried this myself with my male and it worked wonders. You may have to keep the gardening gloves the first few times. Open his cage and just lay your hand close but not into the cage. Try laying a treat in the palm of your hand. Try talking to him in a gentle, soft voice, without moving your hand. If he may try to nip at you, spray him with the water bottle and raise your voice a tad. And don't allow him to take the treat. Shut the cage, and try again in 5-10 minutes. Keep doing so a couple times until you see a little progress. When he goes up to you without attacking your hand, allow him to take the treat, and say "good boy" in an encouraging voice. Do not scold at him, but raise your voice just enough to show him whose boss. I have also seen that when my rat tried to nip at me, if I let out a small, semi-high pitched squeak, he would back off. Don't make it so loud to where your rat wets his pants, but just as loud as a small rat cry would be. Let us know if this works at all!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
68 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Neutering is a very important thing to consider in territorial male rats...
I believe he came from the same store that I got my other three boys from; I was going in one day to restock some food and I overheard some people talking about "just releasing it since they won't take it back." I happened to ask what they wanted to release, and they said it was a rat that their son had "lost interest in," so I offered to take it.
I've been trying something similar to what you suggested, though minus the water bottle. It was working really well actually before the sudden, more aggressiveness started. I'm really considering getting him neutered now, just to see if that helps calm him down at all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
365 Posts
It will help. Best of luck to you and to Luci. Let us know how it goes.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,244 Posts
Extreme immersion isn't pretty, and I'll be the first to admit it... But before you can build any kind of a relationship you have to stop the biting and aggression. I realize that there's a certain sense that kindness will tame the savage beast... but usually it won't. Kindness is often regarded as weakness and the aggressive rat is just going to push you harder to get what it wants... Yes, of course you know it won't work... the more aggressive he gets the less play time he gets and the more he gets isolated and the more he's unhappy and the more miserable he gets the more aggressive he gets and the worse things get for him and you. But from your rat's mindset, he's doing the right thing and all he has to do is push harder until he gets his way.

While squeaking and kindness will work to correct a generally well bonded rat, it's not going to influence your guy who has set his course on self destruction. It's like putting an antisocial person in prison where he learns to be even meaner and badder to get his way.

Regrettably, the first thing he needs to learn is that you are bigger and badder than he is. You are the boss, and not him. He has to learn that attacking you has unpleasant consequences and that he's going to have to try something else. No, I'm not saying you need to beat him into submission... but he's got to know that you aren't a chew toy either. He has to learn that attacking you will end poorly for him. Then he will go back to the drawing board and start to consider more socially appropriate options. Rats are social animals and they have an innate understanding of social order... and they will learn to live in a pack structure... and in a human home no rat can be the alpha... I hate to use that term, but in some sense it is appropriate... If you were a real alpha rat, you wouldn't tolerate his nonsense, you would put him in his place and you would do it hard and fast. As a human you'll likely be a bit kinder, but the effect needs to be overall the same.

Once you have backed him down and stopped the aggression and the biting, then you can accept him into your family and show him the loving he deserves. Once he's ready to join YOUR family, you will welcome him and cherish him... but until then, he's setting up the bad situation which you have to deal with.

Extreme immersion is only for really troubled rats. It's ugly, emotionally draining for the human, unpleasant for everyone and to some degree dangerous for the humans involved, but the longer you allow the aggression to continue the harder it will be to correct it. It's not about punishing a rat or beating it down, it's about enforcing social order that rats can understand. If Lucifer has a brain tumor or some serious health issue it won't work, and it can be used in conjunction with neutering. The results have been really good, but it's always hard on the humans who really just want to love their rats and now have to play enforcer. And to be honest, most aggressive rats will get more fierce during the process until they finally give up and change their approach, so yes, it can even get worse until it gets better.

Likely extreme immersion is the only rat socialization method that comes with a liability disclaimer... you do this at your own risk of life and limb. It's not right for everyone and it should NEVER be done with normal rats. But you have to decide for yourself if you are willing to undergo this process to save your rat... And aggressively biting rats shouldn't be kept as pets, they can get out of their cage and hurt someone or something and they will hurt other rats. I don't envy your situation.

As to the remark about wild rats... I respectfully disagree. We had a part wild rat, that was vicious to strangers and a stone cold killer of other animals. She was a true sweetheart to her family members both human and rat. She was perfectly bonded and super well mannered. While wild rats can be fierce in the way they protect themselves and their families and it's in their nature to kill smaller animals, they have a highly refined understanding of social order and build strong bonds with their humans. They often don't like or trust humans in general, but they will pack bond with their human families if adopted young enough. So while it may be true that wild rats do big damage fast, they also have a truly wonderful and loving side which can be nurtured by raising them properly... It really is unfair to say that because a rat is aggressive that he might be wild.. Most wild rats may be dangerous because they are fast and agile and bite fast, repetitively and tear flesh, but they are not aggressive. Most people that have wild rats in their homes actually never see them. Given any option they will steal your food and otherwise stay well out of your way. They are naturally peaceful and playful animals that form tight communities and would rather live and let live when it comes to humans. Instinctual aggression among wild rats is mostly a myth that shouldn't be perpetuated... I'm not saying that anyone in their right mind should try and adopt a fully grown wild rat they catch, that's going to end really poorly... but it's unfair to unduly malign the species as a whole.

Best luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
227 Posts
You say there is a cat,,,Lucifer may be protecting himself,,,,lashing out at anyone associated with the cat,,,Lucifer may smell cat on you,,,hope things work out
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
365 Posts
How is Lucifer doing?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
68 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
How is Lucifer doing?
He's still being very aggressive, but for whatever reason he calms down when one of my new boys, Shadow, gets near his cage during free range time. He'll just calmly sniff at him through the bars. He never does that; when any of my other boys go near him, he tries to lunge at them. I just hope his calming down with Shadow around is a good thing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,054 Posts
He's still being very aggressive, but for whatever reason he calms down when one of my new boys, Shadow, gets near his cage during free range time. He'll just calmly sniff at him through the bars. He never does that; when any of my other boys go near him, he tries to lunge at them. I just hope his calming down with Shadow around is a good thing.
Have you tried having just Shadow live with Lucifer? I ended up with two groups of boys because some of them just couldn't get along with others so I separated them into groups that got along. I think it's important to have a rat that is not aggressive towards humans as a cage mate with an aggressive rat to be a "role model" so to speak. When I brought Pippin home, he was extremely aggressive towards me and really didn't start improving until I housed him with my fat, lazy neutered boy.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,244 Posts
From your last post, I'm not getting a sense of what you are doing to get through to Lucifer and correct his issues... I also didn't get the back story on the new rats.... When I get new rats my girls go usually bazerk until they are introduced and make friends.

No, I don't mean go bazerk and attack me... I would never tolerate that, not for a moment... but they will try to get at any new rat especially pups. Adding rats can cause aggression in the older rats that are trying to protect their home from invaders. That's why intros can get so sticky or rather nasty.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
68 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@kksrats @Rat Daddy

I'm sorry, I didn't really explain myself in my last post at all. Let me just take a moment to do that;

I had the day off last Thursday, and I had been planning on using that day to do an extreme immersion session with Lucifer, as several people had suggested. Instead, I gt a call from a friend of mine, telling me he'd found a pair of rats abandoned in a box behind his work, near the dumpster. i went and picked them up, since he has no idea how to care for rats; this is how I came to have Shadow (and Bolt). I ended up spending the day working on getting one of my spare cages set up for them and judging their temperament just to make sure that they weren't going to be aggressive like Lucifer (they're both really quite sweet). I let them do a little free ranging in my room (its completely rat-proofed) while I got the cage all set up; this was when I noticed Shadow had managed to climb up to where I was keeping Lucifer's cage, and the interaction between the pair of them, and how Lucifer wasn't lunging at Shadow, which I found odd.
I wanted to still get in an immersion with Lucifer after the cage was set up, but that didn't happen because later that same evening, another friend called me and asked me to come get a bunny that he'd found running around in his yard that he was scared his dogs were going to get to. So that was another few hours wasted picking him up and setting up a temporary cage for the bun.

Overall I've so far been sticking to my usual with Lucifer; I let him free-range in the bathroom for about an hour; I bring his cage in there and open it, then let him explore on his own for a while. I talk to him and try to offer treats with gloves on, then herd him back in after he seems to be getting restless. He's still been pretty aggressive towards me, but when I took him out for his free ranging this morning he only tried to nip at me once, and seemed much more interested in getting out of the bathroom this time. I want to try a serious immersion session with him come Wednesday (my next day off); hopefully his calming down is a sign that he's getting over his aggressive tendencies.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top