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Hi, everyone,

I am new to Rat Forum, so I hope you will forgive a post that somewhat duplicates my "Say Hello." I should have saved this question for the behavior forum.

Beauregard and Marcellus are my Boys, about 7 mos. old. What different personalities! Beau is bold, pushy, but at the same time very nervous. MarMar is timid, but smarter than Beau. They got along in perfectly normal ratty ways until I put them on a diet, because both were overweight. I used to just put food in their bowl, and then give a couple of small treats over the course of the day. Then I realized Beau was getting the lion's share of the food, and was way overweight--1.5 lbs.! I reduced their rations, eliminated nuts and seeds almost completely. Now, I give them snack meals about 3 times per day, and I make them work for their main meal (Oxbow chips). I have bought or created toys which make them work for their food.

They both now seem obsessed with food. That's all they're interested in when I come around. If I do feed them in a bowl, I often have to separate them, because Beau has attacked Mar several times--for reals, not play--to keep him away from the food. Mar is frightened by these attacks, and usually freezes, hence getting even less of the food. Their diet right now consists of about 25-30 Oxbow chips per day, along with about 3 treats. The treats might be 3/4" sq turkey cold cuts, a teaspoon of plain yoghurt, half a baby carrot, 1 whole grape or 1 whole small cherry tomato, 1/4 of a cooked egg, half of a strawberry or cherry, a dozen peas, or a inch or two of cooked broccoli stem, among other things.

One reason I'm concerned is that I'm going away for a week, and my Boys will be staying at the house of friends who have one rat (they will be kept strictly apart). I'm afraid Beau will beat Mar up and he will have to be taken to the vet, or Beau will eat too much and get even fatter. I would like my friends to not have to do anything complicated surrounding their food.

I try to make sure they get exercise every day, but I'm not always able to let them out of their cage (which is a 3-level rat mansion).

Any advice? Beau did not show this kind of aggression before the diet.
 

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How long have they been on a diet? It takes time to adjust. I'd think even for us humans if someone came along and drastically changed your diet you might be alittle cranky while your body and mind adjusted.

Limiting their oxbow may cause a bit of an issue if one is more dominant and eats more of the food then the other. Im not a huge fan of limiting the blocks. If u cut out all the "junk food" like u have with nuts and seeds and reduced their snacks that should help enough? Again I am not sure how long they have been on the diet, but it may be helpful to go in steps instead of doing everything at once.

Id probably cut out the snack meals to 1-2 a day. Veggies (non starchy) are better in larger quantities. But for sure the oxbow should make up the majority of their diet.

Another thing to do is to have 2 bowls in completely different areas/sides of the cage/floors. So both can eat interrupted. Three bowls may be even better. That may just help your rat sitter right there.

I also wanted to say yay you for caring about their weight and making changes. Far too many owners fatten up their rats at the cost of their health :(
 

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I second everything that moon said already, but I have another question: Are they neutered? This could be hormonal aggression, not just food related. Also are you feeding egg on a daily basis? You might want to limit that, it has a lot of cholesterol in it. Eggs are VERY nutritious and I highly recommend them, but you don't want to overdo it. And as moon said, you shouldn't have to limit their "main" food, which in your case is the Oxbow (I personally do NOT recommend Oxbow, along with some other brands, as they do not have the full nutritional requirement for rats. Lab blocks make for a good staple, but are also not enough by themselves. But I won't rant about it on here lol).

It's pretty normal for them to get excited about treats. My boys were not fat at all and had 24/7 access to my food and they would STILL act like rabid dogs and yank food out of my hands like they were starving. Go figure. Your boys are probably feeling a little hungry from their diet but I also think this could be a hormonal issue which is why I'm asking about the neutering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm beginning to wonder if it might be hormonal. I took them off their diet yesterday, and gave them rations more like before. They didn't even clean out the dish overnight. I gave them decent rations again today, but Beau attacked Marcellus again in their cage, and it was not about food. They've gone through phases of play-figthing: not much of anything at first, then lots of tumbly fun, then following each other around and getting up on the other's back and grooming rather fiercely. This is always accompanied by squeaks, but I think they are just squeaks, not signs of pain. Now they still do the grooming thing, but they have also started boxing. Both initiate the play-fighting, but Beau is the only one who genuinely attacks. When he does, there is very hard tumbling and lots of screeching, rather than squeaking; everything happens very fast, and it looks very serious. Yesterday, I found three small wounds on Marcellus, which I am tending with hydrogen peroxide and watching closely for infection/abcess. Right now, I have divided the cage so that each has half. I'm afraid to leave them together. Marcellus does need more owies!
 
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