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ok, i just joined this community to find advice about the current situation i have going on with my three rats. i have had lots of rats (3 at a time) over the last 15 years, always rescues and never a "fancy" rat before now. they always lived together in peace, boys and girls, some fixed some not. about 9 months ago i fell in love with a young male in a pet store i wandered into. he is a dumbo rex un-neutered and absolutely the smartest, sweetest most interesting rat i have ever had. i feel like he understands and communicates with people alot more than any other rat i have known. he figures out what i want him to do unusually fast. he was potty trained the first time i set him in his box to go and even when i put him in it and he doesn't have to go (but knows he doesn't get to play until he tries) he emits a long squeak to tell me he doesn't have to go at that time, and he comes to his name from anywhere in the room and he understands "don't go past this line" and "set the yogie on your head but don't eat it until i tell you to" and "bring me your blanket from inside your house so i can change it" (he fetches anything i point at, thats the trick) and even tugs on my pant leg if i am ignoring him to get my attention. when i am mad at him he sulks around and slowly follows me licking my hand and staring at me. i swear he understands things i never thought a rat could be capable of and has learned tricks that absolutely amaze me. are fancy rats just that much smarter than the others or what?? anyways.. now to the problem, and its a big one.

first of all he hates other rats. if he sees either of the other two out and playing from inside his cage he puffs up and rubs up and down on the bars, attacking the cage every pace or so. the other two rats only even live with us because we were trying to get him a buddy (and then get the buddy a buddy once the first rat didn't accept his). lately his aggression has been getting way out of control. if i leave him alone with a human male (he doesn't do this to human females), a minute after i walk away he goes up to the guy and will bite his arm and try to hump him. he has started doing this really hard, definately drawing blood. when i am around he is nice as ever and will roll on his back in other peoples laps for tummy rubs (which seems really submissive right?), but the second i leave.. again with the biting..

now to the third companionless companion. the female who we got to be the friend of the little boy who the first rat didn't accept.. (the second boy is neutered and not fancy) she is siamese and even as a very young rat would maul her "to be" buddy. she also attacks the bars on the side of her cage anytime she sees one of the other rats. she also goes into heat at least once and month and sometimes twice (literally has spent more time in heat than out in the last 4 months since we have had her). she is super intelligent too, not in weird ways like the first but pretty darn smart. she was from a breeder so for the first male i could possibly think it was irresponsible breeding of overly aggressive parents but whats up with this darn overly aggressive thing in the girl? i am literally scared she will kill the boy if i try to put them near each other again. last time i was holding her and he was accross the bed and she wiggled out of my hands and flew at him like a bullet and mauled him. squirt bottles had no affect.

since she has been in heat this last time, my first boy is totally nuts even from the other room. finally it happened. he attacked me too. i was petting him and he was being overly "rubby" and he just snapped and grabbed my hand and bit it over and over leaving it a bloody mess until i could maneuver it out of the cage. i am absolutely heartbroken. he is sooo smart i just feel like he HAS to have known what he did. i squeaked like all heck when he did this but it didn't affect him. finally i put my hand back in an hour later just to give him his veggies for the night and he just mauled me again out of nowhere.

yes i realize this is extremely long but i feel like the details are very important because my real question is this:

does my boy know what he did?

(being so rediculously aware of "people-interaction" does that give him the extra awareness to understand attacking? and what the heck am i supposed to do when he does this? am i supposed to punish him or play some dominance game over him to get him to stop? these were NOT scared bites. i don't understand what the heck to do with him. right now he is looking at me through the bars with the most remorseful look on his face but i am just so mad at him i don't even want to try again. i feel like he has to understand what he did.. am i humanizing him too much?!?)

and..is this what fancy rat breeding has done or are these just flukes?
i am going to go ahead and get them both fixed (which terrifies me because i have had a boy die in this surgery).


thanks,
a girl and three rats
 

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Was this male rat hand raised by humans since he was a baby? In that case he will consider you a rat and will communicate with you like you were a rat. It makes sense that he is so in touch with you. It might also explain the fact that he doesn't care for rats.
Now, regarding attacking you, he might have smelled the female in heat and consider you now a fellow rat competitor.
Neutering him might help.
I have known horses and cats who were hand raised and never liked their own kind but were dangerous to humans as they got older because they treated them in their own language.
Being raised by humans since birth usually causes trouble since the animals haven't had a chance to imprint on their own species.
Keep us posted.
 

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All rats are fancy, dumbo just means ear placement. :)

Breeder doesn't necessarily equal Good Breeder.

Sounds like your boy is becoming hormonally aggressive and does need a neuter. Neuters are a pretty easy surgery if you have a decent vet and even if you don't its not that bad. I have lost only 1 of 9 boys...and the 1 was very old who became insanely aggressive from the smell of females after I took him in. He had underlying respiratory problems and succumbed to pneumonia. The others have ranged from 3 months to 22 months old with no problems. :) You just need antibiotics to prevent any infection and pain meds for 1-2 days to take home.

Most rats are very territorial about rats outside their cage but it doesn't necessarily reflect how they are going to react when doing proper neutral intros.

Neutered boys always get picked on by the intact females and your girl probably goes into heat every 4-5 days which is normal.

How do you do your intro's?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
i didn't realize females go into heat so often. i just don't remember any other the others going into heat more than once every few months, but it has been years since i had my last trio. i don't know the history of the first boy because he was a teenager when i got him from the pet store. he was in a cage with one other boy and actually pretty shy when i got him... but since day one with me.. he has pretty much spent all his time with me. he gets free range with me pretty much where ever i go and is on my shoulder or playing around me all day almost every day.
i do my intro in a neutral, non smelling, non playground area that no rat has been in before. before the intro i keep the cages beside each other for a week and then put a bowl of treats in the middle of the nuetral area and let both out for a while together. i bath both before hand and have tried everything from tuna juice to vanilla to cover scents. i have tried introducing at all times of day, when tired or playful. these three haven't ever gotten past that first intro though (male with male or male 2 with female) because of the really bad attacks from the first male and the girl. maybe the second boy is just an easy target for some reason. i was trying a squirt bottle to distract from aggressive sniffing and such at first but it didn't even phase them.
i have only lost the one boy from neuter but he was in great health. the vet just said that the anesthesia kills rats a percentage of the time.
anyone have an idea of the best way to react to his bites? squeaking doesn't have any effect. just telling him no... well i think he understands it but its just not working. every time i pet him now he is licking me like crazy and laying real flat on the ground and he won't even look at me in the face when i get close to him.. he just kinda slumps down and tries to sniff my finger that he bit. does he remember that he attacked me? maybe in a few hours he will relax.
 

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If you cannot get past that first intro there is a drastic version you could try. You fill up a tub with few inches of warm water. You place an upside down dish (big enough that they can all climb on out of the water, but not too big that they can stay far away from each other. If they do well at this point you can drain the water and add yummy things like liquidy baby cereal in a dish. They should groom and eat and the longer they stay together without real aggression (there will always be aggressive sniffing and possible pinning from one or the other) the better. :)

I used to do scenting but I found it did very little, and since the rat has to get to know the true scents of each other I stopped.

All females go into heat that often, some are just more blatant about it while others are fertile but are quiet about it. :)
 

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Unaltered females living in close proximity of males may drive the unaltered males crazy.
It really does sound like your males need to be neutered asap. Then you could attempt neuters.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
thanks guys for the advice.. if anyone still has ideas on how to respond to a rat at the time of biting (just firm no's or nothing at all or what) please let me know.
 

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hormonal aggression is not like regular fear biting etc. You can try No, you can try eeping but they cannot help it. All those hormones rushing through at times just sets them off, they have very little control.
 
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