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Discussion Starter #1
I originally planned to get females but I'm a little creeped out by the seemingly high chance of tumor development. My first two rats were male and I ended up getting them neutered because they were fighting for dominance and it worried me, having only experience with hamsters as a kid beforehand.

If female rats don't get spayed, what can I expect?
And if male rats(siblings) aren't neutered, are they going to continuously fight and seriously hurt each other or will one eventually establish dominance and then they both live in harmony?
Will unaltered males display aggression toward me?


If it's possible I'd rather not get my rats fixed again, so what's your take on this? Is it ok to not alter them or is it something I should do?
 

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We've lost our dearest girls to mammary tumors. We're using a different breeder and hope not to lose our current girls the same way. Tumors in rats as in humans tends to be genetic. They are a risk you take owning girls, otherwise spaying may improve your odds... Depending on where you live, this can run upwards of $300.00 per rat.

As to spaying or neutering for temperament/dominance issues, I wrote the thread on immersion. Good hands on rat owners build a solid pack/family structure with their rats and rarely need to resort to neutering to manage their mischief. Unlike hamsters rats are very social animals, like humans if you raise them in a loving and orderly home you don't usually see too many big behavioral problems. And we have been able to fix a lot of them through immersion or it's extreme variant.

It is important here to perhaps award credit but not assign blame. Many people own unaltered male rats for many years and never do neuters. Some folks here have even raised wild rats that weren't spayed or neutered with great success. Then you will find that some folks have had many or all of their rats neutered due to behavioral issues. So perhaps some folks just get unlucky when choosing their rats or they adopt problem animals on purpose or maybe their lifestyle doesn't give them the time they need to manage their mischief as hands on as other folks can... Again... I'm not assigning blame because there are many reasons for behavioral issues in rats... But I know lots of rats owners that do excellent hands on leadership and just don't see the behavioral issues that would require surgery.

Sure rats squabble and right now my youngest girl mock attacks me several times a day. She mounts my arm or my leg to show dominance and lays hundreds of mock bites on me every day and she's assertive with her older roomie... but it's all playful and well in hand. It's just a game we play to let her burn off her excess youthful energy. If it gets out of hand, I'll just put a stop to it. My philosophy is to let rats be rats up to a point and manage when it's required. In general I'm a very patient dad. But I do set limits and enforce rules and I raise very competent and very intelligent rats.

We try to adopt young and mentally healthy rats and we put a lot of time and effort into raising them right, then we invest a lot of time into play and communication and set boundaries. That's what works for us. I honestly don't think it's an accident that some rat owners just about never spay or neuter their rats for behavioral reasons. It all comes down to how well the humans communicate with and manage their rats.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
We try to adopt young and mentally healthy rats and we put a lot of time and effort into raising them right, then we invest a lot of time into play and communication and set boundaries. It all comes down to how well the humans communicate with and manage their rats.

Best luck.
Can you elaborate on this please?
Like give me guidelines on how to tell a mentally healthy rat from a non-mentally healthy one before taking them home.
Also explain what exactly it is you do that's considered effective managing and human communication with your rats that sets boundaries for them.

When I had my altered boys it was basically them just snoozing in their hammocks, eating, drinking, then crawling on me, sitting on my shoulder, napping next to me or running around on my keyboard and me enjoying the company. You know, rats being rats.
But apparently you know this other side to owning rats that sounds like a strict army/commander relationship so I'm curious what exactly you mean or do. Lol
 

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Actually, I think we all set boundaries for our rats. For me, Petey crawls under my legs, so when he butts my knee, I lift it for him, but when he butts too high on my leg or on my back, I say "No" and don't move for him. My leg won't bend that way and I don't want him behind my back. Also, "No, I don't want you to go over there. That's where the dogs/cats are." or "Don't chew that wire."
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Actually, I think we all set boundaries for our rats. For me, Petey crawls under my legs, so when he butts my knee, I lift it for him, but when he butts too high on my leg or on my back, I say "No" and don't move for him. My leg won't bend that way and I don't want him behind my back. Also, "No, I don't want you to go over there. That's where the dogs/cats are." or "Don't chew that wire."
Ah. So really you just mean preventing them from going places you don't want them to. Okay I get that. Lol it just seemed different when put into words I suppose.
I'm not entirely sure how that plays a role in dominance spats between intact male rats, though. Do you make a noise or try to distract them from it?
 

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It depends. Sometimes you just say "No". Sometimes you put them together for free range time and actually break up any fighting. To do this you might use a spray bottle, use a towel, or wear an oven mitt, or just move one of the rats out of the fray. Basically, you want your rats to accept that you are the boss and you not they decide who is in the family and what behavior is acceptable.
 

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It depends. Sometimes you just say "No". Sometimes you put them together for free range time and actually break up any fighting. To do this you might use a spray bottle, use a towel, or wear an oven mitt, or just move one of the rats out of the fray. Basically, you want your rats to accept that you are the boss and you not they decide who is in the family and what behavior is acceptable.
Makes sense, I can visualize it a bit better now. c: I'll probably go with a spray bottle just so my hand isn't in the midst. Thanks for your input!
 
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