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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've never had a rat who has made a habit of barbering before, and I find it only slightly ironic that he's hairless :p But anyways I would assume my boy, Bane, would have missing hair due to his excessive grooming of himself. He's hairless however, so it's hard to say for certain. But he's always been the type to groom himself for hours at a time. Recently, he started in on his cagemate, Loki. Loki is the more dominant of the two, and also nearly twice Bane's size, but he'll just sit there without moving or making a peep. If I didn't know any better, I would say he seems to enjoy it. This has only started happening over the past couple weeks, but it concerns me because of the intensity of it. Loki now has very little fur on top of his head, no fur behind his ears, and now patchy fur on his face (specifically around his eyes). He doesn't try to resist Bane when he's doing it, but I'm getting worried that Bane wants to strip Loki of all his fur!

Why has Bane suddenly taken this up? I think if I know the reason why then I can be more successful at preventing it, so thanks for any insight!
 

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Barbering occurs due to stress, boredom or it is simply inherited through genetics.
It's more likely that he is either bored or stressed out.
Has anything changed for him?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My boyfriend and I moved a couple months ago. Both seemed to take it pretty well, but that's really been the only change. The only other thing I can think of is that they have been squabbling much more than usual. About water, food, space, toys, everything really. Nothing resulting in any physical injuries but there has still been a certain amount of tension between them. It confuses me because if that's causing him stress, which I could understand, I don't get why Loki will patiently sit there and "put up with it" so to speak.
 

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That's so funny! My hairless girl suddenly loves barbering one of her cagemates too, and only that one. Bijou now has a big bald spot on top of her head and back of neck. Thankfully after a few months, my hairless girl I guess hasn't been as interested, so the fur on Bijou's head is starting to slowly grow back. No real idea about why Aoife (the culprit) started the barbering.. we jokingly think it's because she's trying to make Bijou naked too haha. Maybe our hairless rats are just jealous? :p

Bijou doesn't seem to mind either. She'll peep and complain quietly, but never seems to get mad or annoyed enough to move or try to stop it. I think she kind of likes it too. It's just really intense social grooming. Self barbering to that extent is when I'd say you might need to worry about stress or other issues. But barbering another rat is likely just for fun, or he's just getting really intense in his social grooming. There's another person here who also recently posted about their rat nibbling a bald spot on a cagemate. It's not too uncommon. Just make sure he doesn't make Loki bleed and doesn't make him too mad about it.
 

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Barbering isn't for fun... it's always because of stress or boredom, and often times impossible to stop. Well there are the times that barbering behaviors are genetic and inherited.
And there is aggressive over grooming that can lead to barbering, but as of that point something needs to be done to help the hierarchy and the aggressive rat.

It could be that he is barbering because they aren't getting along and that's what is stressing him out. You could try getting him neutered if it's his hormones that is affecting his mood. Or if your other guy has become mean or aggressive towards the barberer, maybe he needs a neuter.

It's not unusual for the other rat to "take it" so to speak. He might be allowing it for sympathy for his stressed friend.
 

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Mostly I've seen barbering on the rear of another rat which has lead to fights... in that case it's somewhat of a dominance thing and resolved itself in a nasty fight eventually... Rats will also preen each other of mites and other parasites, although it may be less common than the reasons mentioned above... is there any chance it's mites? Is there any scratching going on? Just a thought...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Finnebon: Yeah we jokingly were like, is fur envy a thing? :p

Velo: That's why it seems counter intuitive to me though. If they are already tense with each other then I would think the barbering would set them off even more, rather than feeling sympathetic. However, I'm not sure that's the reason. As their spats haven't gotten physical, and get along and cuddle much more often than they have disagreements. I'm also trying to think of other possible stressors.

Rat Daddy: I have noticed the occasional scratch. Although his skin looked normal and wasn't scabbed upon closer inspection, any other symptoms I could watch out for?
 

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Barbering is usually due to not enough stimulation and boredom, try giving your rats some nuts in the shell, some closed boxes with delicious food instead, a variety of veggies, etc.
Good luck!
 
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