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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I'm back after my long hiatus!

Short version:

Based on sounds/scabs, etc. that I've been hearing/seeing, I think 1 or 2 of my 4 rats are bullying my rat Pepper. Should I temporarily separate them to try and see if this is in fact what is happening? Or is there any way of getting rid of this behaviour?

Longer/more descriptive version:

So basically, while I was at school this past year, my mom has been watching my rats. I just officially got them back today (YAY!!!!) but I was at her house a few days ago and noticed that one of my rats had scabs. Naturally I began wondering if it was mites or fleas (her other animals may or may not have them) but they all seem to be in the clear, luckily.

So the scabs concerned me, and I wondered if it could be bullying but little suggested that it was. But then later I noticed a lot of noises coming from the cage. I can't really explain what it was, but it sounded like squeaks I guess? Anyways, they were in their house so I couldn't tell what was going on but that's when I officially got worried.

Now today I have them all in their travel cage (over night, but no longer) and as I'm getting ready for best I noticed the same noises. This time I looked to find that what looked liked two of my rats were huddled over Pepper, with the youngest clearly on top of her, and either grooming or biting, it's hard to tell.

She has no blood or open wounds that I can find, but I'm almost positive that one or both were pinning her down and might be the source of her scabs.

I've got a DCN, so when I get home and have it set up again I think that for the first while I'll put Pepper and Samantha (the one who was laying under Pepper but paying her no attention) in one have and the other two in the other one to see if her scabs manage to heal up and go away. If they do, can I take it to mean that it was the other two?

And also, is there any way that I can try and get the other one/two out of this habit? The girl who I'll have in there with Pepper is pretty old - she's going on 4 this year - and is definitely slowing down a bit. While I hope she lives quite a bit longer, I have to realistically understand that she won't live forever. I was thinking that once she goes I'll keep it down to three rats for a bit, but if she's the only one who I can house with Pepper then I'll have to get another rat.

When I first got Pepper, I was told that her old cage mates had bullied her, and the owner thought I should keep her alone. I didn't want to do this for obvious reasons, so I introduced her to Samantha and later got my other two rats to join them. All seemed fine (Except maybe that Pepper always seemed to steal all the treats, but that's normal xD) until now. In fact, I had even wondered if it wasn't the other way around until a few months ago.

Sorry this post was so long!
 

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I have mentioned that I had a mischief of 13 rats. The biggest problem I had with introductions was when I was going from 8 rats (7 spayed females and 1 neutered male) to 10 rats. 1 little girl was quite determined that these new girls weren't going to join her family. I took the troublemaker and put her in a cage by herself for a week, introduced the two new girls to the rest of the mischief, which went quite well, then reintroduced miss trouble to everyone. Between a week on her own, and the new girls being accepted in the mischief, she gave me no more trouble.

So, my suggestion to you is to keep them separate for a while, but try to have everyone together for play time when you can observe what is going on. If you can pinpoint who is making the most trouble, you could put the other three together for a week, try to incorporate the fourth a week later, if she is still a problem, separate her for another week and try again. If you come to the conclusion after a few weeks of observation that you will be unable to put all four together, then you can decide what other direction you want to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, I'll try that! It's basically what I had in mind, I just wasn't sure, since they've been together for just over a year now with no incident up until this point.
 
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