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Discussion Starter #1
My boys are starting to get a bit aggressive, Odin in particular. I'm not sure if they're acting out due to me not being home all the time anymore (I've had a full time job for a month now), or if they're just hitting that hormonal stage. Has anyone had groups of 3 or more boys stay together successfully through their whole lives without having to neuter? I worry that if I neuter Odin one of the others will step up and start bullying. I also have 5 boys, so I can't really afford to have them all neutered if the vet wants to charge something ridiculous (haven't looked into it yet). If the charge is less than $100 per rat, I could feasibly have one done every month for the next five months, but I worry about the risks involved. Is there any appropriate course of action that I should take or is it just going to have to be a play by ear kind of thing? I just really want my boys to be their fat happy selves forever.
 

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After contacting a fellow rat enthusiast here in town, she recommended a vet that charges $60 per rat for neuters. Can anyone please let me know how I should proceed? One rat? All of them? Time in between? I've never done this before >.<
 

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All at once may be cheaper, since waste disposal and anesthetic charges and such may decrease as well as meds. It also makes recovery a bit easier since it's not something happening all at once. I don't know if they'd do five at once, that's 2.5hrs of surgery.

I will say a neuter won't help behavioral aggression, such as you not being there enough. That's training. How old are they?
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
They're all around 7 months. The ones that are showing aggression anyway. The other two are around 4 months and live separately from the older ones.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Odin and Smeagol are set up to be neutered on the 19th. Loki is still not doing well, so I'm going to give him time to recover before having him done.
 

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WOW! $60 neuter!! I paid $200 for Dawson's neuter, and almost $300 for Algae's spay (and tumor removal). Where are you located?!
 

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West Texas. I would think it's totally sketchy unless a friend hadn't had multiple rats neutered there.
 

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To answer a couple of your questions...

Yes, lots of people have groups of boys that live their entire lives together without a neuter.

And again yes, your boys are acting up because you are away more. In a small group of rats the human becomes the alpha or leader/parent. When you aren't around very much the rats will fight over who's in charge. This is actually normal, think what happens if you leave a group of young children alone long enough... it's Lord of the Flies.

And as to fixing the problem, more supervised play time and rule enforcement would go a long way re-establishing the peace.

As to the risks of neutering, I don't want to cite anyone's personal tragedy as an example, but you might find more information about what happens when things go wrong in the "Over the Rainbow Bridge" section of this forum.

Neutering everyone might help, or it might not... your issue is likely a social behavioral one and not caused by hormonal aggression. Rats are social animals and they need a stable hierarchy in which to feel comfortable. Some folks with large groups tend to cultivate a "head rat" as their enforcer, with smaller groups it's best when the human is directly in charge.

I realize that as humans our situation changes from time to time, but rats aren't designed to cope with absentee leadership very well. It's both the benefit and drawback of owning social animals. Dog owners often have similar problems when they change their life styles and their best furry friends start fighting or tearing up the house. In nature a pack alpha would never be more than a squeak away, that's not entirely always possible for a human alpha, but if you can get in enough play time and try and maintain discipline your rats can get used to you being away more than before.

I'm home a lot so I can stay pretty hands on, but I do support one rat above the others when we have more than one. Our "family rat" is always fed and called first, she's always first to be let out of the cage or offered to go outside on field trips and I back her in fights, so even when she gets older and weaker she can count on me for support, this helps to keep order when I'm away. When our family rat passes away, the job goes to the next in line. I know it can be unfair, especially when the younger rat is brighter or more gifted, but that's what works best for me.

When our big old girl Fuzzy Rat became completely debilitated due to multiple massive tumors, she would squeak for help when she didn't get her way, and I'd go defend her, this way she could still be the family rat when she was faced with much larger and stronger competition, she knew I was there to support her as did her roommate. I don't know if that will help you or if you just need to put in more time hands on, but sometimes kids and rats aren't easy.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
My job also coincided with my "alpha" boy coming down with a pretty nasty URI, so it's a little hard to say whether it's his leadership absence or mine that made Odin and Smeagol start fighting...or a combination of both (they had started having small scuffles prior to this bit nothing major). I'd essentially like for my boys and girls to be able to commingle, so neuters were a likely part of their future even without this new aggression. I too have always supported my alpha whether I realized it or not since he was always the more outgoing one. I tried to help him maintain his dominance when he fell I'll, but me constantly being away didn't go over well and he ended up injured on top of being sick >.< I'm not sure that they intentionally hurt him, but I think a scuffle caused him to fall from the top storey of the cage.It's all a bit of a mess right now and maybe I'm jumping into something that I hope will be a quick fix, but I'm so tired of coming home to bloody rats and seeing my babies unhappy.
 

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After contacting a fellow rat enthusiast here in town, she recommended a vet that charges $60 per rat for neuters. Can anyone please let me know how I should proceed? One rat? All of them? Time in between? I've never done this before >.<
If you can, it's might be best to get all of them done at the same time. They way, they'll be recovering together as well. Then you can co-mingle them with your girls, all at the same time. :D

That's the same price our vet charges for neuters, but he doesn't give group discounts. His prices are already much lower than other vets.

When keeping males and females together. Getting the males neutered is the least expensive way to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm going to do these two and see if that eases the tension between my two separate groups of boys. Before they can all live together with the girls, they need to get along amongst themselves. Unfortunately I truer introducing Albus during the older boys' hormonal peak age and they completely rejected him. I got him a friend and left it at that for a while, but it'd be nice to have them all together. The other three boys will likely be neutered as my finances permit.
 

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I'm watching our boys and hoping we don't have to neuter em all. I sad to say I don't have a ton of money and don't really want to neuter 8 rats. However, if worse comes to worse we will do it anyways. Ours are about 6 months now and so far (knock on wood, toss a lil salt, no walking under ladders) they seem to be getting along with the occasional boxing or playful tussle. I'd say so far less play housing than when they were younger and no serious fighting. Oddly enough they they never have done much rough housing in their cage. If they are free ranging in our room is when most boxing occurs. Usually while on one of us or in the middle of the floor.

Have yours gotten along prior and have they been together their whole lives? When did it start getting more serious? I'm really curious at what your experience was and what warning signs I might want to look for.

Hopefully you will be able to get all yours together in a group happily and safely.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
For the most part they've lived together all of their lives; they're all about 4 weeks apart in age give or take. The scuffles started when I tried introducing Albus to them (this was when they were around 6 months, probably not the best age) and became increasingly worse as Loki's health declined. Albus was never accepted and even though I stopped trying to introduce them, the squabbles among the older boys continued. Loki's health problems also coincided with me starting a full time job, so there are too many factors for me to be able to definitively say what the cause was.

It's just so frustrating to see them all curled up together one moment and fur flying the next.
 
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