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After watching yet another power-grooming war I decided to try my hand at it. I caught Jesse harassing Nibbles and tried emulating power-grooming with my fingers - gently but rapidly pinching the scruff of his neck. He immediately froze and squinted his eyes slightly, exactly like when Nibbles power-grooms him, and didn't unfreeze until a few moments after I stopped. I tried it again when he was power-grooming Nibbles and he stopped grooming Nibbles and froze.

I tried to repeat it with Nibbles but he will never let a finger get near his nape, he always twists around to see what the finger is doing and search it for treats.

Anyone else ever tried that? Would this be an appropriate gesture in any situation (e.g. remind the rats you're in charge)? I poked around with the search but didn't find an obviously relevant thread.
 

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Power grooming isn't always a dominance thing, in a bad way.... often it's a superior rewarding a subordinate for being submissive rather than a form of aggression, especially if it's belly grooming. Yes it does often indicate who the boss is, but I've also had dominant rats that enjoyed being groomed by the subordinate rats...

Like everything else, there are nuances to this behavior.
 
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