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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,

Please bare in mind, nothing has happened yet.

I have 6 rats in total.

4of the 6, I'm going to say are around 3-4 months old.
The other 2 are approximately 2 months. (Significantly smaller.)

My guys all get along so well together, they cuddle and play fight with zero injuries.
But I was wondering, can puberty change their behaviour? I've read many rats are aggressive.. and I was wondering if they start out that way, or if they could potentially turn to being aggressive (even after properly handled/socialized.)

Does this generally happen around the 6 month range? Like, is it a possibility that my lovely bucks will turn into crazy biting machines towards me and their brothers in a harmful manner? I understand that rats have to develop a hierarchy when they reach puberty..

But I have not experienced rat puberty as of yet. (These are my first 6 rats I've ever had) and I was really just wondering if there's anything I need to be wary of.

Thank-you so much in advance.
 

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Rats can sometimes try to be the dominate one but I think that of you have a big enough cage the dominate issues shouldn't be a problem. Also if they do end up not getting along you have more rats to separate them.
 

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Rats aren't born aggressive, so yes, they can turn that way. When boys hit puberty hormonal aggression *can* come out suddenly sometimes, but usually you see it coming. It often won't happen at all (many rats are just fine beyond little tussles now and then). It hits as young as 3 months and it can hit quite late, too (I've seen hormonal aggression come out as late as 10-12 months). Usually, though, it's around 4-7 months. Having plenty of cage space helps. Just keep an eye on them. You'll usually know if someone is heading that direction, they get quite obnoxious. :p If someone gets bad enough to where he's causing injury or relentlessly terrorizing his cagemates, neutering would be the best bet.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Rats aren't born aggressive, so yes, they can turn that way. When boys hit puberty hormonal aggression *can* come out suddenly sometimes, but usually you see it coming. It often won't happen at all (many rats are just fine beyond little tussles now and then). It hits as young as 3 months and it can hit quite late, too (I've seen hormonal aggression come out as late as 10-12 months). Usually, though, it's around 4-7 months. Having plenty of cage space helps. Just keep an eye on them. You'll usually know if someone is heading that direction, they get quite obnoxious. :p If someone gets bad enough to where he's causing injury or relentlessly terrorizing his cagemates, neutering would be the best bet.
Thank you, this was although scary to hear helpful. x)

The - what I like to call the "bitch rat" (Pardon my language, I just have a horrible sense of humor) is Spaghetti.
I kind of feel like he's on the bottom of the chain in regards to the other 3 older gents. However, I see him kind of picking on Cheeseburger-Watson and Roger (The younger 2 - especially Roger, he's the smallest.) the most. He doesn't hurt them. Could this potentially be because he's insecure, in a way? Or establishing his dominance?

I read the Immersion sticky note.. But I honestly don't even know where to start. I don't even know if I'm the Alpha rat. x) It's all quite confusing..

Roger is the shy one out of the younger, too.. I really don't know if I should spend some one on one time with him, or let him follow the big boy's lead and maybe he'll warm up to me.. I mean, they ALL lick and nibble me. But Roger and Spaghetti are kind of squiggly when I hold them. Spaghetts does not like to be held.

Sorry, I'm rambling. loool.
 

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I don't buy into the whole immersion thing so I can't clarify that for you. Yes, though, insecure rats can sometimes play the "get them before they get you/act tough cuz i'm not" role.

I'd just spend lots of time with all of your ratties and work with them as needed if some are coming around less than others. They should work out things between themselves by themselves, so for now just focus on building a good, trusting relationship with each of them rather than worrying about something that very well might not happen. Treats are always helpful. ;)

It might help to familiarize yourself with rat body language and indicators of problems, ratbehavior.org and joinrats.com have some great info. I also really like this site - http://shadowrat.com/rats/handling.html
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I don't buy into the whole immersion thing so I can't clarify that for you. Yes, though, insecure rats can sometimes play the "get them before they get you/act tough cuz i'm not" role.

I'd just spend lots of time with all of your ratties and work with them as needed if some are coming around less than others. They should work out things between themselves by themselves, so for now just focus on building a good, trusting relationship with each of them rather than worrying about something that very well might not happen. Treats are always helpful. ;)

It might help to familiarize yourself with rat body language and indicators of problems, ratbehavior.org and joinrats.com have some great info. I also really like this site - http://shadowrat.com/rats/handling.html
Thanks. Whenever I'm not working, my rattlings will be out with me for all hours until I go to bed.. Sometimes I let them free range on my bed over night. (They don't poop on it because I'll have their cage pushed up against my bed so they can do their business and sleep in there if they want.)

The Immersion sticky page thing, to be honest confused me... But reading through the threads, I think I've already immersed them.. They sleep on me all of the time... Even Spaghetti, the shyer rat. Lately, he has been licking me constantly. So it makes me feel a little reassured that I've been doing things properly.

I'm just kind of anxiously awaiting Puberty. hahaha.
 

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Actually, yes it does sound like your rats are properly socialized... and overall I agree with Blackthorn's advise but might add that your hands on guidance will help ease your group through puberty.

Back in high school when I was president of our rifle club/team our coach was a rather large and in charge individual, part native american, about 6'3" tall with a military bearing... He was an older man who had started out as a blacksmith in Wyoming and received his engineering and finally teaching degrees. He owned an auto parts import business a vineyard and his own Pocono mountain. Oddly teaching is what he did in semi-retirement literally into his 70's more or less as a hobby. Needless to say he had a big personality...

For the most part he had a good sense of humor and let his group of hormonal alpha males (us) have fun and work out our own issues, but.... as we were literally playing with guns and live ammo, he was very quick to keep anyone from crossing the line. There was no doubt where the fun ended and the serious business of firearm safety took over. Neither was there any alpha confusion in the group... We had out club officers and team captain and we voted on our decisions, but there was only always really only one person in charge. And to be honest, he kept us safe and alive and facilitated our fun within a generally loose framework of structure.

Like our rifle coach a good rat parent lets his or her rats work out their little squabbles but knows when to step in and maintain order. When you see a male going too far off the reservation, sometimes you have to step in and do a little bit of one on one management and correction before it gets out of hand. Over the years and for the most part, if I hear the rat stupidity getting out of hand, I just shout "rats stop fighting" from my desk and somewhere off in the dark, they do. And if I actually have to get up and walk into the kitchen to see what's going on, by the time I get there their all chummy, like they are best buddies... and nothing ever happened... As in "see daddy, we are playing nicely". Sure my rats squabble, but they learn that there is a point where I will get involved and that becomes their limit. I don't need to use physical force to restrain them, if I raise my voice they know they have done wrong and they know I'm upset and they know they have gone too far. Sometimes if one of my rats was really getting out of line the other rat would run to me for help and protection. In which case a few appropriately harsh words to the pursuing rat always solved the problem.

Keep in mind, I let my rats free range the house unsupervised most of their waking time, they have a very comfortable life with lots of freedom and with that comes responsibility. They have a very good deal and I think they know it. I don't set a lot of limitations or enforce too many rules, but I have a low tolerance for fighting. For me, alpha means keeping my rats safe and happy and being large and in charge means letting my rats be rats and have fun within reasonable limits. A friend of mine actually accused me of letting my rats run my household, and if you came over you might say the same thing... but you will also notice that they are very well behaved. Immersion is based on proper social order with an alpha in charge and the human is the alpha. But that doesn't mean as alpha I have to enforce a whole lot of discipline, quite to the contrary it mean establishing rules of conduct that everyone follows and barely enforcing them at all.

If you are a good hands on rat parent (alpha) your boys aren't likely to get out of hand, if they do, gentle correction targeted at the problem issues communicated so your rats can understand the rules will usually resolve your problems. Sometimes sterner measures are required, but again as a matter of communication not punishment. In the end, rats like teenage boys like feeling protected and mentored, they like having a leader they can look up to and admire and they want to belong and fit in.

Most rat problems happen when humans abdicate their roles as parents, rats squabble and fight to fill the void in leadership. Sometimes a smart rat will rise to the surface and become a good rat alpha, sometimes it gets ugly. But mostly if you do your job well, you won't have any problems.

If you read the old threads you will find that certain people never have puberty issues with their rats while other's practically have every rat neutered... this isn't because one person is just choosing the wrong rats over and over again... It's because one person is simply being a better rat parent and managing issues as they arise better than the other person. The fact that your rats are well bonded to you tells me you are less likely to have problems in the future. Just remember to let your rats be rats, but don't hesitate to get involved when you see things going sideways before they get out of control.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Rat Daddy; thank you so so much from your reply. This means a lot. I just want to give you a little background/commentary and then I have some questions if you don't mind. I apologize for the longevity of this message in advance.

Personally, I feel like your immersion sticky is very informative and helpful to new rat owners (some people may disagree with you, but I only thought it was natural for them to be with me consistently until they grew to love me). I joined this site months after I originally gotten my first 2 rats. I suppose I immersed my initial 2 without even realizing it (maybe this is why I originally thought the sticky was confusing. I thought there were certain steps i had to follow And I was missing something.) For example, I adopted my Initial 2 when I was off work for a week and I remember how shy they were compared to how outgoing they are now. For the week I was off of work, my 2 boys were in my lap, on my bed or in my shirt for 12 hours a day. Literally the second day (although quite risky, I know.. but it was only a short excursion) I brought them out with me to the beer store. Lol. They bruxed in my hood like crazy. I soon discovered they loved car rides and Neil, I sense has the true potential to be a shoulder rat.. I honestly think Gandalf does as well, but he's been sneezing a lot lately and I need to get it under control. Anyway, I'm rambling now.

So then I ended up getting 2 more about a month or so late (so begins the addiction, haha) they took Neil's lead and cuddled with me/ate out of my hands right away.. then the other 2 followed (I have 6 rats in total, the last 2 being the smallest.)

So, now begins my observations/questions:

How do I know that I'm the "Alpha" or that my rats respect me? And if they don't, how do I gain that respect and obediance?

**I never have given them proper name training, I work full time and my schedule is always changing.. however I feel at least like the older 4 are aware of their names, they just choose to ignore me, most of the time.** I say their names whenever I interact with them.**

Sometimes I've gotten a few nips, when I'm giving out food. Especially when they're fighting over it. I honestly don't think it's any sign of aggression. They just get overly excited and mistake my hand for a bigger piece of food. (The first day upon initiating my 2 other boys to the initial 2, I fed them yogurt on my hands. Gandalf got excited and bit down hard, drawing blood. I yelled and he released and he's never done it again. He's actually the most gentle of the big boys now.) But sometimes Spaghetti will come up and bite my lip pretty roughly (no blood) I just yelled at him to stop, booped him and he let go. Him and Bear Ninja do it on occasion because I think they're trying to replicate Neil'a rodentistry actions but they're not quite as gentle.. Basically, am I doing the right actions? I know anything with teeth can bite and I'm. It really afraid to get bit, I just want to nip it in the bud before it escalates.

One last thing. Roger is the Littlest rat I own and still quite shy (not aggressive) should I try some one on one time with him or just let him warm up to me and follow the big boys lead?

And if you have any other advise let me know. I'm intrigued and I read into like 20 pages of the I Merion thread hahha. **I really want to avoid castration. It's costly here and I would Not like for them to go through a procedure like that if it's avoidable.**

Thank-you for taking the time out to read this (hopefully) and forgive any spelling mistakes/grammatical errors. I wrote this all out on a tablet!

Looking forward to hearing back from you!!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm not afraid to get bit** immersion Thread** haha
 

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Good signs that you are the alpha is that your rats come to you when they want something, they snuggle with you and they run to you when they are scared for protection. Name training is important and although rats never follow orders or become obedient they will respond to their names when it's convenient or beneficial to them or when they know you are really serious.

It is a relationship like a parent and child, basically you don't or didn't always obey your parents, but for the most part you follow their lead and likely accept their guidence and rules. Alpha shouldn't be confused with military discipline or dictatorial power. In fact studies done on both wild rats and domestic rats have proven that many alphas... the really good alphas stay "in charge" long after they aren't the strongest rats in the pack anymore. Like my own dad pretty much got his way even though he was 91 years old and in a wheelchair. At 6'2" and over 200 lbs at the time I wasn't afraid of him, but he was still my dad. Most humans actually simply fall into the alpha role naturally, I mean lets face it you are 100 times bigger than your rats and for the most part naturally control the activities. People who wind up with alpha issues are usually neglectful or have very passive personalities... rats are pushy little animals and they know when they can walk all over their humans or worse yet when their humans aren't part of their family. I had a very passive friend some years ago and he had to be home by 10PM every night or his dog wouldn't let him into the house and he couldn't bring dates home or the dog got upset and would actually drive the young lady out... And yes it was a big dog, but it was hysterical to see a dog actually running a human household. He couldn't even walk his dog on a leash... he would just let it outside and it went to the park on it's own and came back on it's own... It was actually a very bright dog. My other friend was a military dog trainer and he was ROTFL and that's the first time I ever heard the concept of alpha dog... that was about 30 years ago before the concept ever became popular, but the way he explained it was that all social animals have a social order and some concept of "respect". In the case of my very passive friend the dynamic was there but upside down. Rats are social animals too and the same holds true. And for the most part a rat can't run your household and push you around and set your itinerary. Although one of my friends actually insisted that Fuzzy Rat was about as close to being in charge as a rat can get... Sometimes at around midnight she liked to go to the soccer field for a run and I'd take her. One night it was raining and we came home soak and wet and I never heard the end of it... But honestly, if I didn't take her out she wouldn't have attacked me or bitten me, she would just have torn up the house burning off her excess energy. A smart alpha knows when to give in.

Rats generally have amazing control of their teeth, I've had rats that could manicure my nails and even groom the top layer of dead skin off my arms without drawing blood and most will pick the dead skin off my lips... This is just grooming and it shouldn't hurt. If a rat does make a mistake and you discourage it, it rarely ever happens again. The very last thing Fuzzy Rat did before she died was to try and climb my shirt, I helped her and she groomed my lips, and because she was so sick, it did hurt a little, but I let her, she still didn't draw blood, then she asked to go to her cage and less than half an hour later after my daughter said good night to her, she was gone. Her last day on earth, she visited her secret nest one last time, she sliced one last telephone wire, she hung out the third floor window for a long time looking out at her back yard, she ate some of her favorite foods, she groomed my lips, she said goodbye to my daughter and she passed into memory... It was a big day for her, and I'm sure she knew she was dying and those were her priorities. Grooming is a way of showing affection and isn't related to aggression or biting. Still if it hurts you have to let your rat know.

Most of us have at least one parent we can model out own parenting behavior after, don't overthink it, most likely your parents didn't walk around with a handbook, and neither should you, just be a good mom, keep your rats safe and encourage them to explore and be brilliant. Guide them, teach them and lead them to make them more competent. Adjust your mindset to mom mode and the rest will just fall into place... yes sometimes you have to enforce the rules and sometimes you have to just sit back and let them be rats, but follow your gut feelings like your parents did and you will do just fine. When my rats do something stupid or dangerous they get yelled at and they understand and don't do it again... I don't know how, but they really do understand genuine human emotions and they respond. Don't try and be plastic to train them... just be real and honest and they will get you better. Rats are very much like us, their brains work very much like ours they usually respond like good children if we act like good parents. Yes rats do go through stages, at some point you good little boys become more rambunctious teens and if you get lucky they become old and wise gentlemen and you can't help but respect them... Fuzzy Rat was the only animal ever allowed into her vet's office without a carrier or leash and she walked to the exam room at heel... she got her own chair next to me where she sat patiently waiting for her appointment, much to the amazement of the other people there. She was a dignified old lady, she had lead a truly remarkable life... she had earned respect and I made darn sure she got it. As a rat parent or alpha, your role will change over time depending on your rats stage of life and needs, Max became very reclusive in her older age and preferred more alone time, Cloud is becoming more affectionate there are no hard and fast rules, but if you pay attention and listen to what your rats need from you, you will do just fine.

As to whether to do more one on one time with your newer/newest rats... sure why not? Get onto the floor or get them up to you and have the time of your lives. For the most part, you really can't spend too much time with your rats... "Quality time" is just something guilty moms made up to feel less guilty about having two jobs and an active social life and leaving their kids in daycare 18 hours a day 7 days a week. And when their anti-social kids take their AK 47's to school one day, naturally they never saw it coming... they were never there to socialize them in the first place... (not a knock on moms who have to work) I just mean that all the time a mom spends with her children is quality time and the more the better.

Be there for your boys, invest the time, be the mom, socialize everyone properly and set boundaries and more than likely you won't have to neuter your boys. Like I said, some people pretty much wind up neutering all of their rats and some people never have to, it's not the rats... it's the way they are raised.

Remember immersion is about socialization and building a proper family structure through communication and understanding, not just being an alpha... it's about love and not just rules, roles and discipline.

I hope that helps...
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Once again, thank you so much for your response.

I honestly wish I could spend all day with my rats! (I do whenever I'm not at work, my family thinks I'm insane.)

I know all about Fuzzy Rat, I've read all of your stories and they've made me tear up and I'm sorry for your loss. She sounded like an amazing little woman.

I like how you say communication is a big part and understanding your rat will allow for us to bond.
Neil spoke to me (vocally) for the first time today. He was playing on my bed and I was going to pick him up and he squeaked, so I stopped. He then later on came up to me and groomed my hand, appreciative.

Thank you for your help and your words of wisdom. I feel like I'm going to make a great rat mommy and these stories and thoughts, advise.. All too greatly appreciated. Thank-you again. :)
 

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I'm a big believer in the theory that life is what happens between the dates on the tombstone and between the highlight points of an outline. Life is in the details and that's why I tell the stories rather than hit the bullet points. I think it's easier to really understand something when you've seen it or at least read it before. Fuzzy Rat lived a truly amazing and by most rat's standard a very extreme lifestyle, but in the end, your rats are more like her than they are different from her. By knowing what your rats are truly capable of... the communication, the love, the loyalty and the joy you can better foster that in your mixed rat and human family. I think you are going to make a great rat mommy and I think you are going to raise some amazing rats too.

There was once a silly little rat that thought she could make herself understood to her humans and be an actual part of our family... we finally listened and it changed everything... It's a pretty simple story and message, but from the responses and replies I've received I've seen it make a difference in the lives of the rats and humans that get it... Our rats are so special and so intelligent, but it's sometimes surprisingly easy to overlook. There's such great joy to be shared with our furry friends and it's right there in front of us all we have to do is open ourselves up to the possibilities. Yes, there was once a very special rat in our house... and now there are six more in yours and the legend goes on. Some day you will be telling amazing stories of your own.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank-you, Rat Daddy!

That theory is on point, I'm still all too new to this. But it really is amazing how something so small can be so intelligent. Bear Ninja is my most adventurous boy and he gives all of the other boys bad ideas. Just last night I started re-enforcing the mom role a little more. Bear Ninja was climbing the side of his cage (on the outside, to the top.) I yelled at him... which I felt bad for.. but he eventually listened and came down (for a little bit at least.)

I get off work earlier than expected today/off tomorrow, so I'm going to start my name training with them properly.

This morning I let Gandalf and Neil out and got them to follow me to the bathroom (Neil was more distracted/excited than Gandy.. They've never been in the Hallway unless I was carrying them. haha.)

A few more things if you don't mind, you mention that you allow your rats to Free-range around your home?

How did you get them so well potty trained?

Did you rat proof your home entirely or do you still find little wires chewed on? x)

I want my rats to be able to free range my room when I'm not home, but I also don't want them crapping everywhere or them getting into things that they shouldn't.

Thank-you for the compliment, I hope I make a great rat momma too. Your stories are very helpful and relate-able and I will keep you updated on my little guys' adventures and see how much I can bring out their personalities. :)
 

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Potty training our first rats was pretty much just like potty training a puppy, except without the newspaper, it was a bit harder because we had to do it three times... once indoors, then outdoors and then indoors again... because outdoors is anywhere on the ground... After we potty trained our first rats all of our other rats just seemed to learn the rules from the older ones...

As to wires, just about every wire in the house is spliced, soldered and taped... Fuzzy Rat was pretty destructive when she got bored and I think she slashed wires on purpose to kill electronic devices that distracted her humans from spending more time with her.. Max really never slashed wires until my wife accidentally kicked her, the next morning all the wires to my wire's desk were slashed... compute network, phone and electrical.. just by and up to her desk... Cloud cut a few, but stopped after I scolded her for it... Keep in mind my office has hundreds of feet of wires everywhere. Amelia only ever slashed up a vacuum cleaner wire she got her tumor tangled up in... Yes, I suppose it all adds up to what would have cost a lot of damage, but excellent soldering skills and a giant roll of electrical tape saved me a lot of money...

About 90% of the damage was done by Fuzzy Rat and I know she knew better... I'd point to a wire and say NO and she wouldn't cut that one again.. she would slice the wire next to it instead... and she really knew no one was going to punish her... She was also mostly trained outdoors as a pup and didn't get to free range the house until the rat phobic wife became a little more tolerant of rats roaming around indoors which too several months. Naturally outdoors she was free to chomp on anything she wanted... again outdoor rules/indoor rules are hard for rats to understand. Still she slashed my headphones when I was listening to music my phone wires while I was talking to someone and my computer wires when I was working on the pc... Like she knew exactly what she was doing.

Some rats are going to be real problems around wires, and some won't. You can teach most rats not to do damage, but some you simply can't. Our part wild rat never left a trace of her existence anywhere in the house, she was a ghost. When people say they are surprised to find that their house is infested with rats, that's no joke... wild rats don't leave poop or any traces where they can be found by humans... they are masters of stealth and cutting wires or leaving noticeable damages isn't stealthy.

Now, if you mean damages like leaving a bag of chips or peanuts laying around unguarded overnight while your rats are free ranging... expect them to be gone in the morning. For the most part try and keep the electrical wires off the ground and don't leave any really expensive transformer type wires where your rats can get at them. And yes, some damages come with the territory... but I've lost slippers and other chewable things to dogs too... some property casualties come with free range pets, you can't avoid it.

Best luck.
 
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