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I have two male rats (Sludge and Poncho).
Over time they've just become more and more aggressive with each other, especially during free roam time. I started noticing little scabs under Sludge's chin maybe a month or two ago and i soon realised these were bite marks from the other rat (who is much smaller than him).
I watch them during free roam time and it seems like Poncho just really wants to annoy Sludge, he'll follow him all around the room and just kind of tap him on the back or nibble him. Once this carries on for long enough, Sludge eventually gets pissed off and flips Poncho onto his back. Maybe three times now I've seen Sludge rip a bunch of Ponchos fur out and Poncho will squeal really loudly as this happens. It's really painful to watch and also listen to.
Gradually I've been noticing more and more scabs on Sludge around his chin and neck. The scabs on Poncho are lesser but more severe. Just last week I noticed this "poop" (will attach pic) on Poncho which i thought was really odd since I hadn't made any changes to their diet? I also couldn't see any traces of any like coloured poop around the cage. I called the vets and sent them a photo because I wasn't sure if it was an infection or a strange poop and they told me to just gently scrub it off. So I tried to gently scrub it off his fur but it was stuck in there. I monitored him for a few days to make sure he was okay as he seemed happy enough. After the stuff cleared off his fur I realised it actually was an infected wound. The only plausible answer to what it was from is that Sludge bit his stomach. Im worried about them! I'm not sure of the level of aggression like this thats usual for male rats? If that makes sense? But I'm wondering whether neutering them might potentially help. (if this has anything to do with hormonal aggression)
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Discussion Starter #2
Comments and questions that may potentially come up.
My boys are both around 6 months old now. They came from an accidental mating where my partner and I were told we had two boys but in reality we had a female and a male.
Not too sure about the lineage of my boys grandparents but they didn't come from a breeder as far as I'm aware of.
Im currently using the pet one rat cage. I have been looking at upgrading as i now realise this cage is a little bit too small for them. Whether this plays into it swell I'm not sure. They have plenty of foraging toys and things to do in their cage which i regularly change up and swap things in and out, so I'm pretty sure they aren't just bored in the cage. Who knows!!!!
 

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I personally say yes, neuter the boys. Keep them separate while they heal and their hormones calm down. Then slowly reintroduce them.
 

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Based on your description of the scabbing around the face/jaw, my first thought is mites. Scabs, especially around the jaw, neck, and shoulders, is a very common symptom of mites. Your rats can have mites even if only one of them is showing symptoms. Treating for mites is pretty safe and easy. I think it might be worth discussing with your vet.

Rough-housing is common. A bit of chasing, pinning, forced grooming, and squeaking is pretty normal. Injuries are concerning, though. If your rat isn't already on antibiotics for the infected wound, you'll want to get on that. Continue to keep an eye on their behavior and if you feel the situation is unsafe for either of them, neutering may be a good option.
 
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