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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So for the last year Buddy has been, well, my Buddy. He's always been the one to cuddle up with me, sit in my lap, and let me pet him for hours. Him and Zeeky never really got along. We let it go for a long time, but Zeeky started to get really aggressive toward him, and caused a couple of bleeding wounds, so a couple months ago we decided to get Zeeky neutered to see if it would calm down. It worked. For the most part they've stopped fighting, and when they do Zeeky usually gives up quickly rather then getting all puffed up and really going after Buddy like he use to. That's the good part. The bad part is that ever since then Buddy's personality has been changing. He still hangs out on my lap but a lot of times when I try to touch him he'll get all riled up and puffy and actually try to bite me. The first time it happened I thought he was just playing so I tried to wrestle with him and he ended up biting me hard enough to draw blood. Since then it's happened probably a dozen more times. I learned to avoid putting my hand in a position to get bit but when it happens there doesn't seem to be any way to calm him down. Tonight it happened a couple of times, the worse being right before I put them away, and he was so worked up I couldn't even pick him up so I had to sort of nudge him along the floor and up the ramp into the cage. He's gone from being my favorite to one I don't even feel completely comfortable even touching. :(

Is there anything I can do to break him of this? Is there any sort of immersion that will let him know that I'm in charge and he can't do that to me? Or is my only option here to get him neutered too?
 

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Unless he's developing a brain tumor or other serious medical condition, extreme immersion has a good shot of working... Basically if he's going alpha aggressive you can put him back in his place. Of course there's a certain part hormonal, but there's a social component to alpha aggression... in other words one feeds on the other.

Oddly, your situation isn't unique. Which is why you will sometimes notice some folks have multiple neutered males. One male gets neutered and then the next one turns aggressive. You changed the social order and the new alpha rises.... The king is dead, long live the king...

To some degree alpha aggression is a result of the human 'being too nice or easy going' or sometimes just not being around enough. I'm a pretty laid back manager, and with girls I don't so much get aggression as home destruction... The other day after one of my girls took out a favorite orchid, I lost it and shouted at her... I haven't been around too much since, but there's been no destruction since the incident. Everybody is being respectful of my property again. Nobody wants to be a disciplinarian, but some times being in charge means actually enforcing the rules. And no biting is rule number 1.... Yes, you might need some welding gloves or oven mitts, but you need to back down an aggressive rat before his problem becomes a hormonal one. Remember one problem feeds the other and in reverse one starves the other...

Best luck.
 

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Personally, I don't think most adult male rats wrestle and play like girls can do. They can be total cuddlers, but not really rough housers. I think for most that sort of play will push their hormones. Puffy, huffy or sidling is all signs of hormones/aggression.

My boys are all 1/2 wilds, so I would of expected more than normal hormonal outburts. I actually only have 1 who will bite a human, out of my 8 boys. But his hormones dictate his behavior. He can't be housed with anyone. I have one other that has some territorial issues with his cage. He has not bitten but he will puff.

Since you only have the two, I would have him neutered if you can. I am not convinced that hormonal behavior can be corrected by training. I think training can work if the behavior is fear, or just a "mean" rat. (i've never met a mean rat, so not sure how I feel about that)

My most hormonal boy, the one who would bite us humans I have in a cage by himself and in a room away from his brothers. I noticed if one gets a little riled, everyone in the room tends to feed of it. He still gets stressed if I clean his cage with him in it. So he usually hangs out on my husbands shoulder and they play video games while I clean it. I can do minor adjustments, water/food changes while he is in there. But I can see his mood get more and more upset the longer I mess with things.

I keep their protein levels right where they should be and don't give many high protein treats to the boys. I do give a lot of less testosterone feeding goodies to them, such as a little oatmeal with soy milk. Lots of fresh veggies.

With my girls, if one of the littles bit me, I would be more likely to follow the disciplinarian route. Naturally girls can all live together in large groups and don't really have the same issues with their hormones. Letting them know you are top alpha works great, unless you have some fear or medical cause working against you.

On the other side, most of my boys are pretty much just sweet little lazy loungers. I have 2 that really just want to ride my shoulders 24 7. those two I have in together, because they are really terrified of my highly hormonal boys.

My advice to you if you are comfortable with it-neuter or change the way you do things a bit. Don't wrestle with unfixed adult boys. When giving pets, pet their head or do a full hand pet from head all the way down. Don't do tickly, pinchy types of pets down on their flanks, it's like inviting a fight. Be confident in interactions, they can tell if you are being hesitant or fearful. If he starts to puff, recognize it as an issue before it escalates any further. I will do the full hand pet, and if that doesn't work I put them back in their cage, or put in an unfamiliar place where he needs you to his savior. But break the pattern before it escalates further.

Good luck, remember they are still your babies, they just get a little crazy with all their boy hormones going on high.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I actually have 4, with 2 more on the way this weekend. He doesn't really seem to get agressive with the others. In fact when he does fight with them he seems to be the one who backs down or runs away. But for some reason when he gets like that with me he wont back down. He keeps trying to jump up on my lap, and if I try to touch him at all he puffs up more, snorts, and tries to bite me. At first I thought maybe he didn't realize my lap and my hands were connected to the same person and maybe he was defending his territory. (i.e. my lap) But last night he tried to bite my foot (I sit indian style on the floor) so he knows that at least my feet are part of me.

We don't give them a lot of extra protein in their diet. They mainly eat Oxbow, with an occasional bananna or nut. (whole nuts to help wear down their teeth) I can stop with the nuts for a while and see if that helps any.

If it keeps up we may just have to bite the bullet and get him neutered too. Although if that just starts a chain reaction and we end up having to get them all done it's going to get very expensive.
 
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