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Discussion Starter #1
So I bought Chester, a hooded dumbo and he was living with my elder rat Stanley, who passed away several months ago. He was absolutely fine with the older rat, showed no aggression at all and has always been such a sweet soul ever since I bought him so when I bought him Casper, after Stanley passed, I thought everything would be all right.

I'm used to rats play fighting, and I definitely know when a rat is really being aggressive but I'm unsure at the moment because Casper is the one who is being the annoying one. I've got them in separate cages at the moment, because Casper is a little too small and Chester has a very large head and is just a big goof ball so I'm a bit anxious to leave them alone in the cage as of yet. I let them meet on neutral ground, they clean each other, nap together, play together and chase one and another but there are times when I see Casper chasing Chester, Chester trying to get away and it always resulting in Casper being bitten, being thrown onto his back and cleaned roughly by Chester which I know (or think) is a dominance thing and then when Chester tries to leave, Casper is right back at it, chasing him and trying to push him again but he does it continuously until Chester gets annoyed, slams him and and bites him. Casper really squeaks when he gets bitten too... but as mean as it sounds... he's kind of asking for it all the time!

I've taken them out together, every night for the past 8 days several times a day; one minute they're getting on and the next it can seem a bit shocking because it comes out of no where and Casper, although being half the size of Chester the dumbo doesn't seem the let up on him!

My questions are- is this a rougher type of play or are they showing signs that they're going to fight one day?
Is Casper the one showing signs of early dominance?(because I wouldn't want Casper to get bigger and bully Chester either)

Should I continue to let them meet neutrally until I definitely know they're getting a long, or am I just being a worry wart and should just bite the bullet to put them together?

I've honestly never had problems with putting rats together before, so this is baffling me. Thanks if you've taken time to read over this! :)
 

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The consensus I've read is that if there's no blood, there's no foul.

Sometimes playing can be rough, and sometimes they are no longer playing and are actually squabbling. Again, if there's no blood, there's probably nothing to worry about. Sometimes these things need to play out.

I don't know that interrupting their fighting does any good. In some instances, it could be like two people arguing heatedly, but when someone comes along and tells them to shut up, they realize how silly the argument was and back down. But then you have Germany pounding on Russia and Russia is pounding back. Then a snowstorm hits, and both of them back down. Only the aggression is still there, and they really have to duke it out, so the snowstorm only delays it. Once the snows melt, they're right back at it. Maybe I shouldn't use one of the biggest wars in history as an analogy.

So I let my girls fight it out. When it gets really feisty, I will yell at them. They stop. They usually come to the gate, and I'll pet them. They forget about the fight for a while. They might remember later and go at it again.

I imagine you're doing well by keeping them in separate cages when you're not around. At least let them hash out their frustrations under your watchful gaze. But keep in mind that even if they work everything out under this situation, they may find more reasons to fight when they live together 24/7.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
They squabble all the time, but you're right; when angry mum comes about they just both stop and look at me like innocent children so I can only assume they're squabbling like a pair too! I'm sure if they hated one another, there would have been some sort of carnage within the 8 days of them meeting but there's literally been a few squeaks here and there and insane much-too-fast running around on my corner sofa.

Sometimes, there is fur being ripped out. Only a few times but it still seems aggressive to me; I guess I'll just have to wait for Casper to get a little bit bigger and then go from there. He's too small for big Chesty at the moment. :p

Thank you for your entertaining insight, are your girls litter mates or bought at separate times?
 

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Hmm, fur being ripped? That part I'm not so sure about. I guess I'd continue to allow it to happen since there's no blood, but I'd be wary.

My girls are from different litters. Latte is 1 week older than Penumbra who is 3 weeks older than Loki.

They get along pretty well, but when we introduced Loki to the two of them, there was a definite change in group dynamic. Latte would pout up on the top shelf away from the others for a while. It was common for Penumbra and Latte to sleep in the space dome and not let Loki up in it. I even have pictures of Loki trying to force her way in there with her butt hanging out.

Loki whined a lot, and I would chide the other rats for bullying her. Then one day I watched Loki follow Penumbra around while pouncing on her rump. Penumbra whirled around in a boxing stance. Loki squealed bloody murder, and that's when I realized that she wasn't necessarily being bullied. She's just a little whiner.

The weirdest thing is when my wife and I watched Latte sidle up toward Loki with her back arched. We looked at each and wondered why she was walking that way. Then Latte physically flung Loki across the cage. That was quite a sight. Loki had been following the other girls and attacking their rumps. She's the youngest, so I guess she still has a lot of play in her. Loki is 5 months now.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hm.. usually when the biting is associated to the rear of the rat it's a sign of dominance; if they bite to the back of neck then that is usually playfulness. It seems Loki has the same traits and my little Casper; he nips Chester's behind until he's thrown about too. I wonder if it's because they're so small yet; it seems like a dominance issue but really, they just can't reach!

I hope Loki finds her place though. I'd hate to see one of my ratties left out.
 

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I hope Loki finds her place though. I'd hate to see one of my ratties left out.
I think Loki is fine. All the girls get along for the most part. Many times I see all three curled up in the space pod. We noticed that they stopped sleeping there, and my wife discovered it was because someone left a pool of urine in it. We washed it out, and now the girls are snuggling in the pod again.

But Loki is the troublemaker (why'd we name her Loki?). Many times I'll see her chasing one of the other girls at the bottom of the DCN. It's amusing to watch. I think the other is playing as well. It's a little game of chase. Loki even stops when the other girl stops. Then the chase resumes. I have no idea if the other girl is annoyed or not. Then Loki catches her and mounts her. I don't think it's a humping thing. I'd expect a boy rat to take that stance. It may just be a dominance thing in playing.

They don't squeak nearly as badly now. They still have their little romps where someone squeaks in submission, but nowhere near as bad as Loki's initial whining. Although, 4 weeks is a huge difference for young rats, so she was way younger 4 months ago. Now she's pretty much the same size as the others, so she can hold her own.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I bet, it's insane just how fast they grow. I'm glad your ratties get along, it's unusual for rats not to being their very social creatures. You'll be happy to know that I moved the boys in together today and they've been absolutely fine. Chester remains in his favourite spot inside his large tube and Casper has seemed to adopt the hammock which Chester didn't even show a sprinkle of interest for, also spent money on a hanging, wooden climbing frame - neither were played with until Casper came along, now he's using all the stuff Chester didn't so I'm glad my money hasn't gone to waste!

I love Loki for a name, I assumed it was due to her being a lil' trouble maker. Pretty much think all rats are destined to be little buggers though, Chester seems to like teaching Casper all his dirty tricks, and uses him to get into spaces his big head can't reach anymore!
 

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I love Loki for a name, I assumed it was due to her being a lil' trouble maker.
Actually, our rats are named for physical characteristics. Latte is about the color of latte. Penumbra is black (Berkshire, actually, I found out). Loki was named spontaneously at the store. She's a hooded rat with markings that resemble a key, so I jokingly called her Low Key. My wife wrinkled her nose at the idea of naming a female Loki, but I pointed out that when you give birth to an eight-legged horse, gender matters not. Thus, Loki stayed. It just turns out that she's the biggest troublemaker. She's teaching the other girls that the floor is not lava and that you don't die if you hop off the couch. Naughty girl. I should have named her Prometheus.
 
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