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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I posted this a few days ago but there were no replies and it's not getting any better! This evening Benny went to attack Smokey and luckily my hand made it in between and he got me instead! Smokey and hiccup are not enjoying play time the are completely terrified and sit up on mine and my boyfriends shoulders the whole time...but here's a bit more about it: I haven't really been keeping rats for very long, so although I know lots about them from doing research...it's very different when you experience something! I recently took in three adult male rats they are 18 months old. I also have three younger rats who are all around 5 months old (2 boys and one girl). I have seen play fighting before but never have I come across an aggressive rat before - until now. The three new rats are so so sweet to humans and I've not come across any aggression directed towards me, but Benny is really aggressive to the other two The lady I got them from said she never witnessed anything serious just the odd scrap. Benny parades around the free range area puffed up and then if he see's Smokey or Hiccup he chases them and attacks. I have noticed that Smokey in particular is TERRIFIED of Benny, he freezes every time Benny goes near him and screams and freaks out if Benny touches/chases him. Hiccup isn't quite as scared but still isn't keen on Benny. Both Hiccup and Smokey have some deep gouges on their backs from Benny and since Smokey is a rex he gets cut up a bit easier. I've witnessed this behaviour both inside and outside of the cage. I really don't know how to handle this aggression as I've never dealt with it or seen it first hand, any ideas what could be causing this? Could it be due to an environment change? Smokey's scared behaviour suggests to me that is a long-term issue, or can these things happen so suddenly? How do I stop it? I know I can neuter as a last resort, but what do I do when I see Benny going for the other two? Do I intervene and pin him/tell him off or will this just make it worse? Benny really is super sweet towards humans and loves shoulder rides, but if he's aggressive towards his current cage mates I'm never going to be able to introduce him to my three others... Ronnie is so small she'd get eaten!!!The previous owner only had them for 4 months as she took them on from someone else who couldn't look after them any more she also said that they had a pretty empty cage, whereas with me their cage is quite full. I've made sure there are enough hammocks/sputniks/water/food so that no one can guard anything and there is enough space for them to get away from each other, could he being aggressive over the items in the cage? They have never had any direct interaction with any other rats, and apparently the one time they almost did Benny bit someone's foot. Any advice would be really great, I don't know what to do. I feel awful every time I leave the house or go to sleep that someone is going to get hurt! Do I neuter him? What else can I try first?
 

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Has Benny been to the vet? Neutering at 18 months is really old - rats only live 2-3 years so I would want to rule out a health issue causing lashing out. Puberty related issues tend to resolve or at least be present by 9 months so anything after that may be more than hormonal and may be a behavioral thing - insecurity perhaps. Have you tried carrier intros, to reestablish the bond between the three?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No he hasn't been to the vet yet, and I know 18 months is a bit old to be neutering I just literally have no idea what's going on! I haven't noticed any symptoms at all, no head tilting, no sneezing, no porphyrin, no lashing out at me, I've checked him over and haven't noticed anything unusual. I haven't exactly tried the whole carrier method but they have been left in the carrier for an hour after I picked them up and 2 and a half whilst I deep cleaned the cage - not a peep. They do snuggle together sometimes, and it mostly kicks off outside the cage but I have seen/heard/separated fights inside the cage. When I picked them up they were on one sofa and the lady had her other 5 boys running around, they did seem frightened but that could just be because they hadn't had a lot of time spent on them. However the fact that she was willing to let these three loose with hers suggests to me this aggression is recent. But Smokey is so terrified that his behaviour implies the complete opposite...I'm so baffled.
 

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Assuming there isn't any underlying pain, I would take it back to the carrier and work up to either a small cage or an empty cage then finally a big full one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What do I do about out of cage time? Do I still let them have it? And if they fight do I break up and reprimand Benny?
 

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I'd just separate them.. Have him in a different cage, but able to see the others then don't let him interact with the others at free time... Just do separate free time.
 

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i would probably neuter, at 18 months if he's got and well it shouldn't be a big deal. Often in late onset aggression a change can trigger hormonal behaviour and neutering can help settle it down. It might not work but if it had got to a point where i was going to have to have a rat living alone i would always try neutering
 

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During carrier intros you don't do out of cage time. When you do, start in a smaller area and work big. Intervene in any fight.
 

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Try and get your two groups of rats as far apart as possible. Strange rats nearby are going to increase Benny's protective instincts. There are dangerous strangers nearby he doesn't know but he can smell them... and for sure he's getting ready for the big show down.

I had to keep my two girls apart as one was too young to introduce to the other, within a week my older girl was frothing at the mouth with glowing eyes chomping at the bars to get at the other rat... She went from kind and friendly to absolutely insane knowing there was another rat in her house she couldn't get at or get to know.

The second group of rats very well may be causing the aggression, which can go away after intros... Of course, intro's may not be easy with Benny.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yeah I was thinking it was something to do with the presence of my other three, I honestly don't think Benny will ever be able to be introduced to the others. If he's tearing his long term cage mates to pieces goodness knows what he would do with the babies. This was supposed to be easy! Every time I get an animal something always goes wrong :( wrong gender, wrong breed, dodgy breeder, long-term health condition!!! I have savings to deal with all of these things, it's just frustrating that all I want to do is give them the best life...yet something always goes wrong! I live in a one bedroom apartment so I don't have a lot of space as it is, let alone if Benny ends up in another cage. I love them all to pieces and just want them to have the best little lives. Maybe I should try buying a smaller cage and moving the new boys into the bedroom and keeping them there and see if that makes a difference? If he's still fighting, then I can consider neutering him perhaps? I really don't want him to end up a lone rat.
 

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I don't know if it helps, but after intros went all sideways, including me getting bitten by the new little rat I was trying to protect, I finally just let my two girls lose in the house... Max chased Cloud around and dishes and cups got knocked off of things and broken, Cloud got her ear torn and there was general destruction for about 3 weeks... now both rats snuggle together every day and when Cloud was injured she ran to Max instead of her humans.... And there was Max licking her cuts and being all protective... It really is rare that Max lets on that she even has a personality, much less a maternal one.

After being driven mad by Cloud's presence, then chasing her around with madness in her eyes for 3 weeks to big sister and perhaps surrogate mom... the process does work, bonding is what rats do... It's not that I lost faith in the process, but it wasn't easy to remember that things almost always work out.

In my case Cloud was just too small to do intros, but clearly the longer I put them off, the crazier Max got and the harder the intro was to become.

By the way, my method worked, but this was about the worst intro I've ever done and it cost me a couple of my favorite mugs.... On the up side, it was kind of fun watching Max stalk Cloud around the house... Cloud was younger and faster, but Max was very determined... I stepped in a few times when things got too crazy, but otherwise kept my hands off.... Still, certain things work for me that I don't recommend... I'm thinking someone else might have a less destructive method to do intros with Benny. But I don't see Benny getting back to normal as long as there are invading rats infesting his home. Until the intros are behind you he's going to act like a maniac.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I wish I could just let them roam around to sort any problems out but I rent so anything they chew I'd have to pay for, if it was my house I wouldn't mind! I've ordered a separate cage for now, it will go in the bedroom and I'm going to put Benny in it by himself and see how that goes. I will try and put the other two in there with him after a few days and see how he reacts, if he is just as aggressive then Benny will be kept alone. If he reacts okay then he can stay there with his brothers. Then I just won't attempt introductions with my three and I'll just keep them as two separate mischiefs. Hopefully things will work out one way or another.
 

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i really think its with trying to neuter him before you give up and keep him alone. Most neutered makes move back in with thete cage mates happily and if not will nearly always live happily with some girl companions
 
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