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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's been a while since I've been on the forum, things have been busy with school and such, and the rats have all been great so I've not had any questions or concerns...

For the past couple of nights though, something odd has been happening. My two males have woke me up after 2 am for two nights in a row now fighting. Neither has been hurt, no scratches, bite marks, or missing fur. But it's still rather unnerving. When they were younger there was a short period of time where they would do this (mostly provoked by Fiver, the more dominant of the two). But it's been a long time since they've behaved like this.

Tonight when I got them out of the cage to burn off some energy before bed, everything seemed pretty normal. Then, when neither I nor Possum were touching him, Fiver climbed up on my leg and started clicking his teeth, then went after my hand to bite me; he didn't bite me as though he were really trying to hurt me, but he pinched pretty hard and actually scratched the skin, which he has never done before. It seemed like what male rats do to each other when they're showing each other "who's boss" so to speak. When I shoved him away he jumped back up on my leg and actually stood up trying to reach my hand again. Then, just as suddenly as he'd seemed so upset, he wanted to cuddle and be held and lick on me... then shortly went back to being mad at the world again.

Now that they're in their cage again, I've noticed Fiver dragging his sides along the fleece as if he's rubbing his scent on everything. When they come into conflict, Possum, who before would always back down and run away, is not backing down... he's not posturing aggressively, but he just kind of stares at Fiver, and will even follow him if it's Fiver who walks away first.

They will both be a year old tomorrow... they're by themselves in a single critter nation cage... and as I'm typing this Fiver is attempting to rub himself on a hanging toy and getting mad because it's moving and bumping him back :\ Is this a sign of some kind of change in testosterone? Could he be ill? If the fighting happens again tonight should I separate them or could a night apart make it harder to put them back together in the morning?
 

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Probably because hormones are changing as they age. My boys are mostly one now and there's a lot of scuffles going on.
 

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This is just my fist thought...

Has there been any change in how much time you are involved with your rats? Sometimes when the human who's always been the group leader get's busy a rat will step up and try to take charge. With rats this power vacuum brings on aggressive (take charge) behavior that in turn increases their hormone levels which causes more aggressive behavior...

Similarly in human politics when a leader is in charge..... king, president, governor or mayor everyone in the administration and the government plays nicely together but as soon the leader gets into trouble or gets distracted or dies, all of the little rodent like politicians and functionaries make a grab for power of their own and the system becomes chaotic and dysfunctional.

If you've been otherwise preoccupied with the holidays and things in the cage are getting out of hand, all you might need to do is put in a little more time with your rats, be more hands on and make sure everyone knows the social order is still the same. Handle your guys as much as you can and make sure to discourage your rats from pushing you or each other around. A loud "No Fighting!" should suffice if things haven't gotten too out of hand... If you take charge now you should be able to get everyone back in line and harmony should reign again, if you let things go, things can get worse.

Best luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for your advice. I think Rat Daddy may be right. They had been getting out every day in the evening to run around my room, and with Christmas plays and making Christmas gifts and such I've been busier lately and they haven't been getting as much time in the past week or so. After being out last night, despite the biting outburst, it seems like they're doing slightly better today (grooming each other in a friendly way versus avoiding or chasing each other like the last few nights.). I will continue to increase my time with them and see if things continue to improve.
 

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I don't want to scare you uncessarily, since it really could be that he's just bored or needing to let out energy as others have said. But whenever I read something about a rat suddenly and uncharacteristically showing agression, especially if it's triggered off and on like you described for no real reason, it makes me think it could be a pituitary tumor or another form of neurological disorder. Hopefully he's just stressed and bored for the holidays, but it's something to keep in mind.
 
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