Author Topic: Rats fighting that used to get along  (Read 451 times)

Offline sujamma

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 45
Rats fighting that used to get along
« on: October 04, 2016, 08:02:26 PM »
It's been over a month since I lost a rat from this mischief to PT, and all that remains is his brother and his slightly older cagemate who have lived together in their CN for nearly 2 years without issues, until now. I bought babies 2-3 weeks ago and have kept them in a separate cage in the other room, and sometime during the time I got them, my two adult male rats have begun fighting viciously. At first I thought they were resetting the pecking order now that Leo had passed, but then the victim, Bard, was diagnosed with arthritis in his hind legs shortly after the fights began, and though I've been treating it with prescription anti-inflammatories for a week now, the vet also recommended that I separate them. My main concern is that I would be separating him from his once-best friend, and making him live alone. Also Darcy, the aggressor, just lost his brother, and it seems mean to isolate him too. What should I do? If I separate them, would it be a limited time, or indefinitely? Eventually I will have to introduce the babies to the big cage sometime this month, but I'm afraid to if there's still fighting. The only extra cage I have is too big for my room, since the babies are in the small single level one, but if I have to I will use it in another room.

For further insight, Darcy and Bard get along wonderfully the rest of the time, but randomly have these explosive fights only in this last half of September and early October. I even found them sleeping side by side in their tunnel just the other day. I thought it was improving now that Bard was on medication for his arthritis, but today they broke out into a fight while I filled their food bowl and Bard showed labored breathing while pinned down, which made me realize he is under great stress. I need to do something, but I'm just not sure how to go about it or for how long. Please help, I want my boys to be happy again like they used to be.

Offline BigBen

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 7272
  • Almost as smart as a rat
Re: Rats fighting that used to get along
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2016, 10:36:53 AM »
Is it possible that Darcy has a brain tumor that is affecting his personality?  Or is it possible that the fighting, as vigorous as it is, is actually play?  It is also possible that Darcy's hormone levels have increased with age and all he needs is a neuter.  It's also possible that Darcy has simply become a grumpy old man.  It might be the result of grief, and he might return to his old self in time.

Not being a veterinarian, I can only raise possibilities.  It might be a good idea to get Darcy checked out by a vet to see if there's anything organically wrong with him that could be put right.
What is a rat?  King-sized love in a pint-sized package.
RatCode:  1m0f18r !B C? D+ F S-- ocA reC sM a+++ e++++ n

Offline Vonda Z

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 2220
    • Ratropolis: Life with Rats
Re: Rats fighting that used to get along
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2016, 05:18:35 PM »
Is Darcy the brother of the rat who passed from PT? If so, be aware that PT in rare cases can cause behavior changes, particularly aggression in rats who formerly lived peacefully with their cagemates. If his brother had PT, there could be genetic connections and Darcy may be predisposed to developing the same tumor. This symptom can show up before the classic signs of PT. It is not a common symptom (of all my PT rats, only one displayed aggression before developing classic symptoms), but it is a possibility so you might want to keep a close eye on him for other PT symptoms in the future.

Offline sujamma

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 45
Re: Rats fighting that used to get along
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2016, 05:43:05 PM »
Yeah, Darcy is the biological brother to Leo, who passed. So far the only thing I've noticed with Darcy is that he is very fat (not as bad as some rats I've seen, but he's fatter than Bard) and isn't really losing that weight, but that could be entirely normal for a lazy male who hoards all his food too. I don't feed treats anymore since I've been trying to get him to lose weight for over a month now. I will keep an eye on him, though, and eventually get him in to the vet. He hasn't seen one since he was a baby.

Quote
Or is it possible that the fighting, as vigorous as it is, is actually play?

They used to play fight and wrestle in the past, but this is definitely, without a doubt quite different. Bard actually screams at Darcy every time he gets pinned; it's very loud and alarming, I can often hear it from the other end of the house. I'm used to light squeaks of protest, but Bard actively tries to get away and screeches like he's being attacked or pleading for him to stop. Bedding goes flying everywhere, and Darcy side-steps at him and lunges at him. On only two occasions I have found trace amounts of blood, though, and I have found a bite mark on Darcy's belly I assume during Bard's self defense. I don't know if his pain from the arthritis is making him defensive, and that's triggering a dominant response from Darcy -- is that possible too?

Quote
It is also possible that Darcy's hormone levels have increased with age and all he needs is a neuter

I know there is a risk in every surgery for small animals, but what is the risk for neuter in a nearly 2 year old rat? Have any of you had it done before? What is the average age range for safe neuters, when dealing with an experienced exotic vet?

Offline BigBen

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 7272
  • Almost as smart as a rat
Re: Rats fighting that used to get along
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2016, 06:22:51 PM »
Oh, too bad; that's real fighting, then.  I suspect that Vonda may be right about the development of a pituitary tumor.  If you want to have Darcy neutered, I have had rats operated on who were much older than two, with no problem.

Age three is pushing the limit, though.  I had a boy a little older than three who survived surgery, woke up, and then suddenly went into respiratory distress while still in the recovery room. 
What is a rat?  King-sized love in a pint-sized package.
RatCode:  1m0f18r !B C? D+ F S-- ocA reC sM a+++ e++++ n