Author Topic: Territorial aggression?  (Read 734 times)

Offline Eternal Dream

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Territorial aggression?
« on: December 12, 2016, 10:14:30 AM »
I've been out of rats for awhile so I'm rusty to say the least.

So I got a little rescue gal who was sweet and mellow as could be. Nothing phased her. I have cats and they could walk right up to the cage and she'd calmly walk over and see them. I could do anything to her. She loved being held, I could play wrestle with her. Etc.

Now that I have the two babies I have a completely different rat. Now granted the babies are not with her. But they are in the same room and I put some of he bedding with them and some of theirs with her. We had a brief encounter but the moment it got testy I removed everyone and went with the bedding transfers.

Now. She was attacking the bedding from the babies first off.
She screams and cries if you touch her. If you get near her she's gets puffy and will try to side kick. I've cleaned her cage and did not put baby bedding in this time and it's the same reaction.
Then last night she was on the floor and was rubbing her paws on the carpet and her body on the bars of the empty dog crate her cage sits on. Then I couldn't catch her because she'd freak if I went near her.
A cat walked in the room and meowed not even remotely close to the cage and she went right at the bars and was attempting to squeeze her head through. If she's not sleeping she's a puff ball the majority of the time. Getting her out of the cage she battles me and I use a cloth to pick her up after her tiff of trying to spin around and nip. In my hand she'll start licking again. But the moment she wants down and you don't let her or the moment she gets down she starting acting out again... I've dealt with lab rats who had very little socializing that I trusted more.


I know if she were a he, the nueter route would have been already done. I'm not entirely sure how old she is. She's adult size but I'd say still under a year for sure. But would spaying her curb this behavior in females as well? I've only had a case like this once before but at the time I had the set up and groups to accommodate the tiffs my rats had with other rats. Now I have just the 3. So if one does not get along she will be a singleton as I do not have the space to keep getting more in hopes she would accept one finally. She was in with other rats in her old home. I mean she did come into the store with 20 others and who knows what they didn't surrender. She was in a cage with 3 others I believe at the store, they just happened to have gotten adopted prior to me getting her. I guess I shouldn't assume that because she lived with other rats that means she got along with other rats.

Offline mamarat2

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Re: Territorial aggression?
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2016, 11:57:16 AM »
Doubtful that spaying her would stop the behavior.  Do you have any background info on the rescue girl?  Has she been a single all her life?  If not, when did she last have friends?

The thing with single rats is if they have been alone for a while (longer than a month) my experience is that they forget how to be a rat and socialize with other rats.  Enter the new babies and the resident rat's response is to freak out and protect her territory. You, the human, are her bonded friend; those other two new rats are strangers and she is now on alert.

Remind me again how long you have had the first girl?  Consider this, she is used to hearing the cats and the human (you); two new strange rats are suddenly in her territory and her human sometimes smells like them and these new rats chatter incessantly in voices she hasn't heard in quite a while.  Give her time.

Keep an eye on her body language and see if you can get her to hop in a box when it's time to come out and go for playtime, that is if she freaks out about your hands now smelling like the others.  How long have the new kids been there?  If you just brought them in, I'd give them a solid week in the same room with her cage before you try swapping the bedding in; maybe that will ease her in?  Then maybe move the cages closer to each other after she has calmed and gotten used to them being in the same room.

Handle your resident girl first before handling the babies for a while. Not to say she is acting out, but she is; she's been the only rat for a while and now these new smells are on her bonded human.

Has this helped at all?

Edited to add: I would continue to give her time to get used to the new rats.  The paw rubbing is definite marking, she's making sure she still has a handle on her area. 

Also I just re-read your post, missed the part about her coming in with 20 other rats.  How long has she been alone for?  She could have very well forgotten the whole how to be a rat in a colony thing, I swear they forget the social cues.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2016, 12:00:45 PM by mamarat2 »
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Offline ratsareausomepets

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Re: Territorial aggression?
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2016, 08:58:27 PM »
How does she handle her fright? Flight or fight? Is she aggressive or does she just squeek like the world is coming to end and/or rush to the other side of the cage.

I had 2 rats who were raised with tons of rats their whole lives but would shriek or flee like a bullet somewhere when introduced to another rat. But zero aggression.
It was solved by putting the 2 rats in a smalller enclosure together (like have a cage with top floor closed off, it should have a hiding spot) with yummy treats like cheerios and eventually they got more relaxed together.


Holding your potentially agressive rat with 2 hands and letting them sniff noses for a few seconds at a time and then taking a break and doing it again, may help.       This will allow you to prevent a fight. Physically (you can carry her away) and mentally. When 2 animals fight, they always need a few seconds of negativity building up before a fight can erupt.    I have worked with several semi-aggressive dogs, and they get along great with other dogs when introduced to another canine for a few seconds, pulled back, another few seconds etc.


If the aggression is serious and not just some fluke then you can put the cages near each other and put treats on the side that is near the other cage. Over many weeks, they will learn to associate each other with positive.

Also maybe... all this acting up is unrelated to the new rats. My current rat Pepper was the sweetest thing when I first got her. But, after a few days in her big cage and unlimited food, she went through a personality makeover. She bit, was territorial, and would hyperventilate and poop if I managed to pick her up without getting bitten. With weeks of trust training she learnt to be a very nice rat, even in her new environment.

I hope they can become friends! Every rat needs a rat buddy. It is sad when a rat is so aggressive that he/she is forced to live a lonely life.

Best wishes

Offline Eternal Dream

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Re: Territorial aggression?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2016, 12:34:37 AM »
Mamarat2: No background other the store said they were in really nasty cages when they came in and they were only meant to be 7 or 9, but ended up taking in 20. I had her for a month and the babies for a week. I do believe when I got her, they literally adopted out the cagemates who they had her in with the day before I got her. When I first looked at her they said just be careful because she was shy, but she was a ham from day one with me so I don't know if she really was like this the whole time and I'm just seeing it. They did have another female that was left and came in with her who was aggressive and they had her solo because of it.

I'm not sure if it makes a difference but she was in a different room and a day before I got the babies I switched rooms. So this room was all new to everyone. She ran around the old room, no issues. This time, it was the rubbing on everything.



ratsareusomepets: Eh... I'd say a mix of both. She squeeks and darts a little bit ahead, but will also arch up and whip around. She does not retreat to the other side of the cage that's for sure.
I attempted to holding bit the first go around after she jumped one, thinking maybe I was over reacting... She was fine for a few brief seconds before squeeking her head off and trying to get out of my hand to get to them. The more restraint, the more testy she got with me. She became very hard to handle after that to the point I bought out a new hammock to get a grip on her without.
When she was in there at the first few minutes, they were really excited and went up to meet her. And while she was a little puffy, it wasn't anything too crazy. Sniffed some bums. She was just standing right next to a baby, then next thing I knew she was on top of the kid.

I tried to go into this thinking everything was going to be perfect because her personality was so mellow and she reminded me of my first rat who accepted everyone. Otherwise, I'm normally a wreak and their pinning. I know it's the proper way to do things, but it still makes me freak at first. So I assumed at first that's what she did. I did separate right away because I realized nope, it was a bad idea being they are little. But then that's when I saw her doing the rubbing thing and looked up what in the world she was doing and realized it was a territorial thing and then everything started clicking. SO I don't know for certain if she was being full out aggressive with the babies or if it was normal. But that tied in with the rubbing, I didn't know what I was really in for.


Offline Eternal Dream

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Re: Territorial aggression?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2016, 01:12:57 AM »
So I went up there to make sure everyone had food and water. I had to put her cage on top of the babies CN as I was painting their room today and I needed to move them out. She was back to her lickyself and I could do anything to her. So I put back her little bed that I gave to the babies during the first litter swap. And while she kinda pushed it around and rubbed on it a bit like she did the carpet, I was at least able to handle her and pet her without any reaction towards me. I got one squeek, but that was it.

Oooh man, I'm hoping the previous reaction was just a fluke thing and she'll be able to join rats again in her life!


Offline ratsareausomepets

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Re: Territorial aggression?
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2016, 09:01:05 PM »
It seems that your rat is a personality! Rubbing the body in order to spread scent is a cat and dog thing. I've never seen that in a rat.... And also to be so affectionate and hold herself back from biting even when she is startled. Rescue rats rock!

It looks like it is going good. She just needs some more time probably.

Keep this in mind if you ever decide it is time for another (hands-off) introduction:
I know it is scary when when 2 nice rats turn into a squeeking tumbling ball of fur. But try to hold back from separating if there is no blood. Babies tend to be dramatic and shriek when nothing is hurting them, except fear itself. Your new rescue rat will only relax and realize that the new rat is OK when the new rat is willing to relax when being pinned. She will teach this by giving the pinned rat a nip each time he/she tries to squiggle free. If she can effectively teach the new rat to relax, both rats will relax and a new relationship begins.  :rattysmiley:

Offline mamarat2

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Re: Territorial aggression?
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2016, 08:13:53 AM »
Rats will definitely rub everything and every where (carpet, cage, furniture, human) when it comes to crazy marking.  Hopefully the move to the new room and new kids was just overwhelming for the first day and she is acclimating.
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Offline Eternal Dream

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Re: Territorial aggression?
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2016, 11:29:16 AM »
I'm still going to hold off for a few more weeks due to the size of the youngest blue. Again, I did not pick them out other than I told what color I'd prefer. But apparently she was 4 weeks, so now 6 weeks? I'm not sure about that. But between being itty bitties and being in heat so they are extra bratty and hyper right now -_- .... I rather just wait until they are bigger in case something goes down.

On a side plus note.... I swear the babies are already housebroken. I did not have time to make liners for their CN, so it's just a bare floor with a little box in the corner. And there's no poops except for in the box. I was expecting little nuggets everywhere. So yeah babies!

Offline mamarat2

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Re: Territorial aggression?
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2016, 12:31:42 PM »
I'm still going to hold off for a few more weeks due to the size of the youngest blue. Again, I did not pick them out other than I told what color I'd prefer. But apparently she was 4 weeks, so now 6 weeks? I'm not sure about that. But between being itty bitties and being in heat so they are extra bratty and hyper right now -_- .... I rather just wait until they are bigger in case something goes down.

On a side plus note.... I swear the babies are already housebroken. I did not have time to make liners for their CN, so it's just a bare floor with a little box in the corner. And there's no poops except for in the box. I was expecting little nuggets everywhere. So yeah babies!

Yeah I'd definitely give the little ones some time to get a bit bigger.  At least having everyone in the same room will still give your resident some exposure to the babies and vice versa even just with sounds and smells.
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