Author Topic: Rat social structure, How does it work?  (Read 6875 times)

Chic 2000

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Rat social structure, How does it work?
« on: April 28, 2002, 11:54:07 PM »
How does rat socail structure work?  Is it like a pack of wolves?  Or is it more like a pecking order of chickens?  I wanted to learn because I watch the rat girls and try to figure it out but it confounds me. ???

Trying to see who is dominant.  I think Fuzzy Belly is the alfa girl.  She's the largest and lets everyone know when they step over the line.  But then again I wonder because Fuzzy Belly is also the most social rat to us humans and loves us and come up to greet us with no holds-barred.  She is not aggresive.  I've seen some female rats  bite and pull skin of all the other rats around theml.  Fuzzy Belly has never bitten anyone hard, human or rat.  She nips at the other 2 in play but never hurts them.  

Creamy is kind of in the middle I think.  She licks at Fuzzy Belly and rolls over for her to groom and licks at her face when she wants something of Fuzzy Belly.  Fuzzy Belly can nip at Creamy when she crosses the line about something in the rat language or behavior.  But Creamy doesn't like us humans as much and she is a biter.  But she only bites at us and not Fuzzy Belly.

Coco is the youngest and loves to play and is more active for longer periods.  But socaily I get the feeling she is the lowest on the ladder.  Mommy Creamy will pin her down sometimes and forcefully groom Coco.  And Coco ends up being so submisive.  I have noticed that Coco hangs out with Fuzzy Belly more than mom.  She plays with Fuzzy Belly and jumps on her and stuff and they both like it.  But sometimes when Fuzzy Belly has had enough she lets Coco know it by forceful grooming and pinning and nibbling.  Coco tends to "beg" more for treats from us and the rats.  The others will not share, they turn their backs or run away angerly and if Coco really makes them mad Creamy or Fuzzy Belly will make her squeek.

Such a long observation, I'm sorry.  But their world just baffles me sometimes.  Some days it's Creamy who's boss, then Fuzzy Belly, and even Coco makes it up there.  I quess I want to know what other people have observed in rat socail structure and if they are like a pack of wolves with ridgid Alfa-Beta-Underling sort of way.  Or is it who is the strongest biter and/or the biggest like chickens?    

Offline Joe

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Re:Rat social structure, How does it work?
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2002, 12:21:48 AM »
   I think it changes from group to group. Mine has a very definate pecking order. Bouncer is without a doubt my Alpha rat, the Hoss, and beige couldn't care less. Hoss chalenges Bouncer every once in a while, but always end up on his back. This is happening less and less, so I'm thinking it's sonn gonna be a unchangable if Hoss doesn't ever win anytime soon.

Offline amymckee

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Re:Rat social structure, How does it work?
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2002, 01:17:23 AM »
I sort of have a weird structure in my cage. My first rat Pepper is the biggest, but she grew up fighting a little runt, so she is no match for the other girls who learned to fight with their entire litter. She has been here the longest though, so she is in that sense the alpha rat. She likes to pick fights, but always loses because she is a bad fighter.

Nobody beats up the mamma rat, but she is the one who gets humped about 90% of the time. Its always the bigger of her two daughters doing it.

The littlest girl knows she is on the bottom, but is one of the best fighters.

I think The order is mamma rat or my first rat, my first rat or the big daughter, and the little daughter last. Because my first rat, Pepper is not related in anyway, she can be anywhere but last in the structure.
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Re:Rat social structure, How does it work?
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2002, 02:38:33 AM »
The head of rat social structure consists of an Alpha rat...and sometimes a helper sidekick in larger groups.  The alpha isn't nessisarily the largest rat in the cage...though more often then not they are...just the most active or aggressive.  Some males are too lazy to be "bothered", even though they are larger then their cagemates.  

They establish their position of dominace thru forced grooming, food stealing, and as a last ditch effort all-out fighting.  Forced grooming is the most common...less dominate rats submitting peacefully.  Food stealing often occurs too...especially with treats...and can be so frequent that the alpha rats are heavier then the rest of their cagemates.  When all else fails to put others in their place, then rats fight.

Humping isn't actually a large part of dominace struggles, but more of a natural reation to females in heat.  My boys don't hump each other unless one of my girls is crawling around on the outside of their cage getting them worked up.  And the girls will jump on each other when in heat.

In my observation the title of Alpha can also be passed on peacefully.  My old alpha male is getting on in years, and has seemingly passed the title over to another male...who now steals all the treats, and secures the best sleeping spots.  Same thing happened in my girl old alphas, actually a pair of sisters...passed the title on to one of their daughters.  She is now the fattest rat in the cage...and I had real problems with introducing my last new rattie to her, where the old alphas didn't pay the newbie any mind.

Offline WS

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Re:Rat social structure, How does it work?
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2002, 03:24:47 AM »
Rats are social animals that are, in many ways, similar to wolves and domestic dogs. They have complex social interactions and ways of communicating with one another.   Our domestic fancy rat descends from Rattus Norvegicus which lives in the wild in colonies that can range in number from a just a few to hundreds (actually compound colonies). Within the colony there is a complex social hierarchy topped off by a dominant alpha male, then subordinate males and ranks of dominant females, etc.  Rats in a group or colony have a pecking order that is established and reinforced by social behavior, bonding and acts of dominance. (like w/ our friend the wolf)  - Rats act as a group in the wild and rats fulfill different roles to keep the colony safe, fed and protected, some rats look for food, groups of certain females raise young together with the mothers, etc.  

Our domestic rat inherits traits of bonding with others, setting up pecking orders and being a social creature from his wild ancestor in the same way that Fido inherits his social nature from the wolf.

Pet rats live with us mostly in same sex groups. Boy rats often lay out a pecking order that pretty much remains the same for long periods of time while it's not too uncommon for girl rats to have a more complicated and changeable pecking order that, while not as aggressive and fight-prone as that of the boys, has a lot more activities centered around dominance and subordination. (Like grooming, mating play and play fights, etc.)   -The pecking order in female groups often changes more often than in male groups.  (But it's not uncommon either for pecking orders that seem pretty much rock solid to change as roommates get older or as other things change).

Rats that like to "pick fights" aren't always the alpha ratty. It's so interesting to watch. - And so UNINTERESTING to read! ha ha ha ha ha. Sorry.  I'm such a boring nerd.   ;)
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