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Need some help with rat social structure

Discussion in 'Oh, Rats!' started by CrazyK9, Dec 11, 2014.

  1. CrazyK9

    CrazyK9 Good Dog

    I really am a sucker. What started as having a pair of rats to practice Barn Hunt with, Sneezy and Doc, has turned into 4 rats in a 100 gallon tank lol. I brought home another one last week sometime, Bashful, after it was brought back because the buyers snake wouldn't eat it. Same thing tonight I couldnt pass this one up because she is really sweet. Totally fine with being held and pet.

    The introduction of Bashful was fine. It went extremely well even though I was a bit nervous since my two origional girls have grown to twice the size they were, which is the size the newbie is now. There was no problem whatsoever. They shared a cramped sleeping space and all huddled together with no tension.

    With this one tonight, its not the same story. She has caused a bit of an upset. It seemed fine at first, they all got hyper and were mounting each other not unlike when I brought the other one home. After a while though I noticed things getting a little bit rougher. This new one has held Sneezy down and is forcefully grooming her. The big baby doesn't try to stop it she just squeeks in pain. Doc seemed to try to diffuse the situation and bit her which caused a reaction out of Bashful too while Sneezy just layed there. It was like a standoff between the 3. The thing I cant put my finger on is while they were at alert on their back feet, the newbie was the only one moving with her paws towards the others. I cant tell if that's submissive or dominant behavior?? It seemed like she was trying to be passive but at the same time she is acting like a bitch invading everyone's personal space. Doc won't have any of it and puts her in her place it seems. Bashful and her seem to be doing ok. The only tension seems to be between Sneezy and her.

    Im not sure what to do. I don't know if this new one didnt have enough interaction with other rats to fully understand how to communicate or if shes just trying to avoid being bullied by lashing out. I don't know rat behavior well enough to interpret what's going on.

    Im hoping if I give it time they will work things out but I don't want Sneezy to be stressed by this.
    Any input? Did I just get lucky the first time and this is normal? Here I was worried about the new rats safety because shes so much smaller and she is mentally putting the hurt on one of the bigger girls lol :/
  2. Lillie May

    Lillie May Good Dog

    It's been a long time since I had mine. But I remember one of the kids teacher kept some in his classroom. One day one rat was in it's own cage so I asked what happened. He said sometimes they fight and if you don't separate them, one can kill another.

    Out of curiousity I looked and there are some rat forums. Maybe they can help if no one here can't. Sorry I don't have an answer, but thought the teacher's answer might be helpful. I'm curious too, I loved ours a lot.
  3. CrazyK9

    CrazyK9 Good Dog

    Ive heard its rare among females especially young does? Mice will fight to the death no problem. Seen that at work plenty :/

    I might join a rat specific forum as long as they aren't anything like dog forums where people will criticise you for your set-up, food, and purpose of having them lol.
  4. ShanaRowan

    ShanaRowan FlirtPolin' Premium Member

    I bred rats for several years. Sometimes there are just rats, especially females, that are bitches, and sometimes there are internal power struggles between a pair for whatever reason. There were easily over 100 rats in my house over the years and I never once had 2 kill each other except when I put a young female in with a handful of older females, which I believe was my fault, and due to her being too small to be introduced into such a large group so soon. What I observed is that rats are extremely vocal and a bit dramatic. Have I heard of it happening - rats getting injured due to one one's lack of social skills - yes, but typically it's the newcomer (at least from what I have heard from others as I've never experienced it myself.) My advice would be to check everyone for injuries as often as possible and keep an ear and eye out for anything out of the ordinary. As I said they are vocal by nature.

    How long since the introduction?
  5. ShanaRowan

    ShanaRowan FlirtPolin' Premium Member

  6. CrazyK9

    CrazyK9 Good Dog

    Theyre all huddled together this morning in one of their shacks. I noticed the new girl has a chunk in her ear missing BUT she came to me with an injury there already and I noticed the others were grooming there last night. I think either they got carried away cleaning the wound or once the scab was gone that's just what's left. I dunno. The others don't appear to have anything going on.

    I will keep watching them to make sure things settle down. It hasn't even been 24 hours yet so it will probably be fine. I threw the new one in there at about 7:30 last night. These girls are all young. The oldest still have growing to do. Theyre probably about 2/3 of the adult size and the new ones are half of the older ones size.
  7. ShanaRowan

    ShanaRowan FlirtPolin' Premium Member

    If it's been less than 24 hours, this is completely normal. Things are typically squealy and dramatic when introducing a new rat once they are past the baby stage of 6 weeks or so. A small wound is even not necessarily anything to worry about as long as it's not a consistent issue. One rat may always be the dominant one, or the one that always gets a bit beaten up on. Good luck and keep us posted.

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