During their playtime today I gave the rats a hard-boiled egg to see what they would do. I put a small nick in it to give them a head start. Ten minutes later the egg was rolling around on the laminate floor with four rats chasing it! Rocky, the big macho rat tried to run away with it in his mouth, but I was very mean and made him share it with the other boys!
“What heck’s this?” “Dunno. It smell funny”
After getting very hyperactive, as young ratties do, Rocky (who always starts fights) picked a fight with Stripe. Stripe is a bit smaller than Rocky, but is not intimidated by him at all. In fact he defended himself by making an impressive ninja high leap attack, which Rocky had to block with his tiny paws! Here’s the two of them throwing their weight around:
“Ha-haa! I has you in arm-lock!”
“I givin you a kickin!”
During rats’ adolescence (3 to 8 months) the males will fight to establish dominance within the group, or pair. They will box or pin their opponent down, and ‘power groom’ one another. As long as there are no injuries you should leave them to it, but if you see more than a little scratch on your rat, it might be advisable to separate the guilt party, and seek the vet’s advice. Sometimes rats are given a drug called Tardak which inhibits the hormones which can make your rat more aggressive towards it’s cage-mates. Sometimes a vet will suggest castration for a male rat, if he is particularly aggressive. Within a few weeks after this operation, he is usually a lot calmer, but it is an invasive procedure and should only be a last resort, in my opinion.
Stripe looking totally innocent
We got our first rat Ratty and after about three weeks realised that he desperately needed some company. So we went back to the pet shop to see if one of his brothers was still there, and came home with Ratty’s brother, who we called Ruby. Well, not knowing what we do now about rats, we put Ruby into Ratty’s cage. We assumed that the two brothers would remember each other, but Ratty obviously decided that Ruby was an outsider and shouldn’t be in his territory! There was a lot of raised fur and noise and posturing, and Ratty would not let Ruby anywhere near the food bowl. This is a natural territorial instinct, but to us it looked like Ratty was being a bully. Both of the rats were obviously scared witless at each other, so perhaps wrongly, we separated them, and gave each his own room to run around in. In hindsight, I would have tried to socialise them slowly, but we didn’t have a clue about how to do that at the time. The rat books I had at the time were really rubbish and brief, but thankfully there is so much more information now on the net.
Pip, Stripe, Shy-Shy and Rocky have little scraps and skirmishes quite often, but they always snuggle up to each other in the end, and seem to get on really well.
Today my rats have been mostly eating sliced baby sweetcorn.