Cure An Aggressive Pet Rat

Is your rat aggressive?

Does your rat often start fights with the other rats? Does he bite, or scratch you, or the other rats? If he does, I may just be able to help you. Whether he is aggressive towards you or other ratties, it is important to take action to stop anyone getting hurt.

Why is your rat aggressive?

There are a number of reasons as to why your rat may be aggressive. It could be down to hormones All rats go through a “teenage” stage at around 6 months to a year old. At this stage your rats hormones, can literally be overwhelming him and this may lead to aggression. It can also be down to stress, perhaps he has lost a friend, or he has experienced a change in environment. It can also be caused by illness. If your rat is in pain, or unwell he may become aggressive. It can also be caused by your rats past experiences. If he has been abused by people before, or perhaps not handled enough to know we won’t hurt him, he may bite as a defense mechanism. Some rats are genetically more susceptible to aggression. All rats release pheromones in their urine and these pheromones in males, mark out their territory and can provoke aggression in other rats. Both male and female rats can suffer from aggression, but males tend to more often.

What can you do about it?

Luckily there are several things you can try, to treat your rats aggression.

My Secret Weapon

The answer is often as simple as vanilla essence. If your rats are fighting, or you are having trouble introducing them, this is the way to go. You can buy vanilla essence online or at the local supermarket. Simply rub a few drops at the base of both rat’s tails and along their backs. It will not hurt them if they lick it off, in fact they will probably like the taste. The smell of the vanilla essence (which is very pleasant) will cover up their own natural smell, which may be offensive to the other rat (as rats use smell as a way to communicate). The taste may encourage the rats to lick each other and grooming will start the natural bonding process. This is all I need to do to curb any aggression in my rats. If your rat is being aggressive towards you, rub the vanilla essence on your rat and some on your wrist. This way you will both smell the same and you will be less scary and offensive to your rat.

Patience

When dealing with aggression, or any other negative behavior in your pet, you must exercise a great deal of patience and understanding. Changing behaviors takes time and whilst the vanilla essence will help, you must deal with the problem at the source. If your rat is biting out of fear, your main job will be to build up a trusting relationship. Sit by the open cage relaxing or reading a book and let your rat come to you and sniff you. Offer him a treat when he comes onto your lap. Building a trusting relationship can take time, but is worth it in the end. To deal with fights between your rats have a plant mister of water at hand. Spray your rats if they fight and if this doesn’t work throw a towel over them.

Homeopathy:

Homeopathy is a wonderful tool when dealing with behavioral and health problems in your rats. It is entirely natural, so there are no side effects, but it really does work. PetAlive’s aggression formula is the best to use for rats. It comes in granule form, so you can dissolve it in soy milk, yogurt or your rat’s favorite drink and they will lap it up. The product is marketed at cats and dogs, but worked wonders for rats. The granules have an immediate calming effect and will generally help curb the aggression within a few days. The formula will not change your pets personality, but could change their lives, if it means time out of the cage, enjoying the company of other rats and people.

Stopping Stress

Is your rat stressed or ill? Please check your rat over for signs of ill health. Your rat could be aggressive because he feels ill. Check my rat health checks page for more info and take your rat to the vets if necessary. If your rat has had a change of environment, or has lost a companion this could be the cause of aggression. Monitor his environment, check he is not too hot or too cold. If your rat is kept on his own, get him a companion. Rats are very social animals and love to have another rat to snuggle up to, groom and play with. Human companionship is not enough. Female rats are easy to introduce, but males may be a little harder. Look at the introducing rats page for tips to make things go more smoothly.

A Final Resort

If you have tried everything and nothing has worked it may be time to consider neutering your pet. in males the aggression may simply be caused by hormones and neutering will stop the surplus of hormones raging around your rats little body. There have been many reports that neutering has completely stopped aggression in pets and made their lives a lot happier. Of course anesthetic is more serious for rats than say, cats and dogs, so it is something you must consider carefully. You must find a vet who is caring for rats and respects you and your rat. Simply calling the surgery and asking a few questions will usually help you determine whether they are the right vet for you. After the surgery you rat will need you to nurse him for a few days and then you can begin building up a trusting relationship minus the aggression.

I hope these tips have helped you on the road to a wonderful relationship with your rat.

CATHERINE SMITH


9 Comments

  • Michaela says:

    You should NEVER Pick a rat up by its tail. Rat’s tails are very delicate & can easily snap, It doesn’t matter where you hold the tail either… Rat’s tails also support there body temperature so if you hurt the tail in any way you’re rat is a goner.

    A lot of the time if the above is unsuccessful then normally the rat most likely has an illness, Sadly most times it is cancer…

    Also for people that are having trouble just getting there rats out of there cage I would look up “Cage Aggression”.

  • neea ilari says:

    I have a 7 month old male rat who is neutered and has begun to show signs of severe cage agression. He bit my today and broke the skin (through a laztex glove I was using to give the ratties some chicken {im a vegetarian and I don’t like touching meat}) what should I do to curve this behavior. He lives with a senior rat and im afraid he might seriously injure him if his agression gets worse.

    • You’re rat needs attention, he’s being the Alpha in the cage. How is he out of the cage, is he still that aggressive? If not, then I would try and spend more time with him out of the cage. Also he could have just smelt the chicken and decided to really go for it, also you should never feed a rat through the bars of the cage, this will cause aggression. If feeding chicken, I would suggest putting it in a bowl and putting the bowl on the sofa or bed or wherever playtime is and see how he reacts. There are other foods you can give them for protein, like scrambled eggs. Try some on a little saucer and see how it goes. If he’s less aggressive out of the cage with chicken, then I would continue to feed it to him out of the cage.

  • Jessica says:

    Hi! I have had 3 female rats for quite some time now. The first 2 are sisters so they got alone perfectly fine then I introduced them to a new dumbo rat and they accepted her with open arms. They all get along just fine and it was great!! That was about 4 months ago and now I’ve introduced a new 3 month old rat and the dumbo rat I had gotten is aggressively attacking her. She has made her bleed countless times and I don’t know what to do. Right now the baby is in a seperate cage because I was afraid this would happen but the dumbo rat will ONLY attack if the baby is in or near her cage. If I put them on neutral grounds they get along and pay no mind to each other. I plan on getting a new cage just so the scent is new and no one has claimed there territory (the current cage is a huge ferret cage doni know space isn’t the issue) my main concern is that the dumbo rat will never accept her and it makes me sad. I don’t want to have to return her because she is a sweet baby rat. My question is, what can I do to get them to get along? I’ve tried putting them in a neutral place and they are fine. It’s only been a fee days but I just want to know what I can do to make them accept her! Any and every tip or advice will help TREMENDOUSLY! Please email me at Jessicaruhs @ yahoo.com I’d love it if everyone or anyone could help me out. I really want to find something that works… Btw they are all females, no males.

    • Hi Jessica,

      It’s definitely a territory issue if they get along fine outside of the cage. So do the two sisters get along with her? If so you could look at putting 2 in one cage and 2 in another and then they can have play time together, which would mean splitting this sisters and I don’t know if your willing to do this. Or maybe a brand new cage will work, no territorial marks on it yet. The one could be vying for Alpha Rat and that’s why it’s happening, she sees a new younger rat come in and she needs to put her in her place. Yes I know she got hurt but this happens sometimes. You do have options though. In the future when introducing new rats or you could still do it now, put vanilla on everyone, especially near their private parts, this makes them all smell alike and they tend to get along better. I will put vanilla extract behind their ears, near their private parts on their backs tummies and chest. I pretty much give them a vanilla extract bath.

  • Christina Dutta says:

    Are your rats albinos. They may have trouble seeing you and they might be deaf. Be very patient. You may have to approach them by holding their tails very gently then sliding your hand under them from behind. Albinos have huge problems seeing the world about them

  • Breanna says:

    I am a new rat owner. I have one female rat named Ginger. She’s been showing many signs of aggression. What should I do?

  • Shruti Sharma says:

    Hi. My newly bought pair of white rats is very naughty and unstable, I mean whenever I open their cage, they keep running here and there and hide at any place from where it gets hard for me to get them back. They keep doing this everytime they get out. What should I do ? Please guide me. I am very frustrated.
    Shruti

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