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Cure an Aggressive Pet Rat
Is your rat aggressive?
Do your rats often start fights with other rats? Do they bite or scratch you or the other rats? If he wants, I might be able to help you. Whether it is aggressive towards you or other rats, it is important to take steps to prevent injury.
Why is your rat aggressive?
There are a number of reasons why your rat may be aggressive. It could be due to hormones. All rats go through a “teenage” phase between the ages of about 6 months and a year. At this stage, your rat’s hormones can literally overwhelm him and this can lead to aggression. It can also be a result of stress, perhaps he lost a friend or experienced a change in environment. It can also be caused by a disease. If your rat is in pain or unwell, it may become aggressive. It can also be caused by your rat’s past experiences. If people have abused him before, or maybe they haven’t held him long enough to know we won’t hurt him, he may bite as a defense mechanism. Some rats are genetically more sensitive to aggression.
All rats release pheromones in their urine, and these pheromones in males mark their territory and can cause aggression in other rats. Both male and female rats can suffer from aggression, but males tend to do so more often.
What can you do about it?
Fortunately, there are a few things you can try to treat your rats’ aggression.
My secret weapon
Vanilla aroma. If your rats fight or you have trouble introducing them, this is the way to go. You can buy vanilla essence online or at your local supermarket. Simply rub a few drops onto the base of both rats’ tails and along their backs. It won’t hurt them to lick it off, in fact they’ll probably like the taste.
The scent of vanilla essence (which is very pleasant) will mask their own natural scent, which can be offensive to another rat (since rats use smell as a way of communication). Taste can encourage rats to lick each other, and grooming will initiate a natural bonding process. This is all I need to do to curb any aggression in my rats.
If your rat is aggressive towards you, rub vanilla essence on the rat and a little on your wrist. That way, you’ll both smell the same and be less intimidating and offensive to your rat.
Secret weapon 2
Vanilla essence was a temporary solution to stop my boys fighting, but when I finally figured out what was causing the fights, it was easy to fix it permanently:
I gave them 2 separate food bowls!
Yes, it really was that simple. I placed 2 food bowls at opposite ends of the rat cage and placed one rat next to each food bowl. They no longer had to share and the fights stopped after that. It was incredibly simple. They used to fight even when it wasn’t time for a meal, but all that stopped.
When dealing with aggression or any other negative behavior in your pet, you need to show a lot of patience and understanding. Changing behavior takes time and while vanilla essence will help, you have to deal with the problem at the source. If your rat bites out of fear, your main job will be to build a trusting relationship. Sit by the open cage relaxing or reading a book and let your rat come up to you and sniff you. Offer him a treat when he sits on your lap. Building a trusting relationship can take time, but it pays off in the end. Keep a herbal water mister handy to settle fights between your rats. Spray your rats if they struggle, and if that doesn’t work, throw them in the towel.
Homeopathy is a wonderful tool when dealing with behavioral and health issues in your rats. It is completely natural, so there are no side effects, but it really works.
PetAlive anti-aggression formula is best to use for rats. It comes in granule form, so you can dissolve it in soy milk, yogurt or your rats favorite drink and they will drink it. The product is marketed to cats and dogs, but it worked wonders for rats.
Granules have an immediate calming effect and will generally help control aggression within a few days. The formula won’t change your pet’s personality, but it could change their lives if it means getting out of their cage, enjoying the company of other rats and people.
Is your rat stressed or sick? Check the rat for signs of ill health. Your rat may be aggressive because it feels sick. See my page on rat health checks for more information and if necessary take your rat to the vets.
If your rat has changed its environment or lost its companionship, this could be the cause of the aggression. Monitor his environment, make sure he is not too hot or too cold. If your rat is alone, get him company. Rats are very social animals and love to have another rat to snuggle, groom and play with. Human society is not enough. Female rats are easy to meet, but male rats may be a bit more difficult. Check out the rat’s intro page for tips on how to make things go smoothly.
The last refuge
If you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked, it may be time to consider neutering your pet. in males, aggression can simply be caused by hormones, and neutering will stop the excess hormones raging around your ratty little body. There are many reports that neutering has completely stopped aggression in pets and made their lives much happier.
Of course, the anesthetic is more serious for rats than, say, cats and dogs, so it’s something you have to consider carefully. You need to find a vet who cares about rats and respects you and your rat. Simply calling the practice and asking a few questions will usually help you determine if they are the right vet for you.
After surgery, your rat will need to be nursed for a few days, and then you can begin to build a trusting relationship without aggression.
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