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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Neutering has come to mind, but I think this issue falls deeper than hormones.. Hormonally aggressive males will at least let you touch them usually, right? ;/

My Bruce I bought from a pet shop (bad, I know) already fully grown. I think this basically was a recipe for disaster.. A rat that's been in the 'pet shop system' for his entire young life and is now an angry adult. Are there many tricks to getting him to come around and trust me?

When I take him out I basically have to force him out, and I don't know if that's helping or hurting. I'll either toss a blanket over him and gently lift him out, or manage to get my fingers on his scruff and lift him into my palm that way. Regardless, he gets lots of treats and ear scratches while he's out, but he doesn't change his attitude the next time around. I've had him a couple months now, and no change..
 

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Im too new to give you advice... but I was just wondering.. when you say he is aggressive.. what does he do?
 

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Lilspaz has worked with quite a few 'problem' rats. I'm sure she'll be able to give you tips. You might want to pm her as I haven't seen her on the site in a while.

I've never worked first hand with aggressive rats, other than the potential shown my my hairless as they were hitting adulthood, and a neuter squared them away pretty quickly.

Neutering is a good place to start, but your poor Brucie sounds like he's got a lot more going on.

I can't give you any reliable advice myself. I don't have enough skill to know if it's a trust training issue, habitual conditioning, fear aggression, cage aggression, hormonal aggression, or any combination of the lot. However I can link you to a couple of resources to maybe help you get inside his little head a little better?



Jorats has some videos on rats with aggressive rat/rat behaviors, and some on overcoming fearfulness. It also has some great info on trust training. They are a proponent of forced socialization properly applied. However, I'm not sure if forced socialization is the first step to take with him. I just don't know. Still, it will help with giving you more info: http://www.joinrats.com/gallery/8004335_ppoPx

Here's another on the basics of training shy or biting rats:

http://www.sandyscrittercity.com/trainingshyorbitingrats.htm

Here's another I found on deciphering rat behavior: http://www.ratbehavior.org/


Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
James: He lunges, growls, puffs up, shies away from me, snatches food instead of taking it gently like my others, and on TWO occasions has bitten me. Both bites were pretty bad. D; He seems to be fearful-aggressive..

Story: Thank you very much for all your information! Hopefully LilSpaz will have some advice too. Your links will help me get started.. I really feel that it's mostly fear aggression. He's more defensive than offensive, ha. At least this site says to force him out sometimes, so I know I wasn't being harsh to him.
 

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He sounds to me like a rat that hasn't had excellent experience with humans. This can certainly be worsened by hormones, but isn't caused by it. Basically he needs to feel very secure and then your relationship will change. He does not trust in humans and doesn't feel comfortable when he feels like you have all the control. I would stop forcing him out. Instead just open the door and lure him to the door with treats. At first he'll snatch them from you and run but that's okay, it's all progress. Spend time doing quiet activities close to his cage like reading listening to music or watching tv so that he gets used to you being around in an non-threatening way. Leave the door open so he can come explore if he wants. Right now he thinks that people are scary and he has to be in control at all times, and being grabbed and pulled out against his will every time is re-inforcing that. Rats are curious and treat hungry if you give him a chance those traits will always win out eventually and he'll come out on his own. He may always be a rat that would prefer to walk on you and cuddle you than be grabbed or held or picked up, but if you let him connect to you on his own terms, he eventually will.

Also, make sure he feels secure in his living environment. Is it large enough? Small cages make rats (esp males) fearful and territorial. Does he have a cage mate he gets along with? If he's caged by himself he will be even more anti-social and territorial. However, if he's in with a cagemate that he doesn't get a long with that will just increase tension and aggression so it has to be a good match. I hope some of this info helps. I've used this method successfully many times when i used to rescue rats from bad situations. If you remove the fear factor a rat's curious social behavior almost always wins out in the end. Good Luck:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ah, that makes sense, Luv. Thank you.

He actually has no cage mate! That's another issue I totally forgot to address! He won't accept any of my male rats as companions. I introduced him to a rat he'd been living next door to on neutral grounds, but when I felt comfortable about placing them into the same neutral cage, he beat him up. After that, I'm not sure what to do. I have some young males, would he perhaps accept them more readily than another adult? I don't want to risk my babies getting roughed up; Bruce is huge and scary D; I forgot about reading that solitary rats can become depressed and neurotic.

I wish pet shops would get a clue and learn the basics about rats.. If they'd handle them a couple times a day and house them with others instead of alone like Brucie was, he'd be a total sweetheart.
 

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When it comes to small animals being considered disposable petstores are a big part of the problem. It'd be a good idea to try a pre-pubescent male. with two adults hormones get in the way but often an adult male will take to a younger one. be very careful. do several neutral intros. and dont put them in the same cage until you have a day off to supervise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ha! Today was a day off, so I had plenty of rat-mommying time.. I decided to spend it with Brucie and my newest rat who has yet to be named. He's a one-eyed baby who appears to be around 4-5 weeks. I set up a new, neutral, totally fun, plenty of hidey-holes cage with lots of space, and gave Brucie plenty of his Kryptonite (shelled peanuts, ha) to convince him to let me move him . The new baby (lovingly called 'Pirate' for now, until I think of a permanent name) isn't afraid of Bruce, and Bruce is just sniffing Pirate. It seems to be going ok, but they won't go unsupervised until I feel that Pirate is safe.

Pirate is a snuggly little guy, and always at the cage door when I come in the room, so maybe he can teach Bruce that humans are ok. :)
 

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Well it sounds like first intros, went well. Take it slow and I bet they'll do great. Back when I was rescuing and breeding and had a house full, I had several males that had trouble with other adult males who took to babies wonderfully! I guess they just don't see baby rats as a competitor or a threat. Good luck! I hope this match is successful. I certainly think he'll be a happier more secure rattie if he has plenty of chances to socialize!
 

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Your boy sounds hormonal to me. A neuter should help a lot then trust training will actually work. the hormones kick in around 4-9 months and if its bad, will stay with them most of their life. As you said he's angry, and that means he is stressed. I would advise a neuter ASAP, because even if some of it is conditioned aggression or even fear aggression, the hormones make it very difficult to work through.

I assume he rubs and digs with his front paws, hunches his back and comes at you sideways with his fur all puffed up? All hormones. Be very careful not to touch his back, as to an intact male this is where another male will attack, so to him he will react first before thinking, which could mean a nasty bite.

Is the cage one where you can lift it off the base so he can come out without being pulled out by the scruff or chased around the cage? if not, work on calling him to the front of the cage and either crawling onto your folded arms (if you think he's going to bite) or hopping into a basket or bonding bag.

I wouldn't advise letting your new baby near a hormonal male, as I have heard of a few incidents where a nice male bites the back of babies neck (its a kill bite and severs the spine). Its just not worth it. Wait til your wee one is at least 8 weeks and hopefully your boy's been neutered and his hormones are dissipating.

here is the story of one of my rehabs...Dudley Do Bite :p (you may need to join the forum to view the thread)
http://www.ratshackforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=9009&hilit=dudley+do+bite
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
He doesn't do the sideways hop or dig at me like hormonal boys do.. He seems to me to be fearful and mishandled or not handled at all in the past.

Ah, don't pet his back. He's never seemed to like that and I wondered if that was just fear.
 

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I think with time and a lot of love.. and bribes with treats... that will be your best course.. He will not change overnight.. especially if he was mishandled and abused in the past.. like anyone.. you will have to earn his love and trust.. and that takes time... so give him love everyday. This is of course only my opinion. Speaking of time how long have you had him?
 
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