Pet Rats/fighting rats
I think I have asked you a few questions before when my rats were babies :) I have two rats Tommy and Mowgli and love them dearly. Mowlgi has always been very friendly and sociable whilst Tommy is shy and does not like any noise or light. It use to take me ages to get him out his cage! Because of that I bonded more with Mowlgi and developed a soft spot for him, I felt terrible though as i often took Mowgli out and left tommy in the cage as sometimes it seemed he did not want to come out and I did not want to force him. However over the last 2 weeks I have made a point to give Tommy attention and he now is happy to climb into my shirt or into my hand (but it has to be quiet). I put my rats on my bed to play and often they would run around and play with eachother and me. However I have noticed over the past few days they are starting to fight, if I talk to them it seems to excite them and at first they start to play and then it ends up in a fight, especially if one runs up to me and then the other comes along. It seems to me that maybe Mowgli is a bit jealous of the new attention Tommy is getting, everytime poor Tommy runs up to me, Mowgli comes charging and pushes him out the way. Last night they had a terrible fight which lasted for quite awhile, Mowgli then jumped into my arms and lay still which is very unlike him as he is super hyperactive. They have not drawn blood but they stand up and freeze staring at each other for awhile with their hair raised and then eventually climb into each other, I have shouted at them which did not work and made me feel terrible and I have sprayed water, none of this works. I would just like some advice on this as they seem intent on fighting each other now everytime I am around. Could this be a matter of jealousy? As they dont seem to fight in their cage, only when they hear my voice and I give them attention.I have obviously been wrong by giving more attention to Mowgli? How do I handel this now?
I would really appreciate some tips and advice :)
Many thanks & Kind Regards!
Mowgli sounds like he is your strong alpha rat (the boss) and that would have been the case whether or not you had given him more attention at the beginning or if you'd equally shared your attention. Tommy's personality is more timid but I am happy to hear that he is now enjoying his time out with you. I am also fairly certain that you are right about Mowgli being jealous of your new attention to Tommy.
Now...it's only been 2 weeks as you said. You shouldn't expect a situation that lasted for several months (Mowgli getting all the attention) to turn around in 2 weeks. I'm sure that in time, Mowgli will get more accustomed to Tommy being out with him at the same time and his jealousy may subside. But I can't guarantee it. It depends how strong Mowgli's personality is.
My recommendation is to continue playtime with both of them and try to give equal attention to both of them at the same time. Give this another 2 or 3 weeks. Meanwhile don't spray water. Instead get yourself a pair of thick work-type gloves and wear them during all playtimes. At any time you see signs of an iminent fight, break it up immediately (the gloves are for your protection so you don't get bitten or scratched up). Keep them separated for about half a minute and then let the playtime continue. If fights keep starting up right away after several separations, end the playtime and start again the next day. Also, keep a close eye on whether they are fighting in the cage when you're not giving attention.
If after several weeks this does not improve, or if you see the boys fighting in their cage, you may wish to consider having Mowgli neutered. This would significantly calm him down. Although a fairly simple surgery, it must be done by a qualified vet experienced with the tiny surgical instruments that must be used on rats. I know of many cases where rats who did not get along would bond nicely after neutering. Note that it will take several weeks after neutering for the hormone levels to go down.
So give my suggestions a try and be as patient as you can with them. Neutering Mowgli is a last resort if time and your interjections don't resolve the fighting. If you end up having to neuter Mowgli, please don't feel guilty. The goal is to have 2 boys who live happily ever after and if this is the only way, then it should bring you peace of mind knowing that you helped to ensure a loving relationship between your boys.
I'd love to hear how things are going after a few weeks if you wouldn't mind sharing. And let me know if I can help you with anything else.