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Hello, my name is Torey. I have three pet rats- Hiccup, Freckle and Luxo. Hiccup and Freckle are both a little over two years old and Luxo is less than a year. Since Luxo is new, but is old enough now that he's coming of age, he's starting playing the dominance game with my old and decrepit Hiccup, who has always been dominant since his brother, Freckle, is meek by nature. Hiccup has arthritis so it's not much of a competition whose going to be dominant, but I try not to intervene much when Lux turns him on his back or whatever is necessary to get the pecking order straight. However, I woke up this morning to find Hiccup covered in blood. There was a lot of it, but I traced it to one mark on his leg (seems to be doing fine, though it scared me to death), and I think it's possible that Luxo bit him. Is this something I should be worried about? Is it normal that in fighting for dominance some blood is drawn? Or is ther something I should do to correct Luxo's behavior.

Another question, if you don't mind, Freckle has been walking strangely lately, where he drags his legs behind whenever he is able to. He still can move his back legs, but frequently opts not to. Hiccup moves similarly, but Hiccup has rather severe arthritis in his hind legs. I would account Freckle's walking to the same thing, but Hiccup's legs are frequently swollen, while Freckles definitely is not. Do you have any ideas as to why he is doing this? Thank you for your time, I hope you have a wonderful day!

Answer
Hi Torey,

Drawing blood is one thing, being covered in blood is another!
I would separate the new one and try to slowly reintroduce them. let them play outside the cage and then put them in the same cage and watch. if they are rolling each other over thats normal, its a dominace game. However, if they are biting and drawing blood, start that process over. They may never get along but rats like to be with each other, they should be fine with a few of these sessions. You cant really correct Luxo's behavior. rats dont have the attention span to be trained in a reprimanding way. If he jumps Hiccup, wait and see if its biting or rolling. if its biting quickly remove him from the cage and leave in alone in a cage for a few days. I have a very old rat (5 years) who when he was 2 or so he got into the same trouble that your seeing with Luxo. I couldnt put him with ANY rat, not even females with out him trying to kill the others. this went on for 2 years. Finally, out of the blue he stopped. he ow lives with three other males.

this is a rare case. The only reason my rat stopped was because he was no longer able to breed to due age.

Hopefully this is not your case. Just watch them carefully and take some time with them outside the cage to play.

As for your other question,
is it possible that hiccups legs are swollen from the fighting with Luxo?
or even more important, If Luxo senses that there is something wrong with Hiccup, he may try to eliminate him. Occasionally I have seen arthritis cause some swelling at the joints but never the entire hindquarters.
If this continues I would get him to a vet if you can. It can be serious. Blood Clots, Paralysis, or even just arthritis.

Good Luck!

Emily

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Emily Harris

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I can Answer Questions from Training your pet rat,socializing , breeding ,whelping,birth defects, coat patters,genetic disorders, Pros and Cons of Rats,Male vs. Females, Behavior, Diet, General care, Housing, Bathing, Home remedy for the deadly respiratory infection,exercise,Toys,play time,free ranging, what can cause your rat to become sick(ex pine and cedar oils),Living Conditions, Sexing a rat, Intelligence, Breed standards and ways to improve the smell of your pet rat.

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I currently have 4 rats, 2 females, 1 breeding male and my 5 year old male who has been retired. I have a degree in biology. I breed for feeders and pets. I have owned rats for 8 years and have bred for 6 years.

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FFA

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Biology degree

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