You are here:

Pet Rats/Rat Behavior & Dominance


We recently added 3 female rats to my family.  2 were young adult dumbo rats and 1 was I suppose "teenager" level WHITE fancy rat.

** What evolved in their large size cage was fascinating to see but leaves me puzzled.

The youngest was constantly playing dominance games and the other two actually didn't seem to care one way or the other.  While she was young when she jumped on them they were larger and easily overpowered her.  Afterwards they just ignored her even though she ran after them and occasionally pounced.

However, it is now 3+ months later and the teenager is now clearly the largest rat.  Before what was more playful has changed.   One dumbo rat is very, very non-violent and immediately submitted to the white fancy rat.

The other Dumbo rat, Emma,  is the most human friendly and apparently did not fully submit to the Fancy White but also does not provoke anything.  Dumbo Emma grooms her human owners A LOT and wants to come out of the cage to be with the humans while the other two would rather stay in the cage and avoid touching.

Apparently at night a lot of chasing happens around the cage and they do the "dominance rolling".   It really doesn't seem like "fun" fighting as it used to be.  

I don't have experience in this.  If I had to guess it seems Emma has decided we are dominant and enjoys the attention.  She seems to want to be human and free from rat life.  The other Dumbo seems to just want to avoid violence and live peacefully so she ended up quietly submitting as needed to the White Fancy Rat.

The White Fancy Rat is a very big question.  She doesn't seem to want to be friendly beyond accepting food from us.  She is very skittish and jumps back and hides as soon as we approach.

The white fancy rate and submissive dumbo sometimes sleep together but the 3rd "human friendly" dumbo rat sleeps alone separately.

Is this a broken family?  I worry that eventually the fighting may escalate because it doesn't seem like they are very friendly at all and it has been 3 months.

I attempted to (poorly) socialize the white fancy rat by pulling her out of the cage but she was extremely stressed and jumpy that it was impossible to release her from my hand.  She clearly would have jumped off the table I put her and possibly hurt herself in the process.  I tried to calm her down and eventually she did stop struggling but she seemed "depressed" rather than calm.  I simply am not sure what to do.

I put her back in the cage and tried to a offer a treat she simply sat frozen looking at a grape or seed in my hand unmoving.  After i gave up, she crawled into her rat home and sat quietly.

Hi Soule,

It sounds to me like you have a perfect example of how rats can have different personalities. Some rats just prefer to be alone, others want company. I three rats that act the very same as yours. It sounds to me like your fancy rat is the problem rat here. where did you get her? Often times if you get a rat from a pet shop(not petsmart or petco, more like hobby pet shops) the rats are not well socialized or have previous problems. 9/10 if you are buying a rat from a personal owned pet shops the rodents are feeders for reptiles. While this is fine, the rats are rarely handled other than transferring them from one bin to the next.

This doesnt mean that these pet store feeders make worse pets however. It just means they require a little more socialization with humans and even some rats.

If you have an extra cage to put your fancy rat in I suggest isolating her from the other two. This will make her more dependent on your attention. Many people insist that rats need another rat to be happy, I disagree with this. In fact, I have a rat that, like your dumbo rat, loves people. He hates to be with other rats. Once you separate her, work every day to get her used to you. first just talk to her and offer her treats. once she appears to be happy to see/hear you leave the opening of the cage open and see if she comes toward you. if she does reward her with a treat. work everyday to get her used to you. Once she comes out and you can pick her up you can re-introduce her to your other two girls.  

as for the overly friendly rat, I wouldnt worry about her sleeping alone. Rats have a pecking order and she may just be at the bottom. as long as the others are not beating her up to the point of wounds shell be ok, just keep giving her your attention.

Hope this sheds some light on your problem!


Pet Rats

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Emily Harris


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.


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.


Biology degree

©2017 All rights reserved.