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Pet Rats/Older rat mothering younger one


Hi, this it a bit of a strange situation, I have 5 rats all between 8 weeks and 9 months. The youngest I recently got, she is a double rex so has very little hair, she looks practically hairless. One of my 7 month olds has taken to really mothering her. She never did this with one of the others when she was this young but I can't help but wonder if it is because she looks so much like a new born? I'm a behaviourist but I have not come across this before. She grooms her and looks after her which is fine but she will try and pick her up and take her back to the bed to groom, but because the 8 week old is obviously bigger than a baby baby she grabs the bars and the older rat practically drags her back. I guess what I'm worried about is whether she is going to hurt her. Do you think my older rat will stop this once my youngster has grown a bit more? Do you think it could have been due to the point in her season she was at when we got the youngster? Any help would be great. Thankyou

Hi Nicky,
This is very interesting. I think your theories are good ones. It could be that because the baby is partially hairless, she does seem like an infant to the older one. I do think that as the new rat grows, the older girl will be less interested in dragging her around. Does the baby squeak in protest?  If the older girl were actually hurting her, I think the baby would squeak, and that should naturally cause the older girl to stop. I don't think she will actually hurt the baby.

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Debbie Ducommun


I can answer any questions about pet rats, but you will probably be able find answers to simple questions more quickly on my website at If you have a life-threatening emergency you can try calling me at 530-899-0605. I am not usually on the computer on the weekend.


I have been "The Rat Lady" since 1985 and am recognized as one of the world's experts on pet rats. I have 3 published books and already answer lots of questions about rats daily.

President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

BA in Animal Behavior

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