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Pet Rats/male rats fighting


I have four intact male rats who are approximately a year old. I adopted them in pairs - two hooded rats and two albino. They were introduced and seemed to get along fine. They have been living together for 3 months in a large, two level critter nation cage. Approximately 3 weeks or so ago, I noticed bite marks on one of the albino's and now both of them have bite marks around their necks and on their faces. I took them to the vet and she advised that they were bites, not mites, and to separate them to heal and then reintroduce and to consider neutering one or both of the albino's. I think the bites come from Oliver, who is the most dominant/brave rat. Oliver is very social and outgoing and the other three are curious and will allow me to pet them at times and take treats from me, but prefer not to be held. I don't know what to do!? I can separate the levels in the two level cage, which I've been doing periodically at night, but they seem to like hanging out/sleeping together and don't like being separated. I think the fighting happens at night and have been woken up by some pretty loud scuffles. When I get to the cage, they are separated and fine. There seem to be consistent, new bite marks on the two albino's. What should I do?! I'd rather not neuter if possible.

Hi Jennifer,
Even though your vet thinks they are bite marks, this is not the typical area that gets bitten when aggressive males fight. Fight wounds are usually on the butt and in the groin because aggressive males try to castrate each other.  It is common for a group of males to squabble and make sounds similar to fighting, but not inflict any wounds. It is much more likely that the scabs are from mites causing itching. I highly recommend you treat your rats with moxidectin as I explain in the article called Skin Problems on my website at The moxidection is pretty inexpensive, so you don't have much to lose.  

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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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