how much blood = foul?

Discuss rat companionship, introductions and behavioural problems such as biting or shyness or tell us about your rat's unusual habits.
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Helzie
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how much blood = foul?

Post by Helzie » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:05 pm

We have two older boys of about 2 (Lundy and Malin), and two younger lads who are coming up to 1 (Faeroe and Hebridy), all living fairly harmoniously in an SRS. Until recently there had been little friction, the odd squabble, boys being boys, but nothing serious. Recently, there has been some tension between my littlest boy (Faeroe) and my biggest (Malin) - neither of them are alpha. The real alpha (Lundy) is getting a bit weak in his back legs, but still very much in charge, and the other younger boy (Hebridy) is shaping up to be next alpha, I think, but in an assertive rather than aggressive way. The problem is the other two.

there's been a few scuffles, not sure who started them, but they have resulted in a few scabs on Malin. Faeroe is often flipped, pinned and groomed by the others, and generally puts up with it with a lot of squeaking, but just sometimes, the red mist seems to descend and he ends up chasing Malin (who's a lot bigger and very confident) in a small furry ball of fury round the room/cage. It's only ever Malin who gets this treatment from Faeroe. I've tried not to overreact and have overlooked the little scabs on him up to now - they look like small nips or maybe a little tuft of fur being pulled out, but nothing more serious. He seems happy and confident, Faeroe generally seems fine, and they are often snuggled up together.

Last night, there was another scuffle, and I found this on Malin:

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it doesn't look deep or serious, but this can't go on. I don't know how to read the situation, or what to do - Faeroe doesn't look out-of-control hormonal, and is generally fine with the others and me. Every time I've thought in the past that if this happens again, I'll take action, they have been fine with each other afterwards and there is no incident for weeks. Then this. I've separated them today -I tried putting them back together this morning, but there was some silliness between the two with each of them trying to powergroom the other so I split them up again til I get home from work. Is it serious this time? Is it nads off time for Faeroe? Or what?! Any advice appreciated!
Besotted owner of Lundy, Malin, Hebridy and Faeroe :love: Easterly backing southeasterly 2 to 4, squally showers, moderate, good.
Sailing By: Cromarty. I miss you, little man. Fitzroy. O Captain, my Captain.
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KatieJ
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Re: how much blood = foul?

Post by KatieJ » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:15 pm

A similar thing happened in my male group. Nothing, then some cuts and abcesses, then nothing, then more. I observed really closely and selected two of them for neutering. It seems to have stopped it. I think it was two of my boys hitting their hormones at the same time and winding each other up with fallout for all of the group. Not necessarily what I would suggest for you, but splitting them always seemed to cause more problems than leaving them to it and I didn't want these injuries to keep cropping up.
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Helzie
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Re: how much blood = foul?

Post by Helzie » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:20 pm

Thanks for your experience. I agree, I really don't want them split up for long, so I'm off home now to put them back in together, where I can watch them. Today would be the day when our landlady makes her annual inspection, and the thought of my quiet, clean, really-nothing-to-object-about-honestly rats that she kindly gave us permission for, kicking off right in front of her... well! I'll watch them closely - it can't be Malin's hormones, he's 2, so maybe Faeroe and Hebridy are somehow winding each other up and for some reason Malin's getting the flak rather than Hebridy.

Oh, BOYS. :angry:
Besotted owner of Lundy, Malin, Hebridy and Faeroe :love: Easterly backing southeasterly 2 to 4, squally showers, moderate, good.
Sailing By: Cromarty. I miss you, little man. Fitzroy. O Captain, my Captain.
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Re: how much blood = foul?

Post by Ratty_Rhian » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:21 pm

I'm no expert in the subtleties (or not) of boys but if it was my girls kicking off like that I think I'd move the group to a smaller cage like for intros to sort out their differences and then increase space once it had calmed down again like after intros. Obviously castration is an option that shouldn't be ruled out but it sounds like you just have a bit of instability there not anything hormonal.

Let me know if you need to borrow a cage, I have a loft full :oops:
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Re: how much blood = foul?

Post by KatieJ » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:32 pm

^^ This is a good point, we went right down to a hamster cage (bad mummy) and then 1/4th of the duetto after that. Then they went to visit a friend with rats and the two boys I had been thinking about castrating went mad hormonal and confirmed all of my thoughts! Small cage is a good first step. Good luck with the house inspection :luck: I find them so stressful!
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Re: how much blood = foul?

Post by neela » Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:10 pm

Ah, I really feel for you! In a couple of previous configurations my large group (7-9 girls) would live happily together, be harmonious for a few weeks and then suddenly one of 3 troublemaker does (not always the same one) would decide that she disliked one of the other girls (not always the same one!), start a hate campaign and produce wounds just like Malin's. But parallel to this they were also getting along completely – curl up together, groom, freerange fine, etc. I split them up a few times for long carrier-method type re-intros ending with seemingly happy rats. Back in the big cage they'd get along for some weeks until one of the does would suddenly kick off again. I just wanted to bang their little heads together and order them to get along! Due to a few things earlier this year we ended up splitting the group permanently; two of the troublemakers are now living with a neutered buck, and the remaining troublemaker went into hormonal hyperdrive and was spayed with amazing result and is totally mellow now. Both groups have been very happy since then. It might just have been down to a particular set of personalities - who knows, incomprehensible little weirdos! So yeah, I don't have any tangible advice unfortunately but really sorry you're going through it, intermittent 'aggression' is very stressful and frustrating and it's difficult to decide how to address it. Hopefully it's just some temporary group dynamic issues and I agree it's sounds like it'd be worth trying a small cage re-intro. Best of luck :luck:
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Helzie
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Re: how much blood = foul?

Post by Helzie » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:26 am

Well, they've been confined to just one half of the SRS, and will put them in the Critter if there's any more nonsense! Sure enough, they were all snuggled up harmoniously together this morning. There were a few squabbles on free range last night, but really nothing at all serious. *sigh* From what you are all saying, this doesn't necessarily sound like its hormonal, so neutering wouldn't help, which relieves me in a way, although in another way, it sounds like there's not much to be done but contain it....

They are going on holiday soon to stay with a friend, so I hope they behave well (she has girls - hope that doesn't make it worse!) but she has my express permission to smack bottoms if she thinks they deserve it. Norty boys.
neela wrote: I just wanted to bang their little heads together and order them to get along! :
I already tried that! Stern talkings to. Faeroe just went :roll: .
Besotted owner of Lundy, Malin, Hebridy and Faeroe :love: Easterly backing southeasterly 2 to 4, squally showers, moderate, good.
Sailing By: Cromarty. I miss you, little man. Fitzroy. O Captain, my Captain.
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Re: how much blood = foul?

Post by JenniferRose » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:40 pm

Hi Helzie,
I've just been through exactly the same thing, my boys are the same ages as yours. Everything was fine, I went on holiday for 2 weeks and all my ratties stayed with Ratty_Rhian (who has girls) and when I came back there were some serious fighting issues. It was nothing at all to do with lovely Rhian! I think it was a combination of the youngsters being at a hormonal age and them being in a new cage/territory all of a sudden, which they saw as an excuse to challenge/restructure the established hierachy.

After a few months of being upset and scratching my head, I ended up having one of my youngsters neutered because one of my oldies was covered in cuts just like the one in your photo. The oldie in question is now being kept in a separate cage, as he has very quickly developed what I think is severe HLD and can't go in with the others because all four of them constantly attack him because he is weaker.

I really hope your situation sorts itself out. Just wanted to share my experience as it was so similar to yours. I was really upset when all this started because I thought I had a lovely settled group and it all seemed to change overnight. But I guess these things happen sometimes. It is really hard to know what to do for the best.

Oooh another thing. I'm trying agnus castus at the moment as a supplement to their food. I read about it on here and thought it was worth a go. It's meant to calm everyone down a bit. If I don't see any improvement, I may also try some of the Phytopet balance drops from Rat Warehouse, another recommendation from on here.

Good luck! Jen x

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Helzie
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Re: how much blood = foul?

Post by Helzie » Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:37 pm

They're kicking off again... :angry: Watching them, they're each as bad as each other. Malin is throwing his weight about and Faeroe is following him around and prompting it.

My lads have had a few long weekends away with my lovely ratsitting friend- maybe that's unsettled them and they'll settle once our summer vacation is over and we don't go away for a bit. I have some phytopet balance drops that I'll try, maybe that will help...
Besotted owner of Lundy, Malin, Hebridy and Faeroe :love: Easterly backing southeasterly 2 to 4, squally showers, moderate, good.
Sailing By: Cromarty. I miss you, little man. Fitzroy. O Captain, my Captain.
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Re: how much blood = foul?

Post by rat_mummy » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:09 am

I'm guessing Faeroe is a little hormonal / trying to make his way in the world, and Malin is just trying to uphold his status. I had a similar situation a while back my oldie was usually the aggressor (he obviously felt very threatened) but the youngun (about 7 months) held his ground until one day in a tussle he gave my oldie quite a nasty wound (possibly by accident) which needed glueing. Although this was not what I would have wanted my oldie then took his place beneath the young one in the hierachy and after 2 days they were happily snuggled up together, in fact they became best friends. The young'un has never shown signs of aggression otherwise and certainly didn't need castration they just had to sort it out for themselves. I'm sure splitting the cage will help a lot though it has in the past for my groups when there has been unrest. Good luck.

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Helzie
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Re: how much blood = foul?

Post by Helzie » Thu Aug 11, 2011 2:32 pm

Glad to hear your two finally made friends! I always laughed that my two minky boys were always together - one American and one English mink, and completely unrelated, but always tucked up in the same hammock. Hope they can sort it out. One of them needs to get over himself so they can go back to being mates! They're just both so full of personality. The idea of Faeroe making his way in the world :lol: - he's such a ridiculous little scrap of a thing, only 500g (Malin was 800g at his age, it's like seeing a male and a female together), but big personalities can come in small packages, clearly.


ETA the Good Old Days:
Image
Besotted owner of Lundy, Malin, Hebridy and Faeroe :love: Easterly backing southeasterly 2 to 4, squally showers, moderate, good.
Sailing By: Cromarty. I miss you, little man. Fitzroy. O Captain, my Captain.
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Re: how much blood = foul?

Post by rat_mummy » Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:05 pm

Awww, what a cute photo :D

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