Pet Rats Are Fighting
Rat Behavior

Help! My Pet Rats Are Fighting

Your Pet Rats Are Fighting? Here’s What to Do

Is your pet constantly agitating your other rats? Do your other rats end up with bites and scratches, along with your hands in the crossfire? Whether your rat is just aggressive to other rats or if he targets you particularly, it’s a good idea to do something about it to avoid a major injury from occurring. Here’s what you need to know if your pet rats are fighting.

What Makes Rats Aggressive?

Rats can display signs of aggression for multiple reasons. Ultimately it could even be explained by hormones. Every rat has a rambunctious teenage phase when they are about six months old and it tends to last for up to six months. During this time, the hormones can overwhelm a rat and cause aggression. Other factors such as the loss of a cagemate, stress, illness, boredom, genetic disposition, changes in the environment, and pain can all contribute to rat aggression. Rats that have been traumatized by previous owners can be aggressive when handled until they become more comfortable with you. It’s more common for a male rat to be aggressive, though female also sometimes exhibit signs.

Pet Rats Are Fighting

What Can Be Done To Make It Stop When Your Pet Rats Are Fighting?

Fortunately for rat owners, there are some techniques to handle rat aggression.

Patience Is Key

When handling an aggressive rat, it’s important to be patient with your pet. Altering their behavior will take some time and effort. Rats that attack because they are afraid need to be trained to trust their owners by establishing a relationship. Spend time sitting with your rat, and allow him to sniff you and be near you. Give him treats and pet him once he lets you. Ending fights between rats can be accomplished by using a spray bottle when they start to attack each other.

Decrease Stress Among Your Rats

Sometimes rats can be stressed enough to attack because they are ill. Check the rat for symptoms of illness. If necessary, take your pet to the vet for a check-up. Rats who have recently experienced massive change such as loss of a cagemate, they may display signs of aggression. Supervise your rat to tell whether or not he’s ready for a new companion. It’s no secret that rats are extremely social and generally prefer having other rats with which to cuddle, play, and groom. Generally, it’s easier introducing new female rats to older female rats, but supervision can ensure a smooth transition.

The Last Resort For Fighting Rats

When you cannot get your rats to stop fighting no matter what you try, it’s time to think about either getting a second cage or neutering your male rats. If it seems to be a hormone issue, neutering has been shown to reduce the flood of hormones overwhelming your rats. Some owners report that their rat became much happier after the procedure. However, it’s a procedure that of course requires anesthetic and this can be risky, especially for tiny animals like rats. It’s important to find a veterinarian that you trust. Following surgery, the rat will require a little bit of babying for several days, and this will help you build a more trusting relationship with one another.


16 thoughts on “Help! My Pet Rats Are Fighting”

  1. We never had pet rats (my sister had snakes, so had to feed them with the rats) but we did have ferrets and they would show some of the same behaviors! It’s so funny to think about the animals going through the same teenage hormones that humans do!

  2. Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh. My anxiety is through the roof reading this!! Good for you!! You’re awesome for having pet rats… I’ll just be over here freaking out that you willingly have rats in your house.

    1. Haha – too funny 🙂 You are not alone in that! There’s a huge difference between wild rats and “fancy rats” (isn’t it cute that that’s what pet rats are called?).

  3. This is such a fascinating subject. I must admit I’m not a rat as pet person but, I can appreciate your insights.

  4. I am not a rat person – and I think if I saw them fighting, I’d freak out, haha. It’s interesting that it means they need to build a relationship!

  5. Honestly, this never occurred to me, but I can see how it would be a problem. I guess I figured that rats (like my SIL’s gila monsters, or the pet rabbits we had growing up) would just each have their own cage…shows what I know!

    1. There’s definitely a learning curve! Pet rats definitely love to pile up on each other for snuggles (Mt. Ratmore?).

  6. Awwwwww, honestly I think I would freak out if I saw rats fighting. Thinking they were trying to kill each other lol….. glad it means they are working together to build a relationship

  7. question: i have 4 boys. they fight. it always looks worse than it winds up being. (no real biting). My ‘alpha’ (the one everyone messes with, and the one that doesn’t start, but ends the fights) gets scabs on his chin and shoulders. how can you tell if this is from scratches OR from mites? I have not seen any things, he looks healthy and i froze their litter all winter in my car. i’ve seen a few scrapes on the others, but he’s the one that gets most of them.
    They’re starting to settle down, but man, for a while, month 4-7, every night was wwf cage fighting

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