Wednesday, April 8, 2009
By Shellyane Bryan
A rat owner from England shares tales of living with her first rat, Queen Dumbo Duncanson-Bryan, and a rat named Mouse.
Courtesy of Shellyane Bryan
Dumbo the rat is more fearful and less energetic than her younger "sister," Mouse the rat.
My rats have been fighting an awful lot during the past few weeks. Mouse has been the one instigating the fights, whereas Dumbo just lies on her back and tries her best not to get bitten. From the day I introduced my rats to each other, Mouse has had a thing about tugging on Dumbo’s ears with her teeth. At first this just earned a little squeak of protest, but now she doesn’t do it just once or twice. She does it continuously until they sound like fighting cats. It’s a bit like having two small children, one that picks on the other constantly!
During the week, I had to separate my rats completely (I need a naughty chair for rats). First, I tried taking Dumbo out of the cage for a while so she was out of harm’s way and wasn’t stressed by the constant onslaught of attacks. I don’t think Mouse will ever draw blood — she hasn’t yet at least. I’m sure it’s normal behavior (though Fidget and Dumbo were always the best of friends!). When I put Dumbo back in the cage, however, it just started all over again. I’ve no doubt it’s a simple fight for dominance that my rat Dumbo is too old to get involved with anymore. I feel so sorry for her. She just can’t bring herself to fight back, so my rat Mouse walks all over her — literally. Dumbo is a tired old lady, Mouse is an energetic teenager.
I do find that when they are fighting and I move toward the cage, Mouse instantly bounces away with a “butter wouldn’t melt” kind of expression as she hurls herself at the cage door for attention, the way both of them always do. She knows I’m the boss, of course, and rightly so considering the size difference. Besides, there is no one else to stick up for Dumbo, who wouldn’t hurt a fly. The two of them even fight outside of the cage; Mouse clambering on Dumbo’s back and yanking on her poor, oversized ears.
I bought the two of them a little toy, just a simple, non-toxic plastic ball with a bell inside. So far, Dumbo is scared of it (surprise, surprise) but Mouse seems to be enjoying it. My hope is that it will keep her distracted enough to stop her bullying her big sister so much.
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