Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Researching Rat Fights And Winter Depression

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.

Dumbo the rat Courtesy Shellyane Bryan
Dumbo the rat has a bit of a bald spot on her neck because of her cagemate, Mouse.

I’ve been reading all about the difference between serious fighting and play fighting among rats to see if I can apply any of it to the way my rats, Mouse and Dumbo, behave with one another. As it turns out, when rats play fight, the initiator tends to go for the nape of the neck and doesn’t really bite, or at least not hard (though Mouse doesn’t understand what gentle biting is, sometimes). When rats fight seriously, the initiator goes for the rat’s rump. This isn’t something I’ve ever seen Mouse do, though she does like to nip Dumbo’s feet for no reason sometimes.

Anyway, while I’ve been looking into rat behavior, I also discovered that a lot of animals suffer from depression during the winter months, the same way humans do. This got me thinking about what I could do to cheer up Mouse and Dumbo, aside from letting them out and about more often. My rats have been a bit quiet over the past month or so, which is when it’s gotten really quite cold and dull here.

I was wondering what I could put in my rats’ cage to make them feel happier. Whenever I find the chance, I’m going to provide them with more fresh vegetables and fruit, more treats, maybe even more food, because they’re probably going to need it to build up some body fat to keep themselves warm.

I wish I could give my rats a tiny, little rat-fire to curl up in front of, too. Saying that, I really want to knit them both a jumper (or sweater to those of you in the United States), because it would be an adorable sight. Maybe I could add a scarf and some tiny, tiny gloves.

Going back to the point, I’m going to try and get my rats a proper little nesting box that they can’t chew to pieces — though knowing them they will ignore it in favor of the tatty, old makeshift hammock I made out of a towel. They’re like those children that prefer the cardboard box to the toy.

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Researching Rat Fights And Winter Depression

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Reader Comments
Ah yes, the rat fighting. Vincent and Liam's fights have gotten so intense that they aren't allowed to live together anymore. This turned out to be a good thing. Since Liam has been living in his own cage, his socializing with people has gotten better. He used to be as timid as a mouse.
Clara, Athens, GA
Posted: 12/14/2009 5:26:14 PM
Rats are really smart.
tina, monty, TX
Posted: 11/10/2009 6:19:18 AM
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