4 Reasons Why Your Pet Rats Are Fighting!

If you own pet rats or you’re thinking about it, you should also know that you should bring home at least a pair of pet rats.

Pet rats are extremely social and need a companion to play and interact with, and that can cause some fighting.

You will notice them playing around each other quite often.

There are times when you will see pet rats fighting each other, just like siblings. Sometimes they’re just play fighting with each other, however, serious fights might also happen.

There can be different reasons for such fights, and that’s what we’ll be talking about in this article. How to know when they’re playing, fighting and what do to!

1. Play Fighting

This type of playful fight is often done by rats when they are growing.

Just like a toddler, when two rats grow enough to interact with each other, they’ll start finding new and different games to play with each other. Including play fighting!

Such fights are not only a fun and chill game for young rats, but they do learn a lot from these fights as to how they can protect themselves or even how to fight back.

In a way, they prepare rats for their future and teach them how to deal with various situations they might become a part of.

There will always be one rat winning over the other, but that is not indicative of who is going to be the more dominant rat out of the two. Such fights usually involve pinning and wrestling but all in a playful manner.

Unless you hear constant squeaking from one of your ratties or notice wounds at the end of this activity, there’s no reason to worry about. Just let them have their fun!

As mentioned earlier, often such play fighting is done by young rats but even adult rats indulge in such activities.

This is because it’s a fun activity, but also pet rats who grow up fighting together can never really stop doing so.

2. Friendly Wrestling

Unlike the aggressiveness that the term ‘wrestling’ reflects, this is more like a fun play between the rats.

This is not at all an indication of aggression.

From the way your pet rats position themselves, one might feel that the rat is completely agitated. But the way they indulge in such wrestling is indicative of how playful the rat is.

Your ratties will jump around and often climb on the other rat, pinning them.

two pet rats friendly wrestling
Two pet rats just being cute together!

This type of pet rat fight is accompanied by a mixture of both light moods and a tense situation. While the rats are in a playful mood when they wrestle, they do it with a lot of passion and seriousness.

This can be compared to two puppies climbing on each other and wrestling, but all in a playful manner.

Your pet rats might also push each other and hold the other one down with their legs, and the other rat reacts with just as much energy as they can.

It is an ongoing fight and it is often the young rats who indulge in such wrestling. However, you’ll notice adult pet rats wrestling each other as well.

In fact, this is an activity you can play with them as well, as long as they feel comfortable with your handling. Use your hands to tickle your pet rats and wrestle play with them!

3. Dominance

Just like any other animal, rats, too, prefer asserting their dominance over the other.

This behavior is more common in rats who are domesticated and are kept in the same place as the other.

These rats always fight so as to create a dominating image in front of the other, and it is the same hierarchy that they follow when they grow old.

Other reasons why rats show dominance over the others might be because of some changes in their lifestyle or if more rats are added to their cage.

Just like humans and other animals, rats can also get insecure about their position in the house or their power amongst other rats.

Irrespective of the reason behind such dominance-induced fights, there will always be one rat on top of the other trying to prove himself.

It also depends on the personalities of each rat which governs their behavior towards other rats. When a rat is introduced to another rat for the first time, they do different things to prove their dominance. For example, they indulge in tiny scuffles with each other, mounted on one another, soft-bite each other, shove each other, and might also start grooming each other:

  • Shove – this is generally done by rats to remove the other rat from a particular area. They will push them and keep doing it until their goal is achieved.
  • Mounting – here, rats are literally on top of one another, and it might look like mating, but it is just another way of showing dominance. It is generally male rats who indulge in such an activity.
  • Grooming – the rat who gets groomed makes squeaky noises and eventually surrenders. Even though such fights can sometimes be intense, this is also a way to bond with the other rat.

You might also hear some squeaks from your pet rats during such fights. This is quite normal to happen.

Your rattie is letting their partner know they’re either done with the fight or feeling uncomfortable.

Unless you hear constant squeaking and your pet rats show any distress, there’s no reason to intervene!

4. Serious Fighting

There is a slight difference between situations where a rat is indulging in a serious fight or is just trying to prove his dominance.

In a serious fight, the rats often hurt each other. This includes cuts, injuries, and shedding of blood too.

Such fights escalate very quickly and require immediate intervention for the safety of both the rats.

If you notice one or more pet rats squeaking constantly, then it’s a cry for help and you should check on them.

On the other hand, if you’re too unsure if your ratties are just playing or seriously fighting, check their bodies after such activities. If there are no wounds, then there’s no reason to worry about.

During the initial days of having pet rats, it might be difficult to identify when the rats are playing and when they are fighting, but with time, it gets easier to figure it out!

How To Prevent Rats From Fighting Each Other

If it is a situation where the rats constantly fight and hurt each other, then, as a rat owner, you must intervene.

This is primarily to ensure the safety of the rats, as they might end up hurting each other severely.

For example, if you just got your pet rats and you’re not sure how familiar they are with each other, it is recommended that you keep an eye on them during those initial days.

If your pet rats are unfamiliar with each other, they might show distrust. Although rare, since we tend to adopt pet rats from the same litter, it can still happen.

Even if it’s just out of stress.

When introducing a new member to the cage, it should also be done slowly to avoid fights.

Start by leaving the new pet rat in a different cage, next to the main cage.

This way they can getting familiar with each other through smell, while also letting them get used to each others presence.

Don’t use your hand to separate your pet rats!
Use a piece of cardboard, paper or even a toy.

Once they feel more comfortable you can allow small visits between them, until they’re ready to live together!

If your pet rats aren’t spayed, it’s also a good idea to keep females separated from males. You should always get pet rats from the same sex unless you’re thinking of breeding.

The reason for this is that male rats might fight each other during mating time. It’s a very normal occurrence between animals and pet rats are no exception.

So a good way to avoid that is to keep them separated or be sure your ratties are spayed.

Finally, if it does happen, if you notice your pet rats are seriously fighting each other, do stop them!

Use something to separate them. A piece of paper, a book, maybe even a toy.

Something that will block your pet rats from continuing fighting. Just avoid using your hands so you don’t get hurt!

If needed, separate them for a few minutes so your pet rats can cooldown.

Take this time to check for any injury and if needed, contact your vet to know how to treat or if they need any medical assistance. 

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