Fancy Rats

Fancy Rats

Rattus norvegicus (domesticated form)

Fancy Rats Behaviour

A pair or group of same-sex Fancy rats make excellent pets as they enjoy interacting with their humans, exploring and toys. See Fancy Rats - Boys or Girls? for information on how characters differ by gender.

Most vocalisation made by Fancy Rats is at a range humans cannot hear, but they do make some eeps in our hearing range. A short eep usually indicates a mild reaction, protest or submission. Rats have a complex social hierarchy and as such will often have an 'alpha' at the top of the hierarchy. Longer eeps, or sudden, loud shrieks should be investigated as they could indicate the start of more serious fighting. As a rats hormone and activity levels change over time so fall-outs are not common, but can happen. You need to always make sure your animals are in a large, interesting enough environment where you can monitor them.


Bruxing is where a rat grinds or chatters its teeth together quite rapidly. This can indicate contentment, especially when occompanied with boggling. However bruxing can also occur as a reaction to pain or stress - if the sound is louder, and with more sharp cracks, it is more likely to be the rat responding to something bad. Rats may brux loud (sometimes known as chattering) to comfort themselves if they are in distress or pain.

Same-sex mounting

this may occur when a doe is in heat, or just because. It doesn't indicate your animals are gay or that you have the wrong gender in there. If you've got your rats recently then by all means double-check, but this is normal among same-sex groups and nothing to worry about.

Scent Marking

Rats will use their scent glands to mark their territory. It is often a high-ranking or alpha that will do this most, and they may also secrete small droplets of urine as a form of marking. This does not indicate incontinence and not all rats will do this.

Dominance Behaviour

A certain amount of dominance play will be how your group establishes its hierarchy. Although this is often spoken of as needing an Alpha - this is not a concrete rule. Rats are very individual and you may have characters that stand aside from the normal heirachy and so have no real position in it. This leaves no clear Alpha as the rat who stands apart may still have an area of life they protect - i.e you can have this hammock or wheel I was in, but not my food!

Dominance behaviour includes pinning - where a rat will hold another in a position where their belly is upwards. They might then groom or sniff them, or just do nothing. This is normal.

Grooming is a dominance behaviour and it may seem sometimes as if this is being forced. This is particularly common where a rat has been kept incorrectly without companions, one result is that the lonely rat may groom quite excessively when finally introduced to company. This should only become a concern if the grooming becomes excessive to the extent that other rats fur is becoming patchy, or fights are breaking out because of the over enthusiastic one. If you have a rat doing this, then try distracting food or play and please do persist. The other rats might find it irritating but this behaviour won't last forever, the lonely rat is just a bit desperate for company.

Aggressive Behaviour

Any responsible rat owner should be aware of certain behaviour to look out for. These can escalate quite rapidly and might need intervention.

Boxing rats might raise on their hind legs and bat at each other with their front paws. This can be minor, but if one rat does not back down or lose interest this can escalate.

Chasing where it is persistent and accompanied by loud eeps or shrieks. Might include mounting or bites to the rear. Any behaviour where blood is caused needs intervention.

Displaying teeth where rats open their mouth and bear there teeth this display is often a warning to another rat. Bears watching.

Sidling where a rat will swing its body into another in a pushing motion. More serious where accompanied by back-leg kicks.

Ball fighting when a situation has escalated into a full-blown fight this may end up where the two rats are locked into a ball together and trying to bite each other. Needs intervention!