Most animal species have a habit of playing around a lot, especially the young ones. There are probably only a few species that don't have play-fighting behaviors and usually these are the ones that are also less intellectual in terms of mental functionality. Wild animals such as monkeys, lions and tigers as well as domesticated ones such as rats, dogs and cats have this sort of behavior. That's why it is of no surprise if you see couple of rats chasing each other all over the house, biting napes, and or boxing each other. These are all part of their natural behaviors. However, it's not all the time that they do this just for fun. Often play-fighting have deeper reasons mainly based on their growth and maturity.
Though there is a downside to this behavior in rats. They can get all too carried away in this act that they sometimes end up truly hurting each other and worse, could potentially result to fatality. This can be a bad thing to pet rat owners as they might end up having dead rats in their cage.
In this article we will be discussing about the more in depth understanding of this particular rat behavior. The importance of this topic is for pet owners to know how to precaution themselves in case their pet rats would reach this stage of growth in behavior; ultimately to prevent any possible fatalities between their beloved pet rats.
Perhaps the most distinguishing question that has to be answered in this discussion is how one will be able to recognize the difference between just play-fighting and real fighting.
There are other questions as well such as: Is play fighting just an immature behavior among rats and are not really serious matters to take into consideration? Or is it really a part of their growing patterns of behaviors and the act in itself symbolizes mature roles being portrayed by the male rats?
Panksepp (1891) conducted a study on the play-fighting behaviors in rats and have unveiled that they do start to play around the age of 18 days and then, the behavior intensifies during past 30-36 days of age. But then after those ages, the intensity of their play-fighting will steadily decrease.
Therefore, the research deduced that the intensity of the behavior is on the rat's juvenile period. They have also found out that although male and female rats are responsible for such behaviors, the male of the species are the ones most active in play-fighting.
Portrayal of Male Rat Dominance
The study also exhibits findings that indicate the possibility of the male dominance showcasing. In male rats, starting from the weaning stage to their 50-56 days of age, play fighting behaviors are becoming more noticeable. Even, it has been observed that 70% of the time during these ages, male rats are pinning each other down on the ground. Scientists have deduced that the rat on top of the pinned one becomes the alpha male sort of rat between the two. Initially that is what they believed. However, the eventual uncovering of other facts has lead them to more complicated deductions.
They have eventually found out that during the rats' sexual maturity, there is a reversal in the scenario. The former apparently "alpha male" rat becomes the one more frequently subdued by the other. It now begs you to ask the question, why the sudden reversal?
And then believe it or not, the research have finally inferred that male rats do have a certain learning curve as the former handicapped rat between the pair progressively learns to adapt and modifies its strategies to win over the form alpha rat the next time around. This finding was then related to the picture of sexual maturity in rats.
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