Tail-Chasing In Rats?

Does your pet rat chase her own tail? Unlike cats, pet rats don't normally chase their own tails, so if you see your rat doing so, please be concerned.

Lindsay Pulman, LVT, comments on tail-chasing in rats:

"Rats who chase their tails should be seen by a good rat vet, or at least an exotics vet. I am not sure whatever it is can be corrected, but rats don't spend their time chasing their tails (unlike cats). The condition may be neurological, but if not, and the behavior is extensive, it would be helpful to try behavior management. Someone should give the rat other sensory input to stop the circling."

EDITOR UPDATE: Interesting links with information raise two different issues:

(1) If the rat is female and a mother, she may not have had a mother with strong material instincts. So a mother rat who didn't have a strong mother might chase her tail when she has babies of her own.

(2) Boredom or the need for enrichment. If you have a rat who chases her tail, perhaps adding extra enrichment activity will help.

Intergenerational effects of complete maternal deprivation and replacement stimulation on maternal behavior and emotionality in female rats. (Dev Psychobiol 2001 Jan;38(1);11-32.

Tail chasing behavior in new mom? (Goosemoose)

"Housing and Welfare in Laboratory Rats: Welfare Implications of Isolatin and social Contact Among Caged Males, Hurst, Barnard, Nevison, West; Animal Welfare 1997; 6: 329-347.

"My rat chases her tail," All Experts 5/22/2008.

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