While female rats engage in mating activities because of an increase in their hormonal levels, while male rats will indulge in mating through physical examination of the female rat, including smelling the animal. If you raise a male and female rat, it will be better to put them together only when the female is on heat, if you put them together before mating time, they may fight.
When a female rat is on heat and ready for mating, her vaginal gape will normally open , otherwise, the gape will be close. There are some behavioral signs a female rat will show to indicate it is on heat, for instance, she may start stroking its back in what is referred to as the “mating dance”. The female rat may dart forward initially or simply spin around while bracing her legs in a swift motion and then lift her head and tail at the same time. During this period, the female rat may force its ears to vibrate and the male rat gets the signal that she is ready for mating.
Most male rats will respond immediately to the mating signals being shown by the female rat and they may sniff of simply lick the body of the female rats. When the male rat eventually mounts the female rat, he will grasp her scruff with his teeth. During the courtship a male rat may mount the female rat several times, however, most mounting sessions are foreplay and no intercourse may occur. During the mating period, the male rat may have to mount the female several times before the real intercourse may occur. During the mating season, mating may occur several times between the male and female rats but it is possible for the female rat to become pregnant even after the first mounting and mating.
Just like in humans, the persistency of a male rat may eventually force the female to get ready for mating even when she is not on heat. When male and female rats are raised together, the female rat may sneak occasionally into the male part of the cage when she is on heat. Scientific research has proven that the activation or elevation of estrogen levels in the female rat is necessary in order for heat to develop. Though male rats may have moderate to high sexual hormones and such may force them to mount on female rats occasionally even though, no sexual intercourse may occur.
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