Biting Rat

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Gareth, Feb 4, 2019.

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  1. Feb 4, 2019 #1

    Gareth

    Gareth

    Gareth

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    Hi, I am new to the forum and to rats. My three kids (7, 4, and 18 months) really wanted a pet. We had fish in the past and since we are renting can't have any large pets. I decided on rats after reading lots of articles about how smart they are and how good they are with kids. We got two boys back in the beginning of January. One of them is great; Really easy to hold, never nips, explores, takes treats, etc. The other one was much more skittish. He was nippy at first, but then bit my wife hard and caused her to bleed really good. He then bit my toddler twice when he put his finger through the cage. These were hard bites that caused deep cuts and bled a lot. I know putting fingers in a cage is a no-no, but we never feed through the cage and the other rat doesn't have this problem. He also has tried to bite me with a towel on my hand. It's not an exploratory bite, but a very hard bite trying to cause damage.

    Well, today when we had the rats out to play he bit the toddler again. My son was just sitting there with his hands on the couch watching the rat and he went up and bit him hard. Again, a super hard deep bite that bled all over. I'm at the point where I am about to take him back. This seems to be getting worse. Any suggestions? I'm really frustrated because pet rats seemed like a great option and this has been nothing but a struggle since we got them.
     
  2. Feb 4, 2019 #2

    SQ

    SQ

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    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

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    How old are the boys?

    Is it possible that he bit hands/fingers that smelled like food?
    Rats have poor eye sight and may bite things that smell like food thinking they are food.

    It is also possible that he may need a neuter as aggression in male rats is usually hormonal …. something to think about if you have access to a good vet with the knowledge and experience to safely neuter rats.

    joinrats.com has good ideas re socializing rats
     
  3. Feb 4, 2019 #3

    Kye

    Kye

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    He sounds like he may be scared.? You can try holding and handling him with gloves on so the bite can't go through as easy ... I have a girl who used to bite and now I know part of it is her seeing .. She smells food and goes for it... Lately she has been doing bite checks but I'd tell your kids to focus on the friendlier one while you work with the other.. Just don't neglect one of them they both need attention . I'd keep offering treats and moving slowly.. They should warm up to you..
     
  4. Feb 4, 2019 #4

    Dena

    Dena

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    I had a rat that did this, and I was SO CLOSE to giving up on him. First off, he was still very young (only about 4 weeks old when we got him), and had never really been handled, or socialized. If y'all got him from a pet store, that likely could be part of the problem too. Some babies are just sweeter by nature, and others are more cautious, or explorative, just like people. He could be smelling food on your toddler (highly likely, since toddlers like to graze, and don't wash hands like we do), or he may smell something else on the toddler that he perceives as a threat. I wouldn't recommend handling with gloves. That a lot of times scares them more, and they tend to bite more. You want him to get associated with the smells of you and your kids. Not something scary.

    I'd start by making sure everyone allowed to touch him cleans their hands first. A mild scented soap, that doesn't smell fruity, or like food. Then, you should be the one to handle him or be around him for a bit. Don't try to grab him from his cage, that may make him afraid or territorial. Offer the sweet one a treat, when he comes out, give it to him. Then, offer the mean one a treat. When he comes out to you, offer him the treat ON YOUR PALM. Try not to give it with your fingers, since when bit, they tend to hurt worse and bleed more. If he acts like he is going to bite (watch his body language, like his hair puffs up, or he lunges), pull your hand away. Try not to make sudden moves around him at first. Pet rats don't WANT to hurt their human. There is usually a trigger that you may not realize. Or he could just be too young to realize he is causing harm.

    There are a few YouTube videos to show how to socialize them, and a threat here too, I believe. Just don't give up on him. This is how many end up in shelters. They are misunderstood, or someone doesn't want to work with them. He WILL need some work, but it can get better. Remember they have poor eyesight, especially if they have ruby eyes. But a good sense of smell, and they learn quick. If he does bit a little hard, squeak at him as of you are a rat, and it could help him realize he is hurting you. In the meantime, you can look into getting him neutered. Good luck!
     
  5. Feb 4, 2019 #5

    Dena

    Dena

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    Also, they need to be taken out for at least an hour a day to play. They also need toys, and chew things, and enrichment in their cages. If they get too bored, or excited, that can effect things too. Think of it like your toddler with only a bed in his room, and has to stay there all day but see everyone, and can't play with them. Rats are very smart and learn constantly. They also have VERY DIFFERENT personalities, so don't worry if one is cuddly, and they other wants to explore more. They are so much fun, and when you make the breakthrough with him, TRUST ME, it'll be worth all your hard work! :D
     
  6. Feb 5, 2019 #6

    jorats

    jorats

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    I agree with Dena. Rats need enrichment and honestly, not really a toddler pet. They are super smart and this one has now learned that if he bites, he gets the desired result which is the humans go away. I would get him neutered straight away since he's having a hard time dealing with his hormones. Rats do not normally bite but will when they are overloaded with hormones, they will also bite from fear or if they feel threatened.
    There is also a great website joinrats.com they show step by step how to properly socialize rats.
    I'm really sorry you are dealing with this issue, it's definitely not something the average person wants to commit too. But if you do, you will be rewarded ten fold. Rats are so amazing.
     
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  7. Feb 6, 2019 #7

    dspch911

    dspch911

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    Neuter!!!
     

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