He Bites

NotKate

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I rescued a troubled rat off of Craigslist a few days ago.

He was fed to a snake a few months ago, and bit the snake. The person's kids liked him and he was given to an acquaintance. That person says he was nice until he turned aggressive, and would lunge at their hands and bite. They kept him alone, and fed him though the cage bars, which of course encouraged him to bite more, and encouraged them to keep doing it out of fear.

His craigslist ad said nothing but "He Bites!" They were desperate to be done with him, and he came to me for free in a shoebox with no supplies and many warnings.

In honor of his fighting spirit and battle with the serpent, I named him Hercules.

He's living in a temporary cage until I can suss him out and eventually start (carefully!) introducing him to my five-month-old boys. So far he has not shown me much aggression. He's very curious and wants to smell and explore. Of course he's also very nervous to be touched. He took a treat from my hand. When I show him my hand to smell he does a slow bite with increasing pressure, which feels more exploratory than aggressive. He was very responsive when I squeaked, and seemed surprised that I didn't want to be chomped. I can't help being a bit nervous about him, like when someone threatens to poke you in the eye, it's reflexive and not intentional.

I think he's between six months and a year but I don't know. I'm totally willing to get him neutered if he does turn out to be too much of a pill, and I'm prepared for a challenge. My heart goes out to him and he deserves a happy life.

I would greatly appreciate any advice on taming this little guy. Particularly the exploratory bites, is squeaking better, or telling him no? Does it matter, since he's reacted to both?

He also bruxes a lot, which is cute, but I know is not always happy. Earlier he was standing at the door of his cage looking at me and bruxing. Was he threatening me? Scared of me? Or just easily pleased?

Thanks for reading this long-winded post... Any insight or advice would be wonderful!
 

Dena

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Does he boggle as well? If not, I'd get him checked by a vet. It could be he's uncomfortable or hurt, and it can also be fear/agitation. Don't give up on him. Offer the back of your hand since it's harder for them to chomp on. Always wash the scent of your other rats, and food off your hands before you attempt to touch him. This site Www.joinrats.com has lots of good info on how to work with biters, and socializing. Good luck, and remember, don't give up on him. He needs you! 😊
 

NotKate

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Portland OR
He is very cute! Hopefully I can pet his little head one day soon.
 

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NotKate

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Okay I have another question!

I live in a small room in a house, and my housemates have cats, so Hercules has to be in my room with my current boys before they meet. Everyone seemed okay at first, but my boys are seeming more stressed. I'm trying to clean enough to keep the smell down, but he is a pungent dude and I don't want to encourage him to mark more. Plus, you know... he bites. It's cold and wet out so I'm hesitant to crack a window.

This morning I found an enormous puddle of pee in their cage. It looks a bit cloudy and weird. Could it be stress or some other issue?
How can I help everyone stay calm?
 

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lilspaz68

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Ok that pee is not normal. You might want to put your young lads in a carrier or hospital cage one at a time on white paper towel til they pee, see if there's a foul smell, or a pink tinge to the urine (UTI or urinary tract infection).

At 5 months they are just starting to enter puberty and I wouldn't intro to the new boy until he trusts you more or just do it very slowly in a neutral area and watch body language.

As for your biter boy, my guess is he was scared and defensive and his instinct to bite has saved him before. When does he put his teeth on you with that light biting down behavior? Figure out what YOU are doing when he does this. It could be testing you, or it could be "i'm worried/scared, please stop/slow down what you are doing right now"
Eeping works well for a rat that is not aggressive but more unsocialized and possibly doesn't know ratiquette frim being taken away from other rats before learning,
 

NotKate

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I offer him the back of my hand or knuckles to sniff and let him walk over to me, which he often does at a fairly quick waddle. Other times he ignores it. He usually gives my hand a sniff and then slowly opens his mouth and slowly closes it on me until I squeak, and he backs away. He has yet to break the skin. He seems more nervous about my hand after a bite-and-squeak. I went to gently touch him once and he jerked away so I haven't done that any more.

He's also a big time chewer?

I definitely plan on taking it very slow introducing him to my babies, and waiting until we know each other better!

I've been waiting for a few hours to get the first of two boys to pee on a paper towel, and he is holding it very well...
 

lilspaz68

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Ok that sounds like he's testing you to see how you react after he does that. Hes probably been hit or hurt/scared by others. He's not sure you are as good as you seem so he keeps testing. Rats learn that biting makes the Scary Hand go away. You eeping is telling him in rat language its not acceptable.
Try offeringn something liquidy and yummy on a spoon. If he lunges to eat it, dont try the next part. If he takes it gently or tentatively put a smear of it on the back of your hand. Talk happily in a quiet but high pitched voice, tell him to lick, if he does tell himhes such a good boy and his name over and over. If he uses his teeth either eep or lower your tone and say No or uh uh uh. Then once he is more gentle change your tone to approving, high pitched and happy. I often talk to newbies im working with the whole time, changing my tone with their behavior.
 

Big Schpog

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I'm so glad you're giving him a chance. Rats are highly empathetic animals and giving this chance to him is brilliant on your part. He can become a confident no biting rat with time and patience. Rats want to learn, and they want feedback on their learning. They want to integrate into a family and do everything with their families, human family and rat family. I wish you the best with him. You're already an ace human for taking him in.
 

NotKate

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Portland OR
As far as the urine situation, is a scent dribble enough? Luckily Pickle went a tiny bit when I first put him in the carrier and it seems normal - clear, not red, and not too stinky. However Radar is on his second try in the carrier and just isn't going. Is that in itself a bad sign? I feel mean boxing him up for hours!
He has a history of sneezes that seems to recurring, so I'm starting to feel like a trip to the vet for him and possibly his brother, is in order anyway before meeting the new guy.
 

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