New Member
Feb 16, 2019
I have a rescue rat who was neglected quite badly in her previous home. She’s been with me for nearly 3 weeks now and I’ve been trying desperately to get her to be tame. She was never taken out of her cage in her previous home and from what we know she bit the owner when they first got her as a baby and so they gave up on her and separated her from the other rats. She was underweight when I got her and had never been outside of her cage or handled.

I have been making great progress with her. She will stand on the door of her cage and lick baby food off my finger or take treats from me. She has bitten someone at the adoption centre before, as they think she was cage aggressive from being lonely, but she never bit me until today...

I put my hand in the cage (I do this every morning before work) to let her sniff it so she can get used to the smell and movement. She was in her hammock and then suddenly bit me really hard so my hand was bleeding.

I wasn’t moving fast as I know this can scare them, and I’m shocked she’s done this out of nowhere!

I am getting two new girls as cagemates for her on 26th March and I’m worried she’s still cage aggressive. Do I need to start picking her up and get her used to handling even if she bites me?

Are there any ways to avoid getting bitten? I feel bad she never wants to come out of the cage no matter how hard I try to coax her out with food. Do I just have to go for it and pick her up and teach her it’s okay to be out of the cage and biting won’t help?

I’m so stuck!


Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
Jul 21, 2007
central New Brunswick Canada
It sounds like you are doing the right things.
If the 2 girls you are getting are well socialized and friendly to people, then once they have been gradually introed to her and they are living together they will help her to feel safer and help her to gradually learn to trust you.

Please see joinrats.com
This site has information on how to deal with an aggressive rat, including how to safe get her out of the cage to a play area etc.
Regarding getting out of her cage, one thing you can do is to have her cage in the large safe play area so that she can exit and return to her supervised play area when she wants to.

A former member had a girl that was very aggressive. She learned to use a transport box (see joinrats.com), was introed to a larger group of ratties, and was able to enjoy getting out and running around and playing in their rat safe play area - which was the room their cage was in.


Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2018
Also, I just want to add, that forcing her out will do nothing but scare her, and make her not trust you. Any time you want to gain an animal's trust (pretty much any animal) you don't force them into a scary situation for them. Like SQ said, put the cage in a safe area, then open the door, and let her explore. Sit a distance away from her so you aren't a threat, and talk to her and offer treats. She possibly bites near her cage because it's her safe place. Also, it could very possibly be a learned behavior at this point. Bite scary human, they leave me alone, and close my cage. She is probably just as scared of people, as they are at getting bit. I would NOT recommend using gloves to handle a scared rat. Gloves are scary looking even to some human children. If you are scared of getting bitten, there are ways around that, and soon she will learn to trust the methods you use to keep from getting bitten. You can put another, smaller cage up to her open cage door, and when she moves into it, use that to transport her. Don't slam the doors shut behind her, and don't make her feel like you "trapped" her. Make it inviting for her so she will be comfortable. Once she is out of her familiar safe place, you may be able to quickly touch her, or get her to come out and explore willingly. Trust me, don't give up. At the VERY LEAST, she can learn to trust you and tolerate you. But once you get her some cagemates, you may be surprised at how her attitude turns around. And when it does, and you have put all this hard work into gaining her trust, the rewards are very heartwarming. Read www.joinrats.com like SQ suggested. There's a ton of good info on there. Watch YouTube as well. Shadow the rat and the rat guru have some great videos on socializing, taming, and cage set up etc. Sounds like she's lucky to have you. Just don't give up, and keep working on gaining her trust. Trust is key for both of you. Try to keep others from touching or trying to handle her until she is a little more settled down. Let them talk to her softly, and let her see them handling other rats. Just make a rule, no fingers on or through the bars of the cage for now. That way you can keep the stress down. Also, make sure your hands are freshly washed and clean before you handle her, so no food smells, or strange smells are on them. Just don't give up. It's going to be hard work, and may take time.

Latest posts