New rat nipping

Joined
Nov 15, 2019
Messages
7
Location
75067
Hello,

I just got a pair of females they are about 6-7 inches long so almost full grown. One was surrendered with 12 babies that have been weaned and she is somewhat skittish but the other is very curious and will take food directly from you hand and only exhibits occasional shyness (which is expected since we have only had them for a few days). The curious one we noticed today has begun lightly nipping us when we try to put our hand in to let her get used to us. We put our hand in and she slowly comes up and sniffs us and sometimes comes right up to you sniffing and then lightly uses her teeth on us. No skin broken but there was one instance where it was hard and slightly scratched me with her teeth while I gently pulled my hand away while she tried to nip. Is this simply something she is doing because she is still scared/and or not used to her new home? Is this a bigger issue? We have been able to lightly pet her head when she is in her forage bin in her cage with no issues also. I understand that since my rats are so new no bond has been formed yet but is this part of the bonding process? It’s been a few years since I had rats and I’m out of touch. Any and all help will be great because I would really like to be able to pet my rats (and handle/cuddle if they are willing)in future with no nipping. Thanks in advance
 

Kye

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2019
Messages
148
Location
Maine
Hello,

I just got a pair of females they are about 6-7 inches long so almost full grown. One was surrendered with 12 babies that have been weaned and she is somewhat skittish but the other is very curious and will take food directly from you hand and only exhibits occasional shyness (which is expected since we have only had them for a few days). The curious one we noticed today has begun lightly nipping us when we try to put our hand in to let her get used to us. We put our hand in and she slowly comes up and sniffs us and sometimes comes right up to you sniffing and then lightly uses her teeth on us. No skin broken but there was one instance where it was hard and slightly scratched me with her teeth while I gently pulled my hand away while she tried to nip. Is this simply something she is doing because she is still scared/and or not used to her new home? Is this a bigger issue? We have been able to lightly pet her head when she is in her forage bin in her cage with no issues also. I understand that since my rats are so new no bond has been formed yet but is this part of the bonding process? It’s been a few years since I had rats and I’m out of touch. Any and all help will be great because I would really like to be able to pet my rats (and handle/cuddle if they are willing)in future with no nipping. Thanks in advance
A lot of new rats test boundaries with what they can get away with, you can try a short and sharp high pitched sound to try and tell them "Hey that hurts.!" (even if it doesn't really) some rats may never grow out of nibbling but they quickly learn how hard is too hard based on your reactions
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2019
Messages
7
Location
75067
Awesome thank you so much! I have tried that so far this morning and it seems exactly what she is doing. She bites but it doesn’t hurt and she dissent seem to be doing it to be mean. The high pitched noise makes her stop but she comes back and tries again. She actually put her feet on me this morning for a few seconds before trying to bite (gently) again so to me that’s good progress. The other skittish one tried to gently bite this morning which is progress considering she wouldn’t touch me at all before and just sniff and run away.
 
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Dena

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Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
345
Location
Texas
Using teeth in a gentle way is good. Unless it's harder, I wouldn't correct the behavior. Teeth is one way rats show affection, test things to see if it's food or a toy, play, and bond (think grooming). If they do a bite-stop-check, that's good. They will do this to see if you are yummy treats, or to let you know that's enough for now, or communicate other things. I have a rat who was a big biter, and she has learned to be super gentle and use her teeth in a good way. Make sure your hands are clean, and don't smell like other animals, or food before you handle them. If they get too rough, squeak at them and correct the behavior. Rats are super smart and will catch on quickly.
 
Joined
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Messages
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75067
At first they were a bit hard but not enough to break skin. After squeaking a few times the main biter seems to only do so softly now. Thanks so much for the advice!!
 
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