Taming an adult rat with aggressive body language?

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Kyn

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Jan 22, 2019
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I have three boys. Two are complete loves and love to be pet and handled.
The third, Gatsby, has always hated being touched. He's about 8 months now and I just kind of leave him be. If I try to touch him, he rears up on his hind legs and tries to push me away with his paws and/or teeth.
He even will take pieces of fleece or paper towel (or even his brother's tail one time on accident!) and build a wall between me and him if a get too close. It's quite hysterical.
He's bitten once (not me, my boyfriend, drew blood). If I pet one of his brothers or have my hand in his space, he'll give little warning nips (not hard) or pick up my hand and drag me far away from his space.
He's very territorial.
My question is, how should I go about having him okay with being handled? It's a pain when I have to clean his cage or get him back in the cage after play time. He throws a fit.
All the videos I've watched deal with shy rats, but he's certainly not shy.
Any suggestions would be greatly welcomed! Thank you ♥
 

SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
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central New Brunswick Canada
Awww … Gatsby sounds like a real character ……. I love how he gently corrects you

There is information on joinrats.com about using a transport box with rats that are aggressive or do not like to be touched, as well as suggestions re socialization. Using a transport box to take him in and out of his cage will be a big help.

Have the 3 boys lived with you since they were babies?
Is there cage is a well used part of the home where they get a lot of interaction?
Do you sit near the cage and talk to them?
Will he take treats from your hand?
How do you touch him or pick him up - do you use both hands to scoop him up from underneath and support his body - touching his back or near his tail, a hand above him, or approaching him unexpectedly could be interpreted by him as aggression or a threat.

Aggression in rats is often hormonal and is usually solved by a neuter if people have access to a good vet with the knowledge and experience to safely neuter rats ……… but from what you wrote it sounds like Gatsby's behaviour is not aggressive, and a gentle approach may be enough - see joinrats.com for ideas that might be helpful in helping him to learn to trust you

I am sure that Jorats and Lilspaz68 will have lots of helpful suggestions
 

Kyn

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Jan 22, 2019
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New Jersey
Awww … Gatsby sounds like a real character ……. I love how he gently corrects you

There is information on joinrats.com about using a transport box with rats that are aggressive or do not like to be touched, as well as suggestions re socialization. Using a transport box to take him in and out of his cage will be a big help.

Have the 3 boys lived with you since they were babies?
Is there cage is a well used part of the home where they get a lot of interaction?
Do you sit near the cage and talk to them?
Will he take treats from your hand?
How do you touch him or pick him up - do you use both hands to scoop him up from underneath and support his body - touching his back or near his tail, a hand above him, or approaching him unexpectedly could be interpreted by him as aggression or a threat.

Aggression in rats is often hormonal and is usually solved by a neuter if people have access to a good vet with the knowledge and experience to safely neuter rats ……… but from what you wrote it sounds like Gatsby's behaviour is not aggressive, and a gentle approach may be enough - see joinrats.com for ideas that might be helpful in helping him to learn to trust you

I am sure that Jorats and Lilspaz68 will have lots of helpful suggestions
He is quite the character! He's really quite a gentleman about how he corrects me too. He's a cutie pie too -- mink berkshire silvermane. It's funny, he's my biggest boy by far but the smallest one (the alpha), Dudley, bullies him soooo much. I always feel so bad
I have had all three since they were babies. I got Gatsby in January and he was born on Halloween.
Their cage is in our basement, but it's a finished basement so I'm down there a lot (at least a few hours a day) interacting with them or just watching TV. Plus, my other family members are in and out doing laundry etc.
I often just sit with the cage door open, talking softly, and give them treats. Gatsby comes up to greet me and take treats, he'll even lick my hand if I hold it still in front of him. But as soon as I make a move to go near him, he rears up.
This kind of forces me to grab him around his midsection and under his feet if I pick him up. I only pick him up if I have to move him (ie cleaning the cage).
I don't have a vet I'd trust with a neuter. And since he's not actively aggressive, I wouldn't want to put him through that. I've asked multiple breeders in my area if they have found a good vet and they say that while their are many vets that treat exotics, there aren't any with rat specific experience.
Thanks so much for the website link! I'll definitely check that out! Appreciate it :)
 

jorats

Loving rats since 2002.
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OMG, they are super adorable! For cage cleaning, I'd remove him using a small box. Get him to jump in with a treat and move the box. That should be his mode of transportation from now on. I would encourage him to come to you with treats. Show him that when you are around, good things happen.
 
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