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 Post subject: It's All Gone a Bit Wrong...(Biting)
 Post Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 8:16 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:58 pm
Posts: 2
First off, hi everybody.

Okay, where to even begin...Firstly, I know that this is probably my fault. I will be completely honest because I want honest answers. This whole ordeal has gone wrong from the start. I have owned rats before, but I hadn't had them for a while so I decided after doing some research to get a pair since I think they're the most amazing pets and I really missed having them.

So a few months ago, I don't exactly remember when, I bought two female rats off a lady who's kids had grown bored of them. When I went to go and see them the lady got one out of the cage pretty effortlessly and handed her to me. She was the sweetest little thing in the world and I fell instantly in love. She had a friend who the lady couldn't get out of the cage because she kept running away from her hand. I did notice that the lady grabbed them rather than scooped them up from underneath, but I didn't think about it at the time. She said she'd had rats before so I had no reason to believe she didn't know what she was doing. Anyway, since I was totally in love with the one that was grooming my hair I said I'd take them.

Now I get them home and everything is fine. I leave them to settle for 24 hours. After that I start to notice that perhaps this other rat is a bit beyond "shy". I go to pick her up and as soon as I place my hand on her she tensed up completely and it gave me a really bad feeling like she might turn and bite me at any second. At any rate she was obviously distressed so I left it.
Then my mum went into my room one night while I was staying at my fiancé's house and put her hand in the cage to let them smell her. She told me she felt bad because they were at the bars of the cage, she also told me that the shy one (Agnes) bit her. I told her to show me and there was no blood so I knew it couldn't be that bad, but it shook me a bit. I um...I have a fear of rodents biting me. It's their teeth. I hate the fact that they can lock their teeth together. It's irrational and I don't let it stop me, but that did make things difficult. Then my fiancé who works at the pet store my rats came from told me they had a rat that escaped and bit one of his colleagues so hard that she has permanent nerve damage. This was a bit of a tipping point for me. I made no effort to have contact with my rats for maybe a month. I was afraid of them. I still cleaned them and gave them stimulating toys and things, but I didn't want to touch them. At this point I thought about selling them on again.

Then about 3 weeks ago I snapped out of baby mode and decided that I was going to do this. I was going to make these rats friendly if it was the last thing I do. I still think this!
I started by using a glove and it was promising. At first I just put the glove on my hand and put it in their cage. They came up and sniffed it and nibbled it a tiny bit, but they were just being curious. Then after a while I put treats on the glove and let them take treats off the glove. It went really well so I decided to try stroking them with the glove and they were fine with it. They were quite happy to let me stroke them with the glove.

Now today I decided it was finally time to be brave and use my hand. I had thought I'd put my hand in the cage in a fist and just let them sniff me and I expected them to nibble me. Well I put my hand in the cage and straight away the "shy" one came over and bit me without hesitation. It was definitely not a nibble, it's drawn blood. It was weird, she scraped her teeth along my hand like she was trying to take it, like she was trying to snatch some food. Although I'm not sure. I imagine if she was trying to actually properly bite me it would be more of a puncture wound? The wound I have starts as just having some skin scraped off then as it gets further down my hand it turns into a gouge that was bleeding. I had no scent of food on my hand at all I hadn't eaten for hours and had washed my hands multiple times since then. I just can't get over how she did it without any sort of hesitation. It has upset me, but I'm not ready to give up yet.

I was just wondering why she might have bitten me like this when things were going so well? She never bit the glove in the way she just bit my hand.

Also the upsetting thing is that I cant even handle the other one because she didn't even get a chance to come over. The other one is very sweet, but the shy one is the dominant one and doesn't let me get near the other one.

TLDR; Trust training my rat was going really well with a glove on, but today I presented my hand and got bitten right away. Any idea why this might have happened?

Thank you for any help. :)


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 Post subject: Re: It's All Gone a Bit Wrong...(Biting)
 Post Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:56 am 
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Joined: Wed May 15, 2013 8:15 pm
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First of all welcome to the forum :D
I'm not an expert on biting, so I'll leave the proper advice to someone who has experience of this sort of thing, but I'd say you deserve a pat on the back first and foremost for your determination to turn things around with these little ones - you obviously care about them and have a lot of patience. There isn't anything irrational about not wanting to be bitten and it can shake your confidence...I've only ever really been bitten once and it made me nervous for a long time afterwards. Unfortunately rats are clever little blighters and can pick up if you're hesitant with them and try it on with you even more which is why using gloves is such a good idea at first if you have already been bitten. It's quite possible that the little one who is biting is doing it out of fear; if they came from a home with children maybe they'd not been shown how to handle them properly and were rough? It's also possible that, if the children had grown bored, they are simply not used to being handled and petted.

There is an article on biting here which might be useful as a start:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=40

How old are your girls and do they have red/pink eyes? Rats' eyesight isn't great anyway, but the red or pink eyed rats tend to have poorer sight which might not be helping things.
Also, if you give us an idea of where you live, there might be someone from the forum who lives close enough to pop in and give you a hand with things.

I hope this helps a bit to start :luck:

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 Post subject: Re: It's All Gone a Bit Wrong...(Biting)
 Post Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:49 pm 
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If the previous owner couldn't get one rat out of the cage then it sounds like the poor girl probably hasn't had very many positive experiences with humans. That said, dragging her teeth along your hand doesn't sound like a normal "bite" I agree. Is it possible that if she got used to food appearing on a glove and grabbing it, that she just tried the same thing when a new weird object (unfortunately your hand!) appeared? You could try feeding them tiny bits of yoghurt/sauce/baby food on a spoon - biting that really shouldn't be that pleasant for her and should encourage look & lick over grab & drag.

I don't know what their cage is like, but if they can still be nervous in it, if possible, try to put it somewhere busy in the house and remove all enclosed areas having just open hammocks, ropes and no hides/tunnels, to help them get used to their environment and people being around. It should also make it easier for you to get to the friendlier girl to hopefully get to know her better, without the other doe getting in the way. If you can get one to come around it should hopefully help the other a little bit!

As Elizabeth said, if you're nervous, they'll probably pick up on it, so trying to find ways to interact with them in ways where you aren't putting your fingers in danger (such as the spoon) will hopefully be a good starting point to help everyone gain confidence :luck:

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 Post subject: Re: It's All Gone a Bit Wrong...(Biting)
 Post Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:40 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:58 pm
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Thank you both! I will definitely try everything that's been mentioned. The lady I got them from told me she'd had them for 3 months so I have a feeling that in that time she probably didn't pay any attention to the nervous one at all and that's where the problem has stemmed from. I will keep at it with all of the new techniques you've told me about and I will hopefully post a positive update soon. :D


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 Post subject: Re: It's All Gone a Bit Wrong...(Biting)
 Post Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:27 am 
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Best of luck :luck:

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Fizz, Cuddles, Bubbles, Horace, Ollie, Humphrey, Fergus, Max, Monty - "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle"


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 Post subject: Re: It's All Gone a Bit Wrong...(Biting)
 Post Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:45 pm 
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Incidentally, I'm not an expert on rodent dentition but I have never heard that they can lock their teeth together, or experienced any evidence of that. (And I've been bitten by a few different rodent species now. :lol: ) So I don't think you need to worry about that at least!

I agree with all of the above advice, and add that if you can rat proof the area where their cage is in, or put up a barrier around the cage temporarily (e.g. use tall cardboard boxes opened up and taped together to make a pen – it'll need to be at least half a metre tall as rats are good jumpers), then you can also sit there with them with the cage door open and let them come to you in their own time. Have some treats handy and put a TV show on – patience is key. Also, this may allow you to interact more with the bolder girl without the shyer one having a go at you, since the bolder one is more likely to come out to say hello. This may also help the shyer one to come round once she realises that her friend has been going out for treats and cuddles and nothing terrible has happened.

Good luck! :luck:

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 Post subject: Re: It's All Gone a Bit Wrong...(Biting)
 Post Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:33 pm 
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[cub] wrote:
Incidentally, I'm not an expert on rodent dentition but I have never heard that they can lock their teeth together, or experienced any evidence of that. (And I've been bitten by a few different rodent species now. :lol: ) So I don't think you need to worry about that at least!


I've come across this idea several times recently - probably on facebook. It may spread and become a myth. :?

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my websites: Cyber Rats (picture site) / Zephyr Stud (rattery site)


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