Aggression and biting

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Jem86
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Aggression and biting

Post by Jem86 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:19 am

Please help! I recently got two 4 month old bucks to put with my adult rat. Introduction process is going well (we're on day 3 so early days) but ine of the babies is a biter! He doesn't seem scared of me because he'll actually charge at me and go straight for my hands. I'm currently wearing 4 pairs of gloves around him and he's still managing to break the skin! It hurts and I'm feeling really disheartened. I've never had this behaviour problem in a rat before so I'm not sure what I can do to take him without getting him castrated. That's even if the problem is hormone related. Any help or advice would be so greatly appreciated. His breeder said he's never bitten before so I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong :(

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cyber ratty
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Re: Aggression and biting

Post by cyber ratty » Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:08 am

I'm assuming they have come from a decent breeder, but if you've any doubts then it might be worth double checking that he is a boy, as pregnant girls can become nippy.

Moving rats when they are adults can be very disturbing for them, it's not usual to move rats at 4 months of age. How long have you had them? He may improve once he's settled, or he may be happier returning to his breeder.

Or since he's also at the age his hormones will begin surging, it could be that he'll need neutering in another couple of months.

Are you using the carrier method? If so, even though it's not normally advised to get them out, I would give the three of them some time with you in a restricted space such as a chair or sofa, and work on creating a bond with the nippy chap - a lot has changed for him in a short space of time.

Jem86
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Re: Aggression and biting

Post by Jem86 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:39 pm

He's from a trusted breeder who is a member of the Fancy Rats Society and he had a very good temperament on the day of collection. Problems started when I got him home, nipping at my hands and wrists so I started wearing gloves. Now it's beyond nipping, he's charging at me and clutching so hard that I can't get him off. I am assuming it's a combination of a lot of change, a new owner, he's the dominant one now and is dominance biting me. With hormones on top. My vet surgery are only taking emergency appointments at the moment so I can't get him neutered just yet. That's if I even keep him. His bites really hurt and it makes me really nervous being around him, even in the cage as he claws at me between the bars. I need to find a successful method of showing him that I'm the alpha (which is hard because he scares me) otherwise I'll have to take him back to the breeder. It's only been 3 days.

Feolthanos
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Re: Aggression and biting

Post by Feolthanos » Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:42 pm

We're the original nips proper breaking skin drawing blood sorta bites? Just thinking that wearing the gloves he may not nessicarly realise that it's skin he's going after. My rat bit after a short while of having him too, so I understand the fear though, proper bites are really rough. I still have a mark 2 months later! I couldn't casually hold my hand anywhere near him without feeling vunurable, so every interaction had to be purposeful until he realised I wasn't going to hurt him. A favourite was move him from somewhere in the cage to the newly placed food.

With him, it's taken a lot of patience. Him and his brother both just didn't respond to any sort of "I'm the boss, deal with it" and I had to take a step back and really build up trust (cos really, their crappy attitude was a mix of fear and them figuring out there own hierarchy, of which there were plenty of squabbles!). I now, after 3 months, have two lovely boys however who have really come out of their shells.

Does he only charge at you within the cage?

What about the environment he's in too. A thing with my rats was I live in a real quiet area and they'd been housed in a quiet part of the house at the breeders, so even me being quiet in the room with them was a whole lotta noise that freaked them out. I put some TED talks or music on whilst I was at work and slowly upped the volume. Theyre still a bit noise jumpy, but this worked wonders within a few days at them not leaping to the other side of the cage just because I itched my arm or something :roll:

Jem86
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Re: Aggression and biting

Post by Jem86 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:52 pm

The original nips did draw blood so I started wearing gloves. I am currently wearing 4 pairs, one pair is anti-bite gloves and he can still pierce the skin and draw blood. It doesn't matter if it's cage or outside of the cage, if he sees my hands he just freaks out and goes for them. Even if I'm just sat there watching him and doing nothing. Earlier I was tidying up around the outside of the cage and he was attacking at the bars because he could see my hands. It's so scary and I can't shake the fear off. When he latches on he holds the grip so hard and it has frightened me and destroyed my confidence.

Feolthanos
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Re: Aggression and biting

Post by Feolthanos » Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:18 am

Jem86 wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:52 pm
The original nips did draw blood so I started wearing gloves. I am currently wearing 4 pairs, one pair is anti-bite gloves and he can still pierce the skin and draw blood. It doesn't matter if it's cage or outside of the cage, if he sees my hands he just freaks out and goes for them. Even if I'm just sat there watching him and doing nothing. Earlier I was tidying up around the outside of the cage and he was attacking at the bars because he could see my hands. It's so scary and I can't shake the fear off. When he latches on he holds the grip so hard and it has frightened me and destroyed my confidence.
This sounds incredibly worrying. I really feel for you, and the little guy. He does not sound happy.

Most definitely discuss with the breeder.

Also, as a thought, look at what hand washes or body soaps you're using. When I was trying to get my boys to forcefully get used to me, it's like they associated that one smell with scary times, as I was constantly washing my hands for fear they'd smell food on me before interacting. I changed the hand wash I used and got a bit more lax about constantly washing them beforehand unless ya know, from a human perspective they actually needed washing and it's worked as part of the puzzle at getting them to trust me.

Do you have a long spoon where you can feed him some soft foods? This personally didn't work for me but I know others have had success with it.

Jem86
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Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:13 am

Re: Aggression and biting

Post by Jem86 » Sun Mar 29, 2020 10:47 am

Agreed, he doesn't seem happy at all and I feel really sorry for him and scared for my safety at the same time! While it's clear he wants to be the alpha he's not as constantly aggressive as he is around me.

I tried feeding him off a spoon, he ignored the spoon entirely and went straight for the hands. I sat a bit further away from the cage last night and just stayed there talking to him and his brother. He was staring at me with hate in his eyes the whole time, but did eventually curl up for a snooze.

I'm in 2 minds right now about either giving him back to the breeder in the hope that he'll be happy again, or go a bit longer to see if he settles down as it's early days still.

Very disheartening either way.

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cyber ratty
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Re: Aggression and biting

Post by cyber ratty » Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:32 pm

Given the lockdown, I think you're stuck with him for a while now, as a journey to return him would not be counted as essential.

Jem86
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Re: Aggression and biting

Post by Jem86 » Mon Mar 30, 2020 10:13 am

Luckily I am feeling more positive and I think I can turn this around. Being on lockdown means I've got even more time to work with him!

Feolthanos
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Re: Aggression and biting

Post by Feolthanos » Tue Mar 31, 2020 7:25 pm

Jem86 wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 10:13 am
Luckily I am feeling more positive and I think I can turn this around. Being on lockdown means I've got even more time to work with him!
That's great to hear. Do let us know how you get on.

Jem86
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Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:13 am

Re: Aggression and biting

Post by Jem86 » Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:46 am

Thank you! At the moment he is still very aggressive but seems to be only towards me. I am wearing multiple pairs of very thick gloves to help boost my confidence around him in the hope that he'll either settle down around me or I wait until my vet can neuter him.

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