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 Post subject: Help needed please.
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 3:01 pm 
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Hi, im new to this forum and really need some advice. Ive always had rats, and normally rescue them from a local shelter or get the from a breeder.

I recently was given 4 6 week old babies, who were bought (by someone else, not myself) from a breeder who didnt handle them much so are timid. Ive dealt with timid rats before and im glad to say im seeing alot of progress with 3 of the rats already(ive only had them 4 days), but one of the rats is acting different to any rat ive had before. He will happily run up to my hands, does not look intimitated, nervous or shy, but goes straight up to my fingers and bites. He bites hard, no warnings, no nibbles. Just bites and has drawn blood a couple of times. Ive tried holding a treat on the end of my fingers, and he still does a couple of hard bites before he takes a treat.

Has anybody got any advice? I know its early days and im definitely not going to give up on him, but im unsire where to go. Thanks. X


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 Post subject: Re: Help needed please.
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 4:29 pm 
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Fancy Rats Team
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Location: South Cambridgeshire
He's very young to be behaving like that - I'd normally suggest it was down to hormones, and to neuter, but he's far too young.

I would think he's most likely biting out of fear, rather than dominance, so I'd try some one to one sessions with him - pop him inside a loose outer layer of clothing such as a hoody or dressing gown, and walk around with him for at least 20 minutes. Hopefully he'll discover that nothing scary happens and begin to trust you. Once you trust him, you can slip your hand in with him! ;)

Alternatively, could he be brain damaged or disabled in some way, and biting is his first reaction?

Does he bite more or less when he's away from the cage (in a different room)?

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Mary x

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 Post subject: Re: Help needed please.
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:43 pm 
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I will give that a go, thank you. Tonight was the first time ive held him out of the cage, and it went surprisingly well. Sat quite calmly, no nipping or biting. Its funny you shpuld say about a disability though, im beginning to suspect he might have vision issues. He doesnt seem to be aware when theres a drop in the cage or anything, and has fell off a couple of times. Dont worry, theyre very small drops, just off of the box they sleep in and their sputnik etc. I keep the levels fairly low whilst theyre young. That wpuld explain things though


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 Post subject: Re: Help needed please.
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:05 pm 
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EmmaNuttall245 wrote:
...Tonight was the first time ive held him out of the cage, and it went surprisingly well. Sat quite calmly, no nipping or biting...


Ah maybe not.. handled him again amd he nipped whilst out :?


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 Post subject: Re: Help needed please.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:48 am 
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I had this issue with one of my current girls. Blackberry (the girl in question) was quite inquisitive and curious, coming out of the cage, approaching my hand, and even eating food when held. But her one problem was that at seemingly random intervals, she would bite and draw blood.

What ended up being her issue was that she was very territorial. If you invaded her space, she became insecure and went on the attack. It didn't matter if she was in her cage, in a box, or in my shirt. If she was inside something, reaching towards her would always result in a bite. Similarly, if I tried to pick her up while she was facing me, she would also try to bite.

What I ended up doing is always sticking a metal spoon up to her face before interacting with her. Rats hate biting metal, and Berry was no different. Once she learned to check before she bit, I started offering some meat baby food on the spoon. I stopped forcing her out of any area as well, as this only made her more likely to bite. Instead, I would use a liquid treat to lure her out and onto my hand. As she was licking up the treat, she had no way of biting me, and we got to bond in a positive manner (I should mention that she was between 10-12 weeks old at this time). Overtime, I stopped using the spoon, and instead placed the baby food on my knuckle. This made me more confident, as bites to the knuckle hurt less (and bleed less) than bites to the fleshy parts of the hand. Once I was fairly confident that she wouldn't bite my knuckle, I began simply leaving the wet food on my hand and fingers. I only used wet food initially, as I was obsessed with teaching her to lick, not bite. And the longer she went without a biting incident, the better bite inhibition she developed. It took around a month before I could trust her not to bite outside the cage, and another month to completely conquer her in-cage aggression (tip: stick hard objects (like a metal spoon) through the bars frequently to stop the rat from trying to bite incoming fingers).

Berry now has a great bite inhibition, just like most rats do. If she get annoyed, she will push my fingers away, but this is much better than her previous biting. I will say that Berry has no neurological issues at all, and she is one of the easiest rats to train (in my experience). Hopefully this is the case with your youngster, and that with time and patience, and he'll come around.


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 Post subject: Re: Help needed please.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:58 pm 
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Fancy Rats Team
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Location: South Cambridgeshire
If it is that he's blind, then use a particular prompt whenever you intend to do something like pick him up, so he knows what's happening. It would probably help him if you ensure there is a good network of routes in the cage which you don't change, so he can easily find his way around.

I have a girl who seems to be blind and possibly partially deaf as well, or maybe has no sense of smell (whatever the issue, it's more than just blindness), and she nipped hard right from being a baby. When I realised that was the problem, I always spoke to her first "Bridget, I'm just picking you up", then gently stroked her side, before scooping her up. She mostly stopped nipping within a couple of weeks, although there was the odd relapse.

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Mary x

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 Post subject: Re: Help needed please.
 Post Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:06 pm 
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A little update for you guys.. the good news is the biting isnt as bad now. Hes still nipping occasionally, but hes gotten a lot better than he was. The bad news.. i dont think the little guy is right. Im still fairly confident he is blind or at least has partial vision, but his balance still seems off compared to his litter mates. Bit the worrying thing is im fairly sure he is having some form of seizure or fit when he sleeps. He shakes, espcially his back legs for a couple of seconds whilst on his side, then jumps up and runs. And fully runs, when he stops he looks so confused. Im at work at the moment but will be taking him the veta tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest, depending when the veta can see him. Any ideas what this cpuld be?


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 Post subject: Re: Help needed please.
 Post Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:56 am 
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Fancy Rats Team
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Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:47 am
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Location: South Cambridgeshire
If it's a form of epilepsy then there are meds to control it, but it might be some other sort of neurological issue.

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Mary x

Zephyr Rat Stud


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