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I have two 5 month old male Dumbo/Rex rats. Their mother was turned in to our shelter as part of a rescue (there were 8 females-all pregnant). She was also extremely aggressive. She charged at front of the cage door anytime someone came close and even reached through to try and grab you. Mom would actually attack a wash cloth placed next to the cage, latch on and refuse to let go.

She gave birth to 8 pups and all lived. They were all handled by staff from an early age and appeared to be well socialized. One of the two is very friendly and climbs on the cage bars to come out and interact with me. The other one is pink with pink eyes and has always been a little more hesitant to interact with anyone. However, I loved their playfulness and their bald bodies. I know that pink rats tend to have poor vision and that genetics does play a role in behavior, but can be somewhat mitigated through learning and felt prepared for the job.

Anyway, they were both neutered about two weeks ago as a way to try and decrease possible aggression. This week Pinkie has begun to run and hide whenever I open the cage door, while Stripe begs to come out and allows me to lift him up, carry him and play. Today Pinkie ran to the door along with Striped, but as soon as I tried to lift him up, he nipped at me, when I reached around to try another approach, he repeated he behavior. Now I only felt his teeth and he did not leave a mark, but I am concerned his may become an established behavior and the nips will turn to bites.

Pinkie and Stripe were both on pain meds for two days post surgery and neither of them were thrilled with getting the meds or having their incisions examined, but Pinkie is the only one to show this behavior. I am really stumped and no longer feed them anything by hand on the chance this was a mistaken identity. Co-workers have advised a variety of techniques from: accepting the fact that he will be just like his mother, to using a towel to lift him out of the cage and forcibly interact with him. Since he just started this I can't help but think he has taken a dislike to me picking him up.

I appreciate any and all suggestions. I don't want to exclude Pinkie from interactions that will allow him out of cage time.
 

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If he did not break skin, then what you had was a "please dont!" bite. Which is a good thing at least in that he didn't do a "F--OFF GET AWAY" bite. They know how to do damage, and he basically asked you in the strongest terms he knew how to NOT pick him up without actually hurting you.

Post surgery he may still have some residual pain. Something might be pulling, and he may be anxious about being lifted now. I would get out the towel and do some bonding/treating. I would take mine to the couch while watching tv, stick them in my hoodie or on a lap, and feed em as many treats as they would take. Gloves might not be a bad idea just to get him out, lest he decide to bite harder when you don't listen to his politer request. My guess is that once he's out and in lap, he'll be happier.

Good luck!
 
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