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Discussion Starter #1
I have had two male rats for about two weeks, one is neutered and one is not. Now, this is what i find confusing... it was the neutered one that bit me. They are about 6 mos old, and probably weren't socialized very well. So to get them people friendly I've been taking them out of their cage individually for at least 1/2 an hour every day. When I take them out I generally stick them in my robe and let them crawl all over me until they settle down, which usually takes about 10-15 minutes, at whcih point they usually just sit down in a comfy spot and chill. The unfixed one usually ends up purring for me, while the neutered one does not seem to like it much when i pet him. Well last night I had the neutered one out and he had finally settled down and was sitting in the nook of my arm inside my robe looking comfy. Well I had been petting him on and off for a while, when he lunged out of the robe to bite my finger and then withdraw. I was shocked, so i gave him a couple minutes to chill and then put my fisted hand about four inches away from his face, at which point he lunged again, this time drawing a bit of blood. I quickly got up and let him climb back in the cage.

This is what is bothering me about the whole incident: he wasn't scared, he was annoyed with my petting, and decided to let me know with a violent bite... so I am now afraid to take him out, because if every time he is "not in the mood" to be petted, he's going to attack me, then I will never know until I'm bleeding, and that is not okay with me. I mean, how can i trust him if he's going to bite me every time I do something he may not "like". AND HE'S NEUTERED... I thought they were supposed to be less prone to biting? What is going on here? Is he mean? What should I do? How can I feel comfortable petting him again?

Will someone please give me some advice...?
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

It sounds to me like he's taking your petting as you trying to be dominant... in return he is trying to show you that he's boss. Is he aggressive with the other rat?
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

neutering only helps hormonal aggression not learned behaviours. An alpha rat will always be an alpha.

The not so good part about having new rats in your clothes is that you cannot read his body language. He is all warm and comfy and then this hand keeps invading that space to pat him, he's starting to get defensive and biting always makes the Big Bad Hand go away.

This boy needs to be out where you can see him and watch for any arching of the back/tucking of the head, fur poufing, ears laying back a bit, etc.

Most biters telegraph and you just have to watch the body language for signs.
You can wear gloves to pick him up if it makes you feel better. But have him out with you on a couch, and let him explore you (keep your hands out of his way/teeth), offer him yummy liquidy things (I use baby cereal as a training aid all the time) near you. He's new to your home and you, so you have no idea how he was treated before. Just be patient and let him come to his own realization that you are Good and The Bringer of Good Things. :D
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

Perhaps he was defending his little "territory"? Do you plan on having the other male neutered? Perhaps he's more dominant and the neutered one is used to defending his cozy spots?

My best advice is try not to be scared (he'll sense that), carry on as normal and protect yourself. Always be aware of where the biting end is and watch him carefully. If you don't carry on as normal, you risk having an unpredictable unsocialized rat.

I do know how hard it is to carry on after they've bitten you; I went through the same thing and had to have treatment and heavy antibiotics for a week. With perseverance and taking it slowly, she's settled down and hasn't attempted to bite us again. We'll always be wary of her, but it's not a bad thing to be cautious when handling animals.
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

Thanks for the replies. Now that you say he might just be showing me I can't dominate him that does make sense. I wasn't intending on having the other boy neutered; they get along just fine, and honestly neither seem to be the alpha He is in general a bit more skittish than the other guy, but seemed to be coming around very well up until last night. I guess he's no longer really afraid of me and now thinks he can get away with being more aggressive.

I will definately not put him in the robe again for a LONG time. I haven't let either of the boys run free yet because I've learned from past rat experiences that, if they're not comfortable yet, they often just hide and are extremely hard to get out from wherever they are hiding. Do you think I should let him jump down off the couch if he tries and let him roam for a while? Or should i keep him on the couch by gently nudging away from the edge? I really do hope this biting stuff ends very soon...
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

I can't help but wonder, assuming it is a dominance issue, that perhaps you might be best to don some gloves and pin him down a couple of times (like a rat would), show him you are boss and he better behave. Maybe some other boy owners might have something to add to this, but I can't see any reason why it wouldn't work.
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

Pin him down, huh? Have you done that before? Yes any additional male rat owner input would me MUCH APPRECIATED...
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

I've done it in play with a female, and it worked as if a rat had done it to her... she stopped wrestling and started "grooming" my hand.

I can see no reason why it wouldn't work, as long as you protect your hand to withstand any bites he might give while he's protesting.
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

By pinning him down I mean carefully but forcefully rolling him onto his back and holding him there until he submits - the same way a dominant rat would. You might have to do it a few times, until he started to accept that you were the dominant "rat".
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

It does sound like an idea to consider, but I have to admit that considering it is making me a bit nervous. It's not the worry about being bitten really, it's more like... what if it just makes it worse? What if he then wants to eat me alive or then he's just terrified...?
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

I can't see that it could make it worse and, if you do it right, he shouldn't be terrified. He might challenge your dominance occasionally, but as long as you are firm with him, he should learn his place. Of course, all this is assuming that it is a dominance issue.
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

Okay, I will try it tonight and let you know how it goes. :?
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

Don't be scared, honestly. Apart from anything else, rats can sense if you are scared. You need to be firm and consistent with him.

If you like, turn it into a game. Play wrestle with him with your fingers (inside gloves!) and when you've done that for a bit, roll him over and pin him into submission. If you play this often and always end it where you win with him pinned down on his back, it'll have the same effect and he'll enjoy the play part of it.
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

Okay, I tried it. First of all, he was freakin terrified when i picked him up in the gloves. He was struggling like crazy, so I tried to calm him down first, but that didn't work, so I flipped him over and gently held him like that until he stopped squirming. He did look very very angry, his ears were back and all. Then I let him run around on the table while I petted him. Then I picked him up and held him in the gloves for five minutes, making him stay in my hands while I petted him some more. Then I kneeled down by the cage, put him on my lap and pinned him again... he didn't struggle that time, so I let him up and he climbed into the cage to see his cagemate, who really wanted to come out. So his cagemate climbed out and then the bitey one got excited and ran back up to the cage door. I took my gloves off and petted them both. And the bitey one climbed onto my lap too. Very weird, very very weird, but hey, I'll keep at it.
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

Great start! Eventually he'll learn. :) You can also add treats when he does well. Rats respond very well to rewards for good behaviour.
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

I've had this random biting problem with my oldest rat, Oscar. The thing that probably sets him apart from your rat however is the fact that he's blind, so much of the biting in his younger days was purely down to fear.

He went through a phase at about 3-5 months old where he was quite highly strung, and was very terretorial with regards to my putting my hand in his cage, or picking him up from his favourite hideout in my room. While he hasn't bitten me for...ages now, at least 5 months or so, i always make i read his body language quite carefully. Sometimes it can be more subtle than puffing up of fur, laid back ears etc, and the better you get to know your rat, the better you can judge his mood. If you're rat's anything like Oscar, he's probably the sweetest guy in the world, but sometimes gets abit confused and angsty and so lashes out when he has all these pent up hormones or anxiety. Just out of curiosity, does you rat have light eyes, or dark? If they're red he's pretty much blind, so you'll have to make sure you play up to his other senses more - letting him sniff your hand before you touch him and talking to him so he hears a familiar voice.

Also, make sure your hands don't smell of food - that's another thing that might be confusing him. To me it sounds more like anxiety - he's not really 'bonded' with you yet, and if he's not been very well socialised all this human stuff will be new to him, and he won't have any 'manners' so to speak. Please try and be confident with him and don't be scared. He most likely didn't do it our of sheet nastyness, he was probably just very confused or hormonal as he's probably going through the 'teenage months'. If he does bite you, make a loud squeak, or similar noise to let him know that he's hurt you. This might sound silly but it will let him know he's gone too far and caused pain. I think Oscar realised immediately after the times he lashed out that what he had done was wrong, it's just all about trust, for both of you.

Good luck with him and don't be put-off, just be patient and gentle like you have been :)
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

He's a dark eyed, hooded rat aproximately 6mos old. He is neutered so I don't know how much of it is hormones. But like you said, he's fairly new to the human stuff, so that's probably it. I am determined to make a lovable rat friend of him though, just like his cagemate. Thanks to everybody for your advice and encouragment. :D
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

Oh yeah i forgot you said he was neutered...that should cut a lot of the hormonal stuff out. It could just be the 'bite first, ask questions later' mentality. They're pretty small, prey animals after all, so can't really afford to investigate first. Glad to hear you're sticking it out with him though!
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

when i had to do that with my boys i also squeaked at them when they nipped me (copied their squeaks at each other)
 

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Re: He bit me and I am very confused by the type of bite it

Stephanie said:
when i had to do that with my boys i also squeaked at them when they nipped me (copied their squeaks at each other)
You did the pinning them down thing, too?
 
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