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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My youngest girl, Zuri, is about 4 months old. She hates being touched and picked up but will come to me and take food and climb on me if I'm sitting still. Until now, she has tolerated being picked up and touched, but she started biting me last week if my hand is even close to her. I have 4 bites down my index finger that have all happened within a week and I don't really understand why she's biting. Today she bit me while I was petting one of my other girls (I didn't know she was in the basket too since she was under some fleece so maybe she felt trapped). I don't chase her down to pick her up, I let her get herself into and out of the cage, she doesn't seem sick and if anything she seems more energetic than ever; I just don't understand what could have sparked this :( I was thinking maybe a heat cycle since she's been extra energetic and crazy, but she would have had multiple heat cycles by now and never acted this way. Any ideas? I've been working really hard to get her used to me, but it seems like she just wants to do her own thing and is incredibly jumpy; the biting has put an end to any immersion type time that I get to spend with her for now since I misplaced my gloves and I'm sure that's not helping the situation any.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I feel like it might be that she was afraid of me before and now she's not; she's figured out that biting me doesn't cause her any harm in return. She will take treats from my hand, no problem, and has never bitten me while I'm giving her a treat. It's only when she's laying in a basket and I try to pet her (which she used to grudgingly allow) or if my hand is near her petting another rat. I think she just finished growing, so maybe she's having hormone changes, i just don't know.
 

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I am having a similar issue with my smaller girl who is around 3-4 months as well. She doesn't bite but she's been acting EXTREMELY scared when I try to pick her up or I get too close to her during free-range time. The saddest part is that she was the calmest from the 3 I adopted from the lab and she was the first to bond with me. Her sisters come to me, like to be petted (for a few seconds because they are always on the run but I still know they like it)and all play with me except for Pelusa. She even starts to breath like she's scared to death and honestly I don't feel like picking her up anymore ever because it really looks like it's bad for her. But being so scared like this can't be good either!

It really baffles me and I'm suspecting maybe she has something bad with her health,she's a little too lean, but she's been the smaller from the beggining, or I did something that scared her so much. I will wait for the weekend and try an immersion sesion because if she starts biting I won't know how to handle the situation.

I really hope you fine the way to see what's wrong with her. Well, maybe she's just like that and just doesn't like people. Let's hope that in any case she can be happy.
 

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Sorry you are going through that, it's no fun to be bit. For now, try not to put yourself in a situation where you get bit. Continue to give treats to show her you are a good thing. Don't give a treat if you get bit, and don't give her what she wants when she bites. With any pet, if they bite and get their way it reinforces it, even if you only do it once. So if you pick her up, make sure you have a blanket or something ready in case she bites, you are not going to want to put her down till she is not acting aggressive. I'm going to guess it might be your problem currently with it escalating. If she bit you the first time to make you go away and it worked, it will be harder to convince her that it's not a good way to tell you things.

Be watchful for medical causes. Other than hormonal boys, I've only seen a girl bite when there was a medical problem. Not to say that is always going to be the cause of course, but generally speaking, girls do not usually bite.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll get her to come around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm afraid she might just be like my other girl, Astrid. I've had Astrid since she was born and it has taken her a year to warm up to me. She's timid everywhere she goes and jumps at everything, so I know it's not just me. I'll start picking Zuri up with a piece of fleece, maybe that will make her a little more comfortable. Just thought of something though...has a rat from the mischief being sick ever made any of your others act out? This coincides with Isis having another respiratory flare up and she becomes very squeaky when I touch her (Isis is who I was petting when Zuri bit me last); maybe Zuri thinks I'm hurting her??? Nimh and Astrid also squeak when I touch them sometimes so maybe Zuri just has a bad impression of my hands.
 

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When most folks see my daughter manhandle our girls they get surprised. She squishes them and flips them around like rag dolls... She's always done it since she was only 5 years old... But the rats love her and the manhandling. I'm more respectful but the rats love my daughter more and run to her and hang out with her.

Even Max who was mostly a hermit got her fair share of squishing and groping and being tossed around... Frankly its what our rats are used to and seem to look forward to.

I know some rat owners have "timid" or "respectful" personalities. I know they feel they are being better rat parents by handling their rats with kit gloves and giving them space, but this can backfire. Get the gloves on if need be and take charge, or at least take the lead... Rats biting is not something you tolerate, never and not ever. Not once and certainly not ever again.

I am absolutely the most lenient rat parent on earth and our rats get away with murder, but with the one exception of a part wild rat we had, our rats don't bite and the part wild girl only ever bit me once, due to an unfortunate reflex of mine, after she hit the far wall and the floor she came right back to me to apologize and she never bit anyone ever again.

So, I'm all for competent and confident rats and I love our girls to death but there's one hard and fast rule in our house and that's no biting. And somehow our girls know the rule and don't even think of trying it.

It's great to be the nice and understanding parent but you have to set limits and if necessary enforce the rules.

And yes, a rat may have a health issue, like a brain tumor. That needs to be diagnosed and addressed by a vet, otherwise it's your job to teach your rats good manners.

I'm not advocating animal abuse, even if I sound harsh, but it's all about communication and getting your rat to understand the one thing that absolutely can't happen. Biting rats are not pets, they are insurance liabilities. Sooner or later someone is going to get hurt, be it human or another rat.

Max was a hermit, she lived a pretty solitary life... she mostly played with the other rats and only occasionally wanted brief human contact, but she really understood the house rules... no biting, no chewing up stuff, no cutting wires and so on and because she was such a good and competent rat she lived most of her life free range in the house. It was a privilege she earned. Similarly Cloud is trust worthy while Misty is still learning about destroying stuff and needs to be caged when no one is around for a long time and she gets bored. It might seem strange but when your rats learn the basic rules, you can interact with them more and they can live a better more independent life.

It's like raising children, the smartest and most skilled ones with the best social skills do better in life, they get better jobs and more money and can travel more and do more. The kids without caring parents that aren't raised with any rules sometimes wind up in prison or in places where other people manage their lives for them. If you really love your rats, sometimes you have to be firm.

So last night I was chasing Misty across the kitchen as she had looted the trash and was carrying off chicken bones to her nest, I missed her by a hair and she got away with them... but if I did snatch her, the last thing she would have done is bitten me even when I pried the food from her mouth... And yes after she safely stashed the stolen food, she came right back to me to gloat... She's not afraid of me in the least... but she knows there are limits and one rule that she can never break.

Best luck.
 
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