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I got my first pet rat originally as a live feeder for my snake but I ended up growing attached and decided I want to keep him (the snake is on frozen thawed rodents now). I got him a new cage and I've done hours of research. He's settled in pretty good now but I just can't seem to get him used to handling or being around my hand. He's not scared of me, and is very confident with my hand and will gladly accept food from me, but whenever I try to let him smell my hand or I leave it in their too long he'll bite it. He's not very young, he looks like he's just around 5-6 months old. I want to get him used to people so that I can take him to the vet and get him checked out for sickness or anything he could've developed from being a feeder, especially since he's been sneezing recently.

If anyone could give me advice to get him used to handling it would be really appreciated, I apologize in advance if there was something I was supposed to be doing that I wasn't.
 

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Hulu, Dibs, Sprout, & Mochi
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He might never get completely used to you due to the fact he was a feeder rat but a friend for the rat might help him. It is important to never keep a rat alone because this can lead to depression and aggression.
 

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He might never get completely used to you due to the fact he was a feeder rat but a friend for the rat might help him. It is important to never keep a rat alone because this can lead to depression and aggression.
I just adopted another rat from a breeder in my area, they're currently in quarantine to make sure they don't spread sickness.

Also, even if he isn't used to people I am still worried about his health due to the sneezing, would it be okay to get him to visit a vet? Even if he never truly gets used to me I want to make sure he's healthy.
 

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Rex, Penny, Sugar, Latte
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Body Language - This is very important for the bonding process, if your rat looks scared or agitated, you want to back off, otherwise you are possibly providing your rat with a negative experience with you (and you may possibly be bit).

I try to let him smell my hand or I leave it in their too long he'll bite it.
He may not like when his cage is invaded since that's his safe space. Make sure he has plenty of places to hide and feels secure, sit by the door of the cage, and give him the choice to come to you. If he does come reward him by giving him a delicious treat. Additionally, you can toss treats in his cage while passing so he learns that human's presence = treats and human's presence ≠ cage invasion.

How hard does he bite? Is it a bite and run? What's his body language like before and after?
If it is only a light bite/nip/nibble then you can squeak (to let him know that you are not food and it hurts) and remove your hand for a second.
If it is a deep bite, intended to make you back off, you can try the metal spoon method:
  • Put a licking treat on a metal spoon
  • Allow him to come on his own accord
  • Reward with the spoon
  • If he bites the spoon then squeak and take the spoon away for a second then return shortly
  • The goal is to eventually feed the licking treat on your hand (knuckles are harder for them to bite and doesn't hurt as much)
  • If you only feel comfortable feeding via metal spoon, then still do this consistently to allow him to get used to your presence
  • You can eventually stroke and pet him while he is busy with the treat
 

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Rex, Penny, Sugar, Latte
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I got my first pet rat originally as a live feeder for my snake but I ended up growing attached and decided I want to keep him (the snake is on frozen thawed rodents now). I got him a new cage and I've done hours of research. He's settled in pretty good now but I just can't seem to get him used to handling or being around my hand. He's not scared of me, and is very confident with my hand and will gladly accept food from me, but whenever I try to let him smell my hand or I leave it in their too long he'll bite it. He's not very young, he looks like he's just around 5-6 months old. I want to get him used to people so that I can take him to the vet and get him checked out for sickness or anything he could've developed from being a feeder, especially since he's been sneezing recently.

If anyone could give me advice to get him used to handling it would be really appreciated, I apologize in advance if there was something I was supposed to be doing that I wasn't.

This may sound silly, but in addition to Rex's advice - wash your hands before trying to interact with the rat. I'm wondering if it smells the snake on you and is reacting to that smell.
 

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I have 3 rescues and one 'bites' my fingers, but they aren't real bites. Very gentle, with just a little pressure, and he never hurts me. This behavior is not food related or defensive. I've tried saying NO loudly, but he scampers away and comes back playing like it's a game. It's just who he is :giggle:
 

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I have 3 rescues and one 'bites' my fingers, but they aren't real bites. Very gentle, with just a little pressure, and he never hurts me. This behavior is not food related or defensive. I've tried saying NO loudly, but he scampers away and comes back playing like it's a game. It's just who he is :giggle:
I was about to ask something similar to this. Is if the rat is biting (aka draws blood) or testing and nibbling (aka firm teeth but doesn't break the skin)? I have had many rescue rats over the years that were nibblers. They would apply their teeth pretty firm, sometimes hard enough that it actually hurt, but you could tell they weren't actually biting. Their mouth and teeth are just another sense they use to figure out what things are. Several people have suggested in this thread and there are other tutorials from Isamu Rats that talk about how to encourage rats to stop nibbling so hard or to stop completely. One that works for me most of the time is to give a loud squeek when they are too rough. Just a High pitched "eeeee!" just like they do with each other.

It takes time but I've successfully applied those techniques to every single rat I've had this situation with.
 
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