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I have had my baby Thorn for a few months now. He's gotten so big and healthy, and everything has been wonderful--but he's suddenly shown some behavior I don't understand, and I need to understand it in order to make sure he doesn't hurt anyone or get hurt.

I started out with a small cage, but my dad, after suddenly finding his soft spot for warm fuzzies, asked me to give him another cage on his own dime. I moved him into his new 2-story cage, and his first cage became a 'home away from home' that he would go into when we went places--I would put his cage in the back of the car and put him in it when we went inside, and keep him in my hands otherwise. In my own car, he gets under my seat, and he usually squeaks at me and resists when I want him to come out. Not such a big deal, all in all.

When he free-ranges in my room, which he does a lot, we play when he comes on the bed and he's started biting me more aggressively. This isn't too bad because he is clearly still within the 'playing' range, but he's bit harder and held once or twice. I put him away in his cage that night and there was no problem the next day.

Today, he was asleep on the table, and he crawled into his cage. My dad came out with a vitamin cap, overturned, with some seeds in it and set it down inside the cage for him. He reached over to pet him, and Thorn woke up, lunged at his hand, and bit him!!!

This was the first time he'd shown aggression like this. He bit my dad to bleeding once before, but my dad reached into the box he was sleeping in, and Thorn woke up, sniffed his finger, nibbled, nibbled harder, and then bit, because my dad hadn't moved his hand away at all. So I dismissed it as accident.

I reached in after he bit my dad, and petted him, and he had no problem. He sniffed my fingers, let me rub his teeth, and all in all was fine. Then, my mom reached into the cage, and he leapt at and bit her as well!

So, he went from a history of no trouble to giving two blood-drawing bites in one day. I think he must have some idea that that cage is his territory and I'm part of our clan, so I'm allowed in, but he's defending his territory--I just really need advice because I don't want to be afraid to handle my rat, or hand him to someone with any reservations about whether he'll bite them.

Please help!!

:cry:
 

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Squeak, eep, or yelp when he nibbles on you (to tell him it hurts). Some rats, when startled awake, may feel threatened.

If this is only the second time he's drawn blood in a few months he's far from a lost cause. Be consistent and brave with holding him as often as you can. Being nervous about it will only make things worse. :)
 

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How old is your boy now? Is he 5-8 months or so? This is the age when a male rat becomes the most territorial and can become hormonally aggressive. At this point your parents should never wake him up if he's sleeping. You he associates as a friend but as I assume that they handle him a lot less, they are more "strangers" in his mind. When you take him out of the cage and he's fine, you can get your parents to handle him more. Watch out for signs like rubbing his paws on the ground, or pushing his bedding around with those front paws, puffing up his fur, sidling, or rubbing his sides/butt against anything. These are times that he is being hormonal and to definitely not mess with him.

Definitely "eep" on the hard nibbles, and hopefully he will realize its not appropriate. With the harder and harder nibbles taken to a bite, he is asking you to stop doing what you are doing, that is why he continued to nibble harder until he bit...YOU weren't listening. Each rat is a totally different character and personality. My mom is astounded that I know the names of my 45 rescues at home, and their distinct personalities. :D

Watch his body language and he will tell you when he's uncomfortable with something or not. I have a new girl at home, and she is already trusting me to pick her up in 2 days. I "ask" them by my actions (put my hands gently around her middle, and wait and she "tells" me when she is ready for the scary event (stays still, crouches down a bit).

Be patient and be aware of your rat and you should be just fine.
 

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He reached over to pet him, and Thorn woke up, lunged at his hand, and bit him!!!
Can you imagine a hand the size of your own body lunging towards you as soon as you opened your eyes?...lol
He propbably thought 'WTF is that!!' and instinctivly defended himself.
You must make sure a ratty is awake before you attempt to touch them, a gently voice will alert him to who it is as hes opening his eyes from sleep and trying to focus.. if all he can see is a dark shadow looming over him he will be frightened.

As for your dad he mustnt show fear, if hes nervous of the rat then in turn the rat will be nervous of him.

Chances are all will be forgotten in a couple of days, just try and get your dad to handle him more and Talk to him more..
 

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just to add: my softest bestest ever ratty boy [naz. rip] who would NEVER EVER DREAM of nipping or biting anyone with his super soft slushy nature actually bit my STOOOOOPID nephew on the nose and drew loads of blood because my nephew opened the front of his cage and stuck his entire head in whilst he slept,
Its easy to startle them when theyre sleeping,
was funny tho.. dont know who screetched loudest, my nephew and his bloody nose or my super suprised rat!..
lesson learnt...lol
 
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