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My new rat, Eliza, will now have been home for six nights. Today, when I was going to pick her up (the second time I've actually gone to hold her) she bit me--hard enough to draw blood. I realize that this behavior is probably from her being afraid, but I'm not sure how to handle it. Should I leave her alone for a while or go back and try again? Her sister, Sage, is much more shy and timid, never biting. Is this behavior normal?
 

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You might try any number of things to get her used to you. Sit next to the cage and talk to her, let her get used to your smell and your voice. You could even read aloud to her. Also bring her treats and feed them to her out of your hand. That will get her used to you being the "Bringer of Good Things", and it will also associate your hands with something positive. If you're not too scared of her biting, you could dip your finger in baby food or something of similar texture so she has to lick it off your finger instead of running and hiding with it--also getting her used to your hands.

Another thing, go slow, and be gentle when trying to pick her up. You didn't say how you pick her up, but if you pick her up from above and quickly, you are probably scaring the tar out of her. Be gentle, and go slow. It might take a while for her to get used to you (days, weeks, maybe even months, just fyi.)

Good luck! And congRats on your new girls! :D Do you have pictures up?
 

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Thanks for the reply! I'll try those things and hopefully she'll soon come around :) . I'll put some photos up as soon as i can, too!
 

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and if your afraid of letting her lick off your finger, make a fist and than smear something yummy on the side of your hand. They can still bite you but this is by far, less scary FOR YOU! I also do this sometimes because my dear PEW is so blind she grabs my finger by mistake all the time, luckily she releases as soon as she realizes its the kind of food she has to lick off.
Good luck with your girls :)
 

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I definitely second (or third...?) the baby food thing..or yogurt! It really helped with Roxie getting used to us. Now she'll grab my finger with her hands and just lick until there's NOTHING left!

Good luck!

Oh, and just a reminder, but I'm sure you've already heard. Just go really slowly, and if you feel teeth, as long as it's not hurting, she may just be testing to see if it's food...and if she is, be careful not to jerk back too fast, or it could scare her and cause her to really bite! :O
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Okay. Eliza hasn't gotten any better. I don't know what to do! She just doesn't want to be held or touched. I've tried everything... Should the next step be I hold her (with gardening gloves) whether she enjoys it or not? Or should I continue to wait until she comes to me? It's frusterating. I'm not sure if this is normal or not. When I'm in the room, Eliza wants out of her cage while Sage sticks to the igloo. With Sage, I'm not even sure how to approach it... She's just so scared and frightened! It's been a tough night, I guess. Eliza found that there was a hole she could fit into in the base of the bookshelf. 30 minutes later, after i calmed down and began reading a book alloud, she showed herself and i could finally herd her back into the cage... Any advice would be highly appreciated!
 

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Sometimes these things take time. It might take days or weeks, even months. It's only been two days since you originally posted. Give it some time. Be patient. I know it's hard, but it's worth it. Just keep trying. :)
 

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Cool, my name's Eliza too! :) Anyways, I got Artemis to trust me by letting him lick a little bit of banana pudding off my finger. He didn't bite, and now he always licks my fingers!
 

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put a soiled old shirt in the cage with them. They will get used to your scent. When you go to pick them up scoop them up from the bottom. Wear a baggy hoodie, and let them ride on you for 20+ mins. They will no longer be scared of the situation after 20 mins, and it'll give them a chance to bond to you. Patience and understanding are key. They sound like highly unsocialized ratties, and they may even have a reason to mistrust humans :( BUT you can earn their trust. Try to relax. If you're afraid of them biting you all the time they will sense the tension, and they won't want to come near you. One last thing I can think of is when you have babyfood/yogurt on your finger don't put your hand in the cage. Hold it by the door, and let them come to you to lick it off.
 

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Are these babies or older rats you have adopted?

It sounds like Eliza is protecting her much more timid sister to me.

I would do what I do with all unsocialized rats. Put them both on the couch, lie down with a blanket over you. Let the rats hide behind a pillow but make sure they can get under the blanket near that pillow. Eliza will get to know you and get used to you without hands involved. Sage will feel much safer covered up and will usually after awhile end up following her much braver and dominant sister/cagemate. :)

Right now you are Scary and the Enemy and possibly a Predator. They both need to get used to you and trust you on their terms. I let them climb all over me or just sit and watch me (I watch TV or read a book). If a rat goes over my shoulder I kiss a butt as it goes by. I might touch very gently a bit of rat that is nearby but not for long, so they can get away and relax and not feel pressured. I did this with a severe biter male once and got his trust and confidence quite quickly. I talk to them often with a soft reassuring voice, telling them not to be scared, and I love them...rats are very sensitive to tone of voice and will respond eventually. :D
 
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