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Discussion Starter #1
About 4 wks ago we adopted a pair of females from a shelter. They were 4 months when we took them home and had been at the shelter for 1 month.
They were handled roughly and possibly abused by a young boy. The one is friendly and playful with us, but the other one is so aggressive! She has biten my fiancee on several occassions. One time she got him pretty good and he bled quite a bit. We love her and want to be able to socialize her, but we are honestly scared of her! We have another pair of females that we cuddle and play with and we would love to have the same relationship with these girls. We aren't sure exactly what to do to help her.
 

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Have you introduced them to your nice socialized girls?

The girly sounds defensive rather than truly aggressive. She will just take some time to get over her habits. How do you handle her? How do you prevent being nipped/bitten? Does sshe only bite in the cage?

I and a few others have taken in biters and reformed them but we need to know more about you and her to give advice :)
 

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How do you handle her? Does she bite only within the cage, as you're picking her up, or after you've held her for a while?

Take heart that biters can be rehabilitated... Perry (my black hoodie) used to bite hard and often, but he hasn't done so in a long time.
 

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Its when she's in the cage. My fiance puts his arm in to either move something or take the food bowl out or put it in and she will bite his arm sometimes. The first time he was petting her in the cage and she suddenly grabbed his finger and bit hard and wouldn't let go, he almost had to shake her off! When he goes to give her a treat she will sometimes take the food and drop it and then open her mouth like she wants to bite and then she doesn't. We can't handle her. At the shelter when we first met them we could pick them both up. When she comes out she doesn't come to us at all. I talk to her all the time and she has greeted me and will come over and respond to me, but she just seems so nervous. I am scared to introduce them to Belle and Arielle (our other girls). The other new rat had a brief meeting with Belle, she climbed on the cage and her and Belle smelled each other and were friendly. When our bitey little one came upon towels that were in the other ones cage she arched her back and was digging in them and sniffing and just seemed aggressive. I'm concerned that she might hurt one of the other girls. I was told by a woman from a rescue to get gloves and handle her that way, because she needs to be handled and that way she can''t hurt us. Does that sound like a good idea. We have such a great relationship with our first girls, we just want to be able to have that with the new ones too.
 

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Gloves can help. At least to get her out of the cage and try handling her elsewhere. It sounds like she may be cage aggresive (bites while within the cage to protect "her" space.
 

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I have had a few rescues like that. I call them cage aggressive/possessive. THAT is their space and may be the only thing in their world of everchanging circumstances that is stable. She sounds like the dominant one of the pair and she is protecting her sister. You will have to figure out a way to do the things you need to do (adding food, etc) without getting bitten. For my current girl, I call her to the cage door, put my hand over her head and shoulders and hold her firmly when I need to reach in and add blocks etc. If I need to really work in the cage I take them out. She took a long time to trust me having been neglected for the 2 years of her life, but she now runs to me when she is outside the cage. :) I put her on the couch with me and let her explore me and get used to me at her pace. Forced socialization would not work on this situation. I have had to adapt to her behaviours which I don't mind. She's allowed to be cranky. :)

Give her time, almost all of my rats except Bella have given up the biting in the cage once they finally trusted me. :)
 

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You could use gloves for some things but try not to. Rats can be frightened of them and they realize you do not trust them. Offer her the back of your hand, much harder to bite, to test her instead of offering those yummy fingers. When she is out and you are worried just keep moving your hands away from biting distance, make it a smooth motion (like you meant to do that anyways). How is she when she is out (besides the digging, and rubbing and marking?), where do you have her come out?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
We actually do offer the back of our hands because I know they may associate fingers w/food. The first time she was out was in the bathroom when she was still on quarantine. Next she came out in the living room, she explored and ran around but would come back to the cage often. The last times were in the bedroom. She didn't want to go back in this morning. She is always on guard, but she explores. She doesn't really come to us or play. Her sister will come over and be playful, but she also stays close to the cage. From the beggining we have opened the cage door to give them the opportunity to come out, but never forced them. They get rewarded with a little piece of Nilla wafer when they come out right away.
 

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It sounds like she will come round eventually, and that you are doing all the right things. Now its just the patience part and remembering that this one may bite in the cage.

Once my old nakie Bella is out, she is off and running. she is not cuddly but when I call her she comes running now. See if you can work with her on a couch or a armchair. Just let her be in proximity to you. Even lie/sit down and offer baby cereal on a dish on your lap or stomach. I keep the hands away for awhile at this point, just the casual stroke as they run by to check out yet something else :D Make Out time more fun overall and then the cage becomes a secondary thing in her life. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you for all the suggestions. Once I realized why she was acting the way she was and that she wasn't being aggressive, just protective and defensive it was easier to understand her. This past weekend I spent alo of time just sitting at the cage and quietly talking to her. She would come sit and look right into my eyes and listen. Then she would greet me several times and lay down and just relax while i spoke to her. She was running along the cage as I walked past it and couldnt wait to come out this morning. When she came out she actuallly came to me and let me pet her and sniffed my leg. That is huge for her! Her back seems arched when she's out running around. Is she being defensive? Also one spot on her back lookjs pinkish. Is it maybe her hair thinning because she's stressed? Could it be because she's white? Or because it's just dirty in that spot? I may be paranoid, but I just want to make sure its nothing to worry about.
 

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An arched back, fluffed out fur, and crabwalking (sideways walking) into other rats can indicate aggression, out of fear or what have you, I believe. :) Her hair could be thinning, or she could be cutting it short, or one of the other rats could be cutting it short, or she could have wiped some porphyrin there (the red substance that's in the rat's bodily fluids. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
She definitley runs sideways and digs in the carpet when she smells where the other girls have been. When shes out running around it still seems arched and she is always a bit defensive. It is not porphyrin. You can only see this spot at the right angle and light. It's more like you can see her pink skin through her fur. I just want to make sure its not a skin problem.
The two new girls also smell strange. Its not a good smell. Is it possible that they are marking their territory? My other girls have never smelled that way. It almost smells like moth balls, but worse! I do not want my room smelling that way. We keep them clean so I dont understand why its so bad.
 
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