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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of my girls, Lara, is still nipping me fairly regularly, and I'm actually wondering if it's because she genuinely doesn't like being touched by human hands. Is it possible that this is just a genuine personality thing, and if so I feel like I should just respect that she doesn't enjoy being touched and let her interact the way she wants.

For reference, this is how it usually happens:She is unafraid of us and will run up to the cage edge to see what's going on. She will sniff my hand and explore a bit if I'm still and let her do her thing. If I then try and touch her- maybe stroke her with a finger, or try and tickle her, or even try and reach for her- she'll back off, and as soon as I retreat, she'll come running back. If I persist with this, or if she's having a sensitive day, when I reach out to her she will then nip me. She never draws blood, but it hurts a little, and occasionally leaves a mark. Usually it's a fairly light nip to begin, and if I continue to try and touch her, she will come back purposely and nip me harder.

However, if I lean my arm against the cage, she'll happily run up my arm and onto my shoulder, and she explores me all over with confidence- though if I try and play with her, or touch her when she's busy sniffing things in the room, she's likely to give me another nip, as if to say 'dont touch me, I'm busy!'. She will hop over my hands while running on my arm to get in or out of the cage, which makes me think it is hands she has a problem with.

When we're in our play space together, I would try and chase her a little when she nipped me, just gently trying to keep my hands on her, to show her that nipping won't make me go away, but that hasn't really changed much. After reading up about it, when she's nipped me harder and it has hurt, I occasionally give her a very gentle bop on the nose with my finger- just to startle, never to hurt! But I'm wondering if this will just associate hands with negative experiences if I do this.

She's not afraid of humans generally, in fact she's much braver than Daisy, and rarely runs from movements/noises, and will climb all over us- she's super energetic and lives exploring, hence her name being Lara, as in Croft :p

I think that's all the info I can think of- I know it's a long post, but I felt it important to try and be accurate!So I guess I'm asking for advice- should I be working with her/training/react in a certain way? Is it something to do with the way I'm behaving? Should I respect she doesn't like to be touched in that way, and just enjoy her energetic personality in all her other ways? I love my girls to bits, and just want to do right by them! :)
 

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Try scooping her up with a towel wrapped around her, snuggle it under her head, calmly re-assure her,( tell her no nipping,,,,tell her be gentle). rub the top of head, she may resist, keep it short,,, give her a special treat when she behaves, just keep fingers from mouth,,, rub and groom her. Maybe,, if you are sure,,, try some yogurt in the palm of your hand, then later , on a finger, she may come to associate , hand feels her and not be afraid, best of luck
 

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Actually, some rats don't much like to be handled or manhandled.. I mean it certainly isn't something that happens in the wild. But even rats that don't like handling need to get used to it, because they don't live in the wild. Trying to convince a rat that doesn't like handling that they really do is likely to be futile, but we've never given any rat the option... they get scooped and if they don't want to be scooped they get grabbed or snatched.... Misty for example needs to be snatched every night at bedtime... She may hate the idea of getting grabbed and going back to the cage, but she also knows nipping or biting is out of the question. In the end, she may protest, but she knows the rat snatch and grab is inevitable so I thing it's more of a pretense at this point.

Now, some folks tend to act apprehensively around animals while others of us tend to move decisively. I've learned that moving decisively tend to get you not bitten more than not. It's like if you are hesitant and anxious animals tend to sense it and take advantage. One of the managers at the pet shop used to tell me he could tell exactly who was gong to get bitten and who wouldn't just by how they approached the cage... I was one of the few customers allowed to reach into the rat cages and bins and pluck out the ones I wanted to look at.

If gloves help, then try them, A loud shout and bop usually works but you still have to be confident and decisive in how you handle your rats. Honestly, all of our rats don't mind being picked up when I'm taking them to where they want to go, but they don't like it when I'm not going their way. But either way... I'm not going to get nipped or bitten.... never and not ever... it's unthinkable.
 

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Sometimes my girls accidentally bite me or dig their claws in. In their case, it's an accident always--Grey doesn't seem to see well and loves treats so she's definitely grabbed a finger instead of a cheerio multiple times; however, if this happens, I try to remember to give a little squeal if either of them hurt me. It catches their attentions and lets them know they're hurting me, but you have to obviously be quiet enough not to scare them, and not so quiet it means nothing, but there's a big enough range. You could definitely try this as maybe the realization she's hurting you will help. I also agree with Rat Daddy--he is very wise. You have to be decisive--what you say goes. That doesn't mean ignore what your rats want all the time, but if you need to pick her up, then she needs to let you! Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all for the advice! And sorry I've been slow at reply, I just started a new job and have been so distracted haha :) I've been trying to be more aware of how I react around them, and you're right that I am definitely much more hesitant when handling Lara than I should be. I think it's because when I first got them, they were so small and scared of me that I moved really slowly and gently, so I didn't frighten them away from me. Probably I picked up some hesitance from her nipping me too! But actually, she never bites me when I do have to properly pick her up, only when I'm kind of hovering around and touching her gently/getting in her way haha. My boyfriend rarely gets bitten, and he's much more forward with her, because he's not worried about scaring them!

I think you're right as well that she doesn't know she's hurting me sometimes- she quite often makes Daisy squeak when grooming her. I have started squeaking when she seems to hurt me by accident, and that does seem to help a bit by getting her attention. And I am trying to change my demeanour as well- you're right Rat Daddy, it's never okay for them to bite, and I think that changing my mindset will communicate through my body language that I'm the 'parent'. I'm also trying to get her used my hands particularly, since she seems to avoid them compared to the rest of a human body. I've started putting her back in the cage by picking her up purposely and lifting her in, rather than letting her run down my sleeve, and also by giving her some treats when she comes to stand with her front paws on my fingers- a little bribery can't hurt, right? ;)

I think I just over think things too much with my ratties, because I adore them I kind of forget they're only little creatures that don't communicate in my way! They're much harder to read than cats and dogs, and I think that frustrates me sometimes as well... but they're so entertaining :D
 
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