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Hello all! While I had pet rats many (as in many, many) years ago I have a question about one of my pets. I have two rats, Greta and Garbo. Both are from the same litter, and have been together all their lives. They are about five months old. They weren't hand trained when I got them, but were generally pretty well tempered. Garbo (a black) is very gentle and inquisitive. Greta is more skittish. I have been training them by spending time time by their cage, talking to them, hand feeding them and as time goes by touching and petting them more and more. They both allow me to pet their backs, their heads, even their tummies. Garbo is, I think, very close to allowing me to pick her up and remove her from the cage. Greta, not so much, but she is improving. My problem isn't to do with this.
My wife, who also owned rats many, many etc., gives the rats treats but doesn't spend as much time with them as I do. However once in a while when she reaches in to pet them (and she doesn't rush or surprise the when she does this) Greta (a hooded rat) will nip or bite at her. Not a full blown bite, but enough to upset my wife. This rat is also a "nibbler". Meaning that sometimes when I am petting her she will very gently mouth my fingertips or nails. Sometimes I think she doesn't see as well as my other rat, but her other actions in the cage don't really support this notion. She is also (I think) unduly rough when playing with her sister. So my questions are:
1. What should I do about the biting? Is it just due to my wife not interacting as much with them? As I continue to work with her will that behavior change?
2. How rough is too rough? Could this kind of rough play change the gentle rat's behavior? They have always "wrestled" around, but at what point is that a problem?
3. I am fine with a long period of gaining their trust, but is there a time when it is best to just pick one up? Or can that set back their feelings toward you? Is wearing a light (cloth) glove something to consider wearing?
I'm must concerned about Greta. My wife is an animal person but doesn't tolerate being bitten when she really does nothing to deserve a bite. I don't want to remove Greta because I am fearful that Garbo would become very upset. While things sometimes get rough (and that isn't too often) I enjoy them both and would be more than willing to work with Greta.
Thanks fellow rat parents! Rat On!
Ken M.
 

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Hello all! While I had pet rats many (as in many, many) years ago I have a question about one of my pets. I have two rats, Greta and Garbo. Both are from the same litter, and have been together all their lives. They are about five months old. They weren't hand trained when I got them, but were generally pretty well tempered. Garbo (a black) is very gentle and inquisitive. Greta is more skittish. I have been training them by spending time time by their cage, talking to them, hand feeding them and as time goes by touching and petting them more and more. They both allow me to pet their backs, their heads, even their tummies. Garbo is, I think, very close to allowing me to pick her up and remove her from the cage. Greta, not so much, but she is improving. My problem isn't to do with this.
My wife, who also owned rats many, many etc., gives the rats treats but doesn't spend as much time with them as I do. However once in a while when she reaches in to pet them (and she doesn't rush or surprise the when she does this) Greta (a hooded rat) will nip or bite at her. Not a full blown bite, but enough to upset my wife. This rat is also a "nibbler". Meaning that sometimes when I am petting her she will very gently mouth my fingertips or nails. Sometimes I think she doesn't see as well as my other rat, but her other actions in the cage don't really support this notion. She is also (I think) unduly rough when playing with her sister. So my questions are:
1. What should I do about the biting? Is it just due to my wife not interacting as much with them? As I continue to work with her will that behavior change?
2. How rough is too rough? Could this kind of rough play change the gentle rat's behavior? They have always "wrestled" around, but at what point is that a problem?
3. I am fine with a long period of gaining their trust, but is there a time when it is best to just pick one up? Or can that set back their feelings toward you? Is wearing a light (cloth) glove something to consider wearing?
I'm must concerned about Greta. My wife is an animal person but doesn't tolerate being bitten when she really does nothing to deserve a bite. I don't want to remove Greta because I am fearful that Garbo would become very upset. While things sometimes get rough (and that isn't too often) I enjoy them both and would be more than willing to work with Greta.
Thanks fellow rat parents! Rat On!
Ken M.

I had/have a similar issue with Suzie. I've found that if I first offer her my hand (slowly) knuckle side up, for her to sniff and then the palm side up (and sometimes she will grab a finger to turn it palm side up) so she can see for herself there's no treats hiding there .. she then seems fine to be pet.

However, when I first got her, she was a biter. She still nibbles, but like you, I'm ok with it (and agree with the vision issue with it) . If she should bite, I use the squeak and pull back method and then state, firmly "don't bite". She rarely bites a second time. If after pulling my hand back, she comes towards me - I start the whole process of offering my hand again and when she doesn't bite, I reward her with a treat.

All in all, your wife has to establish her own bonding with the rats. And that takes time and patience. They need to get to know her and trust her, before they stop feeling threatened by her "intruding" in their space. I don't think it's fair to the rats to assume that the work you do with them, will transfer to other people. Yes, they can become more social towards people - but that doesn't mean they'll trust them, simply because they trust you.
 
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