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Hi everyone,
new to this forum and very happy to be here. I will be posting in Rat Behavior once I get permission. For now, here is our challenge: Our new rattie Annie came to us from a shelter in Boston. She can be very sweet and gentle, but she nips or bites at anything put through the cage bars. She also nips or bites at my hand when I offer treats. Naturally, we no longer offer anything through the cage bars. Any suggestions on how we can teach her how to give rattie kisses and to take treats gently?
Thanks!
--Lisa
 

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I have had the same problem with a few of my babies. The last thing your rattie wants to do is hurt you. I have found that if you let out a small, high pitched squeak, your rat will back off. Do not squeak in her face and make her wet her pants haha! Just make sure your point gets acrossed. If this doesn't work, take a small squirt bottle and if she tries to nip at you, gently mist her with the bottle to show her that she is doing something wrong. She may be like this because her previous owner may have only hand fed her. Meaning, when she sees a hand reach out to her, she matches it to "Oh, I'm going to get a snack!" Which explains why she nips at you when you reach your hand out to her. She most likely doesn't mean to hurt anyone, since you said she is fairly sweet and gentle, she is just excited to get a snack.
 

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One of the advantages to immersion is that you work with your rats outside the cage and they really get a good idea of what your hands are... I honestly don't believe that rats confuse hands with food, but perhaps some don't know that your hands are part of you. I prefer to shout NO when my rats do something wrong, than squeak but that may just be a matter of preference.

Lastly certain pink eyed rats are pretty nearly blind and some get frightened easily and will nip at anything that comes at them out of fear. With blind or nearly blind rats, it's important that they know it's you and they can sniff you from a distance first. And no, we've never had an issue with putting our fingers between the cage bars or anywhere else around our rats and yes we sometimes do shove treats through the bars... Rats can neatly manicure your fingernails and pick the dead skin off your lips, I woke up to find a rat removing a callus from my foot and she was doing a very neat job of it... she didn't wake me much less draw blood... Rats have incredible control of their razor sharp teeth and can easily remove a layer of dead skin from your arm without injuring the live skin underneath... If your getting nipped, there's a reason and it's likely intentional, and mostly it's something you can pretty easily fix in the immersion area.

Best luck.
 
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