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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

So I got Snow (my daughter named her) from a friend who's boyfriend couldn't get his snake to eat the baby rat. That's the long story short. Snow is about six weeks old, and currently in my quarantine cage by herself. Because she is by herself, I spend every free moment that I'm home with her on my body (which is a lot since I'm a full time student with military benefits). She generally burrows under my shirt and lays in my bra (sorry if that is TMI) or on my shoulders while I go about my day, sleeping and hardly causing a fuss at all.

I have older rats and have always gotten them in pairs, so Snow's new behavior is interesting to me. She's currently running around underneath my sweater and chasing my fingers, giving them nibbles before darting away. I believe she's playing, but with the trauma of being in with a snake, I don't want to push her too much or misinterpret what she's currently doing. Should I encourage the biting by chasing her around? My older rats love to be tickled on the backside and will bounce and run around, but they never turned around to play bite, so I'm not sure if play biting is a rat thing.

I don't want to get her another companion only to have two in two different quarantine cages that will need a lot of attention to keep from being depressed, and I don't want to just throw two young rats together and pray neither get sick. But I also don't want Snow to learn any bad habits I may regret later. So my question is: Is the biting behavior normal and, if so, can I play with her like this or should I discourage it?

She's still way too small to go in with my big girls and probably will be for a while, so I want to do things right for my little sweetie. Sorry if this post seems half-retarded; it's finals week and I'm pretty exhausted!
 

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I wouldn't say it is abnormal for a new rat to nibble on their owner at first. i'm not super surprised she is doing it because she is new and might be a little hesitant of everything that is happening, including your fingers playing with her. I'm not saying you are scaring the crap out of her and shouldn't play with her lol, but a lot of times when new rats are checking things out I have noticed they tend to check it out by nibbling. My rats did that when i got them. They always nibbled my fingers, but did it very lightly. I thought they were mistaking them for food, but now having more experience and having been in other situations with other rats I think that's just how they check things out sometimes. It could be her way of making sure she can see what it is and still have some control over the situation, without actually hurting you. That's my opinion anyways. I would say to keep the finger play very gentle and slow so you don't scare or overwhelm her. If she isn't biting you hard or seeming aggressive or scared I wouldn't worry too much. It usually passes once they have a little time to adjust. Since my rats have never done it hard I didn't feel a need to correct them on it and it resolved itself within a few weeks for sure, if not less. So if she isn't biting hard you could see if it resolves itself and if she starts to escalate and bite harder then I would correct it.
 

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Honestly I'd get her a same age friend and forget quarintine. Babies are so easy to intro its not even funny, and unless you change clothes, wash up, and house your rats in totally diffrent air spaces you are putting them at some level of risk anyway. Yes it is a risk but even quarintine doesn't eliminate it all, and most people don't or can't do a true quarintine. I'd worry she wouldn't learn how to interact with another rat properly so intros to the older girls could be harder. She does sound like she is playing, our baby girls stayed nibbling a lot longer then the boys, but now is the time to put boundries. If she bites to hard, dicipline her in some way, make a sharp noise, a soft boop, a no! Or bad!, it depends on your personal style. My first feeder baby, Cricket, was mouthy and if she got to hard I'd tap her nose and say no. She'd try again softer, and in a week-ish she was mindful of how hard her mouth was. She still had accidents, and I'd correct her gently. I don't think she's nipped me in months, now that I think about it. And we have a bad habit about feeding between the bars. Our babies all have loved to play chase the hand, or have the hand chase them. It's so cute to watch them get so worked up.
 

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I would get a new friend for her and quarentine them together, if you get another from the same place then if they carry anything it will be the same in most cases. A same age friend is massively important at this age and whilst i dont think her behaviour sounds abnormal right now it could develop into more pusshyness and similar if she doesnt have other rats to learn her manners with. It will also make her easier to introduce to your older rats when the time comes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It's so funny how we don't mean to get more rats, but tend to have them enter our lives anyway! ;D

We do have separate quarantine/hospital rooms where, if we are to enter that room, we sanitize our hands and switch into the room's cuddle sweaters (those sweaters have seen better days and get washed often). We do our best not to cross contaminate, but you are right, accidents happen, especially with a six year old! I tend to be pretty careful though because prevention is better than vet bills....lol

I'll give my friend a call today to see if she can find out where her boyfriend got Snow. That way I can possibly get her a friend. Would it be awful if I chose a better place for a friend and put them together, regardless of quarantine? Looks like I'll have a new sweetie to introduce soon!
 

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i would say not. i tend to put social needs over health in this situation. The risk of illness is lower than the risk of the rat being unhappy out lonely
 
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