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Trouble with Biting and Housing

3024 Views 14 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  envisionary333
Hello. I have posted here a couple of times, and last time I got no response, so I am going to try again. I adopted two female rats several months ago from someone who no longer wanted them, and they have not been properly socialized. When I tried to handle one of them, Panda, she bit me and left a pretty severe puncture wound. My other rat, Puppy, is too scared to even approach me at all. Since the biting incident I have been taking things very slowly, and bringing Panda fruits and veggies every day and feeding her by hand. She usually just takes the food and runs away to eat it.

About a week ago, things got complicated when my rats managed to escape their cage. I had made them a C & C cage with mesh grids (see guineapigcages.com for reference), and used velcro cable cuffs to hold the doors closed. The rats had chewed through the coroplast (corrugated plastic), and then removed the cable cuffs and got out. I was able to catch them without injuring them using Havahart animal traps. I have now constructed a new cage for them that is much safer and there is no way they can escape. I have also moved the cage upstairs near my bedroom so that I can interact with them more often and hopefully get them to trust me.

The problem is, the new cage has holes that are larger than the mesh (1" diameter), and the rats can stick their noses through the cage. Panda does this constantly to sniff around and see what's going on. I have three cats and a large dog, and all of them like to watch the rats. Panda always comes up to sniff them, she really has no fear. When my dog lied down next to the cage today, Panda was able to reach her ear and she bit it almost straight through. My poor dog yelped and was pretty upset.

So now I am debating whether I should move the rats back downstairs, or if I should trust that the animals will learn to keep their distance. I think that rats like it better upstairs where there is more going on. I also am wondering what I can do to gain Panda's trust so that I can hold her. I am very scared of her biting, so I would probably need some gloves. Any advice on some good, long, thick, flexible gloves to buy? Any advice on what to do with the cage issues and the biting?

I would really appreciate some help. Thanks.
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Look into some work gloves, leather would be best (or a reasonable facismile thereof)...

Does Panda only bite in her cage? Or does she bite outside? Or both?

Perry, my biggest (and thereby, strongest) boy was quite well known for his tendency to chop on my when we got him. He'd never been handled by people before and didn't like being picked up. He's gotten much, much better with persistence, and some minor blood loss. I had gloves for a while, but put them on top of the cage and the rats tore them apart... :lol: We also fed him through the bars when he was little and now he will bite at anything that comes through the bars. This is a given. We do not stick anything near the bars we don't want bit.

Try a pouch or bag to carry them in outside their cage, so they can be near you but without you touching them.

As for the dog issue, my roommate's dog Kahlua is VERY interested in the rats and often bounces up to watch them. The first time she frightened Perry and he bit her. She avoided them a bit and then continued. The rats, getting used to this annoyance, ignored her until she jumped up right in front of Perry again. He bit her again. Now, she still is fascinated by the rats, but they have no interest in her what so ever and completely ignore her when they're in or out of the cage.

I don't know if that's helpful or not. :lol:
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envisionary333 said:
Thanks for the links! (And thanks for those Havahart traps, lol!)
I posted a picture of the new cage on here: http://ratforum.com/coppermine/displayimage/meta=lastup/cat=0/pos=0.html
It is much smaller than the cage I first made for them, but with this one there is no way they can escape. The tray is made of metal so they can't chew it like they did with the coroplast. I'm just worried it is too small? (It's 2 feet by 3 feet) What do you guys think?
Cage Calculator: http://www.rattycorner.com/odds/calc.shtml
envisionary333 said:
Oh, I have a couple more questions...
Do you recommend putting a clothing item that smells like me in the cage for them to sniff?
Can't hurt.
And do you have any advice on litter box training? I have a whole room they could use for free range if I can just get them litter box trained first. I'm not sure if I can start that before they trust me, or if it can only be done when they are used to having me around.
Just fill a box with the litter of your choice and be very persistent moving the raisins into the box. Don't worry if they don't get it right away. It might be hard to do if you get bit when you reach into the cage, though. :)
My boys aren't much interested in treats at "Run-around the room like insane rabbits" time. :lol:
I just shut the doors. The space under the door is less than 1inch here, so they can't get out under it.

Plus I keep an eye on them.

I really don't think the pen would ever prevent my boys from figuring out how to climb, plus they can jump very high when they feel like it.
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