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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone ! I am very new to rats and have just got mine. 1 I have had for about a week and the other I got yesterday (she was the first ones cage mate and I went t pick her up). They let me pick them up although they seem a little bit frightened when I do. I cuddle with them and they fall asleep in my scarf or a blanket with me at night but when I put my hand in the cage during the day (when they're just laying in the corner together, calm) to pet them or pick them up to play, they sniff my hand and crawl on it a bit and then bite me ? They're little so it doesn't hurt ... but this is not acceptable behaviour to me and I definitely don't want rats that bite, especially when they get older and are able to bite a lot harder. What do I do about this ? I really don't like it and I read a lot about rats before I got them. I read that they RARELY bite and they don't seem afraid because they crawl on my hands and sniff my fingers before they bite me so how could it be out of fear ? Any long time rat owners know what to do about this ? I want the cuddly, smart little animals I read about :( I seem to have very bad luck with animals even though I do my research and treat them like gold ...
 

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They are young and just like a kitten or puppy, they are playing and testing their limits. If they bite you say 'NO' to them like you mean it. You will need to do this for a while until they are aware you do not like their teeth on you. You can also tap them on the nose gently while saying 'no' if you need to. Having said this, my girls put their teeth on me frequently. It does not hurt, it is just their way of grooming me like they would a cage mate. This is natural behavior and really should not be discouraged as it is how they form bonds with each other and you. The only real biting that should be discouraged is if there is a wound happening.
 

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One method that works for a lot of people is shrieking like a rat would to show that it hurts. I just make an "EEEE" sound (high pitched) and I think it helped. Kinda funny when you think about it. You're imitating them XD
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the advice everyone. Update : They're now doing it every time I put my hand in the cage. The other day before I got the first ones cage mate, she was even grooming my hand. I thought we had developed a bond and everything and now since I've gotten the other one, she's biting and so is the other one. I'm a really anxious person and I'm worried that they hate me and they're going to keep biting me and not let me touch them or pick them up ... I will try the gentle tap on the nose and saying no. I also heard that blowing on them and saying no works too ? Is this true ?
 

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They don't hate you... Their just babies! They probably don't know what 'no' means yet. I'd let them both rest a few days-I believe you're part of their hierarchy which is currently upset due to the new comer. You should probably start working on trust training again, and make sure they know your scent. I hope this works out for you!
 

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Oh, and I forgot! I wouldn't try tapping them on the nose at least. This is like play, and it didn't work for my boy, Aspen. He'd try and wrestle/groom my hand. :rolleyes:
Of course, I'm not an expert, just a rat lover and owner. I'd try the time-out method. Most rats like human contact, so try to put them back in their cage for at least 10-15 minutes after they bite/nip you.

Congrats on your babies! Don't worry, they'll most likely grow out of it.
 

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Do you wear any type of perfume or were you eating anything before you placed your hand(s) in the cage?

Maybe try washing your hands with Ivory (no scent) soap.

I've heard squeaking as if you're in pain also supposedly helps.

Also, if you're nervous or scared, they will sense the tension and react. The more I put my hands in confidently, the better. In addition, talk to them as you approach the cage so they equate your voice with a "visit of the great and powerful hand".

And (you probably already know this) never feed them through the bars. :)

Best of luck to you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone ! I will try everything you're suggesting ! Does anyone have any good way of trust training ? Right now I'm making them come to me for treats (this includes climbing on my hand a bit to get it) and as of now they grab it and run away quickly. One seems to be a lot more curious of me than the other, yet both have cuddled and let me pick them up before and the original one even groomed my hand which I said before and I love that ! I know that they nibble to groom and stuff and that I don't mind, it's just the bites I can tell are meant to be harder (even though they don't hurt because they're so little) that I won't accept.
 

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Thanks everyone ! I will try everything you're suggesting ! Does anyone have any good way of trust training ? Right now I'm making them come to me for treats (this includes climbing on my hand a bit to get it) and as of now they grab it and run away quickly. One seems to be a lot more curious of me than the other, yet both have cuddled and let me pick them up before and the original one even groomed my hand which I said before and I love that ! I know that they nibble to groom and stuff and that I don't mind, it's just the bites I can tell are meant to be harder (even though they don't hurt because they're so little) that I won't accept.
From The Rat Fan Club they say:
"If you have a rat who doesn’t like to be held, remember that baby rats and females tend to be very active and often don’t want to hold still to be held. Instead they want to run around and play and explore. See if your rat wants to play a game with you instead of being held. Then, wait until she is feeling sleepy to hold her. When rats are feeling sleepy, they are more willing to be held.If a rat still doesn’t like being held, acts scared of people, or doesn’t want to come out of her cage, it’s probably because she hasn’t been properly socialized. The word socialization is used to describe the process of getting someone used to a particular social group. The best way to socialize rats is to handle them every day from birth. This is a natural method of socialization. Rats handled from birth will be extremely trusting of humans and form strong bonds with people. Even with proper socialization, some rats just naturally have a more fearful personality too.
You can help a distrustful rat learn to trust you by using food. I call this method of socialization Trust Training. It uses food as both lure and a reward for the behavior you desire. It works best to use soft foods, such as baby foods and yogurt, because you can offer them on a spoon and the rat can’t grab the food and run away. Try different foods to see what she likes. You may need to let her try a food several times in the cage before she decides she likes it.
Use the food on a spoon to reward the behavior you want. For instance, use the food to lead her out of the cage and onto your hand, arm, or lap. Then reward her with the food. You have to do it little by little, just small steps at a time. Just give her a little taste each time and gradually make her come out farther and farther each time. As she learns that she gets good treats for being with you, she will be more willing to come out, be with you, and be held. Next, require that she let you pet her while she eats, and then that she let you pick her up and then put her down to eat. Eventually, require that she let you hold her while she eats.
How much time do you spend with your rat? A single rat needs about 4 hours of human attention a day. If you can’t provide that I highly recommend you get another rat as a companion for her. Single rats often feel very insecure. With another rat friend, your rat will be more likely to trust you.
Below is a story that shows that even older rats who have been traumatized and are terrified of people can learn to trust humans again when the food reward method is used. I highly recommend Trust Training as the best method of socialization for rats who do not trust humans.—Debbie “The Rat Lady” Ducommun"

I got my rat when he was older, but I'd suggest letting them run around you (maybe on a couch or in a bathroom?) and playing some ratty games with them. Give them treats and toys and let them get used to your scent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The only time I ever pick them up is when they're sleepy so that can't be the case. I will try letting them run around on me in the bathroom or something.
 

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You also have to remember than they're babies - mouthing you is kinda like how they feel out whatever object (be it your hand or what) is. But yes, squeaking or bopping them on the head is good too.
 
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