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Over the past few months one of my rats has begun to bite very hard. She draws blood 2/3 of the time. It wouldn't be such an issue if it was a nibble or I was trying to pick her up (which I don't do anymore). Usually I'll be reaching into the cage to pet or pick up another rat and she will run across the cage to bite me. I tried squeeking, I've tried scruffing her, I've tried handling her more, not feeding her treats anymore by hand, feeding her more treats. I'm at my wit's end. I have to make sure she's not on the level I'm going to put my hand in or I get a really nasty bite.

I've never done anything mean to her. Nor has anyone else to my knowledge, I got her when she was pretty young. I think she may be going insane.

Why is she doing this? How can I stop it? Is she a lost cause?

Ugh. I just can't have her biting me anymore.
 

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What have you done to stop it? Have you tried squeaking kind of making a really loud obnoxious "EEEEEEEEEP" at her when she does bite? Have you tried the leather gloves and forced socialization? Are there any signs of her being in pain? Have younoticed that she does it more when you touch her back or her side? Any head weaving? Are you washing your hands before you touch her? Have you tried changing your soap? There are many many many reasons why a rat might bite you and your "job" as a rat "parent" is to figure out what is going on. I am sure she is not a lost cause you just need to breathe and step back and try and figure out what is going on with her. LoL I promise I wll try and help in any way possible as I am sure many others here can help as well.
 

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loco is a biter too, and she draws blood. she didnt start out that way but it has developed over time. we have come to the conclusion that she is protective of her immediate environment so that when a hand goes anywhere near her, its her job to bite the intruder. i have tried eeeping, pushing the bitten finger further into her mouth, all sorts of things but nothing works so i just put up with it. i do tell her off when she does it though, and praise her on the occasions that she doesnt bite when i go to pick her up. this morning it was just a nibble!!!!

sometimes i think i might be disturbing her beauty sleep when i put my hand in the cage so she comes out to attack the intruder, not realising its me, and if thats the case i cant be angry at her.

i've found that if i put my hand in front of her face she is more likely to bite, so i try to "swoop" on her from above... not always easy in a cage but much easier in the girls new cage.
 

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crapola said:
i've found that if i put my hand in front of her face she is more likely to bite, so i try to "swoop" on her from above... not always easy in a cage but much easier in the girls new cage.
Swooping may not be a great idea since that is what a predator would do LoL. Have you tried letting her come out of her cage on her own onto your shoulder or arm or something?
 

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^^ yeah. swooping is the only thing that was working with loco. i havent been bitten today either, so maybe she is much happier in the big new cage with more room to move and much better lines of sight.
 

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Hi,

I'm brand new to this forum but I have visited as a guest a few times. I am having the same problem with one of my boy rats. Here's the story.

We adopted 5 rats in June at around 7-8 weeks of age except for the first one who was a lot younger. He (Fred) came from a pet store and was being sold as snake food. The other four are brothers who came from a friend of a friend (her newly purchased female rat had 12 babies a week or so after getting her). Those four were very well socialized and handled lots while growing up but poor Fred had no socialization. We read about how to socialize and such and tried following the instructions but after a few weeks, Fred began to viciously bite us. We have been bitten multiple times with skin being broken and blood flowing. Last week, he bit me so hard, I swear he hit the bone in my finger. He will fly at the cage if we get too close and we are half afraid to handle our other rats because he is soooooo bad. Fred is a white boy and one of the others is white, too, so we avoid fooling with both of them in case we pick the wrong one. (We did try marking Fred's tail this week to try to tell them apart).

Someone mentioned in one of their posts about head weaving... Fred does weave/bob his head back and forth. Does this mean something?

I have him with me today at my work (I work at a vet clinic) and we are going to anesthetize him to see if his teeth are bothering him. My vet thinks I should euthanize him because he is so aggressive but I hate to do it. I just don't know what to do. Even though he hates us (and I really think he does), I love him.

Any help/suggestions?
 

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Well there are alot of techniques to dealing with bitey rats. The head weaving is due to his sight. He is trying to make out who and what your are. I would say that you have alot of options before you put him to sleep. Nueter is always a last resort but there are forced socializations, and lots of other things. What have you tried already?

Get thick leather gloves to start off with. Make a loud "EEEEEP" Noise when even he tries to bite you, I am not really awake yet but I will get some links in a bit and post them here for you. It sounds like you still have alot of options before you let your vet put him to sleep. How did you do the introductions to the other rats? Is there any fights breaking ut between him and the others? Is he ok once he is out of the cage? Does he puff up when he bites you or does he give any signs of actually getting ready to bite or is it a sudden attack? My iriquois was a vicious biter for a lon time and while he will still nip at people there has been no serious blood drawn. I will go over the steps I took in my next post.
 

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I'll try to answer your questions and add more input:...

The head weaving is due to his sight. He is trying to make out who and what your are. He does some head weaving even when no one is near him. We will see him in the cage, just bobbing back and forth. We were wondering if he was blind or maybe had a brain tumor???

Nueter is always a last resort but there are forced socializations, and lots of other things. He has been neutered since about 7-8 weeks old. We knew we would be getting the other boys so we wanted less chances of problems.

What have you tried already? Honestly I can't remember everything... it has been about 6 weeks since we tried fooling with him and then we just gave up and stopped. I know we tried the forced socialization but to answer another question below, he is fine once we have him in our hands (hopefully).

Get thick leather gloves to start off with. Make a loud "EEEEEP" Noise when even he tries to bite you, I am not really awake yet but I will get some links in a bit and post them here for you. Thanks. I appreciate the help. We haven't tried gloves or making an EEEEP noise. Usually because he strikes so fast.

How did you do the introductions to the other rats? The were introduced one by one over a week or two period before putting them all together in the same cage. We also kept their smaller cages side by side so they could see/smell each other.

Is there any fights breaking ut between him and the others? Is he ok once he is out of the cage? He has never been aggressive to the other rats as far as we have seen. They all get along wonderfully. We usually have a big rat pile in the cage and you can't tell where one starts and the other ends. He likes being near them but will also move away to get some "space" from time to time.

Does he puff up when he bites you or does he give any signs of actually getting ready to bite or is it a sudden attack? His attacks are always sudden and without warning. If we aren't quick enough, he draws blood.

I hope I've given you a little more info. Thanks for your help.

Sheila
 

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The weaving of the head is due to sight. Even when you think the rat can't see you, they are still trying to make out what's around them. I have a few who do it quite often, and I've found that more skittish rats do it more often, or when they are scared. I believe it's that they're not confidant with their surroundings to not want to see what everything is, if anything is lurking and waiting to pounce on them, etc. 99% sure that is it, no brain tumor or anything. I went through the same thing when I had my first boy that weaved a lot... Thought for sure he was blind or something. But nope, just more prone to weaving. :) Red and ruby eyed rats do it most of all, but again, I have found that more skittish and insecure rats do it more often. I've had red-eyed rats that don't do it at all and are very confidant rats, so that's somewhat what my theory is based on. Even once you get them to the point where they are much more relaxed, they will "regress" when extremely scared, whereas other rats in the same situation won't. One of my boys was a snake-reject and though he's 150% better than he used to be, in a situation where he freaks out, he will start weaving. Otherwise, he hardly ever does it anymore.

My suggestion for you is to take him out of the cage with a towel. This is what we do with our cage aggressive boys, and with some of our rescue rats. Compared to the glove-method, this seems to keep them much calmer. I have yet to have a rat attempt to bite when picked up with a towel around them. Of course, I don't guarantee anything. :p It's something to try. If he's otherwise fine once he's out of the cage, then it's definitively cage aggression. There is probably something that is bothering him (some rats just plain don't like people messing with the cage), or he may have had an experience in the past. I'd suggest neutering, but you say he's already neutered. I've had success with switching cage aggressive rats to a new cage entirely, though that may just be my guy. He's not show any interest in biting since moving. Or, if you free-range in the same room as the cage, you could make it so he can come out on his own terms. That may solve the problem of getting him out.

I hate to see cage aggression as a reason for putting a rat to sleep. We have a few cage aggressive boys as personal pets, and as I said, in our rescue. They are otherwise great animals and sometimes, you can get past the cage aggression. Do you have a rat rescue nearby that may be able to handle cage aggression? If you were nearby (I don't know where you are), we certainly would take him in. I just hate to see him PTS for it.
 

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Kimmiekins said:
The weaving of the head is due to sight. Even when you think the rat can't see you, they are still trying to make out what's around them. I have a few who do it quite often, and I've found that more skittish rats do it more often, or when they are scared. I believe it's that they're not confidant with their surroundings to not want to see what everything is, if anything is lurking and waiting to pounce on them, etc. 99% sure that is it, no brain tumor or anything. I went through the same thing when I had my first boy that weaved a lot... Thought for sure he was blind or something. But nope, just more prone to weaving. :) Red and ruby eyed rats do it most of all, but again, I have found that more skittish and insecure rats do it more often. I've had red-eyed rats that don't do it at all and are very confidant rats, so that's somewhat what my theory is based on. Even once you get them to the point where they are much more relaxed, they will "regress" when extremely scared, whereas other rats in the same situation won't. One of my boys was a snake-reject and though he's 150% better than he used to be, in a situation where he freaks out, he will start weaving. Otherwise, he hardly ever does it anymore.

My suggestion for you is to take him out of the cage with a towel. This is what we do with our cage aggressive boys, and with some of our rescue rats. Compared to the glove-method, this seems to keep them much calmer. I have yet to have a rat attempt to bite when picked up with a towel around them. Of course, I don't guarantee anything. :p It's something to try. If he's otherwise fine once he's out of the cage, then it's definitively cage aggression. There is probably something that is bothering him (some rats just plain don't like people messing with the cage), or he may have had an experience in the past. I'd suggest neutering, but you say he's already neutered. I've had success with switching cage aggressive rats to a new cage entirely, though that may just be my guy. He's not show any interest in biting since moving. Or, if you free-range in the same room as the cage, you could make it so he can come out on his own terms. That may solve the problem of getting him out.

I hate to see cage aggression as a reason for putting a rat to sleep. We have a few cage aggressive boys as personal pets, and as I said, in our rescue. They are otherwise great animals and sometimes, you can get past the cage aggression. Do you have a rat rescue nearby that may be able to handle cage aggression? If you were nearby (I don't know where you are), we certainly would take him in. I just hate to see him PTS for it.
Thanks for your reply and suggestions.

Fred is a pink/red eyed rat and I'm glad that he isn't blind (and no brain tumor).

I will try the towel method (maybe that will help him to not associate our hands with picking him up). Usually we reach behind him and pick him up and he hasn't tried biting us. (It's just when our hands go in front of his face). He does seem to be okay once he is out but let me tell you, I do a lot of cringing when he is near my face and fingers. :lol:

We don't let them free-range because we have 2 cats and 6 greyhounds (I don't want to see any of them hurt). They get the kitchen barricaded to themselves a couple of nights a week.

He first became aggressive in his smaller cage and it continued when we moved them all into their larger permanent cage.

We trimmed his teeth today under anesthesia but they weren't that long. I also trimmed his little toenails. I even got to kiss his little rat nose! :p

I live in central Virginia and I'm not sure if there is a rescue nearby. I hadn't even considered a rescue... didn't think anyone would want an aggressive rat. If I try working with him and can't get anywhere, do you think your rescue would take him if we could get him up to you in Ohio? I have family who lives in southwestern PA so a trip to Ohio wouldn't be too much further.

Thanks,

Sheila
 

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Shelia,

Sounds like you're on the right track, anyhow. I hope the towel helps!

If here's no change with trying things out, we certainly could take him. :) If it comes to that, our contact info is on our website.

Of course, I HOPE it doesn't come to that... Sounds like you've got a soft spot in your heart for him. Behave, Fred!! ;)

Keep us updated.
 

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Oh bless your heart Kimmiekins!

It sounds liek you are on the right track Sheila! I really hope everything works out for the best I am so sorry i didn't post any links it has been a hectic day today. If you need any further hlp I will be sure to get those links right away! I hope that all goes well though and I will see a new thread saying how wonderful he is doing!
 
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