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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-30-2010, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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New Rat Mommy! Suggestions please!

So my husband decided he wanted to get 4 rats! I have never had rats before for the reason that their teeth scare me, I have a fear of being bitten by an small rodent. I do hold them but only if i can see them so I will not let them go on my shoulder and I won't pick them up from the cage because the other rats will nip at you will you pick one up. They are so cute and I love them to death but I am so scared of being bit again lol.

I would love to get over this fear because I love to pick them up and pet them and play with them but I am always anxious about them biting me. Is there anything I can do to get over this fear of mine?

Any suggestions would help wonders! Thanks so much!


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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 04:30 AM
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With the nipping in the cage...do they nip any time you put your hand in, or just when you go to pick someone up? Is it just you they nip or do they nip your husband also? Are your hands clean when you put them in the cage, with no food smells on them? Is it only in the cage when you pick one up, or is it any time one of them is picked up? Do you feed them treats through the bars? There could be many reasons they are nipping in the cage. Part of knowing how to deal with the problem is to figure out all the reasons it may be happening. Nibbling you because you taste yummy is a different cure than working with them for being terrified you are in their house.

Know that unlike, say, hamsters, a true biting rat is very rare. A true bite, which sounds like what you're really afraid of, will break the skin. It is most of the time a sign of extreme fear of pain in the rat. Even more rarely it may be something like genetic aggression.

The best way to deal with their fearfulness is to go slow, and speak calmly. If they come to you no problem, pet them in their cage in passing and get them used to you just touching them on their turf. Don't pick them up unless they come to you, and then only do so gently, calmly, and matter of fact by scooping your hands under their bodies from either side. Speak to them gently and constantly, and always come in low so they know it's you and not some big ratty eating monster come to get them. Picking them up from above is a predator act and of course picking them up by the tail hurts them (compare to someone picking you up off the ground by only your wrist and letting you dangle).

They will, when they're getting to know you, put their teeth on you to determine if you're food, but that will be a mild nip. Do your best to /not/ jerk back (oooh, fun game, I can make the human twitch funny) and give a high pitched squeak. Which is rat for 'Not food, that hurts'. They will back off and not do it any more. Later, as they grow to love you, they may then nibble on you with mild pinches because they are grooming you and have fully accepted you into their family. But that will never be a skin breaking bite.


One thing you can do immediately is get a basket or travel cage and put one of their stinky blankets in it (thus letting them claim it as their own), put treats in it and call them. I churp at them with an almost kissy sound when I call mine. They will soon learn to jump into the basket/cage when it's time to come out. That way you don't have to put your hands in the cage to retrieve them.

Another thing you might do is tie a scarf around your head until you feel more comfortable with them. That way if they do climb to your shoulder (where they feel you can keep them safe from the big mean world), you have a layer between them and you. The rest is desensitization. The longer you go without being bitten, ideally the calmer you will be. Going slow with them and letting them get comfortable with you will help them be calmer with you. And like I said, biting rats are really rare. They are the least likely to bite of any rodent.


I know others with lots more experience than me will have much better advice.

I am assuming that what you have is a workable fear and not a true full blown phobia. If it's a phobia, then that is well outside the area of general advice but can still be treated by a doctor if it's important to you to overcome.


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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
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With the nipping in the cage...do they nip any time you put your hand in, or just when you go to pick someone up? Is it just you they nip or do they nip your husband also? Are your hands clean when you put them in the cage, with no food smells on them? Is it only in the cage when you pick one up, or is it any time one of them is picked up? Do you feed them treats through the bars? There could be many reasons they are nipping in the cage. Part of knowing how to deal with the problem is to figure out all the reasons it may be happening. Nibbling you because you taste yummy is a different cure than working with them for being terrified you are in their house.
All of the above yes lol. the nip when you put your hand to the cage, in the cage pick one of the others up even when we move them to their box to clean the cage they try to nip when we go to pick another up. Yes we do clean our hands before picking them up. They nip everyone and everything lol. We don't feed them through the bars, I don't personally feed them my husbands feeds the rats and I feed the ferrets lol kind of a little system to make things fair.

Yes I am scared of a full blown bite, I have been bitten like that by hamsters Guinea pigs and one time even a rabbit lol so I dunno if they just don't like me or I am handling them the wrong way.

I always take them out only when my husband is there in case I start to panic a little lol he cause me a wuss for that but I don't want to drop them on the floor or injur them in anyway. This is just a fear not a phobia lol. Just to many experiences with small rodent animals that didn't turn out well lol. I always try to pick up the same rat because 1 she is bigger then the other's she has had foster care before and she is much more friendly then the others expect for one. But what I do is let her walk onto the door of the cage when it's open and try to pick her up from there I didn't know about picking her up from under her i was use one hand from above since that's what my husband does. She doesn't nip when on you but being a scardy cat i don't like to take chances lol. Anyway she always grabs onto the bars of the door! and I'm so afraid to pull her like my husband says to for fear of hurting her. So I will try what you mentioned.

I guess I will give you a bit of a background on these girls. the 2 younger rats we got online from a local ad on KSL.com and they came with the cage, the mother never took them out nor did the child she bought them for. So they were not used to being handle at all. ONe is an albino rat who has a large lump on her chest that nearly touches the ground when she walks and we are taking her to the vet tomorrow the other is a black one that is the dominant one so to speak. She bites at everything she can! My sister in law picked her up and put her on her shoulder and she nipped at her ear. So she put her back lol. The other two we got from another owner actually more like a small animal rescue a woman holds for all kinds of animals. These 2 were sent to foster families to be tamed and trained out of their bad habbits and what not. we got them for free actually and we slowly introduced them to the other 2 rats. They bonded instantly with the albino rat but the black one gave us some trouble. She is fine now but we always check on them to make sure.

I will definatly try these out! Thank you so much for replying to this. I felt so lost on what to do for them cause I know my husband uses an approach that doesn't always mean he's right lol


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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 02:48 PM
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It sounds to my fairly inexperienced ears like you've got some distrust and fearful cage aggression going on? This does require special handling to solve. We've got some very experienced folks on here who can give you great advice, like Lilspaz.

While I can't do that, I can offer some websites I've found:

Information on why rats bite: http://www.fancy-rats.co.uk/informat...t=ratsthatbite

More insight into why, and some tips on what do do about it using 'nonforced socialization': http://www.sandyscrittercity.com/tra...bitingrats.htm


Here's another one that focuses on 'forced socialization', which even though I think it has its place and used it on my boys, they didn't have any serious fear issues and I felt comfortable with them. This site does have lots of great behavior related videos and other good advice: http://www.joinrats.com/


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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much I will read up on these and speak with lilspaz lol

These rats were in pairs and came from different homes so that may be the cause I just have no experience with them neither does my husband so this will help so much! thank you for posting these.


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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 06:44 PM
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Everyone here has great, amazing suggestions. However for me I use to have the same fear, the best way I got over the issue was to watch my boyfriend handle them, see for myself they are gentle and sweet. Once I did that, I slowly made my way into playing with them, letting them get use to me, once I let them gain my trust, I gained theirs.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you littleladybug! That's what I have been doing and slowly i am getting there lol. I sat down with my husband while he had all of them on the table and put one on my shoulder to show me that they were gentle and won't bite me lol.

Thank you for that advice! I will remember that for sure!


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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-02-2010, 02:47 PM
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i think you did a great job Story~!

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-02-2010, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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I think Story did great too! I tried some of the stuff you mentioned and it helped a lot!

We took in our albino rat today and found out she has mammary glad cancer. Unfortunatly we can't do anything for her but give her the best life we can. She already had a large lump on her chest when we got her but we didn't want to separate her from her sister when we bought her from a lady who wanted nothing to do with them. So we're giving her the best kinda life we can! We were really surprised just because she's so young too.


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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-06-2010, 09:42 AM
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how is your little albino doing?

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-08-2010, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Well, she has a very large Mammary gland tumor on her chest according to the vet. When we got her she had it but we got her with another rat and the whole cage a month ago and i'm sure if we didn't take her the lady that had them probably would have just set her free.

So we only have 2 options, a $300-$400 dollar surgery that can get higher in price because of the size of her tumor. Or we can wait till her quality of life goes down and just let her sleep. I also found out that she isn't the age we were told she was she is in fact over 2 years old. So my husband and I are just going to let life run it's course since if we do pay that much for surgery she will pass on within half a year from old age It's sad but there's not much else we can do. And there is no guaranty she'll come out of the surgery.


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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-08-2010, 01:08 PM
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Well, she has a very large Mammary gland tumor on her chest according to the vet. When we got her she had it but we got her with another rat and the whole cage a month ago and i'm sure if we didn't take her the lady that had them probably would have just set her free.
that's horrible! what kind of person was this?

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So we only have 2 options, a $300-$400 dollar surgery that can get higher in price because of the size of her tumor. Or we can wait till her quality of life goes down and just let her sleep. I also found out that she isn't the age we were told she was she is in fact over 2 years old. So my husband and I are just going to let life run it's course since if we do pay that much for surgery she will pass on within half a year from old age It's sad but there's not much else we can do. And there is no guaranty she'll come out of the surgery.
i'm so sorry, i'm sure she'll have a wonderful end of life with you, good luck.

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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2010, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you. I really hope so! She seems to be happier and more interactive. The people we got her from didn't even look at her so she's been getting a little better lol.


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