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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2011, 10:39 AM Thread Starter
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Question Working with a Rat Biter?

About a month ago now I adopted a male rat from a rescue. All the background I got on him was that he was bought for a pet store by his previous owner who was obsessed with him for about a week or two and then lost interest. She kept him in a 10 gallon fish tank that was rarely, if ever cleaned. Then she went to jail and her roommate brought him to the local animal shelter because she wanted nothing to do with him. She estimated that he was a few months old at that point, maybe 5 or so. He then went to a rodent rescue where he stayed for some time where he was kept in his own separate cage since he had never been introduced to other rats before. He was minimally handled because he would just cower in the back of his crate and never come out and the rescue mom was trying to give him time to adjust.
In the time that I have had him, he has gotten to be quite comfortable with me. He comes out of his bed whenever I come into the room to greet me and has little concern running around outside of his cage while I move around the room. This is a big improvement from when he first came, where at first he wouldn't come out if I was around to the second I moved the tiniest bit or made a little noise, he would go flying back to his cage.
Once he started coming up to me and exploring me, I was so thrilled! And then he bit me hard on my wrist. I did not smell like food (I had made sure to wash right before letting him out) and I wasn't moving or making any sound. After he bit me I paused for a moment, a bit shocked from the force of the bite, and he just stood there watching me, waiting for a reaction it seemed. I just quietly got up, and which point he raced back to his cage. I closed him in and went to take care of myself. I bled for a good 10 minutes at least. After that, I immediately went to google and checked out what I could do. While I have previously owned rats, I have never had one that bit like that. I started to never feed him directly from my hand, just drop food down for him to grab, and to squeal when he bit me and then put him in a time out. By now, I have been bitten numerous times and see no progress. The only difference is my squeal no longer sends him back to his cage. He just backs off a bit and I have to keep squealing and shoo him into his cage to be able to safely take care of my bite. He still draws a good deal of blood every time. If he is eating or sleeping and I approach him from the side, he enjoys being pet. He especially likes being scratched behind the ears, although that is very nerve-wracking for me at this point. However, if he starts investigating my hands. Within seconds he will bite. I have tried wearing gloves and it seems to make no difference. What can I do to get him to stop?

So for going on so long. Here's the summary: My rescue rat keeps biting me. What can I do to get him to stop?
Thank you so much in advance guys!
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2011, 12:51 PM
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So lets guess your boy is about 8-9 months old or thereabouts? Does he puff up before or after he bites? Does he rub his sides on things, dig with his front paws, walk around hunch-backed, etc?

If so he's hormonally aggressive and you will need to have him neutered. Hormonal males cannot be touched on the rump or back as they will often whirl to bite. Is it only IN his cage or outside of it as well?

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2011, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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That is my general guess for his age but there's no way to be positive.
Actually he doesn't do any of that. When he is in his cage, I've given him his space so I don't know how he would react but outside of it he doesn't. In fact, he is better when I approach him from behind about being pet and doesn't particularly seem to react to his rump/back being touched. And he rarely whirls to bit. He turns towards me, pauses, and sniffs me and then almost always decides to bite me. At first I thought he might not be familiar enough with my scent or frightened of me but it definitely doesn't seem to be either of those. I'm starting to think he just has decided I am eatable.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2011, 08:55 PM
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How hard is he biting then? Does he break skin, draw blood, does he bite down lightly at first and get harder?

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2011, 09:28 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, he breaks the skin every time and it bleeds profusely for awhile. Even when I have gloves on, he usually breaks the skin. It is always is a quick bite and he lets go pretty much right away.
When I squeal after he bites me, he used to run back to his cage and then I would close his door for a short time out (30 seconds) and let him out again and he usually would, looking curious, run right up to me and bite me in the same place. Now, he doesn't even really run back to his cage when I do it. Just backs up a bit and looks at me curiously.
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