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My rats are grooming me!

4400 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Vladina
I met Taco the Rat in my Psych lab last fall. Throughout that semester it was my and my lab partner's job to feed/weigh/clean up after Taco. But I spent extra time with him .. 'cause he was so darn cute. During the Spring semester I was much busier and only managed to visit Taco a few times over the months. So, when I brought him and Lafayette (another lab rat who was handled a lot in the fall, but not so much in the spring) home a month ago, they were not as into the human contact as they once had been. Plus, for the first time they had another rat to hang out with ... so I was probably far less interesting. :)

After a few days, they started doing the cute thing where when I walked into the room and started talking to them, they seemed excited to hear from me. I spent a good amount of time with my hands in their cage giving them little treats, moving them around (like into the litter when they seemed to need to poop, and out of the litter when they just seemed to be sleeping in there!), and trying to give them some scratches and pets. They weren't too into that last part, though. They seemed to be physically offended and a little freaked out when I stroked them or scratched their fuzzy heads. They were cool with jumping around and playing with my hand (I would lightly poke them on the rear and move my hand away and they would chase it and then jump around and give me their rear end again ... HIlarious) ... but just nice, sweet petting did not seem to be on their agenda.

Going into the third week I realized that the way they got to know each other initially was by grooming each other ... so instead of trying to stroke them, I started "nibbling" them with my finger nails. Lafayette LOVED it. Taco was still a little unsure and slinked away to a hidey-house. Lafayette, though, would just sit down on the spot and let his little eyes close ... so after a couple tries I started morphing the "nibbling" into petting and stroking. He was sold. And since these two are typical males ... anything Lafayette was getting, Taco now wanted ... and so he began to let me "nibble" and ultimately scratch and pet him, too.

Yesterday, when I was giving Lafayette some "scratchies" (which is the dumb term I have started using to name this activity for them), he turned around and started nibbling and licking me! Then Taco ran over and started nibbling Lafayette, and then me, and then Lafayette, and so on. We had ourselves a really cute little grooming party for a few minutes. And another last night. And another this morning. Hehehehe.

These little weirdos totally melt my heart. :lovies:
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That is so great! When rats groom you it is a sign that they trust and love you, so you should feel very happy and proud! :D Sounds like you are doing a good job with them!
Yes, Breyer is correct! They think of you as part of their pack and they are treating you like they would another rat. Grooming you, even with their teeth, is a sign of affection and acceptance, so that is great. I am not surprised that since they were lab rats, that they were not that into being touched at first, since they were probably not raised from birth with lots of hands on petting and holding, but rats are one of the most affectionate and loving animals on the planet. And when they love their people, there is nothing else like it. :sneakyhug
D'aww! What cutie pies! They must really adore you and you must be taking great care of them for them to be so affectionate towards you. Great job socializing and boning with them! A bond with a ratty is one of the most precious things in the world. Such sweet little creatures they are. <3
Thanks, everyone! I'm not gonna lie -- I got teary eyed when it was happening. I was so honored and proud and fell even more in love with them. They have certainly added a fair amount of chores to my routine ... but the amount of joy they have already brought us in just one month of having them is incredible.

Fun sidenote -- when I first met my husband, he wasn't really into animals (aside from maybe dogs). I had always had cats ... but he was allergic, and also claimed cats were just "a**holes." He was (sort of) joking ... but I still gave up on the idea of ever having kitties around the house again. So, nearly 10 years later, it is really funny to watch him snuggling with our two kitties and telling them how perfect they are ... and even more hilarious to see him come in from work, get greeted by the kitties, and then walk over to the ratties and talk and play with them for a few minutes. If I had told him then what he would be like now .... :spit:
When we were dating my husband told me cats just didn't like him. I tease him about that every time one of our two cats starts demanding attention from him - even the one I'd had for years before I ever even met him!
I love when men get those soft spots for animals. Part of the main reason I married my husband was that he was so kind and thoughtful and sweet to animals, and not embarrased in the least about doing baby talk with our rats, smooching and cooing over them every chance he gets. I just love it.

And you are right about the teary eyed moment you had with your rats. It happens so often with rats...they just melt your heart like no other. Yes, in order to take excellent care of rats, it IS a lot of work and dedication, but you are right when you talked about the incredible JOY they bring us every day. We just fall in love with our babies and they give SO much back to us. :dream:
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