Author Topic: Rat Behavior Question  (Read 1204 times)

Offline mjlamont

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Rat Behavior Question
« on: November 17, 2016, 11:19:16 AM »
I got a lone female rattie from a gal who was having issues with her attacking other rats (which were of the same litter) and biting her. She basically just wanted rid of her, so I took her on as a hopefully-temp thing to try to work on her socialization.

And I am failing. Miserably. I've never had such a difficult time with a rat. She isn't food-motivated (and I have concerns about her not eating enough despite a steady supply of lab blocks and fresh food), doesn't like being picked up or even touched, lunges at the cage bars when she's in it, lunges at my face when she's out of it, and bites with very little warning.

I spend a great deal of time with her, just like I did my other kiddos, but I'm littered with bites and am a bit of a loss for what to do because my go-to method of squeaking when bit only makes her bite harder. Help?

Offline Kitsch Slapped

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Re: Rat Behavior Question
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2016, 12:57:29 PM »
We had a girl who would only attack us. And when she bit, she bit HARD. She would lunge out of sleeping in a hammock to attack our hands when we would be giving attention to other resident ratties in the cage. She was quite aggressive. My fingers were swollen and bloody and it was just awful. We worked and worked and worked with her but still never felt safe to put our hands anywhere near her. She didnt want anything to do with us. Would only occasionally even come out for treats. We decided we had to work on her terms. She didnt want petted, so we didnt, she didnt want picked up, so we didnt. Basically we only touched her to get her to the vet, but otherwise kept our distance from her. We were on her terms, so although we couldnt love ON her like we wanted to, we were still able to lover her (from a distance lol), and she lived a long, happy, spoiled life with us. Although, no human would find it ideal, it was just what we had to do for her.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 12:59:03 PM by Kitsch Slapped »
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Offline mamarat2

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Re: Rat Behavior Question
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2016, 12:58:32 PM »
Does she bite when she is out of the cage?  Some rats have an aversion to hands/fingers; you might try using a box for her to hop into and transport her to play area in that (that way no hand/finger involvement) then use the back of your hand to let her sniff that when she approaches. 
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Offline mjlamont

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Re: Rat Behavior Question
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2016, 01:59:35 PM »
Kitsch: I'm trying to keep that in mind as a possibility, I'm just bit sad at the idea that she'll live alone in her cage all the time because she can't be around other rats either, and I'm just not willing to give up on her yet I guess.

Mamarat2: she bites in and out of the cage. she won't come out of the cage on her own at all. =/ That's the method I used on my first girl, but Tori just isn't having it.

Offline Vonda Z

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Re: Rat Behavior Question
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2016, 06:12:16 PM »
Do you have other rats? If you do, try interacting with her when you are sure you don't have rat smell on you. Try handling her after showering when you haven't been around the other rats and keeping her in a room that the other rats never go in so there is no rat smell anywhere. I had one boy who underwent a behavior change (likely due to PT which later developed) and he became horribly aggressive toward other rats and people and was completely unhandleable. We eventually figured out that he didn't suddenly start hating his people, but the rat smell on us confused him and he would attack hands/arms/feet/thighs as if they were another rat he wanted to kill. But if we showered and changed clothes before handling him (or handled him before handling any other rats) and if we kept him in his own room with no other rat smells - he went back to being his old sweet self. It was an incredible transformation.

I know that is a long shot, but if you do have other rats and she doesn't like other rats, it is worth a try to see if it is the rats or the people she is responding to.

Offline mjlamont

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Re: Rat Behavior Question
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2016, 06:24:30 PM »
Thanks for the idea, Vonda. I'll try that.

Offline Been to the Mountaintop

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Re: Rat Behavior Question
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2016, 08:00:14 PM »
Good luck. Thanks for trying so hard.  :heart:
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Offline Kitsch Slapped

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Re: Rat Behavior Question
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2016, 10:08:19 PM »
Kitsch: I'm trying to keep that in mind as a possibility, I'm just bit sad at the idea that she'll live alone in her cage all the time because she can't be around other rats either, and I'm just not willing to give up on her yet I guess.

Mamarat2: she bites in and out of the cage. she won't come out of the cage on her own at all. =/ That's the method I used on my first girl, but Tori just isn't having it.

Oh yes, definitely keep working with her! Youre doing good! I just toss that out there because so often, people will just assume that they failed, or the rat isnt happy with them, and often will get rid of a difficult rat. But neither of those things are necessarily true and I like to let anyone who's having a particularly difficult time with a rat know that sometimes it just has to be on the ratties terms -and that is perfectly fine. I wish you the best of luck! Lots of good tips here. Hopefully she comes around.  :heart:
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Offline ratsareausomepets

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Re: Rat Behavior Question
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2016, 01:20:32 AM »
Good luck! Each rat bite hurts and takes a while to heal, so you must be pretty brave and stubborn to be keeping on trying.

I had two experiences with a biting rat.
With 1 it never improved and I had to give it away, this was when I first got my first rats, and I wasn't experienced with them.

With the second, the biting went away completely! But it took a lot of trust training, first feeding on a spoon every day all her meals, and then feeding by hand all her meals (oatmeal, barley soup etc).   She now only gets aggressive with other rats, only if they try to steal her food after being warned with squeeks...