- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Taming a rat

March 10th, 2007, 12:40 PM
Hi everyone, I hope I might be able to get some help with a pet rat that I bought for my girlfriend. We've had it for a little over three weeks now. For the first week it was scared and a seemed a little paranoid, it was around this time that the rat bit me for the first (but not last) time. I considered it an accident because I just ate a pear and after being bitten realized I had a bit of pear juice on my fingers, I gave her a small piece of what was leftover and she loved it so pear became her new treat.

We went away for a couple days and came back, my girlfriend's sister commented that she looked a little fat and when we checked she did indeed look quite large, a fact that was remedied the next day when she gave birth to 12 babies (all of which are surviving quite nicely). After the birth she became very aggressive, she has drawn blood on me and has jumped at my hand before I have had a chance to put it in. Changing her food has become quite the sport. We thought she was calming down, my girlfriend was able to stroke her but she's gotten bad again and last time my she tried to pat her she was bitten (luckly with no blood).

We are hoping as the babies get older she might calm down but she's been a very strange rat the entire three weeks we've owned her, quite unlike any rat the two of us have dealt with before and we're not really sure where to go from here. Most of the stuff I've read about aggressive rat behaviour has basically just said avoid aggressive rats and not a whole lot on any good ways to tame them down a little.

If anyone has dealt with some aggressive rat issues before and know any way to help it would be greatly appriciated. We're close to finding homes for a lot of the babies, but we are keeping a few and we're doing our best to get them used to us so they don't turn out like mommy, but we don't want to have to send her off to a cage of her own because she's going to try to bite us no matter what we do.


March 12th, 2007, 12:42 AM
I'm so sorry! I have had rats, but I've never had issues like that. :o I hope somebody more ratty sees this and gives you better advice... :o Good luck! :grouphug:

March 17th, 2007, 03:03 PM
Honestly to me it just sounds like you have a rat that genetically is very prone to aggression.
It sounds like you've been doing about all you can to tame her, and most of these tactics would work just fine on a normal rat, but her behavior is way out of the ordinary.
Sometimes you get a rat that is prone to aggression, and good breeders are very careful not to breed rats with ANY amount of aggression towards people.
You can try petting her and giving her food and talking to her softly, but there's no guarantee that she'll ever be completely nonaggressive.
You do want to avoid putting your hands near her cage when you're not handling her, or letting others do this. If she lunges and you pull your hand back it's reinforcing that her behavior will make you leave her alone, which is what she wants.
Every time she bites you and you pull away this is also reinforcing it, so be careful not to put yourself in situations where you need to pull your hand away because she's biting.

As soon as the babies are old enough to eat solid food I would seperate them from her immediately and start HEAVILY socializing them to people.

March 23rd, 2007, 01:24 AM
Her behaviour sounds totally normal to me. She's a mom with babies, and up until she gave birth she was pregnant and defensive of her litter. She'll settle down.

Try not to hand feed her. I know that it can help her associate you with good things, but it can also encourage biting. Wash your hands before handling her so that you don't smell of food and always place her food and treats in her dish.

Leave her alone until she weans her babies. Do what you have to do in the meantime to care for her, but don't push her until the babies are gone. Some mothers are fine and have no problem with you interfering...but aggressive mothers are only doing what's natural.

I've had rats that were just mean and never settled down, but I can see why this rattie is so aggressive. I honestly think that with some time and patience she could be a great pet.

Also, you might want to consider keeping back one of her female babies as a companion for her. It's nice to have one rat bond to you, but it's nicer for them to have a buddy when you're not around. Good luck.

April 2nd, 2007, 01:28 AM
The only thing that I may be able to add here, is that it is best to begin to socialize the babies, handling them gently, by two weeks of age or so. Don't put that off. This is especially advisable with agression in the mother. That actually may be her problem. She may not have been adequately socialized as a baby.

June 23rd, 2007, 04:30 AM
I must say I agree with Glitterless, new mums can be very defensive and it is not a good idea to handle them or get too close to the babies when they are very young. Hopefully as they get older she will become more friendly but take things slowly and treat her as a new pet. Good luck!