Although their small size rats can bite very hard when they want to. A hard rat bite can pierce through clothing and skin so make sure to be cautious whilst handling them. Most of the time pet rats should be friendly however there are some circumstances which can make a rat want to bite. In this article we are covering why rats bite, signs a rat is about to bite and how to stop rats from biting.
Why do rats bite?
To stop your pet rat from biting the first step is to determine why they are biting in the first place. Rats can bite for a multitude of different reasons these include but are not limited to the following;
- Scared: One of the common reasons your pet rat could bite is that they are scared. Rats that may have been traumatised or mistreated should be handled with care as well as rats that haven’t been handled much or socialised. It’s important to take things slow and build up that trust again.
- Angry: If two rats are fighting and you step in, there’s the chance that you may get bit. Rats will bite anything that they see as a threat so if you stick your finger or hand between them to try and stop it, they will bite you.
- Startled: You should always let your rat know if you’re going to pat them or pick them up as rats don’t like being startled and will normally bite as a form of protection. You should always let them know you’re there by gently talking to them, definitely do not poke them.
- Patting through cage bars: Generally rats will bite anything that pokes through the bars of their cage thinking that it’s food. This is most common if they are being fed treats or any food through the cage bars.
- Pregnant: Rats that are pregnant or have given birth she may bite as female rats become territorial and defensive with their young.
- Pain: Rats will bite as a defence mechanism. If your rat bites you but it has never bitten you before, it could be a sign that they are in some sort of pain. Whether that be because you accidentally hurt them while playing or that there’s an underlying health issue. It’s always important to see a veterinarian if you think there’s any health problems.
Signs a rat is about to bite
There are a few tell-tale signs that your pet rat could be about to bite. These include your rat raising its hair in a slight hunched back position indicating that it feels threatened and ready to pounce. Displaying their teeth or raising front paws is another sign your rat is about to bite. If you notice any of these signs be sure to tread with caution to ensure your rat doesn’t bite you.
How to stop pet rats from biting
The best way to stop your pet rat from biting is to train the behaviour out of them. There are a couple of different ways to achieve this, listed below are the best methods to do so.
Note: Wearing gloves is a great way to avoid being hurt from your rat biting, whilst training them to stop biting.
The ‘Squeak’ Method
If your pet rat bites you hard to the point of bleeding be sure to immediately discourage this behavior by emitting a loud squeaking sound to let your rat know “ouch this hurts! that was too hard”. When rats are tussling, they squeak letting the other one know that it’s too hard or hurts. They will recognize the squeaking sound you make as displeasure and should stop biting you.
Distracting your rat by giving them something in have in their mouth such as a treat or small object that is strong enough to survive a rat bite. This method is an immediate solution to the problem as they can not bite with a full mouth.
Building Trust Method
If your rat is attempting to bite due to being scared the best way to stop them from biting is by building trust with them. Trust is easy to achieve with attention and food/ treats. Having your rat trust you and not scared of you will should stop them from biting you.