A lot of people who are interested in getting a pet rat might be a bit hesitant to do so because they are worried about getting bitten.
It is important that you learn the facts when it comes to the behavior of these animals before deciding to own one.
Will my Pet Rat Bite Me?
There is always a chance that you will get bitten by your pet rat. These animals still retain many of their natural instincts that serve them so well in the wild. While pet rats are not inherently aggressive, there are a number of reasons that they could lash rash out and bite.
Why Pet Rats Sometimes Bite
You should be aware of the numerous possible explanations for biting among pet rats before getting one. There are a lot of different potential motivations for this type of behavior.
1. They Are Scared
If your pet rat gets extremely frightened, they might try to bite you as a natural defense mechanism. This sometimes happens when an owner is too rough when handling their rat, or they don’t know how to hold them.
Almost all rats that were not socialized correctly when they were young display particularly aggressive behavior as matured adults. This behavior often includes a fear response at even the slightest noise. It doesn’t take much for them to become startled, and sometimes even lash out with their teeth.
A pregnant female rat is more likely to bite its owner due to their heightened sense of territoriality. If you reach in and get close to the nest in their cage, there is a good chance you will get bitten.
If you have a pregnant rat at home, it is highly recommended that you leave the nest alone for the first few weeks. You should also avoid handling the new mother for a while.
3. Spike in Hormone Levels
A sudden spike in your rat’s hormone levels can lead to unusually aggressive behavior. You might notice your rat charging towards you in their cage, or vocalizing more than usual.
It is normal for rats to have extremely high hormone levels until they are about twelve months old. You will, therefore, want to be careful about handling them until this age.
4. They Are in Pain
When your rat is in pain, it can become very aggressive without much warning. There are, however, some signs that you can look for. A rat that is experiencing physical pain might squint its eyes or lick itself more than normal. You might also notice them vocalizing a lot when you lightly touch them in their cage.
If you have good reason to believe your rat is experiencing pain, you should avoid handling it as much as possible. It is important that you get them to the veterinarian so they can get checked out. There are numerous possible explanations, including an injury they sustained inside or outside their cage.
5. You Started Them
Even a completely healthy adult rat may bite you if it is startled by a loud noise or sudden movement. This is why you need to be careful when picking up and handling your pet rat.
You should always be very deliberate in your movements so that you don’t scare your rat. They might bite you as a natural reaction to a perceived threat.
It is possible that your rat’s biting is due to an illness of some kind. This could be a physical wound that is causing them pain, or a neurological condition that has impaired their brain function. For example, a brain tumor could cause your rat to become abnormally aggressive.
Some of the most common signs of illness among rats include:
- Labored breathing
- Decreased appetite
- Lump somewhere on their body
- Increased sneezing
- Loss of fur on their body
- Scratching themselves frequently
If you notice any signs of illness with your rat, you should get them to the vet as soon as possible. The sooner you get them looked at, the better off they will be.
Tips to Keep Your Rat from Biting
There are certain tips that can be incredibly useful when it comes to keeping your rat from biting you.
1. Be Careful When Handling Them
It is imperative that you are very careful when picking up and handling your rat. When you go to pick them up in their cage, you’ll want to scoop them up with your hand under their belly.
Keep in mind that most rats don’t particularly enjoy being picked up or held. You should wait until they are worn out, as they will be less likely to bite. If your rat starts to squirm around a lot while you are handling it, put them back in their cage. They might give you a warning bite just as a way of saying “okay, that’s enough.”
2. Keep Them in a Good Size Cage
Your rat’s cage should offer two square feet of space minimum. Keeping them in a space that is too small can stress them out, which may lead to aggressive behavior.
3. Regularly Look for Signs of Illness
You should closely monitor your rat so that you will notice any signs of pain and/or illness. This can help you avoid getting bitten.
- Rats retain many of their natural instincts, which means that getting bitten is always a possibility.
- One of the most common reasons that rats bite is out of fear.
- Pregnant female rats are much more likely to bite their owner if they go poking around the nest.
- Leave your pregnant rat alone for the first 2-3 weeks after it gives birth.
- A startled rat is also more likely to bite, which is why you should only handle them in a quiet and calm environment.
- When you need to pick your rat up, scoop them up with your hand under their belly.
- Rats don’t like to be handled very much, so you shouldn’t try to cuddle them for very long.
- If your rat bites you suddenly, it might be because they are in pain.
- Check for signs of illness with your rat on a regular basis.