My rats don’t bite me…. or anybody else, for that matter.
Rats tend to get a bad rap…. the most common question I get about my little pack when people meet them, after people get a funky look on their face while surveying is: “Do they bite?”.
I’ve had rats since I was about 8 years old. That’s seven years of rat experience…. and I have figured out how to interact and care for my rats to have them not bite.
Rats (and a lot of rodents) are notorious for being vicious or biting– but the most that my rats do with their mouth is eat, lick me, and snuffle in my ears ;). However, it wasn’t always this way…..
When I had a previous pair of rats, I had a couple of friends get a bit in the ear by PJ! She and Vi, sisters, weren’t super interested in us and though I loved them, I didn’t have as much know-how on rat/human interaction. Unknowingly, we were allowing them to be the “dominant” members of our “pack”, and they would nibble our toes and ears. Looking back, it was all obviously in an attempt to be the ‘top rat’ (because of course, us humans are big and when rats are thrust in the power seat by unaware owners, they get neurotic and frustrated.)
However, once PJ had to be put down due to uterine cancer, Vi was left alone and turned to the human family for comfort and social interaction. That’s when the magic happened. We found that she treated us like a rat– like a member of the pack, and when we put ourselves confidently into the top position in her “pack”, she treated us with respect and kindness. She was happy, we were happy. It was the rat version of what Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, does!
After Vi passed away, I was saddened– but empowered by what she had taught me. I will always credit Vi for sparking my true passion for rats, and my desire to educate people about them.
Every rat I have met since Vi, I have applied my techniques to. They are not secrets– anyone can learn them, provided you aren’t afraid of being hurt or failing (animals always react to fear). In fact, Junior was initially one tough cookie when I first met her, as a grown rat, at the science center. She bit me, fought me, and would refuse to open up and trust. But I kept at it, never afraid of what possible harm she could cause me, and though I got many bites and scratches from her in our first months of my weekly volunteering, these marks are nothing compared to the amazing relationship I developed with her. However, she never really extended this trust to others– it was mostly between us. We were best buddies, and she died in my lap, just hours after bringing her home on the routine weekend “sleepover”. She lived at the science center, but she had a second home with me:).
Vinny, who initially lived at the science center before coming to live with us, was always a sweetheart by nature. But my past rat experience only helped make our relationship better. He has converted many a-person to a rat believer!
When I adopted Twiggy and Robin, I knew what to do. Never in their life have they bitten me, or anyone they come into contact with– they have never shown animosity towards anyone! In fact, they are the epitome of well-behaved, happy rats!
I am so happy that I has the privilege to create such a rat-friendly environment for them to grow up in! My hope is to use Twiggy and Robin in my rat eduction endeavors– I’m sure they won’t mind. They love explore anyone new who crosses their path.
My rats have no fear. They are filled with trust. And when trust is in the place of fear, it is only natural that they would never bite or show any negativity to anyone!