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Don't they bite?

Scribble has never really bitten anyone, except for maybe Eek. She is consistently very gentle. Though Scribble does like to gently explore the ends of fingernails with her teeth.

When Eek was a tiny baby, three times, and always on the same hand, she bit me on the web between my fingers. These were very painful and drew blood. In her defense, she seemed like she was trying to nurse, and the way skin can kind of mound up a bit in that location when cupping one's hand (like, say, when holding a baby rodent), probably made it seem like it might be worthy of such exploration.

Pet rat sites sometimes discuss different kinds of biting. Sometimes rodents delicately and tentatively place their teeth on an object when exploring a new item. Both Eek and Scribble use their large front incisors in this gentle manner. Another bite "type" is a warning pseudo bite. This is a placing of the teeth with light pressure but without breaking skin with a "I could be biting you now" message, indicating gentle displeasure about something. And then there is the bite used quick defense.

Eek does, occasionally, do the warning "bite"; the "I want to let you know that I don't want that" message, without actually breaking skin. If one is ignorant enough not to get the message when she is unhappy, in truth, Eek has upon occasion moved on to the stronger kind of bite . Through this, she has clearly communicated that there are two very specific things that merit her displeasure: First, don't mess with her stuff. Only proceed in checking the level of food she has hidden in her food cache with caution, or when she's not in the cage. Don't touch or rearrange her current nest of choice. Second, don't smell like Scribble (remember, rats can't see well and have a very acute sense of smell). Petting Scribble the interloper then immediately approaching Eek has, in the past, unfortunately present the possibility of resulting in a reactive bite.

As I've learned about Eek, her needs and her preferences, we've sorted out what she's grumpy about, and I'm happy to report that it's been a long time since she's attempted to bite me. Even when we did still have occasional nips, I fully trusted both rats to climb about my person, on my head, snuffle in my ears, and in my clothing without harming me.

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Faq | by Dr. Radut