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Pet Rats/Possessive rat behavior


My partner and I have adopted a pregnant rat. Recently my partner spent more time with her due to me being on vacation and he was taking care of her. We are now back together again and she is being highly possessive of him and won't let me near him. She is aggressive towards me and she darts at me when he is holding her and I kiss him. She has nipped at me a few times(never breaking skin, more like warning nips). She will only come out for him and will only take treats from him. She will even avoid me or scurry away from me when I take her out when my partner is away. According to previous owners she wasn't like this before. Is this normal behavior for a pregnant rat?

Hi Casey,
What a fascinating question! I've never had one like it. I'm assuming you let her spend a lot of time out of her cage. This allows rats to exhibit behavior they can't when they are in a cage most of the time. It is normal for a pregnant rat to be very defensive of her territory, which is usually just her cage, but in this case includes your partner! Obviously she has bonded strongly with him and not with you. But don't despair, this behavior won't last forever. I suggest you do some trust training with her. You'll find a description of this on my website at on the Rat Info page. This will go a long way to helping her trust you and bond with you. Also, about 2 weeks after a rat has her babies, and the hormones start going down, the aggressive behavior usually goes away. However, I know you don't want to wait until then to interact with her! Do be sure to the handle the babies a lot from birth, even if you have to take her away to another area so you can do it!

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Debbie Ducommun


I can answer any questions about pet rats, but you will probably be able find answers to simple questions more quickly on my website at If you have a life-threatening emergency you can try calling me at 530-899-0605. I am not usually on the computer on the weekend.


I have been "The Rat Lady" since 1985 and am recognized as one of the world's experts on pet rats. I have 3 published books and already answer lots of questions about rats daily.

President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

BA in Animal Behavior

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