You are here:

Pet Rats/New biting problem


QUESTION: I've had Courage for several months and have never had any problems with her. However, these past two weeks she's bitten me three times, the last one being very deep. I haven't changed anything I've been doing, and two of the three times she bit me I was petting her. Please help! I don't want to keep her caged all the time but I REALLY don't want to get bit again.

ANSWER: What was the situation when you were bitten?  Could it have been that you were petting her while she was sleeping or tired?  Some rats do not wish to be disturbed during their quiet hours, usually during the day.  

However, if you have previously petted her during sleeptime without any attempts at aggression from her, it is quite possible that she is ill or under some kind of stress.  Is she showing any subtle signs of illness, like lethargy or poor appetite?  Is she acting as before during her free play times, with lots of energy and curiosity?  If you notice any other behavior changes aside from the biting that suggest she is ill, I suggest you take her to your vet for an exam.

Good luck with Courage and please let me know if I can help you with anything else.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: That's the thing. Her appetite is swell. There are no other behavioral changes. And when she bit me, it was during play time. I let my two ratties out to roam on my bed, and she came right up to me, so I pet her. This is true for both times she bit me (there was a third time, but I know what happened there).

Okay, let's try to figure this one out.  I currently have one female "biter" as well.  Mine bites when she's bothered at sleeptime, hard but never breaking skin.  She will always bite me on places on my face for some strange reason (nose, lip, etc) if I put my face close to her, again hard but not breaking skin.  During nightime when she free plays or when I pet her, she never bites my hands or any other parts of my body but will sometimes stop and groom me, quite hard with her teeth but it's not painful.  I attribute all of this to her personality.  She was always the most of aggressive of my females, the dominant one, who would make the others squeak when she groomed them.

Having heard this, do you see any similarities?  Is your girl the dominant one of yours?  During next playtimes, try not to pet her or put your hands or face anywhere near her.  Just sit with them and interact without your hands.  Let her climb on you if she will.  Let me know if she bites you anywhere else?  Moniter her behavior closely so if she does bite, you can recall her actions right before biting.  Was she overly hyper playing with her "sister" right before?  Does she ever bite her sister and make her squeak?  How hard are these bites, breaking skin or not?  Are you certain she is not just trying to groom you (some rats are very aggressive groomers)?

Please get back to me.  I'd like to help you figure this out.  I have friends and rat mentors that I can also confer with for their ideas.

PS - you may wish to wear thick gloves during playtime if you feel your hands are her target.

Pet Rats

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Irene Murphy


I can answer a variety of questions regarding adoption and care of pet rats throughout their lifetimes, including questions about their health and well being, temperment, diet, bedding, cages, toys, etc. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability in a timely manner and I have an abundant amount of resources to help me to help you with your pet rats. I love rattie pictures, so include pics with your question if you can. You may ask me medical questions, but please be advised that I am not a vet. I may use my resources to answer some medical questions, however, I will need to refer you to your local vet with medical questions that I feel I am not qualified to address.


I have been a huge rat enthusiast for many years. Since becoming a rat owner, I have educated myself in all areas of pet rats from every resource I could find including the internet, books, conversations with local exotic vets, as well as several local rat breeders.

I have a college degree but not in the area of animals. I have obtained my extensive experience and knowlege of pet rats all on my own because in my eyes, pet rats are the most interesting and fascinating creatures you can ever imagine to have as pets. I also am saddened by how mislabeled and misunderstood these amazing and extremely smart animals are by the majority, and my mission in life has become to educate and change as many people's perceptions of rats as I possibly can.

©2016 All rights reserved.