It will happen eventually; your pet rats will bite you. But most of the time, their reason for biting you is not because they want to eat you, or because they don’t like you, or whatever negative things that you interpret a bite to mean. No, most of the time, they are probably showing you some love and affection.
Lacking speech, rats communicate in different ways. Sometimes, they do so with their teeth. Since we are not covered in furs, rat bites can sometimes sting us. Bites vary in severity, and it is important for pet rat owners to distinguish what bites from rats mean. Most rat bites don’t break our skin. Some are just slight nips while some are a little harder. It is rare for a pet rat’s bite to penetrate human skin. When it does happen, often times, it is the owner’s fault.
Gentle nips can be interpreted as some sort of grooming. Yes, rats love to groom each other and if you keep them as pets then they will groom you too most probably because they like you. These nips can be considered as tokens of affection. Don’t pull away your hand when a rat is doing this. Usually, a pet rat scrapes its teeth on your skin to groom you. Other times, gentle nips can also be perceived as something that a rat does to test what kind of being you are and what you are made of, specially when it is still new in your care. It is because the rat is curious and not because it is hungry. There are times though when a pet rat might lick you and nip you because it wants to taste you. But this only happens when you’ve recently just handled some food and you didn’t wash your hands.
There are some moments as well that a rat is grumpy and is not really interested in playing. When you annoy it while it is feeling like this, be prepared for a harder nip. This kind of bite might be harder but it certainly is not that hard enough to break your skin. During moments such as these, just leave the rat alone and don’t disturb it. It will come to you when it’s ready to play and be petted, eventually.
Hard bites that don’t break the skin can also be interpreted as some sort of a game that rats like to play. Your pet rats might think it’s fun, but as these kinds of rat bites sting much more than gentle nips, you should probably try and devise a way to let them know that you don’t like these kinds of game. Don’t get angry with them, just find a solution to stop them from doing it. Do whatever works as long as they’ll learn that playing is good but hard nipping is definitely bad.
It is rare for a pet rat’s bite to draw blood. It does happen though, most probably because you startled or scared it so much its first reaction is to bite hard. Remember that rats are typically prey because of their size and so they startle easily. Don’t startle them.
Bites from pet rats are usually not that hard. Just remember that for a pet rat, a bite is some way of communication or a sign of affection. Don’t be scared because your rat bit you. It’s just showing you how much it likes you.