A short clip of JJ, one of our lovely rats, sniffing around our hands for treats.
JJ came to us as a scared little girl who was protective of herself and her home. She would bite any hand that went near and puff herself up, angrily shunning any attempts to touch or pet her. We persevered with her, never reacting harshly to her bites and hisses. By giving her tiny treats and showing her love she has become a friendly and happy little soul. It hasn't happened overnight. Bites that punctured and wounded became nips that pinched and finally little sniffs and licks. We worked at building trust at the pace she set. Now she is a happy little girl who loves attention (and chocolate that comes with it!) who now, albeit sometimes grudgingly, allows us to pick her up and stroke her.
When someone says they have a problem rat or a rat that bites, then I see a rat who is unhappy or who has been mistreated. That rat is in need of love and reassurance not anger and chastisement. Changing its life to one without aggression can be a challenge. It may result in more than a few bites and scratches. It will no doubt take a few weeks to build up trust and break down learned behaviours but no rat deserves to be abandoned or put to sleep because of its behaviour.
Living with rats is a truly wonderful experience and they deserve love, care and shelter for the companionship and love they offer in return. In so many ways they show what is the best in all of us and to be a part of their little lives is a privilege to be cherished.