PJ - A little biter from Canada? Or not?

PJ in Cage

Updated 12/12/2012 Click on the images for a larger version and then the back button of your browser or keyboard. Click here for a page of PJ pics.

This was the posting on on Facebook from Jackie B. on July 10, 2012

My very good friend has 4 rats, one of which is horribly agressive and has been from the start. He seems to be getting much worse and is biting the kids now on their legs and hands and the other rats they have are covered in bites. They have separated the rats now and she doesn't know what to do with him. She does not want to keep him since he nearly bit right through her daughter's hand this morning. Any sugestions? Do you know anyone who would take him? He is a beige hooded with ruby eyes. He is about the same age as my oldest boys. About 5 months I guess.


From Jackie B to Mary (me)

Hi Mary, first off I am so sorry for the loss of your ratty (PuppyJack) HUGS

I am writing you because my good friend and her daughters have 4 rats. One of which is VERY agressive and bites both the children AND the rats. He was separated today from the other boys because they are pretty dinged up by him and he nearly bit right through her daughters hand.

She doesn't know what to do with him, so I posted on Ratspac. I talked to Lizzy and she said that you may possibly be interested in him and that you are good with biters. The only thing is that I do not know how we would get him to you. I am willing to keep him at my home in a cage next to my boys so he isn't too lonely. Let me know your thoughts or other ideas. Thanks

Later after I said yes - The rat's name is Doodle. LOL an 8 year old named him. (Feel free to change it to something that you'd prefer) I am getting him tonight. I will give him a good dinner and I will also send him with some lab blocks tomorrow. I pretty much took over his life plan when my friend said what he was doing and that she didn't know what to do. She was talking about having him put down and I just couldn't let that happen without trying. I am so happy that you have saved his life.

He was handled daily and there really should be no reason for his biting, so I don't even know why he is like that. Is this something that is just in his genes? He has always been nippy though since they got him. It is just getting way worse he was about 8 weeks when they picked him and his brother up and his brother is a fat squishy, kissy boy, complete opposite, and he has a big scab on his neck from Doodle I was shocked when i saw it.
Awe, PJ is a cute name. It was pure Fate. PuppyJack knew PJ needed you and you needed him.

Jackie B's next post

"He has a new home now. He is moving in with Mary D. Jarman Karr tomorrow ♥ He is one lucky boy. He will now have a new chance at life and be with someone who can help teach him not to bite and we all know he will be loved unconditionally! Thank you Mary ♥ This littel guy once known as Doodle, will now be known as PJ."

Doodle as a baby


My post on July 10th

So this is the new boy coming our way - his name was Doodle and a young biter. But when he gets into the hands of my daughter to be brought down from Canada his name will be PJ. I just finished up PuppyJack's journal and placed it in the area of our Pets gone on our Pets page. Here is the direct link if anyone would like to read the closing entry for PuppyJack - http:// www.rattieworldocomfort.com/ pets/data/puppytherat.html. But the photo above is PJ, a beige hooded Dumbo.

I am guessing this photo is of him when he was closer to 8 weeks old. He is about 4 months old now. I don't know if an exact birthdate is known.

PJ arrives at Jackie B's house that night, July 10, 2012

"He is frightened and I think his eyesight must really be poor because he doesn't come to the door of the cage at all. I think once he is settled in his new home he will be so happy. What type of cage will he live in? The one he had lived in was very tall with levels and slides which maybe scared him since he could t see?" stated Jackie. They sent him in their carrier, so I decided to leave him in there. I gave him some fleece to snuggle up to and he loved it. I will transfer him from their carrier to your cage. Will be less stressful for him and he can keep the fleece. My special boy Phin, a beige Rex, is ruby eyes. I know he has a tough time seeing but he is just so calm and sweet. But I always talk to him and don't change things up too much in the cage so he knows his way around. The older daughter who looked after all of the rats is coming with me tomorrow to say goodbye. Who knows, she may transfer him for us.

She is having a tough time saying goodbye. She is the rat lover of the family.

His Journey to his new home on July 11, 2012 - less than 24 hours

PJ has made it through the border and is now a US citizen. Haha Kate says he's cute. Let's hope he settles in and does as well as PuppyJack did. Right now he is being treated to a banana and a small piece of cookie to last him the couple of hours of his journey. It seems he likes banana more than a cookie. Good boy. And Kate said he took them gently from her fingers.

This was a page that Kate had to print out for the Border officials to know it was ok to bring him through the border. This link will get you to the going in to Canada and coming in to the United States set of forms - http://www.sithrattery.com/US.htm - thank you Lizzy for this.

Arrival - He got here about 2:30. I just posted some pics of him I took with my phone (see below for them on this page). I didn't want to frighten him with the big camera. He looks great and hasn't fluffed up yet or made moves to bite. But, as I make it a practice of, we will take it slow at his pace. He is really cute and much bigger than I expected. Do they know when he was born? I almost think he is closer to 5 months old or he is just going to be a big guy

Figuring out PJ's age

From Jackie - "They got their rats about a month after I got George and Phin. We got them April 1st and they were 7 weeks old. I believe Petsmart sells their rats at 8 weeks or older and thy had just got those ones in. So I would think he was 4 - 4.5 months. My boys who are just over 5 months are much bigger."

My Note - So we have chosen March 5th as his birthday.

Theories why he might be a biter

1. "He was in a family with young children and it can be easy enough for an exuberant child to accidentally hurt a small rat - a rat instinctively reacts to pain by biting and then learns that biting can spare him from the risk of being hurt - he gets put down quickly when he does it - he realizes he's getting those scary children trained to leave him alone and a vicious cycle ensues... well that's another possible theory... although there are probably many different factors coming in to play here. It's great to hear that things are now going so well for him." - From Lizzy

2. Response to above thought from Jackie B. - "I can understand that, and I can not say this isn't the case as I was not there all the time, but this doesn't explain why he was so agressive to the other rats as they were covered in scabs from him biting them. I do know that he was very loved by these girls and whenever I saw them with him, they were quite gentle. They did always say that he seemed to be wound up tight when they first got him but thought he was just a busy boy. The other 3 rats they have are quite happy, kissy, loving and relaxed with the family. I am just happy that he is with someone who will understand him more and maybe give him the space that he seems to have needed."

3. From Me - "PJ likes salmon and broccoli. And he took both very gently from my fingers. As I said before, he seemed excited/agitated when placed closer to the girls/boys cage. So I put a board in between him and he calmed down. It wasn't hormone type of excitement - more like fear.

Sometimes, a pet store puts all the rats they get into one tank. When someone get a group of them they sometimes "assume" they are siblings. But more than likely, they are not related at all. I bet PJ and his cage mates weren't related and so tensions could have been rising from the first moment they were put together in the store. Having him alone right now seems to be calming. I think that as he is young and a pet store rat with an uncertain and most probably inbred genetic makeup a neutering should still happen. What do you all think?

4. Response to #3 - Oh yes Mary neutering should still happen, as I'm betting that is still the main factor at play and the most likely reason behind the fear. Also, PJ is going to be much happier living with one or more girls than with new male cagemates at his age. I agree that chances are good he may not be related to his former cagemates but they were all adopted as fairly young babies and at that age and stage, any companion is accepted as a playmate. So long as babies are raised together they pretty much accept each other as "siblings" whether they are related or not. Ratteries and rescue adopt out same aged unrelated babies all the time and there are never any problems... unless something happens later on as they grow and develop, such as excess teenaged hormones, the onset of mental illness/personality disorder, excessive nervousness, a traumatic event, some combination of the above, etc... - from Lizzy

July 13th - All through the night last night (thunderstorms kept my Penny, my rescue dog, nervous and I had to check on her) there was a little face at the front of the cage looking out at me - PJ's face. He wasn't cowering in the corner. Wonderfully amazing! Then this morning he was in his hammock and let me pet him inside his cage again. I took him out as I did yesterday and cradled him. As I cradled him and scritched his back he twisted around a little and started to lick the back of my hand. Rattie Kisses! Oh my Gosh! I needed this after PuppyJack. Now I don't know how many of you would believe this - but the first look I got this morning was a cautious one from PJ. Then he stopped and stared at something and then relaxed. Almost as if he was told it was ok to trust me and not to hurt me. Maybe I am reading in to that - but that is what it felt like. But the end result is fabulous.

July 14th - From Jackie B - "I'm happy that things are going well with PJ. I wonder now if the other rats tormented him and it was probably scary for him since he couldn't see so he lashed out thinking he was defending himself? He is sounding so calm now and that is so good to hear. Maybe being in a group of 4 was just too much for him. Has he been greeting you at the cage door?"

From Me - He greeted me last night when I came in at 2am. But I couldn't take him out. He knew it was me because he didn't back away when I approached and was talking softly to him. He loved his Salmon and Broccoli as I posted in a couple of other places that you may have read. I was very impressed at how gentle he took the food from my fingers. Are you sure you brought me the right rat? He loves being pet inside and outside the cage. He loves to explore outside of his cage. He takes food gently from your fingers and he gives tons of kisses. I think I have the wrong rat. Or you all just planned this adoption to get my mind off PuppyJack. Mmmm?

From Jackie B. - "ROTFL. Well, I am beginning to think that he just wasn't happy at his last home.

When I had him over night that night, I opened his cage to give him food and he lunged at me. I spoke to him softly but it didn't seem to help. I am used to my boys running up and kissing me right away, so it was a change for me to see that. I think that PJ needed you.

His old cage was very tall...about 4ft tall. maybe it was just too big and scary for him?

  • I am confused as to why he would bite his previous owner, the Mom, on the leg though. He was just hanging out. And when the daughter reached in to hold him, he lunged and bit her so hard that blood was literally pouring out of her finger. I saw the damage and it didn't look like an accidental nip thinking it was food. And with the other rats having the bits all over them. The Mom described it that one rat would protect the others from PJ because he would lash out at them. They were affraid of him and he seemed to be the boss in the cage. He ate first always. I don't have a ton of experience with rats, but I do with animals in general and he sounds like someone who doesn't like to be bothered. That is probably why he is so happy now. His brother (who is identical to him) is squishy, relaxed and so kissy. They said their rats all seem to be much happier now that PJ is gone. I guess rats can clash like people can clash. right?"


From Jackie B. - cry "I just read that he had a bite on him (talking about PJ in another post I made online). Makes me feel like the other rats and him really didn't get along at all. I am so happy that we were able to make this happen and you were able to take him and love him forever. He deserved this second chance. I feel really bad that he was so unhappy before sad makes me want to cry that I thought it was all him."sad

Here is PJ on his second day. You can kind of see the fear, sadness (away from his cagemates), yet wanting love look in his eyes. I do not see any aggression there - do you?

PJ in Cage

Taken with my phone

PJ Tissue Box

Taken with my phone

Morning licks and much exploring which of course includes the tissue box. Then I laid down totally on my bed too after getting dressed for the day to include me in PJ's exploits. I was sniffed literally from head to slippered toe, many times. And sooo many kisses.

Pj and my leg


Taken with my phone

See? I wasn't kidding. PJ is exploring, happily.

PJ safe in his hammock wondering what's out there. Oh, and he is a licky boy. He cleaned the whole back of my hand for me. :-) He hasn't dicovered the pockets in the hammock or the peek hole yet.

PJ Hammock

Taken with my phone

PJ climbed on top of his cage! And he even got down on his own. He is a definite explorer. Today, 07/18/2012, he climbed to the top of the pillow I turned on its side on our bed up against the headboard and he stretched tall on his hind legs standing as if contemplating a leap to the top of our bed's headboard. I bet he will soon.

PJ on Cage

Taken with my phone

07/19/2012 Update

I played with PJ more last night and today. I have noticed a few places on our bed where Mister had a problem with that PJ is reacting to a little. He rubs his nose on it and then moves on. But if his testosterone increases then his reactions may get worse. So I guess we will continue with the plan on getting him neutered.

He is learning how to climb up me from the bed to my shoulder. Then he climbs down my other shoulder into my arm which is folded across me making a shelf for him. Then he licks my hand as he gets ready to jump off onto the bed.

At one point I was leaning onto the bed so I could reach inside his cage which was on the far side of the bed. Next thing I know I have PJ on my back. He walked all around on my back and then up to my neck. I had my hair up in a pony tail and I felt a little kiss on the back of my neck. I told him once he got down that he shouldn't do that cuz that's my husband's favorite spot to kiss me and he might get jealous.

We are working on how long he lets me hold him. He is a restless little guy and holding him might only last a few seconds before he tries to wriggle free. Maybe once he is neutered and starts to get to be a squishy guy he will settle down and love to be held for long periods of time. But until then, I will keep trying. :-)

My husband, Dave, called PJ a bunny today. He said PJ did the bunny hop back to his cage when he came in. I guess he startled him. Then Dave was amused by the paralaxing he was doing while at the cage door looking out at us trying to figure out who Dave was. Before I could say anything Dave had reached out and pet him on his head. He made no aggressive move towards Dave in any way. But he didn't come back out of the cage until Dave left the room.

I will try and take some better pics of him soon. I found some Fischer Price and Tonka toys to wash and then set up for a photo shoot. Hopefully he won't mind exploring them and then have a flash go off. The last set of pics I took with my phone I tried using the flash and except for the first one, he didn't react to them. That was a very good sign if he is to live in a photographer's home. :-)

July 21, 2012

Looking at all of the pictures above can you imagine him as a biter? Such cute eyes and beautiful ears.

We now have a routine. In the morning after I wake up I place his cage on the bed and open his door. He comes to the door standing ready to come out. I scratch at the blankets, twice, and he hops out and starts his exploring. It's almost like he waits for permission to come out or for me to tell him it is safe. He travels all over the bed sniffing everything as if he is checking to see if anyone else had been there while he was gone. He hasn't tried to mark his territory yet. He is actually very clean.

Once he is done exploring the bed for anything new he turns his complete attention to exploring me. He scampers up me (with a little help) to my shoulder and runs to my other shoulder and down to my folded arms kissing my hands before he takes that small leap back to the bed. 

This morning I had some breakfast items and while he was out I gave him a small piece. I expected him to eat it right there but instead he darted into his cage with it, dropped it at the back of the cage and then ran right back out for another piece. We did this about three times. On the last one I told him it was the last one and he darted back in to the cage and sat in the corner to eat. Did he understand what I said do ya think?

07/24/2012 - PJ got neutered today and did very well. I helped to take two others from our local shelter, Best Friends Rodent Rescue. Before I took them too, I showed Joanne, one of the owners of BFRR, PJ and she put her hand fearlessly into his cage to pet him. He came forward to her and...licked her - lots. She squealed that he was soooo cute. I may have to give him a second silly name of "Sir Licks A Lot".

Right now he is home and back in his own clean cage. He enjoyed some lovin and told me so by lots of licking. Then he ate a little and now he is napping comfortably. Well, as comfortably as one can after his kind of surgery.

I picked up PuppyJack's ashes on the way home from our regular vet. I also delivered a copy of the June issue of It's A Rat's World Magazine since PuppyJack had been their patient and that was the issue with the first part of my story about him. Their gift subscription from our family started with the July issue which should be on its way if they hadn't gotten it already. We thought it would be great to have in their waiting room to help promote Fancy rats as pets. I also introduced the office person to PJ and we entered him into their system for possible future visits.

Now the funny thing is how PJ reacted to PuppyJack's ashes. I put PuppyJack's ashes in between PJ's cage and the corner of the seat behind the seatbelt to keep the box in place. PJ moved over to that very corner of the travel cage and tucked his head in the corner of the cage which was the closest he could possbly get to PuppyJack's ashes and stayed there all the way home. From Dr. Kamaka's to our vet, PJ had moved around the cage and ate and laid along the back of the cage and he did not lay near the corners of the cage at all. So to see PJ's reaction to PuppyJack's ashes was amazing. Then, after bringing PJ in and putting him back in his own clean home, I put PuppyJack's ashes next to the cage and went in later, and yep, PJ was sleeping next to them. Amazing.


PJ has healed from the neutering surgery. He was getting some extra treats for being a good such as fresh banana. And as you can see he really loves it.

The day after the surgery we thought we smelled an infection smell. But we think what we smelled must either have been his body reacting to the anesthesia or possibly he had stashed some food that turned smelly. But he is fine and isn't smelly.

He loves to play on the bed. He runs around and then leaps to the top of the headboard and wanders back and fourth. Once he is done up there he makes the leap off onto my pillow and runs to me so happy giving me kisses. What a character.

PJ Banana

So what happened today you ask? A milestone. Well, ok - since he ended up not being a biter then how can what I am about to tell you be a milestone? Possibly because he acted badly when he was with three other boys in Canada, so I wasn't sure how he would be with a good old US of A gal.

Judy was PuppyJack's room mate and has been living with Remi and Polly since PuppyJack died. Then I found those 3 dreaded mammary tumors on Polly and had them removed. Then later that night she decided to re-open the biggest incision causing a late night ER visit to a place we had not been to before. Then a few days later after leaving it alone, she developed a weird, pimple-like, growth in the big incision area. While cleaning it the thing started to pop out. It was like a harder white head pimple but the size of a small marble. So Polly decided to pull it out and then clean up the rest of it that didn't come out. I kept it as clean as I could and kept her on the sulfa based Bactrim antibiotic and she healed up incredibly well. I didn't want to take Judy away from Remi until Polly was healthy enough to return to the girls' cage so little Remi wouldn't be alone. So now Remi is sleeping with Polly and Judy is snuggling with PJ. I added a few new pics on the page of pics - link is at the top.

There is another problem - his nails get really sharp and it causes some scratches under his chin. I have tried clipping his nails, but I really need someone to hold him while I clip. He is young so he doesn't like to sit still for too long. I am going to try and see if I can teach my husband how to hold him so he is as still as he can be. My husband has taken an interest in PJ since he licks and I think that fascinates my husband. It's more interaction than he has experienced before with our other rats. And PJ comes when called and Dave loves to watch him do his hop/run.

I put a big wheel in their cage and they just looked at it like - what are we supposed to do with that? This morning I came up to the cage from the back of the wheel and it was moving ever so slowly like someone was trying it out. I don't know who it was as I didn't want to scare them off it. I tried to see if I could see the other one that wasn't in the wheel, but couldn't. So someone is gathering the courage to use it and I hope it continues so they can get some exercise. 09/01/2012
09/08/2012 So I took PJ with me to the vet visit for Rodney and Rupert. I wanted to find out what the scabs were under his chin. It turns out they are nips which makes sense since I hear tussles coming from His and Judy's cage at night. During the day they take turns pinning each other. I added more pictures to his picture page.

Ok, I added Frenchie to their cage since we lost Ozma. And then I heard tusling in the middle of the night and the next morning PJ had a bite on his neck. After some detective work I found out that Judy was the one doing the biting of PJ. So she has been removed from his cage and PJ and Frenchie are doing just fine.







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