nippy boys

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Re: nippy boys

Post by boofandkara on Sun 15 May 2016, 8:40 pm

@Teramis wrote:Regarding the getting peed on problem - I used to have a boy who did that with me. Here's what I did to deal with it: I would take him out for tub time, put a towel on my lap, and basically just keep him in my lap area. I'd block him off with my hands and arms if he tried to go off the towel/lap area. So his playground was much more limited, and I didn't even let him run up my arms more than just a little (on my forearms). It kept him contained, and if he whizzed it was on the towel, not me, so no need for shower and clothes change afterwards.  He got used to my limbs and hands being in his way constantly (ie forming the 'walls' of his exploration space) and so he became accustomed to my presence and touch over time. Eventually he became less territorial with the whizz-marking, and I could let him wander more freely without incident.

I've also found it helpful to let a mouse test-bite me (not the vicious scared chomps that draw blood, but those that range from gentle to hard nips. If hard, I brace myself for it first, of course) - and when the nip lands (no matter how hard or soft), I squeak like another mouse, and move my finger a little in reflex. Not a lot - I don't jerk back - but the squeak sounds like a distressed mouse, and the movement associates the sound with what my mouse just nailed. Eventually they figure out that hand-thing they are biting is actually attached to *you*, and that you are hurt when they bite it.  

For some meeple it takes just a few squeaks to break them of the biting habit this way. For some others I'll weather a few nips in a row before they give up on any particular hand-visit occasion. I haven't yet had one who does it persistently if I keep my hand still and in the same place, and just do the squeak and twitch thing when they nip. I would recommend doing this without a glove on, so they associate you as the thing they are biting. This assumes you can tolerate a hard nip or three - ie something less fierce than blood-drawing. I find they bite less and less harshly as they figure out you're safe and don't need to be driven off. Though right now I have one girl who always, always gives me a test-nip (gentle pinch), even when I offer her treats. It seems to be her way of asserting her authority as Guard Mouse of the colony, before she allows me into their space.
Great tip! I have been doing something similar. I will say ow! and pull away a bit, and then if they are close enough to me, blow on them a little. Other times I say 'dont bite me' instead of ow, just based on my natural reaction haha but I think they are learning. The one does seem to test-nip me a lot, I like that phrase. Sometimes it almost seems like he's initiating me or something, and sometimes it almost seems loving if that makes any sense? I grew up with cats and some of them never stopped biting. You'd rub their bellies and they'd be in heaven and a second later they'd be tearing up your arm. So it's not like I'm not used to it, it's just different with mice, because they're so little, and their ability to leave their tank and explore will be reliant on our relationship together, I hope I can break them of this habit.

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Re: nippy boys

Post by Teramis on Sun 15 May 2016, 9:18 pm

Mice don't normally behave like cats in terms of "now I'm affectionate, now I'm attacking for fun." There's usually something quite specific driving biting behaviors, and those behaviors don't manifest in happy, secure meeple.

If you give the 'test-nip' route a try over time, I recommend making a squeak sound as close to that of a mouse as you can. That way you are speaking their language, so to speak, and it is much easier for them to understand what you are trying to convey (in this instance, anyway).

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Re: nippy boys

Post by Windmilla on Mon 16 May 2016, 2:13 pm

I used to do the same thing as Teramis --- I'd squeak loudly when one of my girls got a bit too nippy with me.

Also, I wonder if your boy doesnt smell the other boy in your hands and feel territorial about it - or maybe their cages/tanks are too close to each other so he always feels the need to protect his cage? just a thought that i had.
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Re: nippy boys

Post by boofandkara on Mon 16 May 2016, 8:35 pm

Yeah I wash my hands in between handlings but I'm sure they can somehow still smell it. Their tanks are side by side, but I want to keep it that way. It's important they learn to be tame even with that environment. They also come from a pet shop so I'm sure they are used to being next to another mouse. They don't pay any attention to each other or even show visual recognition that there's a mouse sometimes inches from them (with two layers of glass in between). They are also somewhat synced up - one of them runs on the saucer, the other gets on, they both run a while. One is sitting in a corner eating, the other's sitting in a corner eating (not near each other).

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Re: nippy boys

Post by Nestmouse on Tue 31 May 2016, 6:37 pm

Have read through this thread to remind myself of everything which once I read before - I might have this problem coming up because a 'new' but actually old (!) mouse boy from the local shelter came last weekend to live with me, and I was told he bites :ready_to_eat:
In a little while I'll take them out to the bathtub anyway, and see how things go.

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