Cleo is a mink capped.
Cleo came to me with Delores.
These girls were yet more examples of why rats should not be bought for children without real consideration first.
These girls had not been in their home for long, but Cleo was a biter. This had made their young owner scared to handle them, and the mum felt it would be better for the rats to go to someone with more experience. To their credit, the owners had provided the girls with a nice big cage, and they were looking after them well, they just didn't feel they could deal with a rat with Cleo's temperament.
Often, when I get a call about a bitey rat, it turns out the biting is either quite explainable and fixable, or else it doesn't occur at all once here. Cleo is the rare exception where she does, indeed, bite and for reasons that make it hard to sort out!
When I first got Cleo home, I handled her, and she was absolutely fine. No biting, no uncomfortable body language, no signs that she was concerned at all. I put her back in her cage, and left her for a bit, observing her. She seemed to be a very confident, head-strong girl, marching round the cage with detirmination, into everything, checking any object or new food out thoroughly, and completely taking charge while her sister, Delores, hid in the tube.
But she certainly wasn't a nervous rat, nor did she seem like the sort of rat who would bite. So I put my hand into the cage to pick her up again, and without any warning, any body language, any indication at all, she leapt at my finger and clung on.
While it was a bite that broke the skin and drew blood, it was not what I'd call a really serious bite. It did not scar, I can't even remember exactly where it was now, and my reaction as it happened was to calmly wait for her to let go and then have a good laugh about it!
Basically, Cleo is one of those rats (who in my personal experience always tend to be female, though I know others have had boys like this) who are just a bit too full of their own self importance. She is a dominant, head-strong rat who wants her own way and won't think twice about biting you if she feels like you should go away now. I suspect there is a bit of cage territoriality and learned behaviour mixed in there, too.
I have to say, that first bite from Cleo was also the only bite I have had from her, but I am extremely careful about how I handle her, so Im not saying she is 'cured' but we've had many 'bite free' interactions. However, just from knowing girls like this, I never completely trust her and probably won't until she is an old lady.
Cleo is very young, only a teen really, and while a lot of people would find her attitude and temperament offputting, I actually find her very endearing. She is so tiny, yet so confident and full of herself! She reminds me of a little girl strutting about in mum's heels, trying to be an assertive adult but still looking like a cute kid!
Cleo gets on wonderfully with other rats, and shows absolutely no aggression to anyone, though she does keep her 3 neutered male cage mates in check!
Cleo is simply a cocky little madam, and will be out of the door climbing up to visit the boy's cage at any opportunity! Shes my problem child, and I love her for it!
Why Cleo? My mum suggested the name Cleo for her, short for Cleopatra, as she fancies herself as the queen of all she surveys!