List of Topics


Behavior Feedback

by Ron Kurtus

Readers have sent in a total of 281 comments and questions on Behavior issues. They are listed according to date.

You can read them to further your understanding of the subject.

List of next 15 letters




Pet rat is afraid of being picked up Rats USA
Squirrel shredded her flag Squirrel Defenses USA
Rat attacked new hairless dumbo rat Rats USA
Found squirrel on the kitchen sink Squirrels USA
Younger rat picking on older one Rats Canada
New bird is not happy Hookbills USA
Rat is constantly sniffing other rat's rump Rats USA
Do wild rats eat peanut shells? Rats USA
Squirrel can't chew on roasted peanuts Squirrels USA
Neighbor's dogs chasing handicapped son General USA
Cardinal bangs on bathroom window all day Flocks USA
Squirrel just sat and stared at the door Squirrels USA
New parakeet seems afraid Hookbills USA
Found a baby squirrel and feeding it diluted milk Squirrels India
How I can build my behavior? Stimulus USA

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First 15 letters


Pet rat is afraid of being picked up

September 9, 2006


I bought two rats almost a month ago. One I named Cocoa, the other rat Shadow Runner (Shadow for short.) I have no problem with Cocoa, she will take food from my hand, sometimes she eats it right where she took it when I hand the food to her, or she runs and hides it, with Cocoa, she will let me take her out of the cage, hold her in my hands, sometimes she'll climb onto my shoulder for maybe a couple of minutes, and then put her back in her cage. Shadow is quite the opposite, she tolerates my petting her but when it comes to being picked up she freaks out. She squeaks and runs like crazy when I'm trying to pick her up, please help.

Sharonqq - USA (11881)


Shadow may have been picked up and squeezed real hard or dropped before you got her, so she is terrified of being hurt or injured. It will take time for her to get to trust you. Try putting your palm out with some food in it and see if she will climb up and take the food. Then see if she will be curious enough to climb up your arm. But don't try to grab her and hold her. You have to have patience and always be aware that she may be afraid of getting hurt when being picked up. After a while, she should start to trust you more and soon may let you pick her up.

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Squirrel Defenses

Squirrel shredded her flag

August 8, 2006


We have a tree squirrel that recently has climbed our flag pole and shredded the flag. We removed the flag and now it has repeatedly "attacked" and shredded the awning on our patio swing. We thought it was because of flapping of the material but yesterday, there was no wind and no flapping but he returned to continued shredding the awning. I believe this is the same squirrel that I saw being chased and terrorized by a large rat along my fence line and then a day or two later I saw it being attacked and terrorized by a Blue Jay. Could this bizarre behavior from the squirrel be rabies? The squirrel acts "mad". Please let us know what to do. Thank you.

Donna - USA (11662)


The squirrel may have been taking out its frustrations of being chased and terrorized by the rat and bird by then attacking some inanimate object. You've seen dogs get hold of something like a paper bag and give it a good shake and then rip it apart. Or it is similar behavior to a kid who is always being picked on. He may then take out his frustrations by doing some vandalism.

I don't think this squirrel has rabies. Also note that squirrels can do some strange things. We've had a reader that reported that a squirrel was constantly chewing on her window screen and trying to get into the house.

You might try putting some food out for the squirrel and then moving it further and further from the house.

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Rat attacked new hairless dumbo rat

July 21, 2006


Hello! My family is the proud owners of 3 rats. We got Dora for my daughter about a year ago and loved her so much we decieded to get her a playmate so we got Pris for my other daughter about 6 months after Dora. Now 6 months later I bought a baby hairless dumbo rat. I bought her yesterday and brought her home. My children and I played with her all evening and I continued to play with her throughout the night hoping to help her adjust and make her feel less lonely. We introduced her to the other 2 rats yesterday as well in a neutral area (on me) and they got along. Today I allowed them all to play for awhile and even though the other 2 were not overly attentive to her they didn't seem at all bothered by her presence until the end of the visit. Paris (the middle child in our rat family) attacked my new baby rat Piglet and scratched her up a bit. Needless to say I thought maybe I would try and keep them seperated and even considered just going back to the pet store and buying another one to be Piglet's friend. Since we have the 2 cages there's plenty of room. However an hour after the attack we had some company over and wanted to show off our new addition. Piglet responded to my daughter reaching into the cage by biting her. We thought maybe there was too many people all standing in the room and perhaps she was still sore and upset from the attack so we left her alone. Once company had left and we were all alone again I went in to see her. I reached into the cage to touch her nose an stroke her face and she bit me. Now all day yesterday, last night, and for most of the day she didn't even attempt to bite and my 2 daughters and myself held her quite a bit off and on. Should I be concerned that she will be a biter? I've read the article about Stuart and I'm going to start with that idea so that I can still handle her and give her affection however since she wasn't a biter for the first 24 hours I'm wondering if it's something to do with the other rats or maybe she was just too scared yesterday to bite and now today she's feeling more like her real self? Please let me know what you think. I appreciate the help as I do love all our ratty ladies dearly and want for them and our family to be happy.

Dawn - USA (11521)


Adding a new rat that is a different breed may present a threat to the established rats. Also, sometimes a larger rat will bully a smaller one. Paris probably has been picked on by the older rats, so now it is her chance to pick on someone else. Unfortunately, Piglet is so small that she is fair game and can't really defend herself. The problem is that she could be killed.

Since Piglet was attacked by Dora, she probably is under stress and doesn't know who will attack her next. That is why she started to bite whoever touched her.

Don't forget that rats have to be very trusting to allow a giant human to handle them. If they feel their life is being threatened, they may bite the hand that feeds them.

But still, they are great pets and very intelligent.

I think you will have to be careful with letting Piglet with the other rats. In time they may all get along--and I hope so. But until then keep an eye out for trouble.

Best wishes with your rat family.

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Found squirrel on the kitchen sink

July 15, 2006


Squirrel got into the house in an unknown manner. Found it on the kitchen sink at the window. It had torn a hole in the window screen, probably in an effort to get out. Was able to shoo it out the back deck. The next day it was seen looking in the same window and had widened the hole in the screen it had made. What is it looking for now. I went outside and it was perched above the window and left climbing down the electrical conduit.

Brendan - USA (11481)


Sometimes squirrels will try to get inside to find food. One person found a squirrel on her dining room table eating from the fruit dish. But another possibility--especially if the squirrel is persistent on getting in--is that it has made a nest in your attic and has some babies up there. It may have gotten in an air vent by the roof.

If the issue is food, perhaps you could put some sunflower seeds or nuts in an area not too far from your window. If the squirrel takes the food, move it a little further away from the house. It may then forget about trying to get inside.

If the squirrel has a nest, it is a difficult problem. Just try to keep it form coming inside through the screen.

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Younger rat picking on older one

June 25, 2006


One week ago, I bought 3-month old Pookie, a fully grown male rat, and then the very next day I picked up Nessie to keep him company. Nessie is also male, only 2 months old and about half Pookie's size. I didn't foresee any problem since both had been kept in the same cage at the pet shop.

However, small Nessie keeps attacking Pookie whom I hear squeaking miserably all day. When I let them out of their cage to roam freely, Nessie still goes after Pookie, bites his rump, or else he gets hold of his tail and doesn't let go.

I feel sorry for poor old Pookie who keeps rolling on his back in a defensive manner. Do you think young Nessie's bullying will ever stop? Should I put them in separate cages? Any suggestion will be much appreciated.

Lisa - Canada (11395)


It sounds like Nessie is trying to prove he is the dominant one in his new environment. Also, he may be a bully and just want to pick on Pookie for some reason. When they were sharing a cage in the pet store, thee probably were other rats in the same cage, so such behavior might not be tolerated.

The best thing would be to either keep them separate or to bring one back to the pet shop. You want to have a happy pet, not one who is being tormented.

Although rats are someone social animals, a single rat can be a good pet, especially if allowed to occasionally roam around in a room. Two males may result in fights, while two females or a male and female would live more peacefully.

I hope you can work things out so that Pookie is not picked on.

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New bird is not happy

June 4, 2006


hi,I have had my bird he is a Parakeet i think they call them budgies but anyway i got him at 6:30 yesterday and it is now 5:02 the next day. My sisters also the same kind of bird except that morning hers i very happy and active and mine just sits there and dosent move at all i had him in a very small cage but then today i went and bought him a new bigger one thinking that would help but it didnt and when my lil sis bird like tweets mine will tweet back is this normal for him to just sit there he wasnt eating and i called the petstore where i bought him and they said i could take him back if he didnt eat but then he ate some today but it was when i was gone when i came in the room he just stopped is this normal for him to be like this and will he grow out of this i dont want an unhappy bird that just sits i feel really bad for him i mean i have toys and swings and treats he wont eat them or play with the toys

Please help


Abby - USA (11279)


One reason he seems unhappy is that he is now in a strange environment. He may even be afraid, because everything is so new to him. It may take several days for him to relax and get used to his new home.

Another thing is that parakeets are social birds and often like to have another parakeet around. the only problem then is that pay more attention to each other than to their owner.

Let your bird get settled in. Sometimes they like to listen to music. They like attention, but don't try to force it on a new bird.

I'm sure your bird will soon be happy, just like your sister's bird.

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Rat is constantly sniffing other rat's rump

May 30, 2006


I own two pet rats. Rosey, and Pepper. Rosey is obviously the dominant female,she was there about a month before we got Pepper. But what I don't understand, is that Rosey is constantly licking and sniffing Pepper's rump,she's very pushey with pepper. Sometimes Pepper squeaks as if Rosey is hurting her. It doesn't look like she's hurting her. I just wanted to know if this was maybe a show of dominance or play? And if it is dominance, why every day, 24 hrs. a day??
They seem to get along great, except for when Rosey is being almost like a bully. I'd really appreciate your help. Thank you

Kyla - USA (11237)


In establishing dominance, the goal is to bite the other rat's rump. It might be good to provide a hiding place for Pepper, so she can get some peace.

Also, just as there are bullies in humans, I'm sure there are bullies among rats. They keep needing to verify that they are the boss.

A good article on the social behavior of rats is at:

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Do wild rats eat peanut shells?

May 11, 2006


DO Wild Rats eat peanut shells and pine cones?

- USA (11076)


They might chew on them a little, but they really prefer nuts, seeds, and other foods.

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Squirrel can't chew on roasted peanuts

May 11, 2006


I have been feeding the squirrels in my backyard roasted peanuts and they love them. There is one squirrel that cannot eat them. He licks them, but cannot bite them. I noticed his teeth are really long and he can use them. Is there anything I can do for him? I feed him some soft bread and he does fine with this. Thank you for your help.

Cherri - USA (11080)


The squirrel may have some problem with his teeth, especially if they seem very long. Typically squirrels with chew on things which wear their teeth down and keep them sharp. This fellow may have some dental problems that hurt him when he chews on hard objects.

I'm sure he enjoys the soft bread. You might sprinkle some bird seeds or sunflower seeds on the ground to see if he can eat them.

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Neighbor's dogs chasing handicapped son

May 7, 2006


Dear Sir, PLEASE help. I am having problems with my neighbors dogs leaving their "calling cards" in my yard. They are also now chasing my handicaped son.
The neighbors will not keep the dgs chained up, or in their own yard. I do not want to phisically harm them, (the dogs) but...! We live in the country and do not have animal control service, and (for several reasons) I am reluctant to call the police and complain. I need to know if there is "WORKING" product on the market that emits a sound that will keep the dogs out. If NOT, I need know the hearing frequency range of dogs, so "I" can build one. (I have the expertise IF it's plausible) But it would be much easier to purchase one if it's available. I realize my request is strange, however, I MUST do something!!!

Thank you

Bruce W. - USA (11038)


It can be an irritation when you have inconsiderate neighbors, especially when there is no legal recourse.

Some products to keep dogs out of your yard include:

Ultrasonic dog repellent:
Home Depot also sells one for about $25.

Chemical repellent:

But it is a serious problem that the dogs are chasing your handicapped son. That certainly is something the police should know about.

Also, perhaps your neighbor would appreciate a bag full of the dogs' droppings.

I hope one of those products helps.

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Cardinal bangs on bathroom window all day

April 2, 2006


I have a cardinal that bangs on the bathroom window all day. Someone told me this is a sign of death.Is this true?

Sheila - USA (10735)


If it is a male cardinal (red), then he may be seeing a slight reflection of himself in the window and is ready to fight.

The only sign of death it might be is for the cardinal, if he injures himself.

Perhaps you can put something over the glass to stop the reflection.

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Squirrel just sat and stared at the door

March 30, 2006


My co-workers and I were watching a squirrel at lunch. He (or she) literally sat in one spot for almost 30 minutes staring at the door. We initially thought he was sick or injured, but he eventually jumped off the ledge and ran up the tree. A few minutes later, he was back on the ground staring at the door. It looked like he was waiting on a particular person because he did not move when people came through the door or walked passed him.

My question is: Do squirrels think? What do they think about? Or do they simply act on instinct?

- USA (10692)


Squirrels are quite intelligent. It is possible it was waiting for a specific person who fed the little fellow. But sometimes it is difficult to figure out what is going on in a squirrel's mind.

Squirrels certainly think and make decisions. We all act on instinct, which are automatic reactions. Squirrels do learn and adapt. They can tell if someone is friendly, and they will avoid a person who is not.

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New parakeet seems afraid

March 21, 2006


I just got an American Parakeet a few weeks ago, and I have gotten him bundles of toys, but all he does is sit on his swing and sleep. I take him out everyday when I get home from school, and I try to get him to play with his toys, but he won't touch them. I have millet, a cuttlebone, and a honey-flavored block-treat in his cage, and he refuses to eat that too. I don't know what to do. I want him to be happy and cheerful and energetic, because quite frankly, I don't like to watch a bird that does nothing. Another thing, he always acts like he is scared of me. I'll put him on a perch outside his cage, and he will get scared and fly around when I get close...I am afraid he will get hurt. And when I try to get him out of his cage, he runs from me, although I take him out everyday and talk to him and play with him (well, he doesn't, considering he doesn't do anything but sleep).

1) Could it be he's lonely and needs a mate? What if, I get another bird, and when I put them in the cage, they hated each other? Or, what if they were opposite sexes and they started to breed and lay eggs? I wouldn't know what to do with the eggs.
2) Could it be that he's sick? I don't want him to be sick...I want him to be happy and healthy.
3) Could it be that he is still getting used to his new surroundings? If so, what can I do to make the transition better?

I also believe that he doesn't like water. I put him in my sink with lukewarm water, and he flew out and flew into a wall. I felt horrible, I really did. I know he needs to wet his feathers to keep them clean, so how do I get him to like the water?


- USA (10540)


Your parakeet feels very unsure because he is in a strange place. It is going to take some time for him to adjust to his new surroundings. Don't try to push him too hard. The most important thing is that he starts eating enough.

Parakeets like to have partners, since they are very social birds. Often pet stores will let you introduce the birds to each other or even try things out or make sure they get along.

Also, pick up a book on raising parakeets, either at a pet store, book store or library. You can get a lot of pointers about what to expect and how to care for the bird.

I wouldn't try to give him a bath. Instead put a dish of water in his cage and let him bathe himself. Putting him in water could get him more frightened than ever. Just have some patience with him. Try to imagine if you were a little kid and put into a strange home with people you didn't know.

I hope these ideas help and that soon your bird (or birds) will become part of the family.

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Found a baby squirrel and feeding it diluted milk

March 14, 2006


A tiny little baby squirrel has made our house his home.He feel from his nest and as the weather took a turn for the worst ,it has been raining for days now,we decided to nurse him.We have been feeding him diluted cows milk,we don't get goat milk here, hope we are doing the correct thing we want to help this little one to survive.We don't know what we sld do to help,what to feed him other than milk we have raised dogs but have no idea how to feed and take care of squirrel babies.Please help.

Anjum - India (10438)


Some information on raising an orphaned squirrel is at:

They suggest using powdered milk that is often used for puppies and can be purchased from a pet supply store. They also say to keep the baby warm. The article gives some good information.

Best wishes on taking care of the little fellow.

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How I can build my behavior?

February 21, 2006


How i can build my behavior as a engineering student?

mohamad shafi - USA (10172)


As an engineering student, you would like to build your character in being determined to solve problems, hard working an honest. You also want to gain knowledge and skills in your field. You should seek to be valuable to employers, as well as to do quality and excellent work.

We have sections on these topics in our site, accessed from the main page.

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