Domino is finally getting to be trust trained to the point of grooming me. According to one rat expert, he should have been at that point long ago. He licked food off of me fingers, though, following it with bites.
Once visitors were witness to him grabbing the skin of my hand and pulling, tearing long gouges in my skin.
He was neutered two weeks ago, which has calmed him somewhat, but he still tugs on my clothes. I've noticed several rats doing that, though. Sometimes, I know they want the fabric of my clothes for nesting. Sometimes, I know they are enticing me to play. But, Domino, I am not sure of. I've been bitten by him about 6 times now and may just be gun-shy.
I tried to play with him once, and he took offense. Just now, he will let me touch him briefly, without biting.
Finally, today, he sat in my lap and nibbled my fingernails...clear grooming. And when he tugged on my shirt, he was careful not to get skin. But I don't know what it means. And I wonder if I will ever completely trust him.
My closest guess is that rats use their teeth like hands in some ways. Know how you may playfully pull at a loved ones clothes? Or tug on a sleeve to get someone's attention? That's what this feels like to me.
Something I read recently said to give your animals a job, so that they feel useful. I asked Domino to bring in new volunteers, so I always thank him when we get a new one. Maybe that is what the tugging behavior is...he's letting me know he's pulling in a new one!