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 Post subject: Recently New Rat Owner - Advice Needed
 Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2017 10:13 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:50 pm
Posts: 1
Hi All,

We have recently (January 2017) purchased two rats from a pet store. They have a fairly large cage, plenty of toys and we try and play with them for around an hour each day. They belong to my six year old son.

One of the rats is very curious and always makes an appearance when we open the cage doors. He's always happy to take food from our hands and loves to crawl up our legs, arms, shoulders etc. but absolutely hates being handled, to the point where even if we try to stroke him, he turns around and nips. He also nips at our toes, so we have to wear shoes when we open the cage doors to let them out for a run around.

The other rat is almost the complete opppsite, won't take food from our hands, runs away as fast as possible when we try to pick him up. I think he's ventured outside the cage twice since we've had them.

Really concerned that they're not getting the quality of life that they deserve and that we're doing something wrong. It doesn't seem like behaviour I'd expect - but we're new to this so maybe we're not giving it enough time???

Both are males, and they were around six to eight weeks old when we bought them. They're different breeds, one is a fancy rat, the other is a dumbo rat. They both get on really well with each other, groom each other, sleep together in the hammock and in their little wooden cottage.

Any advice on how we can handle them both properly? Is it normal to have one rat who wants to hide away?


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 Post subject: Re: Recently New Rat Owner - Advice Needed
 Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:03 am
Posts: 2699
Location: London
I think it is still early days for these two boys. It might be an idea to get them used to you by carrying them around (such as when pottering or doing dishes etc) in a hoodie or big pocket, or you can buy 'rat bonding bags' online. This will get them used to the smell of you and your son. You could also try feeding them something like yogurt from a teaspoon (so they can't bite you but equally can't drag the food off to a corner to eat it).

Other people will be along with more suggestions soon I hope, but a lot of it is just patience, speaking gently to them etc. Always show them your hand before attempting to touch them so they know the hand is coming, let them sniff from nearby, then they are less likely to bite. Do either of the boys have pink eyes? If they do, their eyesight will not be very good, so all the more reason to let them smell you reaching out for them.

I have to say though, that you have chosen good pets for your child, as rats are generally much more interactive than hamsters, gerbils or mice.

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Willow, Skittle & Ruby

43 past ratties, 16 boys, 27 girls


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 Post subject: Re: Recently New Rat Owner - Advice Needed
 Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:06 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:03 am
Posts: 2699
Location: London
PS If possible, I'd get the boy who doesn't want to come out and actually put him in the room or play area so he gets used to it. You can also show him how to go back in if he needs to drink or whatever. We have a big parrot ladder that comes down from our cage (it's on a stand) and with new rats we usually put them near the bottom of the ladder to show them how to go down. If they get chicken and run back into the cage, we get them out again and put them on the floor (ours run around the living room). That way they are 'encouraged' to come out, but they know how to get back in.

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Willow, Skittle & Ruby

43 past ratties, 16 boys, 27 girls


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 Post subject: Re: Recently New Rat Owner - Advice Needed
 Post Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:49 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:04 pm
Posts: 517
If there are any enclosed beds or other hidey-holes in the cage, remove them for now, and make sure the cage is somewhere with lots of people around, like the living room. That way the rats will have to get used to people being around, and can't just hide away. It should also make it easier to retrieve them from the cage when you need/want to. When you pick them up, do so swiftly and firmly. If you're hesitant and nervous, they'll pick up on that. Also it gives them time to run away, which leads to you chasing them around with your hands, which just makes it even more stressful for them. Just reach in and scoop them up in as matter-of-fact a manner as you can. Once they're both better about not hiding away and basic handling, they can have their houses back. :luck:

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