Shy Rat

Topics on behaviour, taming, companionship, introductions, and training
Post Reply
Silverspark
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2020 7:31 am

Shy Rat

Post by Silverspark » Tue Sep 22, 2020 8:00 pm

Im sorry this may be a long post but I need to give all the history. After 6 months of research and purchasing a very large cage I was looking to get kittens from a breeder but a family friend said she needed to regime her 2 rats who at the time were 7 months old. Myself and my son went to visit them a few times in their environment and they handled well and seamed very happy. Their cage was very small and no enrichment in there at all but they had full run of one room for 1 hour. They were also fed everything and I was told their favourite food was kebab and they would have all left over dinners mostly fed through the cage.

When I picked them up I bought them home to my pet planet rat and ferret cage filled with fun things to do and places to sleep hide etc... I scatter feed a mix from rat rations every morning and they have soluble vitamins and calcium in one water bottle. They have fresh fruit and veg in the evening. Much better!!

Out brown rat (Bubble) is very confident and more dominant and will take treats and play but doesn’t like cuddles or being held too much I think I have spoilt him with treats as he’s a bit of a monster at play time!!
Our white rat (Squeak) will not be touched, won’t come out to play, is very gentle at taking treats but it seams that when he tries to come out to play Bubble looks at him and he runs inside!

Bubble is more dominant and Squeak will only come out once a week when I make him to clean them out.
Sadly I don’t have the area for total free roam but I have a run set up so they can come in and out of the cage as they please. It’s a nice area with lots of room and things to do.

Squeak is a very sweet rat and I am trying to help him, I have made a snuggle sack but he won’t stay in it, he hates it when I pick him up or touch him and I don’t want to make him more afraid! I have had them 3 months now and he hasn’t improved at all. I know Bubble is the dominant one and Squeak does as he’s told that is obvious but he’s not violent to him.

I’m thinking about adding in 2 babies and hope that helps Bubble to be less dominant and Squeak to be more confident. But I really don’t know what to do I love these boys so much and just want to make them happy! I don’t want miracles, I don’t even mind if he never interacts with me but I would just like him to come out and play instead of being in the cage until I make him come out!
Sorry for the length of the post I would appreciate any advice!

User avatar
[cub]
Posts: 905
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:04 pm

Re: Shy Rat

Post by [cub] » Wed Sep 23, 2020 3:18 pm

First of all, adding youngsters to the mix may well help, but ideally they'll be well chosen in terms of temperament. If you end up with two little stresspots, that may well make Squeak even more wary, because now other people are freaking out too so there *must* be something to freak out about. :lol: :roll:

The NFRS breeders list is a good starting point, if you want youngsters from a breeder: https://nfrs.org/breeders_list.html
Do note that being an NFRS registered breeder isn't a guarantee of anything much; for me it's the very low first bar that a breeder needs to cross. (And it's not 100% mandatory; there are sometimes breeders who are in the queue for NFRS registration, so not registered as yet, that may be good too.) Look at the information on their website, ask questions, and see what questions you get in return. Breeders may not reply right away however, and many of them are very busy at the moment with very long (several months or more) waiting lists. However, if you want kittens with reliable temperaments, it's worth the wait.

Meanwhile, I'd suggest blocking off half the cage and just having them in one or the other half. It looks like you might be able to use one of the metal trays to block off the hole in the middle panel if you weigh it down with something? And just have the rats in the bottom half for now. Normally I'd happily throw rats of whatever background into a big cage and let them figure it out, but Squeak does sound very overwhelmed by it all, and I wonder if being in a smaller space (at least temporarily) would help him come out of his shell. Think about the way the cage is furnished too: giving them very enclosed spaces (like hides, tunnels, and anything else they can properly hide away in) can just lead to shy rats developing a hermit-like existence. So if you have any of those, swap them for more open toys and beds instead. But don't go to the other extreme and leave the cage very exposed; rats do prefer cover, so provide that with ropes, ledges, flat and honeycomb-style hammocks, and other toys.

Don't worry about whether or not they come out to play for now; just focus on getting them both comfortable in their cage environment. Do try to handle them regularly, but keep it brief and to the point; a lot of rats (especially ones from uncertain backgrounds) aren't that keen on cuddles, but you do need to get them used to being picked up and handled, so just pick them up quickly and calmly and then put them down again. Over time you can progess to a quick, firm stroke and then put them down. Then potentially to more advanced handling, e.g. giving a quick health check. Just get them used to the idea that sometimes they'll get picked up, and maybe poked and prodded a bit, and it might not be their favourite thing in the world, but it's no big deal.
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn (NLA32); Zephyr Nyahir; Zephyr Zymandis; Zephyr Blasto.
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Mick Jagger "Edgeworth"; Din (NLA28); Zephyr Donovan "Phoenix"; Xeltan; Lita (NLA32); Lia (NLA28); Zephyr Delanynder (NLA28); Falere (NLA36); Mirala (NLA36); Zephyr Opold; Rila.

Silverspark
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2020 7:31 am

Re: Shy Rat

Post by Silverspark » Wed Sep 23, 2020 4:10 pm

Thanks for the advice Cub I will section off the cage at next clean out and take out the more “enclosed” toys and beds. I make my own hammocks and they love the double and triple bunks!
I have been looking at lots of breeders and there is one near me that is on that list but they also have a really good Facebook page for advice and a general place to keep in touch with all the rats that they have re homed so I will probably go with those. And I never thought about the babies temperaments that is such a great idea 2 chilled babies would help him a lot I know it! Again thank you for the advice I will start the handling thing too!

Post Reply

Return to “Behaviour”