Pet Rats/New Rat
I just bought a baby male rat from a local pet store about a week ago and I just have a few questions about his behavior. The first day I got him I could tell he was scared because he was shaking so I took him directly from his box (that the pet store gave us) and into his cage. He did what I expected which was to run under the box I had provided for his nest. I did take him out the first day , which now reading everything maybe I shouldn't have, and I had him on my shoulder and he was crawling around and seemed fine. Ever since then though whenever I take him out (which is often because I adore him) he cant get away from me fast enough. I try to coax him out by having him crawl on my hand and bribing him with treats but he grabs them and runs away. Even when I do get him out he just trys to escape my hands or run away. I read that trust is a big thing and just having them with you helps to build the bond so I let him sit with me on the couch for a solid two hours, letting him go inbetween my shirts and into my sweater pocket and pretty much all over the place but anytime I would touch him he would scamper away or attempt to bite me. Even between the shirts I would have to take him out because he would be biting me. When i tried to get him out of my sweaters pouch when it was time to go back into the cage, I tried to wait for him to come out onto my hand but he wouldnt. So after 20 minutes I (gently mind you) grabbed him out of the pocket but he was clinging on for dear life and started squeaking. Im trying really hard to have him feel like he can trust me but I feel like I am missing a step or I'm doing something wrong. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you so much!
Before I even get to addressing "trust training" your new buddy, my first piece of advice (and I'll bet the pet store didn't share this with you) is to go back and buy another baby male rat. If you are a first time rat owner, you may not be aware of just how extremely social rats are and absolutely need at least one companion to share life with. I bet he is awfully lonely because at the pet store, he was probably in a tank with many playmates, maybe some his siblings. Now he has no one of his kind to play with and is fearful of you who are much larger than he is. Believe it or not, a companion will actually help to "tame" the rat you already have and make him more social and not as skittish with you...this is a proven fact. I hope you take my advice on this. It won't require much more to feed and care for two, just perhaps a little bigger cage, but perhaps yours is already large enough for two.
The main problem with your rat is that you got him at a pet store because pet stores do not generally handle their babies from birth on a daily basis as a rat breeder would. But that doesn't mean he can't be trained by you, it will just take a good amount of patience and time on your part. Take things slowly, and work at his pace. I'm attaching a link to a website about trust training a pet rat. You can also find plenty more written on trust training rats on the internet if you are interested in more ideas.
Here's the link --> http://ratguide.com/care/behavior/training_playtime.php
If you do everything you can to patiently work with your rat, I am confident that it will pay off. But trust me when I say that getting a companion for him will NOT hinder your relationship with him at all, and is sure to make him happy during the many hours (especially at night) while you are away.