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Pet Rats/Accidentally dug up wild rat nest


This afternoon, I was in my chicken pen digging.  I heard some faint, high pitch squealing coming from the pile of dirt I had just pulled out.  There were five baby rats in a nest of chicken feathers and hay.  It was chaotic at first, because I was trying to grab them up & keep the chickens from getting them. I was just digging around the same area yesterday and the nest wasn't there, so I think they are one day old.  I cleared the dirt out until I found what I thought looked like tunnels on two sides of the hole. My daughter held them wrapped in a towel against her, while I tried to reconstruct the nest.  Since it was a foot underground, I took a shoebox filled with nesting material, and cut holes that corresponded with the tunnel holes.  I covered it with some dirt, and a few boards (to keep the chickens out).  I threw a handful of rat/hamster food in the opening of each tunnel to entice the mom back.  Will the mom come back?

Hi Beverly,
This is a good question. I guess it depends on the mom's personality. If she is a nervous type and was really freaked out, probably not. If she is more calm then she might go back, get the babies and relocate them. I think you did really good in trying to reconstruct the nest. I guess you'll have to listen to the nest to try to tell if she has come back. If she doesn't come back, the babies will likely be squeaking for her as they get hungry. If you don't hear squeaking, then chances are she came back for them. Can you let me know?

If she doesn't come back for them, and you want to try to raise them, you'll find instructions on my website at

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Debbie Ducommun


I can answer any questions about pet rats, but you will probably be able find answers to simple questions more quickly on my website at If you have a life-threatening emergency you can try calling me at 530-899-0605. I am not usually on the computer on the weekend.


I have been "The Rat Lady" since 1985 and am recognized as one of the world's experts on pet rats. I have 3 published books and already answer lots of questions about rats daily.

President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

BA in Animal Behavior

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