Pet Rats/Baby Rats


QUESTION: Hi there!

I have recently got two little m$ale baby rats, they are 4 and a half weeks old and I have had them for 5 days now. I am absolutely in love with them and want to provide them the best life I possibly can. I have a few questions regarding their beahviour etc. My brown rat Mowgli is the tiny one but seems quite confident. He will climb onto my hand sometimes and take treats from me, however my white one Vanilla is very nervous and will not climb onto my hand. He will take a treat and run back into his igloo. When I take them out, I take them out individually as I thought then I will be able to bond more with each one, is this the right thing to be doing? I have noticed that when I put them back in the cage they chase and bite each other.. When I take each one out and even when I have taken both out together they just seem to run around for about 5 minutes and the snuggle in my shirt, on my lap or in my hand and go to sleep. Is that normal? While sitting on me they allow me to stroke their head and vanilla often falls asleep and calms down when I do it, surely this is a sign of trust? When I have taken Vanilla out he gets very nervous if he hears my boyfriend's voice as my boyfriend is quite loud, I have told him to whisper around my rats but he said they need to get use it. I would just like to know if it sounds to you that they are bonding with me and how can I socialize them better especially vanilla? Would really appreciate your advice. Kind Regards

Cong-rats on your new baby rats!  It sounds like they both trust you a lot, but that Vanilla is a little nervous being out of his cage. He will get more used to things as he has more experience. Your boyfriend is right that he will get used to his voice. I wish my baby rats would fall asleep in my lap or in my hand!  My babies do not like to be held or cuddled much. Did you get your babies from a breeder?

It does seem unusual that they go sleep 5 minutes after you ake them out of the cage to play. My babies will play for an hour or two. When you have them out with you, do you play with them? You can use your hand like another rat to tickle them, wrestle with them and chase them. I'm sure they will like that, although it may take them some time to understand that they mommy wants to play with them now! Maybe they just go to sleep because they are bored.

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QUESTION: Thank you for your reply. I tried to get them to play but they just went to sleep again! Mowgli cleans, eats and sleeps while nestled on my neck which is very sweet. Unfortunately I cannot get Vanilla to come to me tonight, he hid in his igloo eating. I hope I am not doing anything wrong. I got them from a breeder, however all her rats were crammed in a very small cage and handled them quite roughly.  I think they were a bit traumatized .

If they were raised in a small cage, they probably just aren't used to playing that much. I think they will get more active out of the cage as they get older. As long as they are eating well, growing and active in the cage, then I don't think you need to worry.

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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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