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Pet Rats/Scared, neglected rat needs a friend


QUESTION: Dear Natasha,
Wow it's been awhile,and i find myself in the midst of that parable,where I have to be the better person doing what's best for the rats so my sister is FINALLY moving out and because she can't leave her rat and she can't seperate them ill end up with my cousins rat(which she's kept for me..) and a new one which later I plan if all gos
well to give to my sister to be with her rat  I can't imagine life without Justin,but that is not the question.
Dustin,my cousins rat,is highly unsocialized,extremely skittish,a little malnourished,and his body language tells me he might bite....but when I took him out of the cage at first he was jumpy and clinged to the cage,the next few times I went over there he calmed down  a bit,and the last time which was last Saturday and Sunday he still showed aggression but hid into the side of my leg  and when I tried to get up he held on for dear life as if I'd leave him for good  and now he panics when I try to put him back in his cage...I guess that's an improvement,but it's very easy to tell he needs alot of TLC,but I'm clueless when I do get him where do I start?

ANSWER: Hi Jada,

I'm glad you are doing the right thing for your two rats. They definitely need to be together.

So. First. As soon as your sister takes the other rats, go get yourself another (maybe two) rat/s. When you bring pets home from anywhere they have to be quarantined for two weeks, and the only really good quarantine is in a home with no rats. You have to wait till your sister takes the other ones so your new rats don't make them sick.

If you tell me what state you live in I can probably give you a list of rescues and shelters nearby. Rats from a rescue can often be far healthier and tamer than rats from a pet store, though of course it isn't always the case. I may even know of someone who has rats to be rehomed near you. Or I may be able to find you a private breeder. But i know you love to rescue :)

After you have had the new rat/s for two weeks and they are healthy, then get your cousin's rat. She does not deserve a rat. It sounds to me like she was horrid to him and neglected him. Get her a stuffed animal instead. :P

You will still have to do introductions, which can take some real time and effort, because rats are socially more complex than mice. I will give you links for info on intros down below. If you got babies, Do NOT start intros until you are SURE the little rats are OVER six weeks. Otherwise Dustin may kill them thinking they are mice.

Hopefully some of Dustin's neuroses will disappear soon after having friends. With no one at home to make you feel secure, the world is a super scary place. He should hate his cage less once he isn't alone in it-- and once he realizes you are going to take him out several times a day and not neglect him. Poor little guy. Well, big. You've got to get him on a healthy diet right away. He is a little too chubby.

I recommend Oxbow Regal Rat in his bowl, and fresh vegetables and a little fruit once a day.

So here are some links for you.

Ratty Intros:

List of various intro links from videos to articles:

Glove Rat (very recommended-- I use this--):!i=1166146441&k=LJcsqLC

Curiosity Rats: Behaviour

Handling scared rats:

Join Rats: Earning the Trust of Pet Rats

Join Rats: Earning the Trust of Pet Rats > Links

The Rat Fan Club: Trust Training

SITH Rattery: A Basic Guide to Socializing Rats by Positive Reinforcement

Sorry it took so extremely long for me to reply! But I have to be on the computer to cut and paste the links.

Best of luck and love to Dustin. He needs lots of love.



[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Natasha,
I do agree that my cousin didnt need a rat ever, she only got one because she saw how
great mine were mine were also petsmart rats however at the moment since Dustin is only
a couple months old ill have to get another petsmart rat,which suprizing the one I go to is
actually not a bad place their animals are suprizingly heathy. I'm bringing them home between
Sunday and Tuesday. But quick question what can I do to introduce them and how do I tell if the one
I get is too young? I would like any tips necessary.And right as of now I'm not in distance of a shelter or a
private breeder,I'm aware it will take almost forever to do trust training not to mention introduction but as you know I have alot (Alot)of patience.

ANSWER: Dear Jada,

What can you do to introduce them? I just gave you three links, one of which leads to several sources. **Read them** and watch the videos. This is important. You don't want a dead rat.

It can take a few weeks of patient daily interaction to do intros. If you are not sure of age, wait one month before beginning in case it is just a month old. A month old might be the size of a gerbil.

Of course you need two cages during that time.

I do recommend two, but I remember your mom isn't 100% supportive of rodents. As with mice, one rat left alone after the death of another is very sad and prone to illness, depression and mites.

Have fun and do everything right please-- you have these little lives in your hands.

squeaks n giggles,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Natasha,
Everything seems turned around now, my sister can't take the rats...she doesn't have the
time and now by this weekend I will have three.Ive read the links and wondered if this would
be a good introduction method:
Step 1: bathe rats(Justin and Toby togather and then Dustin by himself)
Step 2: dry rats and place in different rooms
Step 3: clean entire cage with diluted apple cider vinegar
Step 4: place yogurt treats in dry tub
Step 5: spread vanilla on rats
Step 6: place Dustin in tub and Justin as well
Step 7:watch for aggression and if all gos well switch Justin and Toby out
Step 8:then if there are no signs of aggression put all three in tub
Step 9:then from then on supervise play
Does this sound like a good idea,and if not what do I do?


Hi Jada,

Pretty good except: you should do this a few days in a row or even a week, not doing all three until pairs are great for a couple of days. The cages can go 6" apart and you  should swap cages (well, swap rats) a few times over night  beforehand.  You should  use a soapy washcloth especially on their backs and testicles instead of a bath (so they are not riled up). And you should do glove rat, described in the Joinrats link.

:) :)

It is just right to have three, so that when one dies, the other is not devastated and lonely.

Good luck!

Squeaks n giggles,


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Natasha Millikan


Consider me a sub, when no one else is available. NOTE YOU MUST NOT HAVE ONLY ONE RAT. JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP (because there are smarter people than me there!!): ***** ***** Excellent sites: **** **** **** **** **** ****


I have had rats for 3-1/3 years and have researched them extensively. I am a mouse expert with 40 years' experience with mice. The two species are similar and yet also quite different.

My Facebook group is Rats (and Mice) are Awesome.

I have a Bachelor's and two Master's degrees in Linguistics

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I am honored that my rats love me!

Past/Present Clients
My Facebook group, Rats are Awesome, serves at the moment 5300 members, and, considering all the huge rescues, probably averages 5 rats per member. That means my clients are about 25,000 rats!!!

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