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Question
Hello, I just got my first pet rat a few days ago, I should have done my research before getting him (Thor) but I did not.  I am kinda scared of him becase he jumps up and looks like he is trying to bite me. How do I get him use to me? And how do I get him use to me picking him up without him acting like I am trying to kill him?

What do you give rats as treats? What toys are good for him?  I only have him and I am not going to be able to get anyother rat for him :( please help

Answer
Dear Jennifer,

The first thing you need to do is go to the site Ratfanclub.org. Click on the choice "info" on the upper left. Then there are a bunch of terrific articles about everything to do with rats. Then find where she sells her books and buy both the one called RATS and the medical handbook. These books contain 90% of what you need to know. You can get the RATS book by Debbie Ducommun at a book store but not the medical handbook.

Next, back to the rat. He has not been socialized all that well, so it might take some time. One reason that he is so scared is that he does not have a friend. He is in a new place and everything, including you, is frightening. Rats are not that expensive; you really have to get him a friend if you want him to be happy. Without a friend, He is in solitary confinement every minute that you are not there. Please reconsider. Don't torture him.

The answers to all of your questions are so well done on the Rat Fan Club site, so I don't even want to try to explain most of it! Real quick, rats love frozen peas and frozen corn, nuts, healthy chips, a lot of fruits, soy yogurt, and a whole lot more. His main diet should be a rat block / kibble such as Regal Rat, supplemented with a vegetable dinner once a day.

As for handling him, once he has a friend it will be much easier. You should put your hand in the cage with a treat and let him take it without doing anything else. Then later maybe you will be able to pet him. Don't worry about being bitten unless he warns you by biting at the air. It is not impossible that he will bite, but you being scared  of it will contribute to his nervousness. If you want you can wear gloves, but, do not pull your hand quickly away because you are scares. It may be that he is protecting his home. In that case, you will be careful how he comes out, and he will be very unlikely to bite when he is out.

The fact is, rats are not biters as much as, say, cats and dogs. A rat that has not been abused is very unlikely to bite. It may nip, but that is without breaking the skin. And they are even good when they thought they were getting food when it was your finger- they realize it in a split second and do not bite.

There is only one other thing I want to say before you go to the website. Once he has occasion to be happy, there are two weird things he will do. He will clack his teeth together, called bruxing; and his eyes will pop out of his head rhythmically, called boggling.

Enjoy!

Squeaks n giggles,

Natasha  

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Natasha Millikan

Expertise

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!!): ***** https://www.facebook.com/groups/RatsandMiceareAwesome/. ***** Excellent sites: http://ratguide.com/ **** http://lilspazrats.wikispaces.com/ **** http://www.ratbehavior.org/rats.html **** http://www.ratfanclub.org/ **** http://www.sandyscrittercity.com/ **** http://www.ratwhisperer.net/ ****

Experience

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.

Organizations
My Facebook group is Rats (and Mice) are Awesome. https://www.facebook.com/groups/RatsandMiceareAwesome/

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

Awards and Honors
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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