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Pet Rats/Is my pet rat depressed?

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Question
I have two female rats both just under a year old. My girlfriend and I have just moved house (previous home the rats got to know very well). Since being in the new place the more adventurous of the two has been acting very strange. I've been getting both of them out on the bed in the spare room so they can get used to the place. The more timid of the two has been off having a nose around but the other one has after about ten minutes of being out been snuggling up to me and just sitting there for the rest of the time she is out. She seems fine in the cage and I e had rats for years so generally know what to look for when their ill. She appears to be eating fine etc, so all good apart from this. She seems quite depressed when she's out and even when her cage mate comes by she still won't leave my side.

On another note we've been looking after our friends cats since the day of the move but they're not allowed upstairs so I don't think it would be that freaking her out. I've had rats whilst having a pet cat before and it's not bothered them. What do you think is up? Should I take her to the vets?

Answer
Alex,

Thanks for your question.

Based on the information you gave me, about moving into a new home, I would think that the reason your rat is acting strangely is that perhaps the new scents and sounds of your new home give her reason to feel a bit more cautious and unsure of herself. I would say that she probably isn't depressed, but is feeling a bit unsure of her surroundings. The scent of the cats is probably making matters worse. I would hold off taking her to the vet until after the cats are gone and after you have been in the home a bit longer, unless of course her health appears to decline at all.

Hope that helps!

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Shawna Laufer

Expertise

Nutrition has always been an interest of mine as well as creating stimulating environments for rats. I conduct product reviews on my blog so I can take questions regarding products marketed or intended for rats. Other questions regarding basic husbandry, feeding, grooming, and other pet rat care will be accepted. I have very little breeding experience so I would not be able to answer much in the ways of breeding or genetics questions. I can help with some basic health care questions but am not a vet and always suggest contacting your vet for serious inquires.

Experience

I have over 13 years of experience with pet rats, having worked in several pet stores, as a veterinary tech assistant, and with my own pet rats. I run a highly regarded blog on the subject of pet rat ownership (www.ratwhisperer.net) with a corresponding YouTube channel and Facebook page. I have been and always will be open to questions and comments.

Publications
A photograph of my lady rat's cage is being published in Worth Publishers' college textbook "How Children Develop, 4e" by Robert Siegler, Judy DeLoache and Nancy Eisenberg on the subject of how complex, stimulating environments and how they relate to the brains of rats.

Education/Credentials
I have some college experience, but not in the field of animals. I completed the majority of an at-home Veterinary Technician course which I was unable to complete due to financial reason. The majority of my knowledge on rats have come from personal experience, conducting my own research with the help of published medical studies and journal, the internet and through other knowledgeable 'rat people'.

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