Pet Rats/Help!!

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I took owner ship of two beautiful 8 week girl rats a week ago. I have had rats before and they were super friendly and scuttled about and seem not to require any training, I ever took them into the garden with no fear of them running away!! But these ones want nothing to do with us. I have spent hours trying to coax them out. When they are out in a little room we have they immediately hide under a chest of drawers or behind their cage and show no interest in coming out, simply washing. I have tried treats none of which they are that interested in, they make take one bit but never come back for more. I then spend ages trying to catch them (I can't get them with my hands) and cannot hold them at all as it stresses them out. I am at a complete end and have no idea what to do. I have scoured websites and they all say handle your rat as much as possible,but that is impossible with mine. If I put them on a table or in the bath with me then they just use me to climb down and shoot off. What can I do? Polly

Answer
Hi Polly.  I can feel your frustration and understand, ias I've had a few rats that remained skittish and aloof throughout their lives, despite all my efforts.  I've attributed this to their personalities and let them just be themselves, while providing all the same care for them as I did for my other friendlier rats.   Some rats are just this way.  Most likely, it can be attributed to genetics.  What you do have on your side is their very young age, and so the chances of molding them are better.

I will provide you with a link below to the absolute best website I know of for trust training rats.  Perhaps you haven't seen this one yet.

The key to success if success is to happen is a lot of time and patience on your part.  You've only just had them for a week and that is way too little time to be giving up.

Rats are creatures of habit and comfort, and they are probably most comfortable in their cage because it provides a sense of security and safety.  They need to learn that there is safety and fun beyond that small space.  Here is how I recommend you go about trust training.  Find a very small space in your home.  A bathroom is a good choice.  Fill that bathroom with a lot of "stuff", such as piles of towels, empty boxes, etc.  Rats, especially skittish ones, feel secure in small spaces with lots of places to hide.  Then bring their cage in the room and place it on the floor.  Bring tiny treats in as well.  A good choose is rice crispies cereal or Cheerios broken into smaller pieces.  Open the cage door and sit yourself down across from the cage, At least several feet away so they don't feel threatened.  Then just wait a bit and see if they slowly poke their heads out or inch their way out of the cage.  Don't move or reach out for them at all.  Wait and see if they come to you.  Put some tiny treats close to their cage door as a bribe to get them out.  Place a trail of treats around the room and closer to you.  Don't lose hope if after the first attempt at this they still haven't come out of the cage.  Close up shop and try again the next day.  Try to do this routine at least once a day, preferably in the evening when rats are active.  Don't change much in theis room from day to day until you feel they are becoming comfortable exploring all the stuff on the floor.  Do this routine for a week, two weeks, or longer and monitor any progress.   Play things by ear and only start to reach out for them if you sense they are secure.  Hopefully, with time, they will begin to open up toward exploring and to coming toward you.   If and when they start showing interst in exploring, then you can change the placement of the stuff to keep things interesting and stimulating for them.  The key here again, is taking things very very slowly and working at their pace and not yours.  

I hope this suggestion works.  Also read through this website to get more ideas and information.   I wish you good luck and please feel free to ask me any other questions.

http://www.joinrats.com

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Irene Murphy

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I can answer a variety of questions regarding adoption and care of pet rats throughout their lifetimes, including questions about their health and well being, temperment, diet, bedding, cages, toys, etc. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability in a timely manner and I have an abundant amount of resources to help me to help you with your pet rats. I love rattie pictures, so include pics with your question if you can. You may ask me medical questions, but please be advised that I am not a vet. I may use my resources to answer some medical questions, however, I will need to refer you to your local vet with medical questions that I feel I am not qualified to address.

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I have been a huge rat enthusiast for many years. Since becoming a rat owner, I have educated myself in all areas of pet rats from every resource I could find including the internet, books, conversations with local exotic vets, as well as several local rat breeders.

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I have a college degree but not in the area of animals. I have obtained my extensive experience and knowlege of pet rats all on my own because in my eyes, pet rats are the most interesting and fascinating creatures you can ever imagine to have as pets. I also am saddened by how mislabeled and misunderstood these amazing and extremely smart animals are by the majority, and my mission in life has become to educate and change as many people's perceptions of rats as I possibly can.

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