Pet Rats/new rats

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Question
i have 2 sister dumbo rats that i got at 9 weeks old and have had about 2 months now.  they will not let me pick them up still. i have tried feeding and they will eat from my hand and lick off my finger sniff and step on me but when i let them out for free range they barley come out and if they do and i make any kind of move or sound they go straight back to there cage. any suggestions on how to bond better.

Answer
Hi Melisa, you didn't say where you got your rats.  Rats that come from a good breeder are handled daily practically from birth, thus socializing them to being handled.  Rats from other places such as pet stores or breeding mills do not get handled and grow up with their natural fear of humans.   However, there is hope.   Most pet rats can be trust trained, but be prepared that this will usually take a lot of time and patience.   

I'm going to link you to the most wonderful web site I have run across for information, instruction and videos about how to trust train.
http://www.joinrats.com

What I have personally found to work well is this....Rats naturally are fearful of wide open spaces.  Rats find comfort in familiar small spaces.  With this in mind, set up a play area for them in a very small space.  A small bathroom is a good choice.  Fill that space with lots and lots of "stuff" such as piles of towels, stacks of boxes of different shapes and sizes, with rat sized holes cut out in them, and any other junk you can think of.  To us it's junk, to rats, it's wonderful things to explore!  Next bring their cage into that space and place it on the floor.  Also bring with you some small healthy treats, such as Cheerios broken in halves, rice crispies, granola, etc.  Next, open the cage door, sit yourself down on the opposite side of the room on the floor and don't make a lot of sounds or movement.  Be patient.  Hopefully, their natural curiosity will entice them to peek out and hopefully come out and explore.  Don't reach for them....let them come to you.  And if they do, offer a small treat.  If they don't, just allow them to explore, and hopefully they will find safety in the many places among the stuff to hide or run in and out of.  You get the idea.  Even if they don't come out after about 30 minutes, close up shop but do try this again and again and in time, I'm fairly confident that they will, in time.

Look at the other info on the website for other ideas.  Good luck to you and your babies.  I have a feeling a wonderful relationship will develop in time between you.  Write back and let me know how it goes.  I would love to hear :)

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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.

Experience

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.

Education/Credentials
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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