You are here:

Pet Rats/rat freaks out and vibrates a day after?


I asked another expert about this incident and have asked two follow up questions but only one was answered and I'm thinking the expert may be on vacation or something because I have not gotten an answer yet and I think I would have by now so I'm going to ask you:) on the 13th my two rats Mae and Jewels (4 or 5 months old) were really freaked out and we were letting them run around because that's what we usually do when they freak out. So I was holding one trying to calm her down and she became like a bar of soap and we couldn't hold her so we put her in her cage where she zoomed around on the bottom once and then calmed down. We have seen this behavior once before but it led to our one of our previous rats death so it freaked us out. The expert I asked said that it sounded like our old rat died from a seizure and that the reason the new one might have freaked out was because she was scared by something I can't see or hear or respiratory distress. From what she said I think it may have been that she was scared because both of their actions were very directed and not random at all. They trying to get behind the couch cushions which they are not allowed to because they chew and poop there. She said if they were scared it would take a couple days for them to recover. Last night my dad was blowing on an instrument that creates a deep vibrating sound, this seemed to be scaring the rats so I took them into my room where they were moving around on my lap and one went to run away so I grabbed her and she was vibrating which is something I've never seen or felt her do before. It lasted for maybe 5 seconds and then it stopped and she acted normal after that I looked it up and they said it could be some sort of mating thing that female rats do but my previous female rats never did it and this is the first time I saw it in these rats. Today one of them is sleepy and the other wakes up as soon as I stand in front of their cage. I don't know if this is all just part of recovering from a big fright or symptoms of respiratory distress. The one vibrating was the one who became like a bar of soap and the one who is easily woken up today is the one that always sleeps and is not the one who became like a bar of soap (we are pretty sure that was Jewels who became like soap but they are almost carbon copies of each other so its hard to tell except for a slight size difference.)

Hi Izzy, the other rat expert that you contacted gave you the correct information.  Every now and again, for no explicable reason, rats seem to become spooked.  I have witnessed this in my own rats ever since becoming a rat owner.  In all the cases, I've walked into the rat room and my rats are either no where to be found, or they are standing frozen against or behind something and they do not move.  During these situations, when I take them out and put them on a sofa or on the floor, they bolt to a hiding place.  The strange thing is that ALL the rats are spooked at the same time.  Therefore, it has to be due to a sound or an event that occurred.

I say the reasons are inexplicable because we humans are not aware of them.  I have several theories about this.  One, animals can hear frequencies that human ears cannot, and sounds that may be audible to us may be amplified to animals, thus causing fear.  This can be due to the sound of an instrument such as what your dad was playing, or perhaps an airplane flying far overhead.  Second, animals can feel things that we cannot.  Therefore, a small shaking such as from an earthquake that is too small to be felt by humans is felt by animals.  Finally, if you beleive in such, animals are more in tune with supernatural occurrences, such as spirits.  A few times, I have seen one of my rats walk to a particular area of the room, then stop in its tracks and stare, and then crouch down, stretch themselves out and crawl with caution either toward that area they stared at, or turn around and bolt back to where they came from.  It's very disturbing to watch and really makes you wonder.

I do beleive that your dads instrument was causing fear in your rats, perhaps from the sound or even vibration that it released.  

The other expert was also correct that panic-like random behavior can sometimes be the result of a stroke or other incredible pain.  The rat doesn't know how to handle the pain, this thrashes around trying to make it go away,

Finally, the vibration you saw when you grabbed your one rat is part of the mating process in female rats.  Females go into heat for a few hours once every several days.  Besides the ears vibrating, you may also notice them doing a "mating dance", which is are these little jerky hops.  Touching their back, or a cage mate coming near them during their heat may cause these involuntary reactions.  Not all females display this behavior but I would say that the majority of them do.

I hope I have addressed all of your questions but please let me know if I can help you with anything else.

Pet Rats

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Irene Murphy


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.


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.

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.

©2017 All rights reserved.