The rats are 8 weeks old today, and this week has turned up a few surprises. The ongoing taming of the rats is going better than I had expected. When I walk into the room Stripe and Rocky eagerly race to the bars of their cage to sniff me out! Shy-Shy follows shortly afterwards and Pip is usually a little reticent, and hangs back until the rest have calmed down. Pip is a lazy sausage though, he likes nothing better than to snooze in his tube.
Pip flat out again!
I am continuing the regular handling regime, only I have cut it down to 15 minutes per rat, and have started to let my daughters hold their individual rats in a “rat slipper” or fleece hat, so the rats have a little security and don’t feel too exposed. This is a brilliant way to handle them, because they don’t tend to struggle away and often become so relaxed that they fall asleep. When I pick any of the boys up now they actually stay still and relax into my hand which I think is a real breakthrough! Rocky and Shy-Shy have discovered there are interesting things outside of their cage, and will run along my arm to get to the exit! Stripe and Pip are still not sure, so another thing which I have started, when it’s fairly quiet and the rats are active, is to lure them out of their cage with food! This is a great technique to use to gain ratties’ trust which many rat-carers recommend. I attached a blanket from the cage door to my lap and gradually coaxed Rocky out onto the blanket with yoghurt on a spoon. I made sure he sniffed my hand first to let him know it was me bringing the goods! Next Shy-Shy had a go, and I had an idea to put my hand palm down just in front of the spoon, so he had to walk onto me to get to the yoghurt. He wasn’t sure at first, but once he had done it, he kept coming back for more! Stripe was holding on to my hand with his little paws to get more comfortable, while he licked all the yoghurt off the spoon! Pip tried a little but I could only coax him to the spoon, not onto my hand. Then quite unexpectedly, Rocky jumped up from the floor onto my lap, and sat there eating the yoghurt, nonchalantly!
I have read that another method to socialise shy rats is to put their cage onto your bed and lie there till they come out and explore you!
Yesterday I tried the boys with freshly cooked sweetcorn while they were in a box on the floor and they were crawling on my hand again to get to the food (all except Pip). After the corn was gone I was a bit nervous that they would try nibbling me, but they just sniffed me and were very relaxed when picked them up for a short while before returning them to their cage.
I have a terrible dilemma! This week we also found out that my partner is allergic to the rats! We obviously don’t want to take the ratties back, so we are looking at other options: Possibly an insulated rat shed, strict cleansing regime and/or an allergy filter system…
Today my rats have been mostly eating fresh carrot and broken up Bonios.