Taming Rats

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I’ve had several comments in the discussion areas about how to tame shy rats, so here are my replies, and a couple of useful links about the subject:

For Nervous Rats

Why not try putting your rats on a bed (with you on it) or a table or kitchen top so that they can’t hide from you. They don’t normally try jumping off. Have a blanket or box they can return to if they feel nervous. Let them sniff your hands and get used to your hands being near to them before picking them up. Some ratties are more shy than others, so try to be patient – they will come around. My older rats prefer to run up on to me rather than me picking them up, but they tolerate it and will keep still for me now, when they were babies they would wriggle and try to run off too. It just takes time, and keep trying – the more contact you have with your rats, the more they will learn to trust you.

How to Approach New Shy Rats

My advice is to offer them treats and try and handle them as much as possible. A way to trust-train them is to keep them on your person for at least 20 minutes a day – I mean don’t let them on the floor or anywhere but where you are. Even if you just keep your hand near them at first – not to pick up – offer treats till they associate you with good things. I used a box with Jinx & Dublin – they could play in the box and I put my hand in the box near them all the time – they were soon running up my arm to explore! Try not to move to fast towards them if you can. I had to put some of my boys (one at a time) in a pouch where they felt secure and let my hand rest near them.

If they don’t like you picking them up out of their cage or don’t come out by themselves – don’t chase them – this will only make them more scared of your hands – either offer food to encourage or get a pouch or bag and get them used to it – then you can use it to get them out (they will run into the safety of the pouch). Dublin and Jinx used to step from their bed to the pouch and I would carry them in it to the box. It was a secure place to explore from while they were getting used to me. I didn’t let them on the floor (main play area) until they were used to me.

The best treat for trust-training is yoghurt on a spoon – rats love it and they have to stay to lick the spoon – they can’t just run off with it!!

Useful Links

Fancy Rats
Rat Guide

Today my lovely rats have been mostly eating coconut pieces.

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2 Responses to “Taming Rats”

  1. For my daughter’s birthday she bought two beautiful rats. Now we have had hamsters before but not rats, they are very young females and absolutely adorable. Now Fluff the little white one (now developing some gorgeous beige markings) is very affectionate, she is up at the bars wanting to be on the shoulders and in our hair and digging through our clothes for suspected crumbs but Puff our little grey is extremely anxious and nervous. We are approaching the end of our second week with the girls but Puff still hides every-time we go near the cage. She has bitten me quite hard in the first couple of days ( I think I was obviously too close for comfort) and has bitten me since then when approaching me extremely warily and snatching what she though was a treat only to get my fingers. I’m now at a stage where every-time she dares to approach for a treat she immediately goes to take a bite out of my thumb rather than the treat in my palm meaning no matter how hard I stay still I can’t help but flinch ever so slightly scaring her off immediately (it bloody hurts) which doesn’t give the poor thing chance to realise she’s made a mistake. To make things worse if Fluff is awake she will often jump on poor Puffs head or wrestle her out of the way to get to me! As inexperienced Rat owners we bought a really big cage and made sure there were lots of boredom busters in there but the doors though numerous are very small which means to clean the cage or leave our arm or hands in there we have to lift the whole top off which freaks puff out even more and as she darts into her pipe the moment I approach the cage I can’t lift her up and don’t want to scare her anymore than I’m doing. I’ve done yoghurt on a spoon but as I can’t get her out of the cage and cleaning it already scares the little mite to bits she only comes to the door ready to dart away at a moments notice. Sorry for the long comment but – any advice?

  2. Hi Emma, sorry I haven’t been moderating this website for such a long time, so I missed your comment. I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to leave your message and I hope you were successful in taming Puff :)

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