New baby boy rats - question about puffing and shyness

Discuss rat companionship, introductions and behavioural problems such as biting or shyness or tell us about your rat's unusual habits.
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babytarragon
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New baby boy rats - question about puffing and shyness

Post by babytarragon » Sun May 22, 2011 9:50 am

So I bought these two little dumbos from Pets at Home on Friday. I had been warned about pet shops, but I didn't think a breeder or rescue would approve me as I'm a first time rat owner. I was told these two were 10 weeks.

The left one is Kanda and the right one is Mejiro.
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For the first day I tried to leave them alone, now I've been trying to get them used to me, picking them up and putting them straight back down, putting them in my pocket, etc. Kanda is very shy, but quite tolerant and happy to sit in my hood. However Mejiro will climb straight out and across the floor, all the while making sneezing/puffing sounds. He only puffs when we go near him, so I think it's stress or annoyance rather than illness.

The main thing I'm asking is whether you can come on too strong to baby rats. I needed to grab Mejiro quickly as he ran behind the toilet and he squeaked, I'm worried he'll hold it against me! I want them to be confident and sociable, but not sure which is the best approach, to leave them alone a lot or make them get used to me quickly. They will not take a treat from me (been giving them pieces of sandwich chicken and cheese) and will only eat when the room is very quiet. And I haven't seen Kanda eat at all.

I will continue putting Kanda in my hood and I don't think it'll take too long with him, but I really don't know how to approach Mejiro, because he seems so unhappy to be touched at all.

Any help for a new owner would be much appreciated!
(All my future rats will come from rescue...)
Kanda & Mejiro - hoodie dumbo boys
Nagatacho & Osaki - siamese dumbo boys

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daffee
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Re: New baby boy rats - question about puffing and shyness

Post by daffee » Sun May 22, 2011 9:56 am

Coming from a pet shop they may never have been handled before or been mishandled and so left scared of people. At that age they should come arund fairly quickly with plenty of attention.

If it were me I would keep them somewhere fairly contained until they are more used to you. On a bed or sofa or a small enclosed space they can climbon you.

If the puffing continues I would have a vet check him over to be sure it's not something else.
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Re: New baby boy rats - question about puffing and shyness

Post by ShinyRainbow » Sun May 22, 2011 10:35 am

I'm sorry that you felt that breeders or rescues wouldn't let you adopt your first ratties from them :( I don't know what the policy is with breeders but I suppose they just want to be sure that their babies go to an experienced home - not that you would give them any less love than anybody else. Is Mejiro aggressive other than the puffing or just nervy and hiding? The best thing may be to just hold your hand near him until he calms down and realises that you're not a threat.

Try this article and see if it's any use.
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Re: New baby boy rats - question about puffing and shyness

Post by sati18 » Sun May 22, 2011 1:05 pm

a good breeder wouldnt have any issue with you being a frist time rat owner- they might want to give you a bit of extra advice about keeping and handlign them but thats about it.

Regarding shy babies- i tend to take a forced socialistion approach- remove anything from the cage that they can hide in (igloos/sputniks/tubes) and only have open hammocks or open beds. every time i walk past the cage i talk to them, open the cage and reach my hand in very gently and stroke them, or just russle my hand around the cage so they get used to it being there.

whilst i think it's very important not to grab a scared rat as that will make them more scareed, you do have to push their boundaries. a good way of doing so is to get a rat puch, or a box that you can lift them in and out of the cage with. free range in a small area, initially you could even lay a blanket in the bath tub, get in there with them and have another blanket or twel draped over your knees so they can run around under the blanket/over you in a small area without feelign exposed. initially don't try to pick them up, but eventually they will get nosy enough to clamber up on to you to see what's happening. from there, making very slow movements, scoop them up in your hans (only an inch or two off the blanket) and then put them straigt down. this way if they jump- you don't have to panic or grab at them because the landing will be safe and soft, and the more you do this the more they learn it won't kill them and it's nothing to be scared of.

whilst they are jumpy and not comfortabl being picked up, use the box or bag to transport them because the last thing you want is for them to take a flying leap off a great height, get hurt and scared and then be even more scared by you chasing them to try and catch them.

but yea- they need to experience the things they are scared of in order not to be scared of them if that makes sense.
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Re: New baby boy rats - question about puffing and shyness

Post by babytarragon » Sun May 22, 2011 1:41 pm

Thank you everyone for the advice :)

There's nothing aggressive about Mejiro, he's just not as calm as his 'brother'. I think perhaps I'm just comparing them too much. Mejiro is crawling on me now, and Kanda is sleeping in my fiance's hoodie ^^
Kanda & Mejiro - hoodie dumbo boys
Nagatacho & Osaki - siamese dumbo boys

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babytarragon
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Re: New baby boy rats - question about puffing and shyness

Post by babytarragon » Tue May 24, 2011 10:11 pm

Ok it's been a few days and it's going well with Kanda, but Mejiro is still very irritable. When I try to feed him a treat he avoids it and gently nibbles my fingers instead. This can only be a warning thing, his way of saying "leave me alone?"

Since they aren't treat-motivated at all it's a bit difficult :(
Kanda & Mejiro - hoodie dumbo boys
Nagatacho & Osaki - siamese dumbo boys

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Re: New baby boy rats - question about puffing and shyness

Post by little_rat_lover » Tue May 24, 2011 11:26 pm

When you say nibble - hard enough to break the skin, or gently? Most of the time nibbling from rats is part of how they bond - if you watch them together you'll see they do it when grooming, most of my rats nibble me! It's one way for rats to be affectionate :love: So I'd see that as a good sign, not a bad one :)

The couple of rats I've had from pet shops (or rescue if they've not been there long) can be nervous of new foods and treats, it takes a while for them to know you're giving them yummies!
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