First time rat owner seeking help

Discuss rat companionship, introductions and behavioural problems such as biting or shyness or tell us about your rat's unusual habits.
Locked
750XL
New Member
New Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 9:50 pm

First time rat owner seeking help

Post by 750XL » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:04 pm

Hello all,

Firstly, this is my first post here so please be gentle :)

I finally bought two young female rats after many years of wanting a pair. My girlfriend has a number of rats so I know some basics about them but that is really it.

I purchased a nice big cage for them ( a large chinchilla wire cage, although I removed the wire floor to prevent damage to their feet) and keep them in my bedroom, where I spend a lot of my spare time. The rats were both 9 weeks old when I bought them so understandably a bit shy and nervous around me etc. For the first few days I left them alone in their cage to settle down before handling them etc. It's now been two weeks since I first bought the two rats and they have settled in nicely. If I put my finger against the cage, they will both run towards it sniffing my finger etc. I can place my hand in the cage and pick them up (normally) without too many problems.

However, as soon as they get out of the cage for playtime they don't seem interested in me, at all. The first thing they do is run away from me to a place which is difficult for me to catch them. I eventually have to chase down and grab them (or trick them) into my hands which I don't particularly like doing, neither do they.

Over the past few days of being out of the cage they seem to have got progressively worse. Where I used to be able to play about with them on my bed so at least I could control where they went, the first thing they do is run off as soon as they are out of my hands. One goes 'down' the back of my bed and hides under it, and the other one runs across my room to hide underneath my bed. If they are in the middle of my bedroom and I do anything as little as move my arm or leg, they'll immediately run to a 'hidey hole' where I cannot catch them.

Does anyone have any sort of advice for me? I love getting my rats out and allowing them to get some decent exercise (even though their cage is big enough) but it isn't enjoyable at all at the moment, as I dread having to find and chase them down at the end of 'play time'.

Any suggestions on how to train the rats to come towards my hands when required etc would be greatly appreciated. I've tried tapping on the floor, bribing them with food etc but they aren't interested, would just rather hide somewhere from me and explore my room (or annoy the cockatiel).

My girlfriend has had quite a few rats and none of hers have displayed the behaviour mine are.

Kindest Regards,

Sam

User avatar
HannahJ82
Member
Member
Posts: 1185
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:49 am
Location: Cirencester, Glos.

Re: First time rat owner seeking help

Post by HannahJ82 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:47 pm

Don't panic! This is quite normal for girly rats - they like to run around, explore, have ratty business to attend to :) To be honest, a lot of my boys are like that too. Sometimes as they get older and squishier, they'll be happy to come and sit with you but often they seem to think they have more important things to do.

A good way to get them used to your company though is to carry them around in a "rat pouch" which you can find online at places like Rat Warehouse or Betty's Beds, it provides a cosy place for them to hide in while keeping them close to you. Or use a hoody or jumper with a roomy pocket.

But like I say, I have boys and even they aren't bothered about me unless they think I've got food. Mine have the run of the lounge and I've rat proofed it so they can go wherever they like in there. Hmm, maybe you can make a play-pen for your rats' free-range time?

:luck:
Hannah J

Tiny "Tots", Poe, Seth, Trumpet, Bugle, Sweep, Aniseed, Templeton, Mr Gosh, Vega, Pie, Zero, Pan, Aether, Raggamuffin.
RIP Rocky, Devy, Lump, Aleister, Loki, Jester, Flay, Sooty, Baby.

User avatar
Werepuppy
Member
Member
Posts: 1111
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:17 am
Location: Seascale, Cumbria
Contact:

Re: First time rat owner seeking help

Post by Werepuppy » Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:52 am

I wouldn't feel comfortable freeranging my rats in my room even if i had it rat proofed. I can just imagine them legging it under my bed and deciding to freak out on me. I have a playpen made of correx plastic fixed together with parceltape. I use bulldog clips to hold it shut, but lately i've had to use doublesided stickytape as my girls figured out how to pull the plastic back to worm their way out ¬_¬; ; ;

I feel alot more comfortable keeping my rats where I know where they are.
My rats: Possum, Tasmania, Henna, & Trinity!
And lastly my kitties; Neko & Oliver.
RIP Toffee, Inky, Boota, Balthazar, Lady Serenity & Rosetta :dumbohalo:

User avatar
echo2011
Member
Member
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:52 pm

Re: First time rat owner seeking help

Post by echo2011 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:05 am

We've had our little girly for just over a month now and at first we were just as worried as you but now Echo has flourished into a lovely little girl (lots of time and patience required :wink:). Even now though Echo will have days where she wants cuddles and attention from us while she's free ranging but other days where she couldn't care less about us! (unless we come baring grapes that is! :wink:).
The way we bonded was we used a oversized hoodie and let her hide in it and gradually she made friends with us :love:
Don't worry or panic though, they will come round you just have to bear with them.. bribery is also sometimes the key though! :wink:
mummy to "Echo" the very lively rat :love: ..never forget you Hermione :love:

Mulberry (Jane)
Member
Member
Posts: 264
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:53 am

Re: First time rat owner seeking help

Post by Mulberry (Jane) » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:26 am

Hi, welcome to the forum. Your girls' behaviour sounds quite normal for mischievious, intelligent young rat teenagers! Once they have discovered a chink in your armour (a place under your bed, under a book shelf, behind the computer etc that is virtually or actually inaccessible to you) this will become THE PLACE to be. It is only a phase they are going through though, it won't be like this forever. Like Werepuppy I'd make a playpen for the girls and put different things in there for them to explore. Or if other members of the household agree, use the bathroom to freerange the rats in (if there are no escape routes). It can help to let the rats freerange when they are hungry, feed them when they go back to their cage, so that they are more likely to respond to treats from you. Just go on handling them every day and you soon will get there!
Mulberry rats are: Tuck, Islay, Mull & Treshnish
Guinevere, Excaliber, Nymwai, Muddy, Lightnin' , BB, Monty , Brownie, Koko, Etta, Jensen, Fernando, Felipe, Vanilla, Tiffin & Matilda.

Remembered with love: Little Jon and my other sweethearts x

User avatar
Jemma
Member
Member
Posts: 5537
Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2002 9:56 am
Location: Ulverston - Cumbria
Contact:

Re: First time rat owner seeking help

Post by Jemma » Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:58 am

Offering a mix of styles of play can really help. I make a point of offering some 'one on one' out time for each rat every week, which is just me and that individual somewhere they can't escape from like on a sofa or going for a wander around the house and garden on my shoulder. This works alongside daily one on one attention in the cage. I also spend time with the group at least 2-3 times a week juat sat on the sofa having a fuss, again there limited with where they can go to. Then they get supervised free range where i'm around and appaerntly a vital part of how they get from A to B and normally play a bit with a feather wand and such. Finally they get some unsupervised or minimally supervised play time.

How often all of those happen does depend a lot on the age of the rats and how settled they are. For instance for new kittens they don't get to free range in the rat room or anywhere too big, they are confined to the surface of a bed or a puppy playpen I've got, they only get free range a few times a week, the rest they spend with me individually or as a group. This is aimed at getting us to bond well and get used to each other. As they grow up and get more confident i expand there free ranging area and time. By the time there adults i can let them out unsupervised (my rat room is rat proofed fairly well) for a few hours a day every day and then we slot in at least 30 mins supervised free range every morning and a good lot of cuddle time and one on one time every evening.

I've found this works well, when i come in the room after they've been free ranging without me (with me in the hosue so far, not brave enough to leave them without being in hearing distance lol) i come into the room and they normally race out to see me. This is helped by the fact when they go back in the cage they get a little bit of food or a healthy treat. Just this morning they were at it again, i was sitting in with them and they have the whole rat room to explore and they all end up dancing on my knee or using me as a glorified climbing frame.

I do have boys admittedly but anyone whose met my boys will knwo there very much active pingy monsters.
Jemma
Muse rattery
North of England Rat Society - next show Preston 25th June

User avatar
AmberRW
Member
Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:46 pm

Re: First time rat owner seeking help

Post by AmberRW » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:33 pm

I too am a first time rat owner with my own little ones. I made a pen made of plywood, I drilled two holes on each corner (one at the top and one at the bottom on both sides) and I attached them with cable ties. It was cheap to make and whilst it's only small for now it is perfect, I can get them all out and sit in it with them without worrying about them getting somewhere where I won't be able to get them back!! I feel much more at ease handling them in there. When they are older I am planning on rat-proofing the room they are in so they can just wonder in/out while I'm in the room. :)
Jack, Daniel, Tom and Jerry

750XL
New Member
New Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 9:50 pm

Re: First time rat owner seeking help

Post by 750XL » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:49 pm

Just a quick update.

My two rats are still well and healthy getting alone fine together, however their behaviour is the same :-|

They'll come to the cage door etc for food and I can handle them just fine. If I sit them on my lap etc they'll try everything to run away from me and hide. The minute they get off my knee etc, they're straight behind their cage or under my bed, both places they know I can't easily catch them. One of them will sometimes come towards me but not very often, the other won't come anywhere near me when she's out.

I really can't see why they are behaving like this :o They aren't scared of me as they'll crawl all over my hands inside the cage, but as soon as they are out they want nothing to do with me :cry:

When they're out, they aren't interested in any sorts of treats or food etc, they'd rather just hide from me. I don't really have space to build a table or anything for them to play on and 'rat proofing' my room isn't possible. I'd really like them to get out for exercise etc but when I spent an hour chasing them around trying to catch them each night, I just can't be bothered anymore.

Thanks

User avatar
ErnieG!
Member
Member
Posts: 2470
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:28 pm
Location: Runcorn, Cheshire.

Re: First time rat owner seeking help

Post by ErnieG! » Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:14 am

You may want to post on the new forum for advice :D
Emma and the rodents, Meryl, Esmeralda and the 3 unnamed girls.
Kuzco, waiting for some friends.

Waiting for me at the bridge Jasmine, Francesca, Francis and Ebony :rainbow:

User avatar
Nichmerry
Member
Member
Posts: 39
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2011 4:27 pm
Location: Chelmsford, Essex

Re: First time rat owner seeking help

Post by Nichmerry » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:31 am

Hi,

I know how frustrating it can be - sorry you're having such a tough time of it.

Have you tried putting them on your shoulders? Just stand in the middle of the room, so they can't jump off onto anything, and let them crawl across your shoulders and down your arms. It may sound boring, but it's a great way to get them used to being with you. Maybe offer them treats so they know to associate you with good things.

It will take time, but it will be worth it in the end - honest! :luck:
Nichola and her girls: Scout and Gwen

Still missing her boys: Ally and Logan

drear
Member
Member
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:24 pm

Re: First time rat owner seeking help

Post by drear » Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:52 pm

i faced a similar problem to you , but mine was that my girls dont like being picked up so i wasnt sure how to get them out of the cage to play!

the solution i came to was to put on my fluffy dressing gown , which has baggy sleeves, and let them climb into the dressing gown. then sit on the bed .
the dressing gowns sides should create a wall so they cant run off into the bed/bedroom. and the sleeves mean they can get hide somwhere and explore inside the gown!

after 2-3 days of doing this when i was home from work my girls stopped being so scared of me, and when i do let them on the bed, dont seem to run off very far before coming home to me (:

although once they know playtime is over they try and hide :o

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests