So you just bought your first rat or you’re looking to buy your first rat…
My first bit of info for you is……. Rats are very social and are much happier when they have another rat friend or 2 or 3 or 4……….. and make sure they are all of the same sex, unless you want to have a thousand babies running around, or your other option is to get your rats desexed, then they can all be kept in the same cage. Just make sure you go to a vet who is up to date and confident in doing the procedure.
A group of rats is called a Mischief.
The first thing most people new to rats say to this is “but I’m going to play with him/her all the time, so I only need to get the one”. You see the problem with only getting/having one rat is that we all have to sleep at some point or go to work/school/shops/friends house etc and in a few weeks your little rattie isn’t going to be so able to hide in your shirt or pocket anymore, which will mean having to leave him or her in their cage on their own for long periods of time 🙁 they get bored, as would you if you were sitting in your room on your own for 7+ hours a day and had no TV or Computer and dare I say it …… no Phone!!!! And its usually when we are asleep that our ratties are the most active. So please do your little fur baby a favor and get them a friend 🙂 they will be much happier for it and 2 rats are just as easy to look after as 1, but so much more fun 🙂
Getting to know your fur babies…..
Believe it or not rats are not just cute and cuddly :0
They have personalities just like us, each one is different in its own right. So this means to keep your fur babies happy you need to spend time with them and get to know them. You can do this by playing games with them, cuddling with them and teaching them tricks. Yes that’s right, your fur babies are capable of learning tricks. Things like coming to their name, switching off lights, bringing things to you etc…
Some people do this using a clicker (the type they use to train dogs) I have never used one before but I hear they are really good. I personally find that my fur babies will do just about anything for treats hehehe and I find talking to them all the time helps them to learn also.
They love to play games like hide and seek, fishing peas out of a tub of water, tug a war and chase the hand etc….
Some ratties will do this on their own and wont need to be shown but if not go for it….. show them how its done hehe ;p
For some tips and ideas on how to make your own toys and games click – HERE
If you get home and find that your new little fur baby seems to be a bit scared and doesn’t seem to want to be cuddled or play, don’t worry just yet their are some things you can try to help things along. Like us rats can take a little time to warm up to other people/animals.
A few things you can try to build trust are…. sit in front of the cage with the door open, don’t put your hand in just yet just sit their for a little bit so he/she gets use to your smell.
Then try putting some baby food/yogurt (something they cant grab and run off with) on a spoon and put it in the cage near him/her but not to close, just hold it so he/she gets use to your smell and a yummy treat.
Over a few days slowly bring the spoon closer to you as he/she eats off it so that way he gets closer to you and gets more and more use to you. After a few days of doing this if he/she is happy to be near you and eat put one hand on the bottom of the cage and slowly bring the spoon of food over your hand so he/she has to stand on it to eat then move it up your arm till he/she is happy to sit on your shoulder.
Another thing you can try is using one of our snuggle sacks. Some rats are happy to be near you but dont like being handled, they feel insecure if their hind legs are not supported properly. The way around this is to get them to climb into the sack and give them some treats while they are in their, this way you can give them a scratch and get them use to hands without actually holding them and making them feel insecure.
I have found these to be the most effective. Most of the rescues I get don’t like being touched and take awhile before they can trust people. I have found these ways to be the easiest for them and they soon see you as a treat factory ;-p
If they haven’t started to warm up to you in 2 weeks of trying these methods, I wouldn’t give up but you may need to start looking at them as possible “look but don’t touch pets”. As they get older and have been with you for a while they may still warm up to you and become your best friend 🙂