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How to handle my new rats

Discussion in 'Rodents' started by Jck17, Apr 4, 2011.


  1. Jck17

    Jck17 PetForums Member

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    Hello,

    I recently purchased a pair of Dumbo rats. They seem really nervous.

    How can i get them to gain my trust? And how can i handle them without being bitten?

    Also, is there anything else about rats i should know?

    Many thanks, Jack
     
  2. thedogsmother

    thedogsmother PetForums VIP

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    Are they trying to bite you? If they are then I would suggest opening the cage and letting them come out to you, food is a huge temptation to most rats but you dont really want your hands smelling of food as they dont have great eyesight and they might mistake your hands for food. The main donts with rats are no citrus, no shavings/sawdust (think thats the main ones but hopefully someone will add to that). Rats love company so you did the right thing getting more than one, they need time out of the cage (free ranging) every day really, I feed mine a version of the shunamite diet (there is loads online about it if you google it). How old are they, and when did you get them? Oh and I neeeeed piccies.:D
     
  3. Jck17

    Jck17 PetForums Member

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    No they are not biting me, but we have some at college and they have bitten once or twice and it wasn't nice. Mine are just nervous, they just freeze when i go near the cage. I have only had them for a few days, i've let them settle into their new cage. I want to begin holding them asap, i don't just wanna stick my hand in and they get scared an bite me, i have opened the cage and sat there but they just freeze for the whole time. They are 9 weeks old. :)
     
  4. thedogsmother

    thedogsmother PetForums VIP

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    I would try getting them used to your voice first, talk to them a lot when you are round the cage, if you talk to them or stroke them when they are having treats that should help them to associate you with a nice feeling.
     
  5. Jck17

    Jck17 PetForums Member

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    Thank you for your help :)
    One last thing - What do you use on the floor of the cage? I've heard hay is good, is this true?
     
  6. thedogsmother

    thedogsmother PetForums VIP

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    I use either fleece or aubiose, Ive found hay to be a bit dusty sometimes and it can have mites in it so it would need to be either put in the freezer or the microwave first, I do occasionally use it but Im just too lazy to prepare it most of the time:eek:. Finacard is also really good and some people use shredded paper.
     
  7. Jck17

    Jck17 PetForums Member

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    Thank you for your help. I shall try some of this when they are awake, and just hope they decide to come to me
     
  8. Argent

    Argent PetForums VIP

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    Hay can also scratch them, I wouldn't risk it. Safe beddings to use are things like Easibed, Megazorb, Finacard etc, which you can buy a bale of for like, £10 and will last you MONTHS :D

    What I did with a rescued female who was a definate biter because she was protecting her small bubs at the time, was to set the cage on the bed and open it so she could come out and explore me in her own time. She never bit me when she was allowed to approach on her own terms, and I just laid my hand there for her to sniff, whilst speaking gently to her. She's now in Niki87's care and she has reported Bijou has now come out of her shell a lot and is very friendly.

    Rats don't normally bite unless they're seriously terrified for their lives, or are hormonal and protecting their babies. I'd advise you when you open the cage to let them out, to wear an old dressing gown. I can almost guarantee they will go inside it and have a mooch around, they'll feel safe there, and get a lot more used to your scent!

    What kind of diet have you got them on at the moment? Is it P@H nuggets/muesli?

    Also, let's see some pics :D
     
  9. Jck17

    Jck17 PetForums Member

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    You have been very helpful! I will try this later. I just want them to get use to me as soon as possible so they can come out of the cage and get a lot of exercise!

    Right now i have them on nuggest (As i say, i'm after as much information as possible, i've never had rats before) :)
     
  10. manic rose

    manic rose PetForums VIP

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    welcome to rat ownership, lol :)

    best to let them get used to you before letting them free range else will be a bit of a nightmare trying to catch them again if they decide to run and hide.
     
  11. Argent

    Argent PetForums VIP

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    It's lovely you're so eager to have a good relationship with them ^_^

    The nuggets are alright for now, try giving them a couple of extras like veggies, peas, corn on the cob is a great one, and my lot go mad for grated carrot!
    When you become more confident, you could try them on a different brand or even make your own mix if you wanted! :D
     
  12. Jck17

    Jck17 PetForums Member

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    Hey again - So i didn't even get to open the cage before one of them took a chunk out of my finger. Will they get use to me? Or will i just keep getting bitten? :(
     
  13. Argent

    Argent PetForums VIP

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    Did your fingers smell of anything? Try and have them smelling as neutral as possible, it might have been an accident, or they could have been frightened - never feed through the bars either, it encourages them to expect food every time, when one day it'll be a finger or something non-edible but they'll go for it all the same.

    Try and take things slow for now, sit next to the cage and just chat away to them gently, letting them get used to your voice. I've actually found rats seem to quite like listening to their owner singing, so if you feel like giving that a go... :D
     
  14. blade100

    blade100 PetForums VIP

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  15. owieprone

    owieprone PetForums VIP

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    yay another rattie owner, good luck. they're ace pets. erm.. very long post!

    give it time, they'll take a while to get use to you and trust you.

    distract them at the other end of the cage while you're opening the door.. door openening is exciting and even the most placid rat can think biting is all part of the ceremony.

    young rats are quite bitey.. they're very like sharks in their exploration.. if in doubt give it a good bite.
    they will grow out of this as they get older, more used to you and more wordly wise.

    don't keep their food bowl near the door either.. they could see you as a thief lol.. one of mine used to.. would attack my hand if she thought i was stealing nuggets. :rolleyes: doh!

    when you get them out wearing something baggy (hoodies are best), that way they can hide in the hood or pocket if they're not happy, (putting hood up is good when they're used to you.. don't do it until they are super relaxed as ear biting is sore! lmao).

    put a used old sock (as in sweaty) in with them so they get use to your smell, talk to them lots when you're in their room/vacinity get them used to your voice, even when you're not getting them out that way they won't associate you talking and coming near as getting out of the cage everytime (although they may beg anyway).

    if you do give them treats,make them big enough so you can hold the very tip with your nails (or fingy tips if you're a nail biter), young rats are very quick to take food but dont watch what they are doing so might nip in the process, again they'll grow out of that (mostly.. except with favourite treats then expect to be mauled head to toe).

    if they nip for no reason, squeek or say no or ow (or whatever comes natrually) and pull your hand away, then ignore them for abit, if they keep doing it and don't get better (i.e. never stop! no matter how use to you they get) you can correct behaviour, but take to vets first to make sure they've not got something else wrong with them first (making them grumpy or scared).

    use ratty technique no. 1... pick up offender, say NO while quickly flipping onto back, hold gently in place and let squirm out, (don't slam them down or hold them with force, just a quick flip and relax your hand). if you watch your rats as they fight, they do this to each other, it's a dominance thing, you're saying to bad rattie that you are dominant, you don't like that particular behaviour STOP IT. do it everytime and rattie-bongo should figure it out eventually, might take a few times for them to figure out what you don't like. if they STILL do it.. check they're not blind or vision impared.

    if they're doing it when you pick them up.. don't. stick your hand out for them to climb on to you. some rats never get used to being picked up.

    remember your rats are as intelligent as a 2y/o human... you can train them i got my first 2 to learn 20 commands plus their names (as well as everyone elses names including 'dad', my oh.).. about 10 of those commands filtered down through the colony and my last rat knew 5, i didn't teach her any of them.
    My last rat never met my first 2 rats she died last month. i bought my first rat in 2002/3 (yes bad me i bought 1 cos i was stupid and she was alone in the shop, i got her sister 3 months later).

    watch how your rats interact with each other and they will teach you 'rat speak'.

    patience is the key, remember they are prey animals so will be wary until they're sure you're not just pretending to be nice.


    oh yes and remember: rat rules...
    it's mine.
    if it's broken, it's mine
    if i've left it alone for months.. its still mine
    if i give it to you.. its mine
    that bit of floor your on.. it's mine


    and last but not least.. no socks.. bare feet or shoes (bare feet are best), socks with toes in are a well-known rattie delicacy, wear them at your peril!
     
  16. manic rose

    manic rose PetForums VIP

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    that did actually make me LOL, especially the rat rules. for god sake when you have them out dont leave anything laying about that you dont want getting chewed!
     
  17. owieprone

    owieprone PetForums VIP

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    oh aye, and wear old clothes that you don't mind getting chewed, cos they will.

    make them loose and expect spelunkers up to your crotch.. which isn't as disgusting as it sounds.. though often slightly unnerving depending on who's spelunking. ;)
     
  18. Jck17

    Jck17 PetForums Member

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    Could i use some gloves so if they bite they wont break my skin again?
     
  19. KalokiMallow

    KalokiMallow PetForums Member

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    Gardening gloves are really good for handling bitey ratties
     
  20. KalokiMallow

    KalokiMallow PetForums Member

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    Haha, ours aren't interested in socks, plasters and buttons however...
     
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