Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

New rat owner struggling.

Discussion in 'Rodents' started by kaidus, Jun 30, 2009.


  1. kaidus

    kaidus PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    So on Sunday my girlfriend and I, having done a bit of research, decided to go pickup a pair of rats. We ended up with two boys, one 6-8 weeks, one 12 weeks. We've followed the advice that literally every rat owner website has given us, but tehre are a few things that are concerning me.

    First off, the younger rat - Pip. He literally will not come closer to us than our finger tips. If we offer him a treat from our hand, unless we hold it and put it next to his mouth he will not take it. Even if it's only 2 inches onto our hand, he'll simply look at it for a few seconds before backing off. He's very nippy as well, generally it's very cute but I'm aware of the implications it has. We haven't and will continue to not feed him through the cage, but still he is continually nipping our fingers. I've yet to pick him up as I believe it probably only scare him more at this stage.

    Secondly, the 12 week - Jeb. As a slightly older rat I expected problems, but it was literally a love at first scenario so we disregarded our concerns and took him anyway. He is less timid than Pip. He'll happily extend his front paws onto our hand either to take food or to just have a sniff around, and has once been bold enough to fully climb onto the back of my hand. Picking him up is possible, but he occasionally squeaks (which I've read is not a good sign) and very regularly defecates whilst being held, or while simply out of the cage. If given the chance to roam even slightly he will make for the nearest hiding place where he's had to be coerced out of or, if in range, straight back into his cage. Again I've read that this is all because he hasn't been handled enough, but in the store the shop assistant handled him without any of these problems so perhaps we are doing something wrong?

    What is most concerning above all else is Jeb's sneezing. Every 30 seconds or so he utters a little sound that very closely resembles sneezing in a human, but to be honest I've read nothing about this and am thus clueless. I didn't notice this in the shop, but it seems to mainly occur when the little guy is breathing heavily due to excitement/stress. I'm using only recommended materials for bedding and flooring so would like to think allergies could be crossed off the list.

    Any and all help is remarkably appreciated at this stage. If I hadn't read any articles I'd assume this was all just "early days" jitters, but alas.

    D:

    Edit: On the plus side of things, despite not being litter mates the two seem to be getting along relatively well. They sleep together, haven't had any violent encounters. They tend to steal food from one another though, is that normal?

    Also, a slightly less worrying issue. My 18 month old cat, mario, is absolutley terrified of Pip and Jeb. Is there anything I can do to make him less afraid of them without endangering any animal in the process?
     
    #1 kaidus, Jun 30, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2009
  2. bexy1989

    bexy1989 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 10, 2009
    Messages:
    3,489
    Likes Received:
    54
    right i'm probs not going to be much help because i've not got rats but i'll give it ago :p

    the younger rat, try rubbing your hand in thier bedding, hopefully he will recognise the smell and with time will start wandering over your hand

    the 2nd rat i'd take to the vets you never know it might be nothing but its better to be safe than sorry :)
     
  3. Gobaith

    Gobaith PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    1,305
    Likes Received:
    29

    Second rat, i have a rat called Ronny, he is 12 weeks :) and he is a sneezy rat. At first oi was really worried because i thought it was an upper respiratory infection. (which your rat may have ) Did you get him from P@H? i took my ronny back to P@H where they paid for all Ronnys vet fees including finding out whether he had an upper resp. infection. Ronny didn't have an upper resp and it turned out that he was just a sneezy rat and they gave him a course of Baytril just to cleasr up his snuffles. Although still, he sneezes. So, i just have a sneezy rat :)
    If i was you i would look into whether you could get your vet fees aid as he is still young and the pet shop responsibility. It is nothing serious and at the worst it will be an respiratory infection which with a course of Baytril will clear up in no time :)
    My ronny still poo's on me but they do this when they are a bit scared. Remember rats are blind and can't see clearly atall so therefore as i read on a website before imagine it if it was you or i and a great huge moster hand coming in and grabbing you when you didnt know it was coming, which was so terrifying that it caused you to release your bowels.
    In time, They get more and more used to you and when approaching your rat, use squeaking noises etc to ensure your rat is coming to you.
    This problem will ammend in no time when your rat finally gets used to you.
    Let him use you as a human climbing frame or just to happily nest on your shoulder under your hair. This way he will get used to one on one contact and slowly, he will get used to you.,



    The first rat,many rats start nipping and i was lucky as Ronny touch wood never bit me as of yet. Ronny still doesnt ake food from my hand either. Try wrapping him up in a towel and get him out in this to save you getting bit. Then, just sit with him in the towel for 30 minutes calmly cooing it so it gets used to your voice and he knows that your not gonna hurt him. Keep him on your lap in this towel and he ma start adventuring more. I fhe doesnt keep getting him out and sitting in this towel for thirty minutes or so a day and he will soon start taming to you :)


    I hope this helps and if you have any other worries, feel free to PM me :D


    Chloe x
     
  4. Lavenderb

    Lavenderb PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2009
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    395
    I have 4 male rats. The 2 older ones I purchased from pet shops and it took some time for the older of the 2 to become tame enough for me to pick him up. Pet shop rats generally don't get the handling that a home bred tamed rat would get so they tend to become timid. Time and patience will reward you. They are both still fairly young so with regular attention from you they will come round.
    If they bite you try letting out squeaking sounds. A loud eeeep or eeeek from you may stop them biting as this is what rats do when they bite each other to say "hey that hurts". It sounds daft but it has worked. Take no notice of the squeaking when you try to pick them up. My dumbo does this sometimes when I pick him up. Its just their way of protesting. But the more handling the better.
    The sneezing may be something that needs looking at. What did the pet shop use on the floor of the cage? How often are you cleaning them out? Rats are sensitive to ammonia in their urine. I spot clean my cage every day and change the paper flooring every 2-3 days.
    Can I ask what sort of cage you have for them?
    I have a large high cage as rats love to climb. They have hammocks suspended from the top of the cage and throughout the cage at different levels, which provides them with plenty of hidey places.
    Do you have a safe place in the house where you can let your rats run free?
    I use my hallway as there is no furniture for them to hide under and as the floor is lino they can poo and pee as much as they like lol. Mine don't really toilet much outside their cage as I have litter trained them.
    Anymore questions you have just ask. I hope I have been some help.

    Oh just one other thing to add. Try tapping the floor in front of your rats or if they aren't nearby just tap the cage. They are inquisitive by nature and will usually investigate the tapping. If the tapping is rewarded with treats they will come to you whenever you tap the cage. I have found routine is good with mine. Every morning without fail as soon as they hear me coming down the stairs they all sit waiting for their bit of biscuit. I can't get the cage door open fast enough lol.
     
    #4 Lavenderb, Jun 30, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2009
  5. CharleyRogan

    CharleyRogan PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Messages:
    10,846
    Likes Received:
    121
    1st rat - they take a while to get used to you! They don't tame over night!! Imagine, you have just been taken to a new home, and your owners are 20 times your size, your going to be timid at first! You can get him to learn that when he is good he can have a treat, try wearing gloves when you put your hand in the cage, then if he bites he isn't going to hurt, let him nibble a bit, to show that your not a bad thing. If you pull away when he bites then its going to scare him. Also your hands will smell of food, so he might think hand=food! Please give him a chance!!

    2nd rat = take him to the vets asap, then if he has a respiratory prob, phone p@h were you bought him and they should pay your costs! Separate from other one in case its a cold, which is contagious.
     
  6. Lavenderb

    Lavenderb PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2009
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    395
    Another way to help stop the biting is to get a spoonful of yoghurt and offer it to them. If they bite they get the cold metal hardness and if they lick they are rewarded. You can then progress when you feel ready to coating your finger with yoghurt and they will lick it off. Also the yoghurt trick stops them grabbing the food and running away so you get a bit of socialising too.
    And yes it is normal for them to steal each others food. Mine do it all the time so I put 2-3 pots of food around the cage so they can run off and hide from each other.
     
  7. kaidus

    kaidus PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the help. Regarding the defecating, I assumed this to be the case but upon reading some books and articles it intensified my worries ten fold telling me that the rat was doomed forever : p. I have no intention of giving up on either of them, just wanted to know the best way of tackling the situation. Thanks a lot : ).

    @greeneyes. The cage is a wireframe (that pip enjoys climbing), around 4 feet long, 2 foot tall, 1.5 feet wide. It has a tonne of tubes and the likes that they sleep/hide in, some ropey thing they can climb on, a raised hammock, and two built in raised platforms/shelves. I don't really have an ideal location for letting them roam at the moment, but will focus on sorting a room out to be appropriate for this.
     
    #7 kaidus, Jun 30, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2009
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice