New Baby Rats-Not Coming out of their Towels or Using Water Bottle? - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-29-2009, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy New Baby Rats-Not Coming out of their Towels or Using Water Bottle?

Hi All!
My husband and I just got two baby rats (Klausse and Wolfgang) from a local breeder and we have read all the rat books and rat articles on being patient and talking quietly to your babies when you first get them, and so forth. This is their second day with us, and the good news is that we can tell they like us as they have already started with rat kisses and grooming our hands when we put our hand in for them to smell. Little things like that.

What I am concerned about is that they seem to spend most of their time camping out under various hand towels and fabric that we put in their house and they hardly come out at all. We know they are eating and we spoon fed them a bit of baby food last night, but aside from that, they are pretty much spending 90 percent of their time staying under their towels. We were very quiet with them when we got them home, left them alone to get used to things, no loud music, we don't have kids or other pets or anything, so their intro to our house was very stress free and they do come from a good breeder who socialized them (they are 6 weeks old).

So, are we being TOO timid about taking them out and hand holding them to get them used to us? We just hate to invade their space and take them out if they are staying under the towels. We don't want to scare them, but it seems unusual for them to spend so much time under towels and not coming out much. And they are not sick, no symptoms, no sneezing, and they look super healthy and we have seen them grooming themselves and wrestling a bit and all the normal things rats do.

One other weird thing: They are not drinking out of their water bottle which is down low so they can reach it and I tested it several times and it works fine, but they have not seemed to figure out how to use the water bottle for some reason? I can tell they have not used it because the water line is still the same as it was yesterday when I brought them home.) I knew they must be thirsty so I put a bit of water in a small bowl and they got drinks from it but they have to figure out how to use the water bottle sooner or later. Has anyone ever had any situations similar to this with their new baby rats? Thanks so much!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-29-2009, 03:58 PM
 
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My baby mouse does that too, not the water part, she's too young to drink water. =P From what I've researched and experienced, mice and rats like to burrow. Wild ones dig tunnels, and my mouse burrows under towels when I give them to her. They could be burrowing for warmth, too. Are they cold when you touch them?
Some animals take longer to learn how to use a water bottle, too. One of the three rabbits I've had didn't learn, I gave her water bowls instead. Maybe you could google it and see if it's possible to train a rat to drink from a water bottle?
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-29-2009, 04:01 PM
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Hi! I'm in the same process as you right now--just got my two guys four days ago. I don't think you should worry about being quiet around them. In fact, it might help for them to get used to the regular noises around the house. Many people suggest putting the cage in a frequently used area so the rats can get used to you as well as your noises--and also get a little entertainment!

As far as handling them is concerned, I wouldn't worry about bothering them. If they are sleeping and you haven't held them for a few hours or longer, you can still open their cage, put your hand in and offer them some treats. They'll wake up and come over for the food, then you can more easily coax them out of the cage. The more time you spend with them (and actually in some sort of physical contact with them) the faster they'll get used to you and want to come out and play.

I was also a bit worried about my guys not knowing where their water bottle was or how to use it, so while they were awake and roaming around their cage on their first day home, I used my finger to get water from the water bottle. They heard the sound in their cage and ran over to check it out, and have been drinking from it ever since. Maybe you could try this to see if your rats will react to it as well.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-29-2009, 04:56 PM
 
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I have a young boy that age! Aren't they the cutest, with their big heads? To get them used to you faster, exchange those towels with shirts of yours that you don't mind being nibbled on - that way they'll smell you while they feel safe in their cage. I've done that with boy my boys.

But you're doing very good! Do they poke their heads out or run to the door if you're near or talk to them? Since they're licking on you and seem to have accepted you, it's time to try to give them playtime and to get them to bond even more to you.

For my younger rattys, I don't prefer the bed as playtime, just because there's a lot of places they can go and I can't grab them (and I have cats). So if you can, clear a table, put down a towel, and put lots of stuff on there for them to explore. My boys love it! Give them lots of special treats when they're out, so they start to think, "hey if we let mommy take us out, we get to explore AND get yum-yums!!"

You could even play with them. Gently tickle/rub/scritch the nape of their neck - that's how little boys play. You can also gently grab them, lay them in the palm of your hand on their back, and tickle them! Rats actually laugh, even though we can't hear them! If they bounce around and run away then back, that means they want to play more!

Of course, if you pick them up and they squeak, that's normal. Also, while they're playing, talk to them. If they're a bit too nervous to play with you, just give them treats and keep your hands where they can smell you.

Good luck! Be sure to update us!!

Edit/ As for the water bottle, I think it's just because they're young. They'll learn! I keep a tub of water in my boys cage, along with a water bottle. They use both, but the tub also gives them something to play in.

Last edited by Khodieylia; 08-29-2009 at 05:00 PM.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-29-2009, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Not Coming out of Towels-Breakthrough on 2nd Day!

Hi all and thank you SO much for the great replies! Well, of course as soon as I sent my message out, within about an hour, we had a great breakthrough with our baby rats, Klausse and Wolfgang.
I finally took some initiative and while spoon feeding them some Gerber Baby Peas (which they LOVE) I gently scooped up one of the babies and put him against my chest and walked around with him for a minute and he just loved it. He nibbled and groomed me and snuggled up against me and when I put him back a few minutes later, his brother wanted a turn and after that, my husband and I could not put them back in the cage without them clinging on us and saying, "No, we want more time with you!"

So it was super and you were right, they just needed to know that they are safe with us and that it is fun to be outside with Mom and Dad. My husband and I even tried giving treats to them while they were crawling on us but they ignored the treats..probably way too excited about the new experience of playing on us outside the ratty house.

And, right after we put them back in their house, they both took a turn at the water bottle and my husband and I were relieved! They just needed 24 hours to get used to things and to come out for the first time and to figure out the water bottle. I also tapped it with my finger and showed them the water on my fingertip, so maybe that helped. I am soooo relieved. They are both now running around and looking frisky and happy.

They still love sleeping under cloth and towels but now I know that they just like hiding and sleeping in it, not because they are nervous. Whew! We are brand new rat parents so we are tending to be worry worts I suppose.

I think everything will be just fine! Thanks all and I will post pictures soon! A great forum and I love the support! And thanks for the tips, I will use them all!
Hugs,
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-29-2009, 08:00 PM
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CANNOT wait for pictures!!!!!!!!


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-29-2009, 09:55 PM
 
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YES! Pictures are always, always, always welcome!

Glad to hear everything's fine and dandy! Enjoy your new babies and all the love they give!
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-29-2009, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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Playpen for Ratty Babies-Kid's Plastic Swimming Pool

Hi again!
I promise to get pictures taken soon!
As for a suggestion someone had about playtime on a table with the baby boys, we did see a great suggestion in one of our rat books and we bought a child's plastic swimming pool, about 4 feet in diameter and we are going to put towels or bedding down on the bottom and we found some great toys like Fisher Price schools, and so forth, at thrift stores that we just disinfected with a good antibacterial soap and lots of hot water so we can put some toys in there for the boys, a running wheel, some boxes and oatmeal cylinder containers and let them run wild and play, while still in a limited play space, while they are still learning their names. Sounds fun eh!
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-30-2009, 09:57 AM
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That's great!! I'm glad things are going well now! The swimming pool sounds like a lot of fun, too--just be sure that you know where they are so they don't jump out if you don't want them to...mine have actually jumped out of the bathtub!!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-30-2009, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Yep, people should always supervise when the babies are playing, agreed, and believe it or not, for their first foray into the pool playground, they were more interested in climbing up to get to Mom and Dad and be held than in playing with the toys. That made us feel good.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-31-2009, 06:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vladina View Post
Yep, people should always supervise when the babies are playing, agreed, and believe it or not, for their first foray into the pool playground, they were more interested in climbing up to get to Mom and Dad and be held than in playing with the toys. That made us feel good.
Haha awwww, my little boy's like that also. He'll crawl up onto me a few moments, then scramble back down...then right back up! I think I'm just a big jungle gym with hair for him.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-31-2009, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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Oh yes, I have discovered that very quickly! I have very long layered hair and Wolfgang in particular, our baby agouti, LOVES to go roaming through my hair, grooming it and whatever else he does in there. I just love it!
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