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I have a question about my rats!!

2604 Views 22 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Rom1993
Haay everyone! My name is Romy and I got 2 rats about 2 weeks ago..they are doing well and getting more used to me every day, however i have question about taking them out of their cage. Im a student and live in a dorm and my room is not rat proof because thats simply impossible. I have a couch though but Im worried that they will jump off and get lost somewhere under my bed. When they are completely tame and used to me that wouldnt really be a problem because I would know that they would come to me eventually..but because they arent used to me yet im scared that I wont be able to catch them anymore and only make the experience of them being out of the cage traumatizing. I know this is a long post but i would really appreciate some advice..
Thank you so so much in advance!
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Congratulations on your new rats! Yay!

On the up side, you have a small area for them to live in and so (as long as the door stays closed) their chances you not finding them if they get out is slim.

As for their tendency to run away from you, or be hard to catch, or even their tendency to jump off of will depend on their age, personalities, and how comfortable they are with you. I'm guessing you got them from a pet store and that they're pretty young still.

Baby and juvenile rats under about 5-6 months are going to be zippy and panicky little things at times. The older they get, especially males, the more laid back and slow they are.

Females will always be a bit more prone to exploring and climbing and jumping from couches no matter how old they get, but they too will tend to slow down some as they age. Also, they can be trained to come when called, or at least not run when you pick them up. :)

With me it was a matter of not chasing them, but having them out in a safe area so they could get used to me and come when they felt like it. Then I bribed them with food and luvin' until they were totally relaxed around me.

Another tip is when picking them up, don't grab the tail or try to grab them from above---painful and predatory actions. I come in close with my hands steadily from the front and sides, so they can see me coming. I scoop them up from below with one hand cupping their bum (to keep them from backing out of my grasp at the last second), and one collaring their shoulders and neck to keep them from leaping out of my grasp as I lift them to me. There's kind of an art to it, but whatever you do, don't rush it or chase them if you can help it. Much better to let them decide to come to you.

What I would do if I were you is rat proof the room before you get them out. You will save yourself so much headache.

Also, you can also block off a corner of your room for them to have free roaming. I have used hard board cut to 3 x 6 feet, or you can use cardboard or corrugated plastic or whatever else you can think of and bulldog clips so you can put it up and take it down when needed. You can store the partitions against the wall when not in use. Example:

I've written up a helpful guide for rat proofing an area for safety. Assuming you have the usual cinder-block walls common in dorms, it shouldn't be too much hassle for you.

Here's a link I wrote up on rat proofing your room:
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Thank you both sooo much!! It really is a lot of help!:) I will get some big boxes this weekend and some of those clips to keep them together and i will start building! Dobby and Panda (my rats:p) will finally be able to explore a little more! Thanks once again:)
Now that Im here i might as well ask another of my rats, panda, is very curious and already eats from my hand without problems really..but dobby is really scared and never even comes near me when i sit next to the cage..he did take food from my hand once but Panda then stole it from him and he never came back after xD any suggestions on how I should proceed to make him feel more comfertable? Usually I just put my hands near both of them with some treats on them and wait until they take it..Thanks for the help:)
Greetings Romy! Welcome to the forum. I hope you will be a regular member here. It is a great place to talk to other ratty parents. :thumbsup:

Congrats on your two new boys! You will fall in LOVE with Dobby and Panda if you have not already. Rats are simply the most incredible, intelligent and loving animals in the world. You are in for a wonderful experience with them. There is so much to learn about rats and I am sure you will learn more each day about their personalities and behaviors.

Be on the lookout for the day to come when you get nibble groomed! (When a rat has become fond of you and decides you are one of its pack, they will try to "groom" you, as they would another rat, usually on your fingernails or fingertips by gentle nibbling (this is not a biting thing at all, but a soft and affectionate gesture from the rat). Consider it a great honor to get nibble groomed or licked by one of your boys!

I would not worry at all about Dobby being shy. There always seems to be a brave adventurous rat and a shy one. It happens so often it seems! By the way, I love your rats' names. Dobby and Panda, marvelous!

Dobby will just need more time to come out of his shell and lose some of his shyness, but he may always be a bit more timid than his brother. However, it usually seems to be the case that the shy brother will follow the lead of his braver brother.

Dobby will see Panda enjoying interacting with you, taking treats from you and so forth and will learn from his brother that all is fine and he has nothing to fear from you. It just takes some time and patience, but it sounds like you are doing a great job with being gentle and taking baby steps with him. He will get to know the sound of your voice, your smell and learn that you are a safe place for him, not a scary or threatening one.

You also mentioned that Panda stole Dobby's treat. Aww, poor Dobby. His brother may very well be the big macho bratty brother, eh? Well, a good rule of thumb is that when you give treats, try to give each boy a treat at the same time. If one rat sees the other getting something, he will want the same thing right away, even trying to steal his sibling's treat to get his own share. So whenever I give my boys treats, so they they do not squabble over who got what and so forth, I give them a treat at the exact same time, one in each hand for each boy. Then they are both happy with their own treats and there is no "Hey! I want that!" stuff going on. Heh heh.

I have never personally had any issues with my boy rats trying to climb down off beds, etc, as I adopted my boys when they were babies and they naturally learned that the edges of their free play area (bed, couch, etc) were not good to go beyond. When one of them would sniff over the edge, I would just gently guide my hand alongside him to sort of steer him away from the edge. With all four of my boy ratties, it was just something my husband or I would do a few times when they were young (sort of steering them away from the edge of whatever play area we had them on) and it quickly turned into second nature for them to sort of just lose interest or just to naturally avoid getting too close to the edges of their play areas. Might not work for everyone but it has never been an issue for me.

I figure they probably end up thinking, "Hmm, I have lots of fun blankets and boxes and treats here in the middle of my playground, and there is nothing out there over the edge of my play area so I have no interest in it." Maybe? Rats, if you have not already learned from some research, are amazingly intelligent creatures. I think my boys just learned very quickly after a few initial (and very gentle) steers/nudges from my hand away from the edges of their play area that it was just not a cool place to go wandering past. It is probably a combination of factors.

Rats also have a healthy sense of self preservation and they do not tend to be the kind of critter that will go jumping off an edge of an area into unknown space and risk the possibility of falling! I know some people have had rats that just love to climb down the side of a bed but my boys have never been like that.

An open space like your bed, especially with a large towel or blanket crumpled up on it for them to crawl under and "tunnel" through is a great time for rats. They love cloth, blankets, towels and just about anything they can play under or over, and tunnel through. Always a hit. And yes, of course cardboard boxes with entry and exit doors cut out of them are always fun too.

Hope we get to see some pictures of your boys eventually! You are in the Netherlands, wow! Greetings from the U.S! :wave:
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Thank you so much for your advice and reassurance! I really appreciate it:) Today I talked to my housemates (I live in an apartment with 3 other people, we all have our own rooms but we share a kitchen and bathroom) and they have agreed to give me the little storrage room that nobody really uses. Its quite small but I think it will be great to let my rats play there so i can sit with them without being paranoid all the time :p Im considering moving their entire cage there so that they can stay there permanently (with the door open of course im not gonna lock my ratties away:)) Just so that they kinda have their own room. I think it will be better because my room is fairly small and I like to have my windows open to kinda ventilate a little..also it will be a little bit quieter for them because now everytime I drop something they jump 5 feet in the air..So Im gonna clean that area and see how that works out! I only have 1 picture of them where you can clearly see them :p However I cant upload it because my post count is under 20 or something?:( that sucks..!!:p
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Yeah, after you have 20 posts, they will let you post photos, so that will be great to look forward to!

Sounds like you are going to have a nice space for your boys where they can have a bit of quiet. Remember, rats like to be around their people, even when they are in their house, so they can see and hear you, so hopefully if you have the door open to their new room, they will still have enough interaction with you as you walk around your area.

Also make sure there is enough ventilation for them and that the room never becomes muggy or hot. Rats need plenty of ventilation and cooler temperatures, rather than hot or humid. Also make sure they are not near any heating furnaces or anything that will make them too hot? Ah listen to me, the worried ratty lady already. Heh heh. Just checking! :)
I really thought about ventilation. The room I just put them in is very small and has no radiator or other heat source so thats alright..I will always leave the door open unless Im gonna take them out of their cage and there is always people walking in and out of our house so they wont get bored easily..I will of course spent at least 1.5 hours a day sitting with them and interacting with them. I dont want my ratties to get bored or sad or something :) If it does get too hot I will simply put them back in my room, the same counts for when its too cold! Panda is being difficult right now cause I wanted to clean their cage but he hid under his bedding!! I use fleece bedding because its easy and cheap and they seem to like it..but now he chewed a hole in it and I cant reach him..I also dont wanna scare him and bite my fingers off now I just have to wait until it gets darker and he starts walking around and playing:p I will post some random stuff here and there and when I get to 20 I will post pictures of my rats and their cage/room..:) And I forgot in my last reply,,,Greetings back from the Netherlands of course!! :)
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Aww, thanks! :)

Fleece is wonderful for rats! Dust free, unlike other beddings and so good for their sensitive little respiratory systems. I use fleece and flannel fabric for my boys too. It is a very smart choice, and so cozy for them. Yay!
I moves my boys back to my room cause I felt so bad leaving them alone in the other room..I mean I knew I would be with them a couple hours a day but I still felt bad :( But now at least I have a play room I can take them to where they can walk around and explore!
Just another short question xD Omg Im new to this whole forum thing but its so easy!! haha I can ask like a thousand questions and I will get answers rats are usually sleeping in or behind their house ( to hide from me) But when I want to play or something can I just pull them out? because I read somewhere that you shouldnt go like near their house cause you might scare them and they will bite you? Any advice on this? because they rarely come to the cage door by themselves and if they do the smalles move I make causes them to run and hide again..:S
Thans in advance!!!!
Food. Food is a good solution. It will pull them from their hidey holes, and let them associate you with food-y goodness. When I first got my little ones I left them alone for a couple weeks, and I began giving them pieces of food at their cage door. Now when the door opens they rush at me like, "OMGZ SHE'S GOT FOOOODD!!"

Personally, I think you should always let them have a safe place. The only time I ever pulled a rat out of a hidey place was my old guy Rafi, and that's because him not coming out was abnormal and I was worried. Otherwise, if they've deemed some place safe, I always let them keep it safe and human-free, that's including when I play with them.
Okay! Thanks for the advice! I wont take out their house or pull them out of it..I'll just have to wait until they come to me I guess :p
Oh that is great that you moved them back in with you. :thumbsup: They will be much happier being close to you! And yes, you can still use that extra room for a good free play area for them. Perfect!

I agree with Flickering too. I have never pulled or grabbed at my rats. That just makes them start to fear "The Big Scary Hand" and letting them come to you is ideal. And yes, treats and more treats are always a big winner with ratties. They LOVE food.

(Quick side note, since we are on the topic of treats. Boy rats are not good with citrus type fruits for some reason. It can be harmful to them, so no foods like oranges, etc. I guess you can tell that there are 2,897 things to know about rats, eh? They are complex!)

Good treats that are healthy for them are always best, and try to avoid sugary items of course. Some treat ideas could be dry unsweetened type cereal, dry pasta, small bits of wheat or grain bread, bits of fruit or vegetable (but not too much or they can get diarrhea). You know, Breyer, on this forum, has a great list of A-Z fruits and vegetables that are okay for rats and also lists those that are not good for rats. I am sure she can send you the link for that list.

And another good thing for bonding with your boys is baby food, or something similar (some plain yogurt maybe?) that you can feed them on a spoon, as this will make them come to the spoon and lick off it while your hand is holding it, rather than grabbing a treat from you and running off. This also reinforces to the rats that you and your hand are a good thing...a bringer of treats and not a threat. Rats really love baby food. :)
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I never really grabbed them unless I had to clean their cage because I have to take them out then..any tips on how cleaning the cage is the least stressful for them as possible? Because I cant really avoid grabbing for them when I need to clean the cage..I tried babyfood and that worked well..I thin Im just going to continue doing that until both of them are completely comfertable with me and dont flinch or run away and hide when I move!
Thans for the advice on the food! I will keep it in mind!
You are welcome! Well, that is a good question about how to get them out without stressing them when you need to clean their cage. You may get some good advice from others on the forum about what they do.

As for me, since my boys like to come out for free play time ever day, I normally wait until they look like they are getting restless and putting their little hands up on the front door like they are saying, "Hey, we feel like maybe coming out!" and then I just bring my hands in, scoop them up with my hands under their bellies, making sure to support their back feet so they feel safe, and carry them around for a minute for scritches, rubs and kisses giving them a "Road Trip" through the house (which they love). They love to just have Mommy carry them around so they can check out the rooms and look at things from the safety of my arms. :)

Then they usually get antsy after getting walked around for sightseeing and they get excited about going into their free play area. So I set them down there, then while they are playing, I get to work on spot cleaning their house and checking their fabric for any pieces that need changing, put in fresh cold water in their water bottle, check their lab block food and so forth.

But you are right, you have a good question! For your situation, your question is excellent because how does one get ratties out of their house if they are still getting used to you and maybe a bit shy and not into a daily routine with you yet? I hope some other people here on the forum have some good tips on that. Your questions are really good and you are can be hard to take them out for a house cleaning while also wanting not to stress or scare them! Well said. :)
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I'll try my best to spend as much time as possible with them the next couple of days just so they will get more relaxed around me! I cant wait for them to walk on my shoulder and stuff..gonna be so much fun! I'll keep you all posted on the progress! Thanks again:)
You are welcome! You know, I was asking myself after I left my last comment, "Why can't I remember how I got my babies out of their house so I could clean it when I first adopted them?" And my husband and I have only had our two new boys since February, but I honestly can't remember how I handled that. I just blanked it out!

But you know, one thing you could do about cleaning their house when they are still not used to being handled by you that much is sometimes you could sort of do spot cleaning while they are still in there, as sort of a compromise. Like if they are nestled in another part of the cage, you can put your hand into another area to pick up some poops, change out a fleece or do some little things to keep their house tidy/clean...maybe?

Oh, do they have hidey boxes or places like that where they can go to have some private time, like a cardboard box or things like that? I forgot to ask. Ratties, just like other small animals, need to have a safe place to go to in their house if they need some quiet dark time or just to feel secure. They have tons of the store bought plastic igloo houses and wood huts and things like that at pet stores, but a carboard box with a few holes cut out for a door, etc also work in a pinch. Okay enough of my rambling! So many things to remember! You are doing great!
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Haha I wish I could show you a picture of the cage. I have a Critter nation so its pretty big..single level though but still..They have a wooden cabin sorta thingy, a hammock, one of those hard round plastic hammocks(I forgot the name) and plenty of extra fleece so they can hide under it if desired..I also just purchased a cage set with several hammocks and beds so I think they are set! Today when I cleaned the cage they were hiding on the top level so I took out the bottom pan and cleaned it..after I did that I waited until they went to the lower level and then cleaned the top level so it worked out okay:p Im going to find a way to make at least a tiny part of my room rat proof so that I have a place to put them once they are comfertable out of their cage..I used to put them in their traveling box thingy but Panda jumped out yesterday and it took me an hour to get him back xD But! Everyday its going mom said I was crazy for taking rats but I WILL PROVE HER WRONG!! haha :p
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