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I just got rats for the first time and they've been great so far! They haven't bitten me or my boyfriend, and seem to have no problems being held. I've only had them for about a week or 2, but I decided I want to try to litter box train them before too long. (I thought it would be easier for them to pick it up now before they're full grown) I have an old towel that I'm using for their cage, while I have a mix of bedding/rodent litter in the litter box. They seem to be picking up the idea of potty training, but they never want to come out of the cage anymore.

They're still perfectly sweet, but it seems like they run back to their cage and huddle in the towel whenever I take them out. I don't understand because they don't seem scared or unhappy, but they don't jump up for me to take them out anymore. It seems like all they want to do is sleep in their towel.

It's only been a few days since I switched them from bedding to a towel, so could it just be that they still need some time to warm up to their new cage set-up?
 

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Yay, another nearby rat person!

Congratulations on your new ratties.

As far as their new reluctance, part of it I'm sure is that they're getting more comfortable considering their cage their 'safety' zone while not yet secure with the big scary world outside.

Rats are extremely xenophobic, and will 'test' things several times before they decide things are safe.

One of my rats went through a two week long process of making sure I wasn't going to eat him. He was very sweet and gentle, he just never chose to have contact with me that I didn't initiate. I'd take them out of their cage daily, and bring them to the designated rat play area in the bathroom, then I just stretched out and read a book to them so they got used to my voice while they were allowed to explore at their leisure.

This particular little guy didn't come near me for two days. Then he wandered by close enough to give me a casual sniff on my leg. Later he went by for a slightly longer sniff. It took him the full two weeks of progressive interaction before he decided that my shirt made a good snuggle cave and was totally relaxed with me petting him at my discretion.

I've also found that my body language makes all the difference. If I'm calm, relaxed as I work with them, they relax much more quickly.

Just take them out every day to desensitize them to any lingering fear factor of being handled, and let them decide when and how much they want to try before they go to the next step of trust. Focus on positive reinforcement and rewards. Like, when you take them out, put some soy yogurt, oatmeal, baby food, or smooshed fruit on a plate for them to eat. Something they can't grab and run with, but have to lick.

And of course keep their cage in the thick of human interaction as much as possible. They get used to all the crazy sounds, smells, and movements of their people.
 
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