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Some advice please for a new rat owner!

3484 Views 18 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  wickedlyspiced
Hi all. I got myself 2 female rats yesterday (Saturday) from a pet shop due to lack of breeders in my area and with it, bought a multi tier cage and many accessories.

For some reason, they seem totally scared by the ground level! The ground level has a house with bedding, a tube and a sawdust type floor covering. The middle level has a tube and the top level has a hammock. They tend to spend most of their time in the middle level tube or the hammock.

I put some food on the ground level to encourage them and they will go to the ramp and sniff, but then they seem to freak themselves out and run back up to their hammock. I put their food bowl down there for a while so I could see what they do, and they're going down to get some food, and as soon as they do, they sprint back to the hammock and hoard it.

Due to the design of my cage, the best place for me to start letting them out for handling and taming, is on the ground floor :confused:

Is this just normal "new surroundings" behaviour? Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
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What kind of bedding is it? Sawdust dosn't sound good, unless maybe it's aspen. Any soft wood bedding i.e. pine cedar is harmful too them. Most likely tho' they are just getting used to their new surroundings. What are you feeding them? And of course WHERE"S THE PICS?? Don't ya know we are cute rattie pic junkies around here? LOL Good luck with your new girls!
I'm not sure exactly what the bedding is, it's from the pet shop and it said suitable for rats, but I'll double check exactly what it is when I get home from work later. At the moment they've got a rat food mix, also from the pet shop, but I have given them some cucumber, carrot and cabbage from my hand as treats (and bribery!) and I put some of that down there and they still won't really go down. They creep down, grab the food and then race back to the safety of their hammock! Lol. I'll get some pics up ASAP :)
Funny thing is pet shops say alot of things are "suitable for rats" and they arn't. Usually to them it's all about the money. Can you read the bag and find out what kind of shavings they are? Also there's a good chance the rat food they suggested is not suitable either. Sorry to say it, it's not your fault, you did the right thing by coming here and asking questions! Most prepackaged foods are not nutritionaly stable enough for rats and could contain harmful additives or preservatives. Please read through this link it is a great "getting started" guide for new rat owners. It contains info on bedding, housing, food, ect.
Hope this helps, enjoy your new girls!
oh and here's a good mix I use my own variation of it.
it does sound like what your doing is fine, your rats might have neophobia which is when they are scared of completely new things, however it most likely is just them getting used to their new surroundings. My rat Rayray had neophobia of the exercise ball and just froze when in it, but now I understand that a ball is not the greatest idea for ratties. Congrats on the new ratties anyway, you'll have tons of fun!!
Oh thye are beeyootifull!! Congrats on your new cutie pies! LOVE the names btw.
Awwww your ratties are soo cute! I'm still not sure about the bedding, but I do recommend you cover those wire floorings with something as your rats could get ulcerative pododermatitis or, in other words bumble foot lol!
Yeah I've read about that, I'm going to get some lino covering to put down ASAP. Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate it :)
any time! I love your PEW girls they are so gorgeous!
congrats on the new ratties they're adorable!! you sound like you got this handled well. just check your bedding when you get home. no matter what pet stores say is "safe for rats", pine adn cedar is a bad idea. for them it's the almighty dollar. aspen is a great and affordable wood bedding that i use. but i like the wood :) some like carefresh or yesterday's news, but i'm a wood girl lol. i'm sure they're just exploring still and that's why they're nervous, give them a week and they'll be down there stirring stuff up lol
I definitely see what you all mean about the pet shops. They recommended the cage to me for 2 rats, saying nothing about the flooring. Luckily I've been reading a lot on how to look after them and found it out for myself. Surely they shouldn't be allowed to market products as suitable for certain animals when they're proven not to be?! I'm definitely glad to have found this place though, as advice from other owners is usually the best advice I think anyway!
Just one more question! Lol. My girls seem pretty confident now, when I open the cage to give them some treats they come up to my hand looking and sniffing for them. So I think they're settling in quite well. I want to try leaving the cage open this evening to see if they'll come out and come over to me. Only problem is, the only place in my flat that is anywhere near rat proofed is the hallway, and they currently reside in my lounge. So am I going to be doing more harm than good by moving their cage into another unfamiliar place? I don't really want to scare them or stress them out too much because they seem to be doing quite well! Thanks :)
well until they get used to their new freerange area, if its not a problem, then move their cage there and back again, then once they've gotten used to their freerange area and confident, leave their cage where it is and just put them on the floor in the hallway. But if that is a problem, I would wait until they have your trust- which they sound like they do and used to being handled on a regular basis until you move their cage. :)
By the way an update on the first question I asked, the floor covering they gave me was pine. So I'm very glad I did my own research! I'm going to get something different on my way home from work today. Also, I got some lino tiles to cover the mesh floor in the cage, so that's my little DIY project for the weekend :)
perfect! no pine! gah it gives ratties the sneezies galore!! lino is great for the floors, easy to wipe. i'm a newspaper girl, i get them for free :) hehe
Oh good, I'm glad you found this forum! I personally use carefresh. Anywho it's not all that hard to ratproof a room. My room is hardly rat proofed. I just make sure ther is nowhere for them to escape and I don't leave them unsupervised so it's not a huge issue. However if you do move the cage it shouldn't be a big deal. The cage is really their home and that will be where they are mostly so it shouldn't really matter.
I bought Carefresh yesterday and changed it over. I did it in the hallway and left the cage open whilst I was doing it and they didn't seem so scared this time. They came out quite quickly and ventured further and even came up and had a sniff around my hands and legs :) They were still jumpy, but it's early days yet! Oh and thanks for the link to the food mix you make SugarLovesRats, they're crazy about it, and they're also crazy for grapes (they peel the skin off and eat the middle, so cute!)
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