Do you have any suggestions for how to make him less scared?
Originally Posted by Fu-Inle
With my timid rats, I wear comfy (heavy, old) clothes and put on an old robe over them, tying the belt nice and tight, but with lots of loose space above the belt. Then I stuff them in my robe and let them chill. They're usually too scared to come out much, so they spend lots of time getting used to my smell and warmth and heartbeat n stuff. All 3 of my girls got super friendly in no time. I'd try that with the timid guy. Maybe throw some of his favorite treats in with him when he's ready.
For the aggressive guy, I'd try the immersion therapy from the sticky. While wearing heavy gloves and stuff. I know you don't like forced attention... but at a certain point I think they need the lesson. Another rat wouldn't respect his wants if he was attackig them. They'd pin him and tell him to cut it out.
I have 4 females, and one of my girls is a mean girl. She was attacking me as soon as I put my hand into the cage. I kind of figured it wasn't out of fear because I have a very large cage and I could be on a totally different level as far away from her as could be and she would intentionally come after me and attack me. I've never had to get stitches thankfully, but some of the bites were pretty nasty.
I decided to use the forced technique with my trusty robe. I had a heck of a time getting her out of the cage, so I got a towel and threw it over her then scooped her up in the towel, kept her wrapped up and transferred her into my robe, then removed the towel. I zipped the robe up almost the whole way and went about my business for about 2 hours a go. After two days of doing that twice a day, I could then go right up to the cage with my robe on and invite her in, and she would crawl right in ... didn't even have to pick her up. Lol. Also, to get her back into the cage at first I would just open the cage and open the robe to the cage door and she would return to her cage without me having to pick her up. I would definitely recommend you trying that with your mean boy.
Also, just a thought ... but I've read that some ratties are very territorial of their cage and some groups of ratties actually have one rat that is basically the designated guardian of the home .. kind of like an attack dog or in this case attack rat. Well, since you've been keeping your cage in the bathroom, and you do have a lot of free range time .. therefore he is out of the cage quite a bit .. plus idk about you but my bathroom isn't that big of a space .. I think that he may feel he has to protect the entire bathroom instead of just his cage because maybe to him, the entire bathroom is his home and his cage is just his hideaway area. Kind of like normally the entire cage is their home but their little igloo or box or whatnot is their hideaway area.
Also with the territorial guardian rattie, the bigger the area he has to protect, the more stressed out he will become and the more stressed out he becomes, the more likely he will be to bite.
Now since you go into the bathroom .. aka his cage in this example, you are technically going into his home uninvited and so he attacks you. I really think that that might be what is what is going on with your mean boy. Can you rig up some other area of your house for a session of free range time and see if he acts the same way in a different area of your home? That way you are not invading what he feels like is HIS space... I would definitely try that out and see if he acts any differently. And stop using your bathroom all together for play time for a while and maybe try covering the back part of their cage too so if he is being the watchdog, his stress level may go down if he doesn't have to guard the whole bathroom if you quit letting them out for playtime in there, and also he won't have to guard 360 degrees around his cage because the back will be covered. That may greatly reduce his stress level if this is indeed his problem .. which will also help cause less attacks on you.
Now I know you have a heck of a time even getting him out of the cage and that's why it's in the bathroom in the first place, but you have to find a way to get him out of there and take him into a different play area. I would use an entire bath towel and toss it right over him and scoop him up in the towel and make sure he is wrapped up real good to get him out. Heck even put on gloves even though you are using the whole towel to add another layer of protection.
As far as you cry baby (lol), I've never had one that cried that much, but I had an older rattie that I adopted that would cry a bit every time I picked her up. But once I had her with me she was ok. I would maybe try the towel to get him out as well and the robe technique with him also. Just do not do both boys at the same time! Lol. But if your lil guy is crying to get what he wants then maybe it's time you make him do things anyways. Try the robe thingy with him a couple times a day for a good amount of time. Make him have to snuggle with you for a while instead of his cage mate since you said the snuggling calms him down. Maybe the other rattie is stressing him out too much and he whines until the other one calms down and cuddles with him. Idk. It could be a lot of things, but maybe the little guy who cries a lot might really learn to love some time alone time somewhere nice and warm and safe with you .. and the robe is the perfect place for him to get that. Just cart him around for a couple hours and talk to him and rub him through the robe where he is hanging out even if he cries the whole time. As long as he isn't in pain that is.
I'm definitely no expert and I'm sorry if this seems to be like I'm a no it all or something because I am definitely NOT! Lmao. I just feel so bad for you and I spent some time really thinking of some stuff to suggest for you to try out because you seem to be doing everything you can think of and trying so hard to no avail. I couldn't imagine what I would've done if my girl didn't ever change her attack attitude and I tried everything. It has to be more than frustrating! Please let me know if you try any of this stuff and if so how it works out. I hope you keep us updated because I really hope something works soon for you and your little guys!!!!! Good Luck
Oh, and I'm sorry for the run on paragraph at the end there in my last post. It's 4am and I'm obviously not that good at writing anything on no sleep. Lolol.
Hi there. I think from your description that your rat is sick or in pain. Rats are not "vocal" in the muttering way that you describe. As I understand it, they squeak, peep, or shriek in response to play wrestling/grooming and pain. They brux (click their teeth) when stressed OR happy. They hiss. And they make some other noises outside the frequency range that can be heard by human ears. Other vocalizations: mutters, warbles, etc... are typically resulting from respiratory issues of some kind. It's not vocalizing stemming from vocal chords. It can get worse when the rat is stressed or upset because their breathing changes. And it can get better when the rat gets what he wants because he's more calm then.
Originally Posted by Gwenfaire
Hi, thank you for taking so much time to reply, it is so appreciated. I think it is definitely time to invest in a robe!
Originally Posted by RattyMomma1
My bathroom is relatively big. Unfortunately I'm a bit confined for space, I'm a student and I live with 3 other people. The downstairs is open plan with lots of places they could get into the walls (my housemate lost her pet snake that way so I feel a bit paranoid!) I have the en-suite which is reasonable big with a fair amount of floor space. My bedroom is literally a desk, bed and built in wardrobe so there no room for the cage to even be on the floor (I like to let them climb out themselves at the moment, I don't want them being scared of a giant hand invading there home.) I said in an earlier comment that I have a relatively severe whiplash injury so I'm unable to carry their cage around (hence why they got moved into the bathroom.) However, that does totally make sense as to why he would be so aggressive. Maybe I could invest in a puppy pen type thing and take over the living room for a bit. They do have a cat basket (they travel between uni and home with me) which they happily go into so maybe that would be a good way to get them downstairs. I do have a nice thick pair of gloves which I use when I have to pick them up.
Ignatius (bully) does often push Templeton (cry baby) around and sometimes I have woken up to him crying only to find he's being pushed off their rope balcony or actually pinned against the wall. I hate it and always go and split them up but I don't really know how to stop it long term.
I will go into town tomorrow and by a robe and get back to you on how it goes!
Thank you again! x
I did phone a vet (with whom I have a very good relationship thanks to my hamster having long term health problems and needing several experimental operations) and after describing the problems she said she doubts it is a health problem. However, once they are able to be handled (and given medicine if necessary) I will be taking them both for a check up which I like to do with any new pet. For now this is just unrealistic, no one has successfully handled Templeton, who is the vocal one, and I wouldn't be able to give him medicine without mixing it in baby food, which I then wouldn't be able to stop the other one eating (I unfortunately don't have another cage and can't really afford to doll out another £80 in order to separate them.) Hopefully I will be able to get them there within a month!
Originally Posted by Ratologist
Originally Posted by Gwenfaire
I know you haven't been picking them up and just opening the cage so they can get out, but that may be another reason that they aren't moving that far along with the whole trust thing also. I know you shouldn't force yourself on them because that could mess up the trust training, but on the other hand you have to pick them up and handle them so they know that nothing bad is gonna happen to them when they're with you. Also that might help you with the whole dominating thing. Like ... I'm the boss of you, I'm picking you up .. and you're going to deal with it. Lololol!!! But as far as getting the barricade thing, that is a great idea!! That's how I do it too. I have my bedroom set up where I blocked off a corner of my room with two old closet doors, and I just take them in there for playtime.
I think you should take them out and use the carrier to get them to the living room if you can make a playpen in there for them. Just put your gloves on and cover him with a towel and then scoop him up and wrap the towel around him to get him to the carrier. But I really think you should definitely try to start picking them up. I think it's fine to keep their cage in the bathroom as long as you take them someplace else for playtime. And maybe cover up the back of the cage so they feel a little more secure in case your mean boy is the cage guarding type. That will help with his stress level I think.
And I'm so excited to hear what happens with the robe! It's my favorite thing to do with my girls. And they love it so much. Idk why either. There's nothing to explore in there, it doesn't look like it would be any fun .. but they love it. They actually dive in when I come up to the cage with it on. And they spend so much time in there. I personally don't understand their fascination with it, but they can't get enough!
Definitely let us know how it goes with your boys! And I personally can't wait to hear about how they respond to the robe. Lolol!!! Good Luck!