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Hello! So my roommate had a lapse of judgement and decided he needed some rats. He's had them for about half a year now. He's not the greatest pet owner, however. He likes to grab them and force them into interactions and that's when he pays attention to them at all. Most of the time he doesn't take care of them at all. I LOVE rats and i always wanted some so i've basically taken over their care. They are two boys, medium sized rats and i'm not sure how old they are as they were purchased from petsmart. They are both so skiddish and love to nip through the bars of their cage. They don't seem to want to wander when i have 'rat proofed' the living room so they can come out and play. they just seem so scared of everything and it hurts my heart because i just want to give them a good life. How can i get these two used to human contact that isn't rough or neglectful? They'll very occasionally let me scratch their ear or back but then they scurry off to their hut where they are alone with eachother.

I've also been trying to feed them yummy food that doesn't come out of a bag. what are the best rat meals you can prepare?

Please help!
 

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Rats can eat many of the foods we eat so sharing meals can work. Just look up rat safe unsafe foods.

As to socializing them, try immersion. Once they're social, just work on showing them what to explore with toys or treats or yourself.
 

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Are they being fed a commercial lab block as well? For additional meals (besides quality kibble and/or lab block), I feed my rats a small meal morning and evening. Here's a link to what I feed my rats: http://aboutpetrats.com/nutrition/a-typical-days-diet

I also have a blog post on helping rats feel more at home both with you and while being out of their cage: http://aboutpetrats.com/transforming-your-rat-from-shy-to-social-butterfly.html. This method has always worked well for me. The main thing to remember is the process is gradual.....they're not going to become social butterflies in one day. However, if you do a little each day with them and build on their successes, you'll be excited to see how much they grow into their personalities and enjoy their lives much more fully!

That's so wonderful you've "taken over" your roommate's pet rats since he's not giving them the love and care they need! How cool that you always wanted rats anyways, too!
 

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Rats are learning animals, they learn to cope with neglect by becoming reclusive... They don't expect anything from you so they react appropriately. I adopted a life long neglected rat once and she kept pretty much to herself for most of her life... She would eventually play for a little while, but it seemed like she didn't trust that the good times would continue and was always ready to slink off and keep to herself. She lived in the pantry and there were days we didn't even see her although she usually came out once a day to eat and interact with us for a few minutes before slinking off again.

By getting on the floor and playing and interacting with you rats you have to change the rules, let them know you are a friend and you are there for them when they want you, some rats will come out of their shell, other's unfortunately will always stay a bit withdrawn, to a large degree it depends on their personality. But if you don't make it understandable to them that the rules have changed they won't change either.

Lastly as far as treats go, rats can eat about everything and love the things you love too. My wife is rat phobic, and the rats will actually chase her around the house if she's holding a pecan pie... Some rats aren't very food motivated, other's are, but most will find a favorite food they love and will go out of their comfort zone to get it.

Many of rats favorite foods aren't good for them, same is true of humans, but just like humans a little bit of a bad thing doesn't do much harm and can be a good trade off in making friends with your rats... Sure I'd prefer my rats eat healthy green foods, but mostly if I want my rats to get really enthusiastic I treat them to various small amounts of pastries or sweets to get their attention and cooperation.

Keep in mind there's a difference between small treats and a bad overall diet. A pecan from a pecan pie is a good treat, but a pecan pie is a really lousy dinner for a rat.

Best luck and start changing the rules... You will be impressed how far your rats can go and how quickly they will 'evolve' once they begin to understand you better.
 
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