Rat Forum banner

1 - 20 of 47 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
My name is Brad, and I am a first time rat owner. I purchased a feeder rat a week ago from PetCo. My daughter named her Rita the Rat. Being that I have had her for a week i was hoping to see a difference in her behavior, but i am not. She has bit me twice (I know thats not a big deal because my finger could of smelt like food, but OUCH). She doesn't rellay want out of her cage, but i still try and get her out for interaction with me and my wife. she is not very active, i would not call it lethargic, but she doesn't seem to like to play or run on her wheel. she likes to hide in her tube or under the wheel. She will not take treats from my hand, she will only eat them if i put them down and close the cage. I am just trying to figure out if i bought a traumatized rat, or if there is something i am doing wrong. I spot clean the cage every day, and did a full clean this weekend using 1/10 diluted cleaning spray. I Feed her every day the same dry food they use at the pet store, and discard what she didn't eat every night and replace it. I also feed her carrots, grapes, and she also likes fruity cheerios, but i use the cheerios as a the treat. I try to take her out of the cage every day, except when she really doesn't seem to want to, and i don't want to force her. After all this she just is not seeming to warm up to me, I really don't want to take her back (cant stand to think of her as a snakes meal) But i really wanted a rat that would let me hold it, and sleep in my lap. I also wanted to litter train, but with her not taking treats from my hand, and not letting me pet her to show her she did something good, i dont see how i am going to get that to work. Sorry for the really long post, but there was just a lot on my mind, and i can tell by reading some of these posts your opinions would mean a lot to me
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
730 Posts
First off, welcome to the forum!

Sounds like you have a young rat who wasn't socialised much before you got her. Chances are it's because she's in a new spot and all alone. Rats do better in groups of two or more and lone rats can have more behavior issues. Many times it helps a shy rat to have a more bold cagemate as they'll follow the braver rat around and see that humans aren't all bad.

A good idea is called forced socialisation. You can do this by wearing a hooded sweater and putting her in the front pouch, while she's there rub her through the material. She'll have a safe dark spot in there and get to know your smell and touch without feeling as threatened. She should be handled about an hour a day if not more, especially where she's so nervous. I know it's a big commitment but you'll start to see results :D.

Also, store bought rat food is pretty crappy stuff and expensive to boot. What many people do is make their own mix called Subee's Mix. Instructions can be found here - http://www.ratsrule.com/diet.html. It works out to just a few dollars s month if you have 2-3 rats.

Thanks for coming on the forum and asking questions, it's great to see new owners who care so much for their rats :D.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I know they do better in groups, but my biggest fear with having 2 was being overwhelmed with the cleaning and care of having to then having to give them back or to a shelter. I figure I can get used to having a rat with one, and they only live about 3 years, and the next time i buy rats i will get 2 because i know what to expect.

Also i did try something like the hooded sweatshirt when i take her out. i use an old shirt that i dont care about and let her hide in that when i have her out, But all she wants to do is get the heck away.

I read alot on rat body language, and it seems like she is realy distressed, and i just want to make her feel more comfertable, and one of the family. Commitment to her is no issue being that i have no other pets.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
730 Posts
That's probably the biggest misconception about pet rats. Believe me, if you have a proper sized cage caring for two rats is just as easy as caring for one. it's actually downright cruel on rats to deny them the companionship of their own kind.

I just rescued a young female who had been on her own since November, and it nearly broke my heart to see the joy she had when she met my two girls.

Litter training is fairly simple, if they poop outside the litter box use a kleenex to put it where it should be. Rats by nature are very clean animals and catch on very quickly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
first i forgot to thank you for the post on the food, i will try that out.
Second would it be hard introducing a second female rat? I have only had Rita for less than a week, she shouldn't have many issues with territory.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,409 Posts
Hello Brad, welcome to the forums. :)

I would pretty much echo what reachthestars, says. A little companion for her would bring her on leaps and bounds and it really isn't any more effort to look after two than one. Keeping rats in 2 or more of the same sex groups also makes them happier, more relaxed and can prolong their lifespan.

The other thing about getting her a friend soon is it will help with introductions which, believe me, can be a pain in the backside if you wait until they are older. (I've just introduced a 4 month old to a 14 month old and it took about 2 months, all in all.)

Overall, I wouldn't worry too much about her being timid, atm. She is getting used to her new environment, new people, sounds, smells... it does take some rats a good bit of time. Try to be consistent and keep doing what you are doing. Once she realizes you are not going to hurt her, she will start to warm up to you. As Reachthestars says, forced socialization is also a good way to go.

But definitely do consider getting a (female) friend for her. If/when you do, take a little time to study the rats and see if any of them stand out to you... try to pick one that you can see has a little character and looks inquisitive. Perhaps even put your hand in there and see if any of them sniff you out.

Good luck with her, and try not to worry too much. As long as she is eating and drinking, she's most likely fine and just needs a bit of time and determination from you and your family. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
WELCOME! I know from experience that white feeder rats can be problematic due to their bad vision and they're usually not socialized,being dismissed as snake food. My sunny is a white feeder rat and acts the same way even after having her for 2 months. Your best bet is forced socialization and LOTS of treats but the best cure is usually a cage mate. After two months Sunny has made loads of progress. Just keep at the forced socialization for 30 minutes a day and she'll be loveable and fun in no time. Dont expect her to be a big cuddler, females almost never are. Soon you'll wish your rat wasn't so accustomed to you when shes grooming your eyebrows, hair and mouth whether you like it or not lol Goodluck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,409 Posts
Cayden said:
would it be hard introducing a second female rat? I have only had Rita for less than a week, she shouldn't have many issues with territory.
It should be really easy and take no time at all, at this stage. Having said that, all rats have their own personalities, so you can't really assume you can just shove a new rat in there. Rita may feel it's more her home than you think.

Any new rat that you buy should be quarantined for at least 2 weeks, preferably in a different room, in case it has any infections that can be transmitted by air.

Once you are past that stage, it is wise to put the two cages side by side for a while, to let them get used to each other's scents. Be careful not to put them close enough that they can grab each others tails through the bars.

Once they seem relaxed with that stage, you can introduce them in a neutral territory, like the bath tub. Let them interact and get used to each other. This is something that, if you decide to go ahead, you should read up on quite a bit - how rats will behave towards each other, what to expect, what it means when they do such and such. If you go into introducing rats blind, it can be very scary for you and the rats, not to mention dangerous for the rats.

Once you have them playing with each other without aggression and you are comfortable with them being together, you can put them in a cage together. This should be a cage that is new to them both, so neither one is territorial. You can use an existing cage, too; preferably the least dominant rat's cage. Be sure to thoroughly scrub it so it doesn't smell of the rat that lived there before, and rearrange the furnishings so that it feels like a new cage to both of them.

Considering you have only just got Rita, I would say you could go through this process in just over 2 weeks. Once you are past the quarantine, I would think you could introduce them in just a few days. Precaution and preparation are the key, though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
212 Posts
Kudos to you for coming on here and doing your homework - it's so nice to see owners who genuinely care about the happiness of their pets, and who only want the best for them :)

Other than that.....i say exactly what they said! And to say that Rome wasn't built in a day! Time will do a lot more than you could ever imagine - be patient and i'm sure that soon you won't even remember how scared Rita is now, i bet she'll be like a completely different rat give her a month or so.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I wanted to stick my hand in the cage to see which rat would come to me, but the lady there wouldn't let me, because if i got bit she would have to fill out paper work.. Also i like solid brown, or khaki colored rats, and i dident have alot to choose from.

Rita is a beautiful shade of brown
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
212 Posts
Hmmm...i normally look for rats that don't shy away from you when their cage...tank...whatever they are in is opened, or look for the one that is bravest and that comes out to see what's going on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,409 Posts
That sucks! I don't think I've seen pet shop owners be that uptight before!

Like Sara said, try to get as close as they will let you and just watch them for a few minutes. That's how we chose our second rat. Her character shone through, and it's really paid off; she's a proper bundle of joy. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
730 Posts
Wow, I would not go back to that petstore! When I worked for Pets Unlimited I would let interested people put their hands in the rats cages to get to know them. I've been bitten twice and never by a rat in a petstore, and I was the one to take them out of their travel cages!

I would suggest looking for a local rat rescue or a breeder for her cagemate. They're better socialised and in need of a good home.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Figured i would post a picture



Thanks everyone for your advice, and your warm welcome. I will talk it over with the family about getting a second, but at the current moment i will work on forced socialization.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,409 Posts
Very cute! :D

I don't mean to be a nag, but you should probably get something to cover those wire shelves. Wire shelves combined with rat urine can cause a nasty, and no doubt expensive, condition called bumblefoot.

A lot of people cover them with lino tiles, the sticky peel off kind, or towels and other fabrics.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
In all fairness PetCo isn't a mom & pop pet store, its a corporation, and whenever there is an incident of any kind i am sure paperwork has to be filled out. I am sure it is store policy, and she was just doing her job. And for picking one based on looks and not behavior, I know that was shallow, but i had an image in my head of what i wanted, and i am weird.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
the wire you see is a 2 lvl topper to a 10gal fish tank. the fish tank at the bottom has the proper ammount of bedding. and when i did a full cleaning i wiped down the metal part with uncented baby wipes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,409 Posts
Cayden said:
I know that was shallow, but i had an image in my head of what i wanted, and i am weird.
That's not at all weird, most of us have an idea of what we want, in our heads.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,755 Posts
Petco isn't that great a chain for getting pets at period but particularly bad fo getting rats. the rats are never socailized and more often then not sick and overcrowed on the wrong bedding. if you were using their standards as a guide as to what to feed and what to use as bedding i'd stop. the suebee's mix as mentioned before is good. as for litter do not use pine or cedar. the oils on these beddings cause respiratory problems and liver cancer. if you want to use a wood chip then aspen is the only safe one. however i find its not that great for odour control and so buy yesterdays news instead. it last twice as long and if you buy from a feed store instead half the price (i can buy a 30 lbs for 13.58 CDN at a feed store and for the same money can only get a 15lbs bag anywhere else). each bag will last me a couple of months or more and i have 7 rats.

but my main advice is to not get anymore rats from Petco. there are a few chains that a better then others but none are good to get rats from and are still at the bottom of the recommended pet store lists. if you cannot find a rescue or breeder near you then try a different store. i believe it was Vixie who had the check list to decide if a store was good enough (has a good chance of heathly animals) to buy from. its a very good check list. sje posted it on here somewhere but perhaps she'll post it again here when she reads this.

one last bit against petco then i'll drop the subject as dead. though petco is a big chain so is the one the reachthestars mentioned and they should let you touch and handle the animals. this is just one more reason why Petcos are not recommended. anyway, i'll let it rest for now.

very beautiful little girl you have there too. i have a soft spot for aqoutis after i met my chatterbox Dust. but the speckling on yours is especailly prominent. very nice coloring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,440 Posts
Hrm, I think that woman just didn't want to do her job if the rat bit you >_> They sound lazy to me D:

I think I've handled animals at petco before with no hassle. That one must just have really dumb management. If you are going big chains I think PetSmart is better. But yeah looking for a breeder would be the best bet, you would be amazed at how different they could be.

Your girl is gorgous though D:
 
1 - 20 of 47 Posts
Top