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What is the best way to first get to know them. I was thinking of just letting them get used to their cage for a while, then gently pet them. I don't wanna scare them and I certainly don't wanna get bit. Is bribing them with treats a good way to build trust? I don't have any rats now, is there anything I should look for in picking out rats? Besides health issues, how should their behavior be?
 

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... depending on age, their behaviour should vary. also you should leave them to get used to their cage for atleast 24 hours before trying to handle them. Imagine the stress of moving to a new home where you know no one and then being picked up by some stranger..scary stuff. Bribing them with treats ALWAYS works. Best of luck!
 

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I wait until they stop hiding from me when I approach the cage, before I started handling them. After that, I handled ours for 5 or 10 minutes to start off, then built it up. Our most recent girl... it wasn't long before she was jumping all over us before we'd finished opening the door properly :lol: Our eldest preferred to play at the entrance of the cage... finger wrestling and running onto us then darting back in and so on.

As for picking them out, I would let them pick you. Put your hand in and see which come to you naturally. Or look for two that are sticking together so you can keep them together. I think you'll know when you get there.

Like Renay says, treats are (almost) always appreciated. I have heard of some scared noobs that won't take treats for a while, but I think it's only a matter of time before you find something that's irresistible to that particular rat.

It really does vary a lot per rat, though. I'm sure you'll know what to do when the time comes, and if you don't, we're still here to listen to the specifics and help some more. :)
 

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Hm I don't know if i agree with just holding them for 5 or 10 minutes the first few times, it could prove to be more traumatic than anything in my opinion, i think the rat has to have the time to realize that nothing bad will become of its being handled. I usually take my rats out and allow them to free roam the bed, couch, or usually the bathroom and offer them plenty of treats allowing them to explore me as much as they feel necessary, I usually spend about an hour just watching and letting them crawl all over me, you have to keep in mind that rats are highly intelligent, and extremely curious, if you play on that then you can't really lose.
 

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If you are buying from a store it is always good to let the rat pick you. I know a lot of people frown on buying pet shop rats but this isn't going to stop people from doing so since it is often difficult or impossible to find local breeders.

I've brought home many ordinary ratties straight from feeder bins over the years & had them to be extremely loving & eager to interact with me right from the first moment.

If they shy away, cram themselves in a corner under as many of their cagemates as possible, then you might want to rethink selecting one of them... take a look at the ones that are curious about the strange creature peering in at them, especially the ones that sniff in your direction & don't back off when you move toward them.

Sure, it is natural for these little guys to shy away but I've noticed MANY times that there are always several in a cage at a pet store that display curiosity & eagerness to check out the human. I always start with a light tap of my ring against the glass & watch who comes to the sound.

Once you recognize which ones are curious about you then start assessing their health. This can be tricky if you don't know what to look for so before you make a spontaneous purchase, familiarize yourself with symptoms & make regular visits to the shop where you might make your purchase.

There is always a higher chance of bringing home a rat that is unhealthy or one that may not live a long life (3 yrs plus) but there are many stories of those who have taken the chance, knew the risks & have been quite pleased with the rats they have bought from pet stores.

One last thing... check to see if there is a rescue in your area before you buy from a pet store.

Breeder first
Rescue or rat that needs to be rehomed second
& Pet stores as an absolute last resort

Good luck
 

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A1APassion said:
If you are buying from a store it is always good to let the rat pick you. I know a lot of people frown on buying pet shop rats but this isn't going to stop people from doing so since it is often difficult or impossible to find local breeders.

I've brought home many ordinary ratties straight from feeder bins over the years & had them to be extremely loving & eager to interact with me right from the first moment.

If they shy away, cram themselves in a corner under as many of their cagemates as possible, then you might want to rethink selecting one of them... take a look at the ones that are curious about the strange creature peering in at them, especially the ones that sniff in your direction & don't back off when you move toward them.

Sure, it is natural for these little guys to shy away but I've noticed MANY times that there are always several in a cage at a pet store that display curiosity & eagerness to check out the human. I always start with a light tap of my ring against the glass & watch who comes to the sound.

Once you recognize which ones are curious about you then start assessing their health. This can be tricky if you don't know what to look for so before you make a spontaneous purchase, familiarize yourself with symptoms & make regular visits to the shop where you might make your purchase.

There is always a higher chance of bringing home a rat that is unhealthy or one that may not live a long life (3 yrs plus) but there are many stories of those who have taken the chance, knew the risks & have been quite pleased with the rats they have bought from pet stores.

One last thing... check to see if there is a rescue in your area before you buy from a pet store.

Breeder first
Rescue or rat that needs to be rehomed second
& Pet stores as an absolute last resort

Good luck
i like ur pics. Nice ratties. Was it 2 hairless? the white and the brown guy? The black one was pretty healthy looking! : )
 

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... i think the priorities should be rethought there a1a.. Shelters should come first, then breeder THEN pet stores... there shouldn't even be a breeder in existance in your area if there is a rescue for rats.
 

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well that depends on what you are looking for renay. morally rescues first, but if you're looking for a certain type or one that you can have some reassurance over health and temperment then a breeder would be your first choice. but you hav eto be careful with breeders as many people call themsevles breeders but at no better then getting from an accidental litter that was well home rasied (and even some are no better then getting from the pet store that doesn't handle their pets). those breeders are breeding for number or didn't do any research before planning their litter. if you're going to go the breeder route you might as well go the right way and get from a person who can trace back the lines, health issues and temperment for a few generations. otherwise just go to a rescue.
 

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Well in an area where there is a rescue, a breeder can hardly be considered good as they are contributing to the problem that the rescue is trying to solve. You have a point, that breeders are supposed to breed healthy rats blah blah blah, but chances are there are rats in the shelter from breeders anyway, and i got 3 rats from a shelter and all are in good health, saving a life is much better than condemning one in my opinion and breeding in an area where there is no demand IS condemning.
 

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Maybe I'm biased, but since I do understand wanting (hopefully established, if you REALLY want good rats) breeder rats, so I really see it like this:

Rescue/shelter OR Breeder (depending on what you are looking for)
Craigslist, Kijiji and the like
Pet store (last resort)

Also, the rat community is known for "Rat Trains" (transport), so not having a shelter/rescue nearby doesn't mean much. Most of my pet rats are from Michigan, one is from Canada. It's worth trying if you do want to rescue but don't have any rats in need nearby. We drive 2 hours to meet up with people (more if gas money is supplied), and our rescue rats have gone to Michigan, Tennessee and even Missouri which is pretty far from Ohio!

All that said, even as a rescue I don't "bash" those who purchase from pet stores. I just hope anyone who does knows they are supporting the pet store by doing so, and if the rats are from feeder tanks, that they're supporting that by opening a space for another. As long as they know that, who am I to judge? I do think, though, that if there are rats in need in your area, it's best to consider then first.

/soapbox

Anyhow! Treats are always wonderful. Some believe in forced socialization and some don't. It's a personal preference. My approach is a mix of everything... I give rats a day to experience my voice, presence and smells as I fuss in the cage, talk to them, feed them, give them treats, etc. Then I move onto having my hand nearby (unmoving), petting and picking up. Once we're there, depending on the rat [as I'm referring to rescue rats since we do not adopt rats from anyone but ourselves anymore], I attempt "hand time" for as long as they can handle it, and work our way up from there. A LOT of the rats that come in are scared out of their wits, and some have had bad experiences or suffered abuse by humans. So everything is on a case-by-case basis, seeing how they're reacting and whatnot. However, I'd say you probably wouldn't want to start off with rats like that if you're new to rats. :p So the advice everyone gave above for actually choosing your rats is great.

Wow. I talk to much. :p
 

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renay said:
Hm I don't know if i agree with just holding them for 5 or 10 minutes the first few times
I was just saying that's what I did with ours... of course, you're welcome to disagree. I just wanted to add that I don't claim that that is the best way to do it, it just worked ok for us. I did wait until they weren't scared of me before I started doing it.
 

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renay said:
... i think the priorities should be rethought there a1a.. Shelters should come first, then breeder THEN pet stores... there shouldn't even be a breeder in existence in your area if there is a rescue for rats.
Those priorities were laid out as for someone who seeks positive traits in a rat such as a well-tempered pet who is friendly. It seemed as though this was highest priority of the rat being sought when I read the post. Specific traits can not be assured through sources in rescues nor by anonymous persons how are the previous owner seeking to rehome their pet. That is why I suggested a breeder first.

Adopting a previously owned rat from craigslist or even from boards such as this where people join in order to surrender a pet do pose risks. Where did the rat come from, how well was it cared for, how old is it, how was it treated, is it socialized... the list can go on & on & on. Same can be said about shelters. Many rats from shelters have not had good lives. Many have rarely if ever been handled, some come from homes where they were poorly cared for. Some have been near bred to death & many other horrors. Very rare is it the a perfect pet owner relinquishes a perfect cared for pet that has lived life fantastic. When Adopting a previously owned animal you really should have some experience with them so that you can handle any of the worst case scenarios you could find yourself in. Once you take it home... its yours, good or bad.

Though cute & all, the little ratties stuffed in co-ed glass aquariums in pet shops where they are fortunate enough to receive a hanging water bottle & inadequate food come with risks. It is a crap shoot as to health, temperment, longevity & without additional baggage (pregnant). I have been fortunate & I have had plenty of great rats from these sources but I don't recommend this be the first choice but if you can't find a breeder, you can at least have a chance to select a "friendly pet".

It is a matter of priority of the one seeking the rats as to where they seek it & what they seek in the rat. If you can deal with all of the less than positive situations & you are prepared to do so.. great, there are so many babies out there in need of loving homes. Personally I do rescues over any source & I have done so for years but I have also have experience with many species of pets.

As Twitch pointed out... morally speaking...(I'll add this point) every "experienced" pet owner should start at a shelter, save a life but is this owner prepared for many of the "special needs" that many animals have when found in shelters.

The original poster says this:
I don't wanna scare them and I certainly don't wanna get bit. Is bribing them with treats a good way to build trust? I don't have any rats now, is there anything I should look for in picking out rats? Besides health issues, how should their behavior be?
I gather from the post that this person really doesn't have much experience with rats in general & maybe they should focus on a best case scenario rather than a worst case scenario which could turn them completely against the experience of having such a wonderful pet. Ratastic also stressed that behavior & not wishing to be bit was a big concern. If this is the top priority then getting a rat from a breeder is really the best choice. A breeder prides themselves on temperment & if there is an issue a breeder will most likely take the rat back. (this spares an pet owner the sorrow of rehoming a pet that doesn't work out) Once a pet owner gains more experience & knowledge about rats, their behaviors, their health concerns, diets, training & so forth... then they could step up & do the morally good thing by saving a life.

My reply was very well thought out. I believe my priorities were in the right place. I hope that Ratastic has a beautiful first experience with having rats & I encourage those who do have experience with them to get out there to these shelters & save a life.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well noone wants to get bit, but I'm not too worried about it. Pets sometimes bite, I had a bird for 7 years and she would still bit me every once in a while. I just don't wanna have a rat that is hostile to any attempts at contact. I highly doubt I'll have that problem, but the glass is always half empty to me. :)
 

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I got my fiona from a pet shop and i picked the one that wasnt sleeping with all the others she was sitting up cleaning herself. Idk why but i felt like i needed that one. As for getting trust. I put my hand in her cage and let her sniff without trying to pet her. if she tried or acted like she wanted to get out i'd pick her up and hold her i'd let her climb on me where ever she wanted. and put her under my shirt so she could get used to my scent.
 
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