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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
After wanting a pet, I finally got myself a couple of rats.

I'm living in an apartment, so my options were a bit limited with pets. Cat or Dog: $350 one time pet fee + $350 deposit + $10/mo. extra per animal, up to two. And that's before food and such. Nope. Other options...

After lots of looking around, I decided on rats. From what I had read, they're smart, cuddly, playful, and can be taught like a dog (but with slightly different methods, of course), but my apartment complex doesn't charge all the extras mentioned above for "caged animals".

Now there was the whole issue of breeder vs. pet store. Being the slightly "want it now" person I am, I got two fancy rats from the pet store. They had four male fancy rats at the time, and the two I have picked me. Of course, I found out a little later that rats from that route are unpredictable as far as how they'll behave, but I must have gotten a good set, because it took less than a day or two (after letting them get accustomed to their new home for a couple days) for them to be willing to step just outside the cage and eat from my hand off my finger tips, and one of them would even climb up my arm for a small amount of yogurt.

They look almost identical, but I'm getting to where I can tell them apart from the front. The easiest way is from the top. Stripe almost looks like an inverted skunk. White with a dark, almost black head, with that same black color running down his back in splotches all the way to his tail. Then there's Pepper, who is the same colors but instead of a line from head to tail, he has more of a blob extending from the part where the fur would otherwise change color, and it's not broken up like Stripe's is.

I've had them for about two and a half weeks now. After a week and a half, I tried moving the cage to the spare, almost empty bedroom. It rocked their world a little bit, but they got over it quickly. I just make a point to go in there often. Trust training has been much more effective, since I have just enough stuff in the living room that Pepper would get distracted if he was more than a foot from the cage, and then I'm sure he felt like I was chasing him all the time. Now, he can roam freely in the bedroom and both of them are no longer trembling when I pick them up briefly and today Pepper was willing to eat outside the cage, as long as he felt protected. One or two times that was even in my lap, between my legs and my crotch when I was sitting with my legs crossed on the floor. They also kept wanting to crawl into my shirt, and they wouldn't have gotten nervous at all if I wasn't shaking a bit because it tickled.

And I finally got Pepper to use the rat wheel. From the day I got it, that wheel was slightly off-balance, so it always spins back to the same place when it's empty. I took advantage of this and put a small amount of yogurt on the inside on the part that always ends up at the top. He could sure smell it. He eventually figured out that if he turned the wheel, he could get to it, but then realized after letting go a few times and the yogurt spinning back to the top that if he got on it he could keep the wheel from turning. Now he'll run in it occasionally, and when I see him do that, I reward him.

And my goodness, they grow fast. I was away for a couple days and I could see the difference. I don't like leaving them, but for some reason that break sure helped the trust training (did they forget what they didn't like?). I did leave enough food such that it wouldn't be out when I got back, and sure enough, they were fine.

Bonus...they're nocturnal and I work night shift.
 

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My spouse works night shift too so I'm here all night with the ratties, they seem to really enjoy it. Welcome to the forum, and to rat parenthood.
 

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It sounds like you have two hooded rats! That's what my girlies are, and they're from a petshop too. Although they actually aren't that good with people-- Welcome to the forum! Hope you enjoy it and learn a few things while you're here!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It sounds like you have two hooded rats! That's what my girlies are, and they're from a petshop too. Although they actually aren't that good with people-- Welcome to the forum! Hope you enjoy it and learn a few things while you're here!
Ah, yes, hooded rats. I had read that somewhere and had forgotten about it.
 

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We are in the same boat with living in an apartment but id have rats even with other pets the bond is so rewarding. I love your idea to put yogurt on the wheel to get them to use it!
 
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