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About 2 1/2 weeks ago my husband found a one-week-old roof rat (next to its deceased mother, there were no other babies) and brought it home. His eyes were still closed and he weighed only 11 grams. We've managed to successfully raise the little guy on formula (we call him Remy), he is now about 3 1/2 weeks old and has begun to wean himself. Since last night he no longer wants to sit in my hand to feed, though he'll still lap formula from the palm of my hand or lick bits of smooshed cooked egg yolk from my fingertip. Otherwise he just wants to run run run, jump, climb, hide. He doesn't really want to play "wrestle" with my fingers anymore and won't let me groom him or toilet him. I'm spending at least 3 1/2 hours a day socializing with him. We're trying to decide if it would be best to let Remy "go wild" and stop handling him altogether, or if he really has no chance of survival in the wild because he wasn't brought up by rats and so we should keep him. If the latter, we need to get him a companion (female) very soon. I've read/heard that a roof rat won't accept a domestic rat companion if you wait until six weeks of age. So I feel like we're really under the gun to make a decision since Remy is between three and four weeks old now. I'm hoping to find some folks with roof rat experience on this forum to help us decide what to do with Remy. If it's best to release him to the wild, we will, even if it'll break my heart... :(
 

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Roof rats are uncommon in the fancy, but we have a few roof rat parents here. Off hand I'm thinking of gotchea who raised Wilder to be a true shoulder rat that traveled with her for quite some time before moving out of her house and back into her barn as an adult... Last we spoke, Wilder still visited gotchea at night through her open bed room window, but wasn't staying for breakfast.

I know there are a few other roof rat parents here, some with mixed type rat families, and yes it's likely true that roofies have to be very young to bond with very young Norway rats, mostly because wild brown rats eat roof rats.

Roofies tend to need more room to climb and play than brown rats, but they do bond well with humans. They also tend to need a more varied diet than brown rats to stay healthy.

Use the search function to check the old threads... there's a lot of information there. I've had a part wild brown rat and corresponded with some folks who have had roof rats, so I might be able to help a little when it comes to training and behavior if you can't get someone that's actually raised one to help.

Roof rats were among the first to live with humans. Most likely they were the rat familiars of witches (old ladies with pet rats in the 1700's). I don't think that any rat does well in 'captivity' but both brown and black rats can become good family members in a mixed human and rat family. If you think about it wild rats often move into houses otherwise occupied by humans... And returning a rat to the wild isn't like releasing a lion into the jungle. Your roof rat most likely has all of the innate skills to live on his own, but will very likely be just as happy to live with a loving human family. You do have a choice when Remy gets older.

If you feel you can give Remy the love and care he deserves, I think you may have a friend for life... if you can't, chances are Remy will be fine on his own. Our part wild brown rat lived outdoors on her own for a whole summer... it turned out she was actually sneaking into other people's houses and stealing their dog's food... but that's what wild rats do. Being raised by humans made our part wild rat more adapted to the 'wilds' of suburbia rather than handicapped. And no, not to worry, wild rats don't ever trust humans, other than their immediate human family so that wouldn't be a problem if you choose to release Remy.

So there's likely no moral or ethical consideration either way, roof rats aren't an endangered or native species, the decision whether to keep Remy is up to your willingness to love and care for him and give him a good life as part of your family.

I think it's great that you rescued Remy and from your post I tend to think you may be at the beginning of a beautiful friendship... Remember all wild type rats need lots of handling and interaction when they are young to become good family members and properly bonded... Sometimes they react a little strongly because they are wired for fight of flight but interaction and patience will overcome most of the little tweaky personality traits common to wild rat.

One last thought... our part wild rat didn't like strangers and tore up a neighbor who tried to grab her when we weren't around.... Although a rat that you have raised will love you and probably never bite you or her human family, be careful around people Remy doesn't know. Properly raised wild rats usually become sweet, loving and friendly to their human family members, but they rarely become docile...

I wish you and Remy the very best and look forward to reading about your upcoming adventures.
 

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Not to sound harsh, it was very sweet that you helped him but I would release him. He is a wild animal. He belongs in the wild. I do not feel it is fair to him to keep him. He has lots of bred natural instincts and will likely be fine in the wild once released.

He may also carry a whole host of diseases which you definitely shouldn't expose another rat to IMO.

You could try contacting a wildlife rescue and see what they say....

If you want a pet rat I suggest getting a domesticated fancy rat. And letting this boy be happy & free.
 
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