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Hello,

My name is Taylor and I am a new rat owner! My Dad is a vet and I am currently in school at University of Florida to become a vet as well (applying this fall). I love most animals way more than normal people and have always wanted to own small animal pets. I currently own two female gerbils (Luna and Lilith) and as of last week I acquired three 8 week old female rats (Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup). How I ended up with them is actually a pretty bizarre story that I thought yall might be interested in.....About 2 weeks before Christmas, I decided to go to Petsmart and buy a rat because everyone in my family refused to get me one for Christmas. Somehow I got talked into buying a 4 month old male feeder rat (about the size for feeding a python) who had never been handled before (dont ask me why I was so stupid). I also ended up buying about 200 dollars worth of cage materials and etc for him too. I let him get used to his environment before I began to socialize him and attempted everything I could to get him used to me without being too aggressive.......long story short by January 20th I still could not even touch him (named Alphonse) and he would attack me for no reason. After being bit (to the bone) over 13 times, I was getting pretty sick of him, I had never seen such an aggressive rat. He wouldn't hiss or act scared, he was at this point biting me for pure enjoyment. I ended up calling it quits last week and tried to find him a place to go, because the last straw was when I went to feed him and he ran out of his hunt unprovoked and bit me straight though the side of my hand and would not let go ( I had to give myself stitches). After calling many local pet stores (could not find any breeders) my only option ended up having to put him to sleep. Unfortunately, Petsmart refused to take him or even see him because he was so aggressive...which is bullshit because I know how they euthanize rats and they dont even have to touch them. I ended up taking him to a reptile house because they were nice enough to take him as a feeder rat again (which made me feel bad but I didnt have a choice). After talking to the women in the store for awhile, they were nice enough to trade me 3 babies for Alphonse since I'd had such and awful time with him and still wanted to own rats. Anyways, that's how I ended up with the sweetest trio of rats. Two are sisters (Blossom and Bubbles) and one is from another litter (Buttercup). Bubbles and Blossom are both doing great and even come to the side of the cage and crawl in my hands, Buttercup is still timid and runs when I open the cage door, but I am sure she will start coming around eventually. I love them so much.

Thanks for reading my story and I'm very excited to become more involved in the rat communities online.
 

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First of all, I'm saddened you had such a rough start with rats. I've worked with several people to fix screwed up rats and it isn't easy. There are some folks that are pretty good at it and a very, very certain few actually seem to take challenging rats in on purpose. But to be entirely honest, that's not where a new rat owner should start. Every first time rat owner should start out with friendly, curious and sweet rats before they take on a rat with issues.

I wrote the immersion guide stickied in the rat behavior section here, to help people in better socializing their rats.. although it also addresses problem rats like Alphonse, for the most part just concern yourself with the sections on normal rats for now. The bonding experience should be both fun and rewarding for both you and your new best furry friends.

Best luck.
 

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Thanks for the info and I wish I could have found someone to take him, but there is only one breeder I could find here in Gainesville, FL and she never returned my emails or facebook messages. I should have returned him after the first week, but I had too much hope he would get better. Thank you for the info on the immersion guide.

Also, as a side note, even though it worked out good for me, I am a little peeved with Petsmart for not being willing to euthanize or take him....it would have been much better than being eaten by a python.....and I am now certain that the Petsmart I bought him from abused him. I called the place back today (because a few of my dads clients work there and I was getting updates on one of their dogs) and she told me that the girl who normally cared for the feeder rats got fired for harming a rat after it nipped her (not the first time from what I understand). I used to have a tiny amount of faith in Petsmart and now thats just gone.
 

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Yep euthanizing him would have been better for him. However, another rat would have taken his place instead...being constricted by a snake, as bad as it sounds, is better than what many people do with feeder mice and rats that is to freeze them alive. I hope it is not what happened to yours. Be that a lesson to never buy a rat at a pet store ever again. You had no choice, and did your best to help Alphonse.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The python killed him, I watched to learn about how it happens. I've defiantly learned my lesson with pet stores, I shouldn't be surprised by the abuse stories I hear anymore....but I still am. Thank you btw.
 

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I've been to a few different "big box chain pet shops" some are better than others, but small animals aren't really a profit center, they are the way the stores get to sell cages and supplies and food which does make them money. They are overall a low priority in the scheme of things.

One night we took our rats out for a walk and we ran across a yard party down the street and the folks came out to meet our rats. Someone called out a lady who was the department manager of a distant "big box pet shop" and she was absolutely charming, and pretty well educated when it came to rats. She insisted that her store works to socialize their rats and gives them the best care... I suppose I believed her by the way she responded to our girls. She had never seen a true shoulder rat, much less two at once, but she didn't seem surprised unlike the staff at my local big box chain store, where I pretty much floored the staff when we walked in with our rat on shoulder or walked her at heel up and down the isles...

Our most amazing true shoulder rat came from a feeder bin. In fact there are lots of wonderful and sweet rats in pet shops and feeder bins. But you have to insist in meeting the rat before you take it home. A rat from a reputable breeder that has already been partially socialized is the best bet for any new rat owner, but push come to shove, great rats can come from anywhere. But, if you can't handle the rat in the store, you should most likely leave it there.
 

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@Rat Daddy: Is there a feed/thread that could link in need people with people willing to tame/handle aggressive/problem rats? Rat trainers, I suppose? I've worked with a few not-so-friendly rats before and would love to help out. I'm sure other people would as well.
 

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Hey there! Sorry to hear that Alphonse didn't work out but I'm glad you have your beautiful little ratties. I see you have gerbils, too! :)
 

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RatAtat...

Not really, pretty much watch the threads under the behavior section as they come up and pitch in where you can help. After you are around a while and have helped other people, people in need will tend to find you.

It's nice to have someone else around with an expertise and interest in problem rats.
 

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I posted the immersion guide, which I more or less try to keep current, otherwise I help out as time permits.

I'm really glad you are eager to help out. But to be fair, even with a lot of experience and knowledge, you have to kick around the forum a bit, and perhaps even get kicked around a bit until people build up confidence in you and your methods. And you will also make friends along the way.

I started out just helping a few people one at a time where I was absolutely confident I understood the problem and knew the solution and I made some friends. And as I got to be more of a fixture I got to do more good for more fellow rat owners, like having the Immersion Guide stickied... and getting permission to post my thread on training shoulder rats.

Take your time, get to know everybody... get the feel of the site and pitch in where you feel you can best serve the community and you'll become a fixture too.
 

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Okay. I just thought it would be a good way to hook up people in the forums. I've seen a ton of the various feeds with the "Help! I can't take this rat," and it seems like you just have to hope someone who knows anything will just float along. But either way, I'm I. Vermont, and I doubt I'd find many people.
 

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Remember, everyone here with an expertise is volunteering their time for free... Some days I'm around a lot, and then I might be away for a few, so yes... it's kind of hit or miss and sometimes it depends on whether a certain post catches my attention. Rat socialization and shoulder rats are two of my favorite topics so I've worked up threads on the subjects that folks can go to when I'm not around. And I try and reply to PM's as best I can...

Most people post where they are from, the membership is world wide... I have no doubt you will run across someone that needs your help right down the road from you sooner or later.
 
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