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I'm getting two boys this Friday, and I'm not sure how to treat them the first two days. With hamsters, you're supposed to leave them alone a few days to get used to their environment. Is it the same with rats? Do I hold them on the ride home, or just kind of leave them alone because it's all new? Do I give them a few days to get used to their cage and new house, or do I go right in?
 

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I have a feeling people will suggest both ways. Personally, I dislike the waiting a couple days. Unless your dealing with an animal who has issues, or is a previous abuse case, I always just jump in day one. They tell you to wait with a lot of small animals, like Guinea pigs, but when I got my first pigs I was holding them that first night. Same with the buns, same with our rats. I didn't hold them as much the first week or so, but thats usually because I want to figure out who I need to watch more and who seems to be more predictable. I don't usually free range for a week, same sorta thing, but instead stand by the cage and let them jump on me and see who likes to be on me and who just wants to have a stepping stone to the top of the cage. (Both your boys are gonna want to be on your shoulder, They love shoulders!) then after the first week I start to see how they interact with more space to explore. I think waiting the week before free range also helps them get a bond with you before they are running loose. I feel waiting that time you loose some bonding time. Because everything will be new and because they are going to be a bit fearful, being there as their protector can create a stronger bond quicker. And your boys do seem to see people as protection, they run to us not away when there is a loud noise most of the time, so I dont think you'll need to wait with them. (Also got the ok on our car btw so everything is all good for Friday!) I'm no expert but so far this has seemed to work for me.
 

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Unlike hamsters rats are social animals. They are more afraid of being left alone in a strange place than they are of making new friends and feeling protected and loved....

We usually start playing with our rats and bonding with them on the ride home... Knowing that their human friends are nearby will make the new cage less threatening and frightening.

Congrats on your new rats.
 

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With my rat it took us forever to get the cage assembled and it was a hour ride home so I had her out as soon as I got in the car and I basically handled her until we got the cage together I put her in to explore eat drink take a little snooze and got her back out when she came to the cage door.
 

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I'm not sure, if it's an unfair advantage or a kindness, but when a rat is brand new to your home you really have an opportunity to be it's friend when it needs one most. Everything and everyone it knows is suddenly gone and you can be there to fill the void.... you never get another opportunity like that again.

And remember rats aren't goldfish, they are designed to survive and deal with stress, it's how mammals learn. Unlike humans rats don't usually build up insane levels of stress. They act and react and return to their base line normal. I'm sure there's a point where stress can damage a rat, but for the most part it's a normal part of their lives and not something to be avoided. Everything new you teach your rats will cause some stress. It's like humans going to a new school, or taking a big test or dating, it's hard for lots of us to face new situations but we cope. Those who cope best are usually more successful. Those who avoid all stress usually wind up as shut-ins and that causes it's own level of stress.
 
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