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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

So I am a new rat owner and I have a few different questions to ask. Firstly I will tell you that I own 5 rats, all male, all under the age of 4 months. I have done lots of research on rats but I wanted to get answers to my questions first hand from those with experience and tips.

1. My rats don't seem to want to play with any toys when they come out. I have given them paper towel and toilet paper rolls, newspaper, a garbage bin full of safe items such as Kleenex, plastic, etc. I have tried to hide treats in a paper towel roll or in the garbage bin (and my guys LOVE treats) but they still wouldn't play with it or touch it. I have given them teddy bears and cat balls with bells all with no success. All they do is run around on the bed (I want teach tricks but haven't started yet). I haven't had them free range on the floor or in a room yet, just on our beds and couch, as I have not rat proofed and am a little weary about doing so. Are there any toys that I should try that I haven't that the rats may wish to play with? Will the want to play more once they have a whole room to play in? I wanted to try a "dig box" for both my rats and ferrets with sand, is this a good idea?

2. I have heard that male rats are more cuddly than female and I have seen many videos of owners petting their rats but mine do not want to be pet. They just walk away when I go to pet them. Will they accept pets when they get older or should I give up on petting them now?

3. I heard that ropes and branches are good for rats, particularly in the cage. They can climb the ropes and eat the wood. Is this correct? Can they eat/chew wood that I could get in my backyard and will they climb the ropes?

4. Any tips for tricks would be much appreciated. Is it better to teach them when they are young? Should I teach each rat a different trick so that they can kind of learn off of each other? What about toilet training? What should I use as a "toilet" and I just saw a post about "pee rocks", what are these?

5. Last but not least any tips for rat proofing would helpful.

I think that's all, thanks in advance for your responses.
 

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1. How long have you had your babies? It may take them a little bit to warm up to you and the new environment. When I first got my girls they loved treats but would not eat them outside the cage because they were not yet comfortable enough. Also they may smell the ferrets and think there is a predator in the room so that may make them more cautious for a little while. As for toys there is a thread about toy ideas on the forum. I am not sure off the top of my head where it is but it's a sticky topic so it will be at the top. You can easily make things for them to climb in and on out of cardboard and duck tape. What I do when I let my little ones on the bed is I have a bunch of small cheap decorative pillows that I throw in a heap in the middle of the bed and then I throw a blanket over it. It makes something like a giant anthill with tons of tunnels and they love burrowing in it and chasing each other through it.

2. I keep both males and females together (my males are neutered) and yes the males are more cuddly than the females and less inclined to explore, but they will still go check out any new areas I take them to. The more they get used to you the more they will hang around but each rat is different and who knows you may end up with a little explorer. Don't give up on them yet. They may just need more time to get used to you. This is especially true if you got them from a store or rescue as they may not have been handled as much.

3. Yes rats love climbing on wood perches and will chew on them, but don't just walk out into your yard and pick up any branch you see. Certain woods can be harmful to rats and may cause health issues. Fir is one such wood you never want to put in a rat cage so make sure you know what kind of wood you have and that it is safe for rats. Once you've got a safe wood you will want to boil it and then let it dry for an extended period of time before you put it in your cage.

4. The first thing you want to teach your little ones is their names and after that to come when called. It's a good idea for your rats to know this before you let them have an entire room because it makes it much easier and safer when it's time for them to go back in their cage if they haven't gone in on their own yet. For toilet training you'll want to get a shallow litter box and fill it with a different kind of litter than what you use in your cage. Paper litter only. If you have a larger cage you'll want to get more than one. Males are notoriously lazy and will not bother to use their litter box if they have to cross the cage to get to it. Pee rocks give them a marking surface and increase the chance they will use the box. When first potty train my rats I will put some already soiled bedding in it to encourage them that the litter box is a potty place not another nesting place. No rat will be perfect but it really helps with keeping the cage clean.

I hope this helps.
 

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I found that mine enjoy tube / tunnels and boxes with holes the most at playtime. Also piles of fleece or crumpled paper they can run / hide in. I've never seen mine show much interest in toys like balls either. Most of the "toys" i give mine consist of cardboard or wooden things that double as chews or things they can hide in.

Cuddlyness varies by rat. I've only got 2-3 rats that enjoy being petted by humans and will actively come to you for attention, my others don't seem to care much one way or another. I think what most people mean when they say the males are more cuddly, is that they are lazier and will tolerate being held or sat on your lap more because they are not as active as females.

For tricks, search youtube and get ideas there. It may also pay off to look into clicker training, as most of that would apply to rats as well. I have not put a lot of effort into training my rats (don't have time) but I'd start by getting them to recognize the clicker as a reward noise, then teach them something simple, like standing up (beginning to lure with a treat) or responding to their name.. You click them when they begin to do the behavior and then shape the behavior by asking for more before you click and reward. This method works well with dogs and cats so should work easily with rats as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
1. How long have you had your babies? It may take them a little bit to warm up to you and the new environment. When I first got my girls they loved treats but would not eat them outside the cage because they were not yet comfortable enough. Also they may smell the ferrets and think there is a predator in the room so that may make them more cautious for a little while. As for toys there is a thread about toy ideas on the forum. I am not sure off the top of my head where it is but it's a sticky topic so it will be at the top. You can easily make things for them to climb in and on out of cardboard and duck tape. What I do when I let my little ones on the bed is I have a bunch of small cheap decorative pillows that I throw in a heap in the middle of the bed and then I throw a blanket over it. It makes something like a giant anthill with tons of tunnels and they love burrowing in it and chasing each other through it.

2. I keep both males and females together (my males are neutered) and yes the males are more cuddly than the females and less inclined to explore, but they will still go check out any new areas I take them to. The more they get used to you the more they will hang around but each rat is different and who knows you may end up with a little explorer. Don't give up on them yet. They may just need more time to get used to you. This is especially true if you got them from a store or rescue as they may not have been handled as much.

3. Yes rats love climbing on wood perches and will chew on them, but don't just walk out into your yard and pick up any branch you see. Certain woods can be harmful to rats and may cause health issues. Fir is one such wood you never want to put in a rat cage so make sure you know what kind of wood you have and that it is safe for rats. Once you've got a safe wood you will want to boil it and then let it dry for an extended period of time before you put it in your cage.

4. The first thing you want to teach your little ones is their names and after that to come when called. It's a good idea for your rats to know this before you let them have an entire room because it makes it much easier and safer when it's time for them to go back in their cage if they haven't gone in on their own yet. For toilet training you'll want to get a shallow litter box and fill it with a different kind of litter than what you use in your cage. Paper litter only. If you have a larger cage you'll want to get more than one. Males are notoriously lazy and will not bother to use their litter box if they have to cross the cage to get to it. Pee rocks give them a marking surface and increase the chance they will use the box. When first potty train my rats I will put some already soiled bedding in it to encourage them that the litter box is a potty place not another nesting place. No rat will be perfect but it really helps with keeping the cage clean.

I hope this helps.
Thanks for all the advice. I have had my first 2 male rats for 2 months now and my newest 3 for a couple weeks. Hades and Rex (my first 2) seem very relaxed with me, take treats immediately and love to come out to see me as soon as I walk by. Again thanks for the advice, I'll check out the post for toys. I will be attempting to litter train soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I found that mine enjoy tube / tunnels and boxes with holes the most at playtime. Also piles of fleece or crumpled paper they can run / hide in. I've never seen mine show much interest in toys like balls either. Most of the "toys" i give mine consist of cardboard or wooden things that double as chews or things they can hide in.

Cuddlyness varies by rat. I've only got 2-3 rats that enjoy being petted by humans and will actively come to you for attention, my others don't seem to care much one way or another. I think what most people mean when they say the males are more cuddly, is that they are lazier and will tolerate being held or sat on your lap more because they are not as active as females.

For tricks, search youtube and get ideas there. It may also pay off to look into clicker training, as most of that would apply to rats as well. I have not put a lot of effort into training my rats (don't have time) but I'd start by getting them to recognize the clicker as a reward noise, then teach them something simple, like standing up (beginning to lure with a treat) or responding to their name.. You click them when they begin to do the behavior and then shape the behavior by asking for more before you click and reward. This method works well with dogs and cats so should work easily with rats as well.
I found that my ferrets are similar. I expected them to playa little more and I was worried they weren't getting enough enjoyment because the didn't play with anything but rather hide toys and run in tunnels/cardboard boxes/etc. I came to the same worries with he ratties but I think I will try fleece blankets and pillows as a tunnel area, a dig box, and a few toys that double as chews. I have heard that they like obstacle courses which I might try and set up a little later.

My boys definitely like to be held and my Hairless, Rex, will sit on my shoulder almost every time he comes out. But none of them like pets too much although I belive Hades is coming around. Glad to hear this is normal as well, I guess the internet just prefers to show the cuddly ones ;). Again I had these same experiences and thoughts with my ferrets, they aren't too cuddly and will never sleep with me yet people post pictures of their ferret sleeping with them all the time.

I might look into clicker training, but as it can be done without it I might not get into it. thanks or all your advice.
 

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Hi,

So I am a new rat owner and I have a few different questions to ask. Firstly I will tell you that I own 5 rats, all male, all under the age of 4 months. I have done lots of research on rats but I wanted to get answers to my questions first hand from those with experience and tips.

1. My rats don't seem to want to play with any toys when they come out. I have given them paper towel and toilet paper rolls, newspaper, a garbage bin full of safe items such as Kleenex, plastic, etc. I have tried to hide treats in a paper towel roll or in the garbage bin (and my guys LOVE treats) but they still wouldn't play with it or touch it. I have given them teddy bears and cat balls with bells all with no success. All they do is run around on the bed (I want teach tricks but haven't started yet). I haven't had them free range on the floor or in a room yet, just on our beds and couch, as I have not rat proofed and am a little weary about doing so. Are there any toys that I should try that I haven't that the rats may wish to play with? Will the want to play more once they have a whole room to play in? I wanted to try a "dig box" for both my rats and ferrets with sand, is this a good idea?

2. I have heard that male rats are more cuddly than female and I have seen many videos of owners petting their rats but mine do not want to be pet. They just walk away when I go to pet them. Will they accept pets when they get older or should I give up on petting them now?

3. I heard that ropes and branches are good for rats, particularly in the cage. They can climb the ropes and eat the wood. Is this correct? Can they eat/chew wood that I could get in my backyard and will they climb the ropes?

4. Any tips for tricks would be much appreciated. Is it better to teach them when they are young? Should I teach each rat a different trick so that they can kind of learn off of each other? What about toilet training? What should I use as a "toilet" and I just saw a post about "pee rocks", what are these?

5. Last but not least any tips for rat proofing would helpful.

I think that's all, thanks in advance for your responses.
1. I'd say that they are probably still quite nervous. It might just take them a while to get used to the new environment and to you. Also maybe try putting some of the treat toys in their cage? Mine are usually too busy running around and exploring to try and get to the treats hidden in toilet paper rolls when they are out and about, but love them in their cage.

2. Male rats are more cuddly, but again, I think that part of their personality comes out more as they get older. They get lazier and calmer as they get older. 4 months is still fairly young

3. They climb ropes, but it's best to use those ropes used for parrots, that you can put into different shapes. They can climb on them easier because they are thicker than just any rope. As for the branches from your backyard I'm not sure, there might be some dangerous bacteria on them. Maybe if you bring them in, and pour boiling water on them a few times, then let them dry out before you put them in the cage? They do tend to pee on wood, but I think if you just scrub them down every two weeks it should be fine

4. I'm not sure about training. Most people use litter trays with some kind of loose bedding in them for the toilet, and pee rocks are just flat palm shaped rocks that you can put in the litter tray for them to pee on. Because rats love peeing on rocks for some reason. It's meant to help keep them from peeing excessively on the fleece, which is usually used to cover the rest of the floor/shelves of the cage.

5. Put a towel under a door, and try and push it into the crack between the floor and the door. Take anything dangerous up off the floor. Try and make sure there isnt anything that they can reach and climb to anywhere dangerous. Guard off any areas you don't want them to go to with large pieces of cardboard. Overall just see where you think they can get to, and if it's dangerous, guard it off/remove it. For the most part, I think supervision is the most important part of roam time. They can really surprise you sometimes, if you're not paying too much attention.

Good luck with your rats :)
 
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