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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got my first pet rat, Rufus, a little over a month ago. I got him spontaneously, and definitely unplanned. Some girl basically shoved him at me at a fest I was at for the 4th of July and told me to take him. I had no idea as to what breed, health, or mental conditions he was in. I was able to get in contact with the original breeder, and found out he was a baby double Rex in perfect health. Ever since that first night, we've had no trouble bonding. Whenever I put my hand in his cage he climbs straight up my arm to my shoulder, which has become his perch. He goes everywhere with me, and I like to think of him as my little blessing. I've never had a pet as amazing as him. However, it's become a concern that he's becoming too clingy. If I try to set him down to free range, he'll pee all over and constantly poo before climbing up my leg back to my shoulder. He won't even play with me! If I set him down and try to pull out his toys, he'll climb back up on me. I'm concerned he'll always be like this.
 

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Have you considered getting Rufus a cage mate? He might be happier and less clingy on you if he has a rat friend to cuddle and play with. It's also almost always recommended that rats be kept in pairs (or groups) if possible. Rats can get very depressed if they don't have another rat friend!

If you do choose to get him a cage mate be sure to read up on the proper way to introduce rats before you just plop a new rat in his cage - that's a recipe for disaster and bad relationships. There's a few stickies about how to introduce rats on the rat behavior forum.

Twice the rats is also twice the fun if you need any more motivation to buy another. Good luck with Rufus!
 

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Never ever EVER have a lone rat. They must ALWAYS be kept in pairs or groups.Don't worry, a lot of first time rat owners don't know :) But the reason Rufus is so clingy is becuase rats are social animals, and right now you are his only source of love and affection. Rats who live alone need a minimum of 7 hours of playtime, and even then that's really not enough.
I really don't mean to be harsh. It sounds like you give Rufus great care and a lot of love, and we need more amazing pet owners like you <3 But two rats is better than one! That way they can snuggle, groom each other, and play together. I'm assuming you go to school or work- the little guy probably gets extremely lonesome without you around all the time.


I'd suggest that you get him a cage mate as soon as possible :) He'll be a lot happier, and I'm sure you will too!
 

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I'm not in love with super clingy when it comes to true shoulder rats... it's often a sign that such rats are overly fearful and prone to panic attacks... and when rats panic they can do all kinds of stupid things especially when outdoors.

It is however normal for young rats to be very clingy and then slowly work their way towards becoming more independent. This is normal and it's fine... As time goes by the rat will ween itself off you and explore more and more as it gets older and more confident and competent.

We once made the mistake of confusing a clingy rat for a well bonded rat. To make a long tragic story short and less painful, it didn't work out well. A well bonded rat will tend to stay near you and will explore and come back a high anxiety clingy rat will stick to you like glue, but once you are at a distance it will run off to find cover or security in any dark place it can... Even rats that aren't bonded to you at all can appear clingy as they just see you as security. At some point that can change in an instant and they are gone forever.

You mention that you take your rat everywhere... as long as you are talking around the house it's not a big deal, but if you are talking about outdoors, you really need to find a good safe site and work with him to get him more competent and confident and determine if he's attached to you out of anxiety or if he's genuinely bonded with you.

I realize that one case looks a lot like the other. And it seems strangely counter-intuitive to teach your rat to explore away from you to see if it comes back, but we got blindsided and caught flat footed once. It's not a mistake we'll ever make again.

This is what a really top true shoulder rat looks like...

https://vid.me/3edL

She's hanging out and playing with her human. I might add that Fuzzy Rat actually jumped into the lake on her own and swam out to my daughter. She's not swimming away, nor is she clinging. She perfectly confident and competent and at ease in her environment. Now, I might add that Fuzzy Rat was the only true shoulder rat we've ever had that ever evolved to that level... but I reference the video for you to hopefully see what a properly bonded true shoulder rat looks like. To be perfectly honest, Fuzzy Rat became a bit too confident and competent, and she would leave us to go explore on her own for up to an hour at a time, which could get a bit unnerving, but she always came back when she got bored. Still you want to see your rat both explore a bit and return before you should trust it outdoors. Again, I know it seems just a little bit crazy to encourage your rat to explore away from you, but if you don't know he will come back... he just might not and that is about the very best way to have a very bad day.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Rufus does, in fact, have a cage mate! I just didn't know it was necessary to mention him. After I got in contact with the breeder, I was able to get one of Rufus' brothers and they are housed together.
 

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Does he have places to hide while he's out of his cage? When free-ranging, rats generally like to be able to crawl through tubes and cardboard boxes, it's in their nature to feel a little frightened when there's nowhere to hide which could explain his clingyness. Set don a few hiding places so he can run between them and you might see an improvement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've tried some similar things like that, but I'll definitely try again with more intensive trust training.
 

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Our most recent girl Misty had a lot of trouble with open spaces as a pup, I worked with her under the covers for nearly six weeks before she was confident to be out in the open... Under the covers she was actually very playful. I really didn't think she would ever come around and become confident or confident...

But here she is now with her "great aunt Cloud":

Wood stain Grass Hardwood Wood Table

By six weeks old Max had already passed her true shoulder rat final exam under the public fireworks...

Sky Tree Wilderness Cloud Sunlight

An Fuzzy Rat ran away to explore on her own outdoors for a whole hour when she was only 4 weeks old. And I was starting to have my doubts about Misty...

But with patience and work Misty has come a very long way and has passed her own true shoulder rat final exam.

https://vid.me/SgmU


I didn't mean to be discouraging... and I realize that you may have meant that you take your rat everywhere (around the house) and not outdoors but for those who do take their rats outdoors or to stores etc. panicky clingy is easy to confuse for well bonded. The difference becomes painfully obvious when your rat panics and bolts off into some hedges or tall grass or down a sewer grate and won't come back or just decides to strike off on it's own when it becomes confident enough. Trust me, that's a rude awakening. One second you thought you were dealing with a rat that didn't want to ever let go of you and the next you are one rat short...

And that can trash your entire day. So potential or perspective shoulder ratters this is a serious heads up... Always train and test your rats at a safe site... clingy is not necessarily a good thing.

Again best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Our most recent girl Misty had a lot of trouble with open spaces as a pup, I worked with her under the covers for nearly six weeks before she was confident to be out in the open... Under the covers she was actually very playful. I really didn't think she would ever come around and become confident or confident...

But here she is now with her "great aunt Cloud":

View attachment 219026

By six weeks old Max had already passed her true shoulder rat final exam under the public fireworks...

View attachment 219034

An Fuzzy Rat ran away to explore on her own outdoors for a whole hour when she was only 4 weeks old. And I was starting to have my doubts about Misty...

But with patience and work Misty has come a very long way and has passed her own true shoulder rat final exam.

https://vid.me/SgmU


I didn't mean to be discouraging... and I realize that you may have meant that you take your rat everywhere (around the house) and not outdoors but for those who do take their rats outdoors or to stores etc. panicky clingy is easy to confuse for well bonded. The difference becomes painfully obvious when your rat panics and bolts off into some hedges or tall grass or down a sewer grate and won't come back or just decides to strike off on it's own when it becomes confident enough. Trust me, that's a rude awakening. One second you thought you were dealing with a rat that didn't want to ever let go of you and the next you are one rat short...

And that can trash your entire day. So potential or perspective shoulder ratters this is a serious heads up... Always train and test your rats at a safe site... clingy is not necessarily a good thing.

Again best luck.
I don't know what I can do to get through to him. Nothing is working.
 
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