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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey there guys and gals,
So I'm a new rat owner, and I recently got two young male rats V and Moogle (I have a post in the Say Hi section with pictures of them) and I have some questions.
I got V about 7 days ago, and he was slightly nervous at first but now he is very comfortable with me. He comes to me whenever I go near his cage and he loves being picked up and held and running all around on me. I had him for about 4 days when I decided that I needed to get him a friend (since I work a lot and I didn't want him to feel lonely or get depressed from lack of attention) so I picked up Moogle. They immediately bonded and slept together in the same cage that night and they have been acting like best friends ever since. They sleep together, and play all the time; however, whenever I try to pet Moogle he is very skittish and is afraid to come near me. After coaxing him with food he will let me pet him, and if he sees that V is hanging out on me he will eventually come over and play as well. I am worried he may have been abused when he was younger and is now afraid of people and I'm wondering if this will gradually fade as we get to know each other better? He is also having some mushy greenish tinted poos and he looks at me and sways his head while sniffing the air when I come near, I'm hoping he isn't sick or anything - could that just be the stress of moving to a new home?
I'm mostly worried because V and I have bonded so quickly - and Moogle and V have bonded so quickly - but Moogle doesn't seem to like being near me or trust me very much. He also tries to place physical barriers between the two of us when we are all on my bed playing (little boxes or anything I have out for them to climb around on).
Any insight you guys have would be greatly appreciated, I love these little guys all ready and I just want to make sure I can do my best to make them feel comfortable and have a stress free living environment.
Thanks a Million All!
RaR
 

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Yes, the diarrhea could be out of stress. However, you probably should have quarantined him.

What cage do you have? Just curious.

Also, try trust training Moogle. He might be naturally skittish, and you need to bond in any case. There are several other threads here on trust training. Be sure to observe the pair carefully to make sure there's no fighting, but it seems like that's under control.

It should be fine, nothing a little TLC can't fix. Best of luck with your ratties and congrats!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks RattusMaximus, the cage is a All Living Things - Rat Starter Kit cage. It's 28 L X 17.5 W X 30 H.
I unfortunately live in a one bedroom studio apartment so I didn't really have anywhere to quarantine him :(
 

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Give Moogle time. My first pet store ratties took a few weeks to warm up to me. They always let me hold them and such, but never would voluntarily come out to me until after a few weeks of trust training. One of my rescues, on the other hand, took to me like a fish to water. Different personalities need different things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes Rattus, the diarrhea has stopped, I think it was just because of the stress of changing the environment. I've been utilizing the trust training methods and I have noticed some significant improvement! At first when I would take him out of the cage he would shake uncontrollably and try to burrow through me to get away until I held him for 15 or so minutes when he would finally calm down and relax. The last two days however he has been very calm and has been much more receptive to me touching him. He sat on my lap this afternoon for about 25 minutes and just let me pet him and he even fell asleep for a bit on me - and he didn't go to the bathroom on me at all (Which is impressive because he and V are both little poop-smiths). He still won't accept food from me but I know that will change over time. And Mojojuju - It's funny how totally different their personalities are, V is very talkative and lunges out the cage door at me to be held and come play as soon as I go near it, and Moogle is so quiet and timid. But things are improving for sure!
 

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Keep with it. He'll learn to love you. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quick Update:
So over the last few days bonding with Moogle has been getting better while we are OUTSIDE the cage; however, every time I have had my hands in the cage the last few days he has been acting very aggressively towards me and will try to bite me. He has actually drawn blood twice now over the last two days and he seems to be getting more and more aggressive while inside the cage every day. I am very concerned about this and any tips you guys might have would be greatly appreciated!
 

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I bought two pet store rats about two years ago. One of them is super cage aggressive and started bullying her cage mate while the other one is skittish and will fear bite. After two years of socializing their behavior hasn't changed much. I found that petstore rats are a hit or a miss with how aggressive they are. Yours sound like he is just nervous and he may never 100% warm up to you due to the fact that rats need to be socialized at a very young age. I finally bought breeder rats and they are the sweetest ever. I would recommend buying from a breeder next time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@fireeyes2899 That's sad to hear, but being a first time rat owner its all a learning experience. I didn't really know much about breeders before I bought these guys and so I got them at a petstore and I don't think Moogle was handled very much by people at all. I am definitely going to look into getting rats from breeders in the future, now that I'm informed!
 

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Don't worry I did the same thing you did when I first got into rats. I bought petstore rats first because there are no breeders close by. I was about to give up on rats completely after my petstore experience. What's the point of having them if you can barely handle them. I ended up going out of state for the rats I just recently bought. They were totally worth it. Just the sweetest things and so tolerant of humans. Finally. I can see how awesome rats truly are as pets and they made my shy one more friendly. I can finally pick her up out of her cage for playtime. If you have the room I would recommend getting some more friendly rats to help your shy one.
 

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I've bought all three of mine from a pet store, but it's a small, intimate pet store. The workers usually walk around with a bird on their shoulders. They engage the small animals and play with them, so they are socialized. Granted, there are feeder rats there too, which are not put on display, but we played with a feeder rat who was so very sweet. I told the staff that this rat needed to be put on display. I have no idea what happened to her. I hope she got bought as a pet.

By contrast, I look at the mess at PetCo, and I have no desire to buy one of those rats. Just yesterday we were noticing the gunk around the nose of one of the rats. And there was a PEW that obviously had something wrong with her face. There was some hair missing, and there was yellow gunk on her face. That possibly could have been urine, but that didn't explain the rest of the appearance. Besides, rats are clean, and if a rat cannot be bothered to clean urine off her face, then something must be wrong.

So I can fully understand the bias against pet store rats, but I can say #notallpetstores. See if you have a small mom-and-pop shop with staff that are engaged with the animals rather than just selling supplies.
 

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I've bought all three of mine from a pet store, but it's a small, intimate pet store. The workers usually walk around with a bird on their shoulders. They engage the small animals and play with them, so they are socialized. Granted, there are feeder rats there too, which are not put on display, but we played with a feeder rat who was so very sweet. I told the staff that this rat needed to be put on display. I have no idea what happened to her. I hope she got bought as a pet.

By contrast, I look at the mess at PetCo, and I have no desire to buy one of those rats. Just yesterday we were noticing the gunk around the nose of one of the rats. And there was a PEW that obviously had something wrong with her face. There was some hair missing, and there was yellow gunk on her face. That possibly could have been urine, but that didn't explain the rest of the appearance. Besides, rats are clean, and if a rat cannot be bothered to clean urine off her face, then something must be wrong.

So I can fully understand the bias against pet store rats, but I can say #notallpetstores. See if you have a small mom-and-pop shop with staff that are engaged with the animals rather than just selling supplies.
Same with my pet store. The boy I bought from there was just the sweetest!
Next time, though, I want to rescue. We have a great rescue near here, but no reputable breeders-I am admittedly very picky when it comes to breeders though.
 

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I've never worked with any rat in a cage... socialization is always done one on one on the floor... and I also don't put up with biting, never ever anywhere.... (with the very special exception of wild type rats, which are going to be unfriendly to strangers an a bit high strung, but even those should never bite family members) As to cage aggression, our rats learn that the same rules apply to inside the cage as outside the cage.

Basically when you buy a breeder rat, it's pre-socialized, when you buy a pet shop rat you have to socialize it yourself. I recommend that you test drive any rat before you bring him or her home and then immediately socialize it before it can get defensive over real estate or status, but if you miss that window of opportunity it's never too late to start immersion.

Immersion basically has two flavors... the sweet kind where you play with a new rat to build a forever friendship and the extreme kind where you have to establish correct social structure with you as the parent (alpha rat for those of you who prefer animal terms) It can get ugly, and you might want to armor up first, but once you get your rat bonded with you outside the cage then you can carry it forward to everywhere.

Once a rat starts to think of itself as the "alpha" it may start to defend it's "home" from you and it's rat friends from you and then it's likely to start pushing you and it's roommates around... Things can really get bad. I realize that you are so much larger that a rat shouldn't think of itself as your superior, but rats learn that if they push and you back down, that's exactly what will happen... so they will get more pushy and aggressive. And as a recipe for disaster an aggressive rat and a passive human will create an untenable social structure... In the real world rats simply can't be in charge of your household... it just can't work.

Take a look at the immersion thread, we've fixed lots of problem rats, and yes, it can get a bit ugly, but the vast majority of rats will come around and love you once you establish the correct social relationship for your mixed human and rat family. Always remember rats are social animals that don't distinguish much between humans and other rats, your rat may have been the alpha at the rat farm or in the store, but now he's got to learn that isn't going to fly in your household.

Biting rats aren't pets and rats aren't exhibit animals like poison snakes or stone fish... they need to be interactive family members to be mentally healthy. I regret to put it this way but if you really love your rat, you might have to be a little bit tough before the romance kicks in.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks a lot to everyone for the solid feedback and advice! I really appreciate all the help you guys and gals have given me and I am definitely going to keep walking in a much more confident direction from now on. @Rat Daddy - I'm definitely going to try out the methods you have listed above, and hopefully I will see some progress!
 
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