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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, so I just let my rats out for their normal play time in the bathroom. I usually carry them from their cage to the bathroom on my shoulders, and normally they can't wait to climb down and play. One rat, Scrabbles, acted normally while the other rats, Checkers, acted strangely. When I got to the bathroom, he wouldn't climb down off my shoulders. I put him on the floor, and he seemed extremely bothered by Scrabbles attempts to play. I shooed the other rat away, and Checkers walked up against the wall then stood very still. He was also still puffed up, as if he was agitated. I put him up on the laundry basket, so he could get away from the other rat, but he still seemed scared. I gave him a treat, and he took it, but it took several minutes before he was calm enough to eat it. He eventually started gromming himself and walking around slowly on top of the basket. I tried putting him on the floor, but he squeaked when I picked him up (which he hasn't done in a long time), and after spending a moment or two shocked on the floor, ran back up onto my shoulder. What's going on? Could he be sick? He let me feel him all over, and I didn't see or feel anywhere he was hurt. Or is just having an off day?
 

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Have you changed your body lotion/perfume/fabric conditioner etc? Sometimes rats catch a new smell they don't recognise and freak out, especially when they are young.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hmm... I don't think that's it, because he didn't seem afraid of me at all. He let me pet him, and he seemed ok with climbing on my shoulders. Plus, Scrabbles didn't react at all. Also, when I put Checkers back in his cage, he went right back to normal, so I guess there must have been something in the bathroom that spooked him but not Scrabbles.
 

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Rats live in a whole different world from the rest of us. Their poor vision coupled with their small size means that what we see as normal can seem terrifying to them. The threads I've read about taking rats outdoors really illustrate that point. A human wouldn't pay any attention to the rustling noises around them or even notice a hawk in a nearby tree. A rat would, because the survival instincts kick in.

So there may have been something different in the bathroom that you just didn't notice. A new sound maybe, like the hum of a recharging shaver. Or some new smell as mentioned. Since he went back to normal in the safety of his cage, he isn't freakishly afraid. It may be interesting to see if the bathroom freaks him out again. It may have just been an off day.

Sometimes their fears are something we cannot comprehend. When my girls were babies, I tried to encourage them to run in the wheel we got them. Penumbra wasn't impressed by the wheel and would climb out after I put her in it. I couldn't even get Latte into the wheel. As soon as I got her close to the wheel, she scrabbled up my arm like it was a monster. When I held her more tightly and put her in the wheel, she leaped out like she was being attacked. I stopped traumatizing her with the wheel and eventually gave it to a family member with a hamster. Why was she freaked out by the wheel? It made no noise, but it was so terrifying for her.
 

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I think irrational fears are fairly common. Chai is TERRIFIED of the kitchen counter and nothing bad ever happened to her on it.
 

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Yeah, I've had experiences like that before... Remy was always a little skittish but I had bonded with him so he was fine with being picked up, cuddled, taken out of the cage, exc. One day, however, I took him out of his cage and put him on the floor and he froze, watching me. I reached over to give him a little scratch on the back, and he bolted for the nearest cover- under the dresser. I tried to coax him out with food but he'd never leave his shelter. Then I decided to step back and give him the chance to come out on his own but as soon as I did he shot away under the bed where he had his little nest and cardboard box fort. It took approximately thirty minutes to get Remy out from under there. I put him in the cage and as soon as he was in his home was like "can I have some food? Pleeeez?" and was perfectly fine. There wasn't any change in what I was wearing or his surroundings, so to this day have no idea what happened.
 
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