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I've had rats all my life, but recently took a break from them when I had a child. My rats have always been sweet, friendly, energetic, adventuresome, curious, super smart, playful, entertaining, calm and just generally great pets.

Well, my son is 6 now, and since he did so well with our hamster (now passed) I went and got two rat brothers from a local pet store. The pet store is privately owned and they assured me their rats are bred there on site, handled daily, and were 'very friendly.' I was not allowed to handle the babies before purchase due to covid19. They were 6 weeks when we got them and very timid and shy. I thought they would warm up to us with daily handling and attention, but they are now 8 weeks and the same as the day we brought them home.

These rats cling, freeze, scramble and scratch whenever we try to handle them. They refuse to take treats from us or engage with us in anyway. When they are out of the cage they run for a place to hide, and then sit trembling and clearly terrified (usually behind my back or a bonding bag) the whole time out of the cage. When they are in the cage, they don't do much except lay in the hammock, no matter what time of day, and despite lots of toys and space in there.

I don't know what to do at this point. My son likes them very much so I couldn't think of getting rid of them, but for the money I've spent and the time I put in cleaning in and around the cage, I'd like pets that act like, well, pets. Will these two babies grow out of this? The baby rats I've had in the past have always been a bit more timid than when I get them as adults, but not outright terrified like these two brothers. I don't know what to do, and I also feel duped by the pet store for buying the rats without handling them first. But I just didn't think it mattered since every rat I've ever owned, even the ones from big pet store chains, have been great.

We don't have any reputable rat breeders in our area, just some guys selling feeders on CL. Which I'm really thinking I should have gone that route instead.

Please if anyone has any advice it would be much appreciated.
 

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theyre not dogs, you need to work with them, especially if theyre from a pet store.
youve probably been lucky so far but pet store small animals are very likely to come with a myriad of health and behavior problems.

you need to work hard at trust training them and be extremely patient, dont corner them or chase them to pick them up etc.

see here
 

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Start with hand feeding from the cage door. BTW, there’s nothing wrong with pet store quality rats. A rat is a rat ... even feeders can make great pets!
 

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Nothing is wrong with pet store rats except for ones that come from pet stores that don't breed their own rats, you don't know what kind of breeding conditions your supporting, rats are prone to bad breeding conditions just like dogs are.
 

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The same can be said about breeders. 🤷🏻‍♀️ It’s wrong to label pet store rats as unsocial or unhealthy. It’s truly unfair and completely false.
 

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Both can have bad ones, but I'm specifically talking about shops that don't breed their own rats like Petsmart and Petco since you have no idea what kind of conditions your supporting its better to steer clear of buying from them, even if the rat is perfectly healthy or great behavior wise.
 

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And most breeders won’t let you in their homes and ask you to meet up at a specified location. It just really bothers me to see other experienced rat fanciers label pet store rats as “bad”. Some of my sweetest girls have been from pet shops.
 

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And most breeders won’t let you in their homes and ask you to meet up at a specified location. It just really bothers me to see other experienced rat fanciers label pet store rats as “bad”. Some of my sweetest girls have been from pet shops.
I'm not trying to fight, I too have gotten my sweetest rats from shops. The best thing to do for either is to look out for red flags (Rat Breeder Red Flags List) and for the type of shops I'm talking about your not able to do that.
 

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Can poorly bred rats be friendly? Yes, of course there are lots of friendly rats who were poorly bred. That's not always the point. In this case, OP purchased maybe-feeder/maybe-pet rats that have maybe had little to no human contact before purchase. We don't know. It's still too early to say whether or not they'll become friendly. It's only been a few weeks. Odds are they will because rats are cool animals. Some poorly bred rats aren't, though. Some poorly bred rats are jerks that just shouldn't be pets.

Bad breeding can create lots of different issues. Friendliness is not the only factor. If it was, everyone would purchase $3 feeders and we wouldn't have any actual pet breeders. Companies/people who breed for the purpose of feeding live rats to snakes generally don't care about the long-term health of their animals. ...because they're not meant to have a long life. They're not meant to live more than a couple months. If I needed a safe, dependable car, I wouldn't buy one that was only intended to last a month.

Who sells poorly bred rats? Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes it isn't. We can assume that rats that are sold at pet stores are bred in the same places and under the same conditions that feeders are bred. Is this always bad? Of course not but if you don't have any information about where and how the rats are bred, you are accepting the fact that you may be supporting bad breeding practices.

Are all feeders poorly bred? No. ...but how are you able to find out if they are if you don't know the source? Are all private pet store in-house bred rats well bred? No. Just because a store is small and owned by a mom-&-pop doesn't mean that they're responsible and knowledgable in genetics. Should you automatically trust small store in-house breeding practices? No. Are all small-scale pet breeders knowledgable and responsible? No. That said, it's a lot easier to research a small-scale pet breeder because they have websites and facebook pages and you can see pictures of their set-ups and ask them questions.

So, back to whether or not feeder/pet store rats can be friendly. Does it matter? I wouldn't vote for Trump just to make my Republican mom happy and I wouldn't support bad breeding practices either. Show me a feeder breeder or mom-&-pop pet shop that puts as much thought and care into breeding healthy rats with good temperaments as some of the better small-scale pet breeders and maybe I can be swayed. Let's be honest, though. The reason people purchase rats from feeder bins/pet stores is because the rats are cheap and it's convenient.
 

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Actually, I have purchased feeders in the past and not because they’re cheap but to give them a chance to have a great life. It’s wrong to label certain rats as unhealthy or unsocialized solely due to where they’re purchased or bred, especially to new rat owners who might not consider the information you’re giving is opinion-based and not factual. Feeder, breeder, or pet shop, a rat is a rat ... and I have owned them all.
 

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It’s wrong to label certain rats as unhealthy or unsocialized solely due to where they’re purchased or bred
Nobody has said that all rats from feeder bins will be sick and mean. I definitely never said that.

Is it possible to purchase a poorly bred rat and have it be friendly and generally healthy? Yes. However, when rats are poorly bred, they run a higher risk of being unhealthy or unsocialized. That's not an opinion.

All types of breeders (whether pet store, feeder, or pet breeder) produce rats. Rats, in general, are awesome so logically you could say that all types of breeders produce awesome animals. That said, supporting bad breeding practices supports greater potential health and behavioral issues for not only the rats you've purchased, but future generations as well.
 

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And poorly bred rats can come from reputable breeders. I currently have one that requires lubricating eye drops 2x daily or she will develop blinding ulcers and don’t assume I didn’t do my research either before adoption.
I think everyone should be less judgmental when trying to help a new rat fancier and make sure when we are not stating factual information that we tag the comment as opinion. BTW: good health and temperament in my opinion go hand in hand.
 

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Let me spell it out: No one should be made to feel like their pet store rat or feeder rat is inferior, unhealthy or unsocialized due to judgmental and biased OPINIONS.
 

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Forgetting the health and behavior part of it, if there is a chance that the place you are getting rats from, get their rats from a place with bad conditions and who don't care about what kind of home their rats go to, would you want to support such a breeder? From the kind of pet stores we're talking about, there is no way to tell what kind of breeding conditions you are supporting, so no matter how healthy or friendly the rat is you may or may not be supporting very bad breeding conditions that rats should never have to be a part of. It's the exact same thing as buying puppies from a store because of the chance they may be coming from a puppy mill. And of course a breeder may turn out to be bad but at least you are getting a better idea of where they come from.
 

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I really don’t care for either of your elitist attitudes and biased opinions. By your comments and bullying mentalities you may be contributing to someone giving up on their pets. When there’s most likely nothing wrong with them other than they need time to adjust.
 

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...you may be contributing to someone giving up on their pets. When there’s most likely nothing wrong with them other than they need time to adjust.
Here's exactly what I said above;

"In this case, OP purchased maybe-feeder/maybe-pet rats that have maybe had little to no human contact before purchase. We don't know. It's still too early to say whether or not they'll become friendly. It's only been a few weeks. Odds are they will because rats are cool animals."

I honestly have no idea who you're arguing with.
 

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When there’s most likely nothing wrong with them other than they need time to adjust.
And I never said anything about something being wrong with anyone's rats, I'm specifically talking about the conditions you are getting rats from. Think of a puppy mill, will you buy a puppy from a store even if it is friendly and healthy? No, because we don't know what kind of breeding conditions it came from and therefore don't know what we are supporting. I don't want anyone to give up on their rats, all rats, no matter where you get them from, have the ability to become happy and friendly, my point is that we should try out hardest to not support inhumane breeding conditions, and for rats that come from pet stores that do not breed their own rats, there is no way to notice any red flags that would indicate bad conditions.
 
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