Rat Forum banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, a friend on Vine spoke highly about this forum. It would be great to get your insights.

Maybe you heard it on the news; New England got the heaviest snow fall of all times this winter. After the fourth blizzard, the Boston Globe published an article about the wildlife succumbing to the harsh weather on February 26, 2015.

The very next day, I found a young wobbly rat struggling on the snowbank on the side of the street.

Being quite comfortable dealing with wildlife, such as squirrels and birds, I tried to help the poor fuzzy thing. But she kept slipping back into the icy paddle, her paws were all red and not working very well. I scooped her up with my gloved hands. She looked relieved to be rescued from the weather.

Rushed home, and placed her in the clean plastic aquarium with some shredded paper bedding (I have a rescued houseMouse), and gave her food (rolledOat + almondButter ball that I make for squirrels at the end of a jar). She ate hungrily.

She gained strength in a few days, but started sneezing badly. After researching online and books at hand, The Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents, etc. (used to rescue many house rabbits), I took her to a wildlife vet (Odd Pet Vet - a fantastic vet) at the New England Wildlife Center, and got her the medicine. She's a very lucky ratty. We guessed that she was about five weeks old when I found her.

Now, she's feeling better, and slightly bigger, I got her a bigger cage, thinking she needs to exercise whether she's going to be a pet or to be released. Not sure what's best for her. That's why I'm here.

She eats well; cooked vegetables, tofu, corn, fruits, nuts and seeds. She reluctantly let me pet her a little.

Here's a recent Vine video loop of her: https://vine.co/v/Ol9YIbjjV6D

Her name is Winnie. An adorable little rat.

What do you think? What's the best life for her? Thank you for your insight!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
190 Posts
Best life for her would be to let her go when the weather improves.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
161 Posts
I think that, if she is friendly with people, she should be kept. Since she is only five weeks old, it would still be possible to train her. I wouldn't let her go though. Hawks, snakes, owls, cats, dogs, and other animals could harm her. If you plan on keeping her, get her a friend. Rats need cage mates.
Good luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
996 Posts
At that age, I would be afraid of letting her go... She's just a baby and I think she would normally still be with a family group, learning to survive. With careful socialization, she could make a great companion.

EDIT: R. Rattus is a Black rat, yes? This looks like a Norway/Brown rat to me, which is the same type as domesticated rats. I could be wrong or maybe I misread.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
At that age, I would be afraid of letting her go... She's just a baby and I think she would normally still be with a family group, learning to survive. With careful socialization, she could make a great companion.

EDIT: R. Rattus is a Black rat, yes? This looks like a Norway/Brown rat to me, which is the same type as domesticated rats. I could be wrong or maybe I misread.
Thank you for replying, all of you!

Winnie is most likely a Rattus rattus, aka ship rat, black rat, roof rat; but I could be wrong.

She's been here for a little over a month, so she's now about 10 weeks old. Very shy, but smart. She mastered drinking from a waterBottle within a couple of hours, and is pretty much toilet trained.

You're right about her being with a family group. She must have been starving and wondered outside when I found her. I looked around for clues, but found none.

We live in the city, where rats are considered nuisance, so I was considering to release her in the wildlife sanctuaries, parks, etc. in the suburb (if that's the best course of action). But will she be smart enough to find food on her own? Yes, there would be other danger as well.

The wildlife vet said her temperament may change when she hits puberty. Does anyone know or have had experience with wild rats?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
581 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Definitely looks like a R. Rattus based on this picture as well:
http://www.ratforum.com/showthread.php?235082-A-Little-Rattus-rattus!&highlight=wild

Also, there have been a few members on here that have taken care of wild rats. Here's one of the threads I could find:
http://www.ratforum.com/showthread.php?218394-Domesticating-wild-rats-caught-at-adulthood (About adults, but you could still probably get help form this thread)
Thank you for the links. Beautiful R. Rattus photos, too! Winnie looks just like her.

This is a few days after I found her. She's a bit bigger now, still fits in a small igloo thing.
Mammal Vertebrate Degu Rat Muridae
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Definitely looks like a R. Rattus based on this picture as well:
http://www.ratforum.com/showthread.php?235082-A-Little-Rattus-rattus!&highlight=wild

Also, there have been a few members on here that have taken care of wild rats. Here's one of the threads I could find:
http://www.ratforum.com/showthread.php?218394-Domesticating-wild-rats-caught-at-adulthood (About adults, but you could still probably get help form this thread)
Thank you for the links. :)

This is what she looked like after a few days since rescued.
Mammal Vertebrate Degu Rat Muridae
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,244 Posts
First of all, I'm guessing Norway rat based on the hair on her ears and the location of the find... Black rats don't have as much if any hair on their ears and they are a tropical species uncommon in northern climates... Although Winnie has large eyes and a long tail, she's also just a pup... So although I wouldn't bet money without seeing the rat personally I vote brown rat.

Wild rats make great family members if they are socialized young, they don't really do well as pets, they need a sense of belonging to a person or a family and will bond with and be very happy with humans and even domestic rat friends.

If wild rats, especially wild brown rats don't get socialized in time, they become too dangerous to handle as adults. Adult wild rats are fast, agile and can really hurt someone. Young wild rats can play rough and be a bit scary, but they don't bite their friends and family.

Most likely the decision whether to keep Winnie is just about made already... if you can handle Winnie and she is socialized or still can be socialized, she will make a fine family friend... This is a pack animal and needs to bond with her humans... we're talking pet dog kind of bonding or rather pet wolf. A wild rat should never be kept as an exhibit animal, she will become anti-social and dangerous.

The best analogy is the pet wolf. Like rats wolves are social animals, if you get a wolf pup young enough, you wind up with a best, if not slightly scary friend... If you try and befriend an adult wild wolf, you're likely to need immediate medical attention. Same is true with wild brown rats.

Also like wolves wild rats don't just like people.. they usually bond with certain people. Winnie is not likely to be the right family rat if she has to cope with too many strangers handling her.

If Winnie isn't fully socialized yet, get her through immersion as soon as possible. If you establish a proper bond with her, I think you can go forward with introducing her to your family and your home... she'll need lots of love and attention and room to run and climb. Not to worry wild rats are very well suited for survival in human homes and just about everywhere else. You're not likely to find her if she doesn't want to be found, but for the most part they crave attention and will come when called. It's important to teach Winnie her commands so you can handle her during free range, and she'll love to free range. After you confirm she's a brown rat she will also most likely enjoy the company of another rat friend, even a domestic one.

If you can't socialize her now, things will only get worse... she's going to really hurt someone and you would be best off setting her free ASAP.

PM me if you decide to keep her, she'll need a little bit of special handling, but it's something you can cope with if you decide to make the commitment to take on the challenge... Remember, rats, including wild rats really don't see life with humans as life in captivity, they see it as life with a family, even though I'm pretty sure we look awkward to them, they want to fit in just like a family dog would. You are dealing with a very capable and competent animal, the second most successful species on earth and she's smart and sensitive and has skills and abilities you won't believe until you see her in action, but if you want her to be happy living with you, and you want to get the most out of living with her, it will take an investment of time and a commitment to socializing and training her before it's too late.

Best luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for the links! (I replied earlier with a photo of Winnie, but it didn't show up--my account is acting funny, I can't even edit my profile.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
First of all, I'm guessing Norway rat based on the hair on her ears and the location of the find... Black rats don't have as much if any hair on their ears and they are a tropical species uncommon in northern climates... Although Winnie has large eyes and a long tail, she's also just a pup... So although I wouldn't bet money without seeing the rat personally I vote brown rat. ...
Thank you so much for the in-depth information. You're probably right about her being a brown rat. I've read some article online that juvenile Norway rats look very similar to Black rats.

She is my first rat, so please excuse me if I sound clueless (which I am, but learning as fast as possible). It'd be great if we can please slow down, and take one step at a time. The decision is also up to my husband (he does love Winnie, and admire rats). In any case, not knowing whether to keep her or to release her, we've purchased a Rat Manor, thinking she still needs to be in a larger space and properly rehabilitated (exercise to gain strength) even if she was to be released back in the wild. I just set it up. To be really honest, I have no idea how she'd react to the new space. Do you think this is a good idea?
Thanks again.

Winnie on March 3, 2015: https://twitter.com/otterX/status/572647064292626433
Winnie on April 2, 2015: https://vine.co/v/eBr2FII1V0K
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,244 Posts
My immersion thread should give you a good idea of what to do... but socialization is critical... every day that passes makes Winnie Stronger and faster and literally more dangerous to handle.

I'm not going to say that she actually will become more aggressive, just that if she does freak out someone is likely to get more hurt. I watched my daughter play with a pack of wild rats once, they looked like they were having great fun, as was I watching... But if my daughter actually grabbed one, I can imagine just how wrong that might have gone.

So you may want to bring heavy gloves or oven mitts along but you need to get Winnie used to being picked up and handled and get that critical bond between you established.

For now, the main differences between Winnie and a domestic rat are threefold

She is more agile, faster and can jump farther... she can also deflate herself and slide under things

She is wired hot.... she is very sensitive to movement, shadows, light and sounds. And she is likely to react fast if spooked.

If she loses her temper she will bite and tear... fast and often... Wild rats don't win fights by killing larger animals, they do so much damage that the other animal runs away..

Keep calm, keep the volume down, minimize flashing lights or loud sudden noises, don't be paranoid, it's fine to be playful, but keep in mind she's wired for fight or flight at the first sign of danger.

Once Winnie knows and trusts you, she will become a sweetheart to you and your family... you still never want to grab her by surprise or spook her, but she will become a very fine best furry friend and safe around people she loves and trusts. She is a pack animal and she wants and needs you to be her pack or rather extended family. She will naturally want to bond with you, but she's also a creature built to survive in a very harsh world. Some folks say wild rats have a split personality.. the part that wants to love and trust you and the other part that says don't trust anyone and run or fight...

Nurture the lonely little baby and don't poke the wolf. From the video she doesn't seem too frightened of you, but now she has to learn to be part of your family... If you can get Winnie socialized, then you can worry about any other issues.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
I cannot find a link yet, but there was a study that showed completely domesticated rats started acting like wild rats within 2 hours of release, so assuming she's physically healthy she should be fine to go back. You may want to check your local laws about keeping wild rats, some places make it illegal to release something classified as vermin, too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
65 Posts
I'd be afraid to release her if you're in a city environment, where she could be easily trapped or worse. I think someone brought you together for a reason, here's hoping you two can bond and everyone will be happy together.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Very grateful.

I'm calm 99.99 percent of the time, and some wildlife in the backyard actually trust me enough to come very close, (and some squirrels let me pet them on occasion). So, yes, I totally understand what you're saying.

The weather outside is still dreadful (rainy and flooding) around here after all that snow melted rapidly. So I'll see if she wants to be my friend.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,244 Posts
In reply to your PM... and as this may also help other people in a similar situation:

My wife is rat phobic. We're talking about standing on the chair screaming rat phobic. I didn't realize how bad it was until we brought home my daughter's first rat pup. We soon realized we couldn't let our rat out of the cage in the house... The wife actually started cleaning the furniture with bleach.

So to accommodate the rat and the wife we took Fuzzy Rat outdoors to play... And Fuzzy Rat evolved into the most amazing true shoulder rat... she chased kids around the park, she climbed trees and she even swam in the lake with my daughter and other children. From the worst possible situation we raised the most remarkable rat. The wife still can't be within a few feet of a rat, but as long as the rat keeps it's distance they can pass each other around the house now... A series of room dividers and doors allows both wife and rat to free range indoors for the most part. This progress only took several very sweet rats several years. So as to how you will deal with keeping Winnie becomes a matter of overcoming challenges, which is true of any pet. Fuzzy Rat traveled with us everywhere and to be honest, it wasn't always easy finding restaurants that would serve a family with a rat. But surprisingly many welcomed us, especially those that catered to kids. It turned out that children and their parents would actually ask the management when the friendly rat would be back. Fuzzy Rat kept customers in the store and boosted sales and that made us very welcome in certain businesses.

I'm not suggesting that life with a pet is going to be easy, but rats adapt to a degree and pretty much if you can accommodate a dog, you can accommodate a rat. It's a personal choice. No person's life or rat's life is optimal, it's just making the best of it you can.

As to letting Winnie go outdoors, most likely she will adapt and survive... there are no guarantees, you did what you could and that's all you can do. Our part wild rat lived outdoors on her own for 5 months and she thrived and Wilder a captive raised wild black rat moved out of his home and into the barn with his wild family and still sneaks into the house to visit his human mom at night when she sleeps. But life is full of dangers for wild rats. There are certainly success stories of indoor rats going native and doing well outdoors on their own... and wild rats with a full set of wild rat skills are killed every day by owls and other predators.

For the most part this is a call you have to make... best furry friend or set her free... The only thing is that if you don't socialize her before she gets too agile and dangerous the decision will be made for you.

You need to get Winnie into the immersion area as soon as possible, with lots of treats and kindness and dedication and get her to interact with you and get used to being safely handled if you want a best furry friend. If you wait too long you will lose the opportunity to bond with her simply because she will be too dangerous to handle... Not that she will be mean or aggressive, just the potential for hurting you will be too great to warrant the risk.

When my neighbor tried to grab my part wild rat, she tore him up, and he was special forces just back from Iraq. So, when US special forces meets part wild rat.. part wild rat wins... by inflicting so much trauma so fast that the human has to back off. Wild rats will also attack dogs and cats the same way... They may be too small to kill their opponents, but turning a cat's face into chopped meat makes a good point for being left alone, it's basically the badger approach to survival. Most animals don't hunt rats because rats just aren't worth the danger involved. Rats have even been known to kill or injure large snakes and many snake owners feed dead or frozen rats to their snakes for that reason. I upset my part wild rat once and she flew into a ball of fangs, fur and claws, spinning around like the Tasmanian devil cartoon, I just dropped her and jumped back, she came back to me minutes later sweet as can be... no hard feelings and luckily she didn't actually tear up my hand... I NEVER grabbed her by surprise again and she never went bazerk again. I did however get bitten once when I blocked her from killing a mouse I was holding... I'm sure she saw the mouse as a treat, but I turned my hand and got a nasty kill bite and it went deep into my palm and ripped the flesh... Likely it was partly my fault, but I've got a healthy respect for these animals.

A wild rat will bond with you, and Winnie will become your very best friend and you and your family can become hers too, and like keeping a friendly pet wolf or pitbull you may never see her angry side... My then 5 year old daughter would dress up our part wild rat in Barbie Doll costumes and drag her around the house in her pull string toy cars and squish her into a little ball and stretch her like an accordion and toss her into the air and play rat catch and our wild child was most accommodating and played along and seemed to love the attention. She was really a great rat. But if a stranger grabbed her from behind someone was going to the emergency room...

It's your call whether to keep Winnie, it's not so much a rush to let her go as it's a rush to socialize her if you want to keep her. Every day she gets older she gets faster and more agile and more dangerous... that's again not to suggest that she will get more vicious, just that the cost of making a mistake gets higher.

I'm not sure If I'm being clear... I don't mean to suggest that adult wild rats are vicious, they aren't.. just that they CAN BE dangerous and shouldn't be fooled with lightly. Folks that socialize screwed up adult domestic rats often get bitten for their efforts, folks that try and socialize adult wild rats often get shredded and wind up with lots of stitches. If you are on the fence as to what to do with Winnie, take her into a safe immersion area and sit down on the floor with her, bring treats and gloves and try to interact with her, if you can get communication going and you can handle her and form a bond, you have a friend, if not... there's no debate as to what you should do, you have to set her free before she escapes her cage and hurts someone. A wild rat is not an exhibit animal, she's a friend and a house pet or she shouldn't be in a cage at all. If you are on the fence, try immersion and see how it goes after a few hours.

Best luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you again, Rat Daddy. I'll see what I can do, RiddlesMum. Right now, Winnie still does't know for sure if she can trust me fully. She takes her favorite food from my hands, and even licks coconut milk based ice cream off my fingers, and let me pet her a little if she's in the mood (otherwise she gently nips my finger to tell me "not now"). I stay up every night to sweet talk to her, and read books to her. She eats, sleeps, poops well. One interesting thing is that she almost always poops sitting atop the water bottle.

Anyway, here's some latest Vine video loops of Winnie.
She loves cilantro: https://vine.co/v/eubpIw2IqDM
She eats navel orange from my hand: https://vine.co/v/eudp1973VTX

Thank you again, everyone, for your kind suggestion, comments and thoughts. xo
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,244 Posts
I know you are taking it slow and trying to build trust, but rats generally need you to make the first move... Winnie really doesn't seem afraid of you, nor does she strike me as aggressive, but she really needs to get used to being handled and build a tactile bond with you before it's too late...

I think Winnie and you can really have a great life together, she can become your very special friend and you hers. But there will come a point very soon when it will not be your decision any more, the window of opportunity is already closing.... I mean if I saw Winnie in my back yard, I'd already keep my distance. I'm guessing she can already sprint faster than you and jump over 3 feet and those teeth are razor sharp with 23000 psi of biting power behind them. It's time you and her became very best friends. Get her into an immersion space with you, armor up if you aren't sure how things will go and start to get her socialized before it's too late, or set her free before she accidentally gets out of her cage and hurts someone..


Remember, I'm one of the biggest proponents of socializing and raising wild rats anywhere, I adored and admired our own part wild child, and I trusted her to play alone with my 5 year old daughter, but I also saw my neighbor after she shredded his hand wrapped in a white bath towel soaked red throughout with his blood... Wild rats make great friends and are just as sweet and loving as their domestic counterparts... but they are not just cute little fur balls... Winnie is a R-A-T, she's the real deal, the silent stalker of nightmare and legend.. she's smart, she's fast, she packs a mean bite and she's wired to do serious damage to anything that threatens her... She could make a perfect friend to you and your family or she can be your very worst nightmare, every day she's not being handled or napping in your lap or playing with you is one day closer to disaster. To be entirely honest she should have been handled a couple of hours every day since she was found, but she still looks like she would give you a chance to be her friend from the vids, so I can't stress strongly enough how important immediate action on your part is. Winnie deserves to be loved, but she also needs to be respected. Wild rats are very special animals.

Oh yea, wild rats are big on OCD... they love to do the same thing the same way, if pooping on the water bottle worked once, she'll likely keep doing it for as long as it works. They take "creature of habit" to the next level. They also prefer foods they know and like and routine and they can get really upset when things are moved or their routine is disrupted. Just like any rat, there are no hard and fast rules, each one is different, but they are pretty easy to work with and care for when you realize that they have very orderly and disciplined minds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you again, Rat Daddy, for your valuable insight.

We've been nose to nose every night through her cage, and she's been letting me pet her. She's very timid, and not aggressive at all. And believe it or not, she and I can communicate using simple sign language for the most part.

I'll take your warnings. (Actually, you're rather scaring me, and believe me, "fear" is not a good motivator ;))

Thank you. I'm really grateful.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top