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Hello I wasn't sure which topics to put this in so I hope it's ok here.
I am a total animal lover and advocate. Cat rescuer.
I am a new rat mom as of a few days ago. I currently have 3 different species of hamsters. All in very large cages. My neighbor contacted me about this rat that is\was at a school in a classroom. Her son's girlfriend's cousin's husband is a teacher there. (I know thats a mouthful) anyway due to the school closing because of Covid-19 and other untold circumstances they were looking for a forever home for him.
Good with people and kids obviously as a class pet.😒 I have wanted a rat for sometime, wasn't planning on getting one yet. Then I seen the picture of him. I leaped and said I'll take him. Now my reasons for doing so were this, he is in a smaller cage then anyone of my hamsters :cry:. I felt ill. In the cage is a hideaway house, his food bowl and water bottle and a short thick cardboard tube. That's all. No toys, nothing good to chew on, no friend, he's alone. He's 7 months old and has spent his life in this tiny smelly Kritter cage. I don't have everything he needs yet. I am getting him a proper cage ASAP. In the meantime I reassembled my multilevel bin cages. Before anyone freaks out I have fashioned as close and as tall as I can get to a proper cage. In my thinking is, anything is better than what he's in. I do have some knowledge of rats prior to this but I am non stop looking up everything. The last 72hrs has been everything rat.
Now this poor guy that I have renamed Loki, is scared. He's very curious, responds to me quickly, he seems to want me. But he second guesses himself when approaching me. From the moment he got here I have been giving him treats and toys and made a hammock for him. He's definitely loving it. You can see his wonderment. But he seems at times over stimulated and nervous. I give him some alone time when he starts yawning a lot and bar climbing and then on and off I go check on him.
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Problem... I can't get him to go into the new temporary cage. He kinda wants to then changes his mind. I don't want to force him. I haven't picked him up yet because of the nervousness and the large over grown teeth I'm just being cautious. I've let him nibble on me a lil but whew those teeth will hurt if he gets frightened enough to bite.
So what I'm asking is these few things.
How should I go about getting him out of that prison cell?
Is there anything I can do for him to make his transition easier on us both?
Anything recommended that I don't do?
And should he have a cage mate? Will that even go over well?, At his age? Does it matter the age?
I don't want to end up with another rat housed separately and then also needing a cage mate.
I have been basically 24\7 watching YouTube on every topic. Of course like with anything I've come across a few contradictory videos on various topics from rat owners. So this was my next step, seek out forums and get advice from rat lovers.
I've already got him a lot of toys, chew toys, food, treats, fleece for liners and diy hammocks, plus I always have several types of bedding from Aspen , Cob, granules and of course paper fluff.
I even have a rat harness and leash I found on clearance a few years ago, bought for the leash for my diy hamster harness. 😋
I just want to make him happy and do what's best for him. Sadly there is too many people that think small pets (mostly rodents) don't need a lot of space. Hamsters alone have a natural habitat 3xs larger than a humans average house. And everyone I know thinks I'm nuts for building them the "mansions". I am that annoying person in the pet shops that eaves drops on customers buying small animals and then I put my two cents in about husbandry. Mostly goes appreciated but others also think I'm crazy. I only just learned myself about 5 years ago that a Syrian hamster should never be in a tube cage since the tubes are less than 3in wide and they can get fairly large and that they need floor space more than levels and tubes. Since learning all that and more I try to educate myself and others as much as possible. When I took Loki I just wanted him out of that cage asap even though I'm not fully prepared. The chance that someone knowledgable of rats would've ended up with him is so small I couldn't bare the thought of not taking him and him end up still in that cage or in a worse situation, knowing I could've got him and didn't would probably haunt me for life. I attached the photo that was sent to me originally. You can probably tell why I jumped to get him so quickly. You can see how disgustingly small it is and the lack of everything.
So there it is. I hope this wasn't too long winded and I look forward to hearing from everyone soon. I love Loki already. Much appreciated and thank you in advance. ☺
 

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Good on you for taking him!

Don't worry about putting him into the new cage even if he's reluctant, it won't traumatize him. He may be cautious of his new surroundings at first, since they will be different and won't smell like him, but he'll get curious and start exploring pretty quickly. You can also scatter food and treats around to encourage exploration! If you're worried about being hurt you can wear gloves, but most rats will not bite.

The main concern with bin cages is ventilation, which can be fixed easily by replacing the solid sides/top with panels of wire if you haven't already, and the possibility of the rat chewing it open, which can be lessened by attaching the wire inside the cut-outs, so he can't get to the cut plastic edges as easily. Since you're already planning on it being only temporary it'll probably be fine, just keep an eye out for any signs he's chewing the plastic.

It is very important that you get a friend for him as soon as you can. Rats are very social and need to be kept in pairs (or more). Adult males are more likely to reject a new cagemate, especially another adult male, so your best bet is to find a young baby (less than 16 weeks)- ideally you would get a pair of brothers, so they have company while they're being intro'd or in case Loki really can't tolerate them- or get a female(s) and have her spayed or Loki neutered. A spayed female can be introduced as soon as her incision is healed enough, a neutered male needs to be kept alone for another month because he's still fertile at first. Neutering also will decrease the likelihood that he's aggressive towards other males, so you may want to consider it even if you're not interested in adding females.

Because he's been alone this long there is a slight possibility that he won't tolerate a cagemate, but it would be cruel to just assume he won't. Intros may take quite a long time, and the first method may not be successful and you'll have to try another, but it'll be worth it once you see him having a cuddle puddle and know he's getting the rat socialization he needs.

Oh, and his teeth are probably fine even if they look long- rats will grind them down themselves, it's a myth that they need chew toys to help with that. As long as they're not obviously wonky or impeding his ability to eat, they're probably fine.
 

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For moving him to his new cage, I would recommend waiting until he is asleep, and then quickly picking him up and putting him in the other cage. If you're nervous, then wear gloves. Have a hide with soft sleeping material(like tissues) in it ready in his new cage, and just put him right into that hide. Watch for maybe 5 minutes to see what he does, then leave the room for a bit(like 15 minutes) and then sneak back into the room to see what he's doing.
If he's exploring, that's great! If he doesn't hide again when you're looking at him, then try talking calmly, quietly, and soothingly to him. I while later, you could offer him treats.
If he is still in the hide when you come in, that's OK. It just means that he is a bit cautious about his new surroundings. Give him a few days to settle in.
Tip for when you are taming him in the future: liquid treats(such as baby food or yogurt) are valued higher and require him to stay next to your hand.

Congrats on your new rattie! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Good on you for taking him!

Don't worry about putting him into the new cage even if he's reluctant, it won't traumatize him. He may be cautious of his new surroundings at first, since they will be different and won't smell like him, but he'll get curious and start exploring pretty quickly. You can also scatter food and treats around to encourage exploration! If you're worried about being hurt you can wear gloves, but most rats will not bite.

The main concern with bin cages is ventilation, which can be fixed easily by replacing the solid sides/top with panels of wire if you haven't already, and the possibility of the rat chewing it open, which can be lessened by attaching the wire inside the cut-outs, so he can't get to the cut plastic edges as easily. Since you're already planning on it being only temporary it'll probably be fine, just keep an eye out for any signs he's chewing the plastic.

It is very important that you get a friend for him as soon as you can. Rats are very social and need to be kept in pairs (or more). Adult males are more likely to reject a new cagemate, especially another adult male, so your best bet is to find a young baby (less than 16 weeks)- ideally you would get a pair of brothers, so they have company while they're being intro'd or in case Loki really can't tolerate them- or get a female(s) and have her spayed or Loki neutered. A spayed female can be introduced as soon as her incision is healed enough, a neutered male needs to be kept alone for another month because he's still fertile at first. Neutering also will decrease the likelihood that he's aggressive towards other males, so you may want to consider it even if you're not interested in adding females.

Because he's been alone this long there is a slight possibility that he won't tolerate a cagemate, but it would be cruel to just assume he won't. Intros may take quite a long time, and the first method may not be successful and you'll have to try another, but it'll be worth it once you see him having a cuddle puddle and know he's getting the rat socialization he needs.

Oh, and his teeth are probably fine even if they look long- rats will grind them down themselves, it's a myth that they need chew toys to help with that. As long as they're not obviously wonky or impeding his ability to eat, they're probably fine.
Thank you so much for your reply. Yes my bins are meshed on all sides a few have too and sides I will reinforce or flip the mesh to the inside.
You gave some great answers and so feel much better about what I'm doing. I just hate that I have to wait to get his permanent home another 10 days.
I almost had him out last night I really would like to see him do it on his own. He wants to so much. When I close his door he gets a lil upset be like please don't close it but don't want to come out yet. And he doesn't want me to walk away. 😢
I think I'll wait until the new cage is here before I try any cagemates and I'm going to keep looking up more about adding new buddies to a single rat. Again thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
For moving him to his new cage, I would recommend waiting until he is asleep, and then quickly picking him up and putting him in the other cage. If you're nervous, then wear gloves. Have a hide with soft sleeping material(like tissues) in it ready in his new cage, and just put him right into that hide. Watch for maybe 5 minutes to see what he does, then leave the room for a bit(like 15 minutes) and then sneak back into the room to see what he's doing.
If he's exploring, that's great! If he doesn't hide again when you're looking at him, then try talking calmly, quietly, and soothingly to him. I while later, you could offer him treats.
If he is still in the hide when you come in, that's OK. It just means that he is a bit cautious about his new surroundings. Give him a few days to settle in.
Tip for when you are taming him in the future: liquid treats(such as baby food or yogurt) are valued higher and require him to stay next to your hand.

Congrats on your new rattie! :)
Thank you so much I have been doing just that. He's just so nervous. I feel horrible. I took some his bedding out and out it in the bin tower and that almost had him in. Lol all but his back legs firmly on the small cage door. The second I went to move it a lil he reversed back in. Sigh.
I did try to pick him up and he squeaked real loud and startled me. I didn't think I grabbed him hard at all. I mean I have an small delicate hammies and theyre fast. I think I'm good when it comes to handling so I didn't think I hurt him. I think I scared him more than anything.
 
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