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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there!

I got my two boys (Fili & Kili) a little over a week ago. They're about 2 months old. They're pet shop boys, but it's nice little pet shop that isn't a chain and they work with all their animals. No idea where they source them, but my boys came well handled and happy to chill with humans.

I also have a cat, who mostly doesn't seem to care about them - but he will watch them running around - and a german shepherd dog. She's been obsessed since we got the rats, so we've been working on lots of desensitization to the smell, the sight of the cage, the sight of the rats, etc. Lots of progress on that front, but let's just say the rats are not getting a lot of out-of-cage time at this point. They come out once a day or so, for about 30 minutes to an hour.

On sunday we got a double critter nation, and moved them into it. They appear to be scared of all the room in the cage. They haven't really moved off one shelf. I'll take them out, put them back in, and they'll stay in that corner. They don't appear to be scared of the dog or cat or us, just not really... interested in moving around the cage? I'm wondering if they'll warm up to it or if I just wasted a ton of money on that cage lol. They had no problem exploring the small cage we put them in initially.
 

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What kinds of toys do you have in there for them? Maybe you could give them a tissue box or two to hide in? Then they could explore a bit and have a place to run to til they see that there isn't anything scary in the big new territory. I'm sure they will get the hang of it soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
They're got hideouts, tissue boxes, a hammock, hanging wooden toys... :\ They use either a corner or a hideout that is closest to wherever I put them back in. I usually see them explore the shelf they are on when I put them back into their cage until they find a hideout/corner, and then i don't see them move from it. And judging from the dog's reactions, she hasn't seen them moving from it either.

Is it kind of normal? Should I put them onto the same shelf with the food/water so they don't starve themselves, or should I just wait for hunger/thirst to take over fear?
 

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Make a trail of food to where the bowl is that worked for me. :) They will likely start moving during the night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just did that when I went home at lunch. :) We'll see if they move at all by the time I go home in the evening... Unlikely, right?
 

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I moved my four girls into a double critter nation recently, they are just a bit younger than your boys. They weren't too keen about exploring for a few days and even now rarely venture onto the bottom level without a ton of convincing. I'm a new rat owner in general, but I'd say it's normal that they'd be a bit nervous about a bigger space, unless it was super densely decorated (like some of those amazing set ups I've seen!), thereby creating a lot of cover. Hope they start warming up to it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I noticed overnight there was a lot more movement around the cage, including in some of the lower levels. :) They are really interested in interacting with the cat, so they come out often when he's around.

They finally found water and food and I've put more hideouts on all the places in the cage, to hopefully encourage them to run around more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
They are, which is awesome. :)

I'm wondering if I'm doing the handling thing correctly? I take them our of their cage (which neither rat has a problem with), and then keep them somewhere on my body. Yesterday Kili slept for a good two hours in the collar of my shirt, on my neck. I try offering them treats, but they don't want them, seemingly content just to sit on hands or arms or shoulders, or run around all over my torso. They will explore the couch if allowed, but I don't let them (at least yet), because if they end up on the floor and the dog is around that will not end well.

Is that okay? Should I be trying to interact with them more somehow instead of just holding/petting/scratching them? Should I be allowing them to explore other surfaces other than me?
 

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A great deal depends on their ages. If they are content to hang around on you, that's fine. A word about the couch or other furniture. Drape a blanket or sheet over it to prevent them getting inside, and watch for them to make holes in the cover. A rat inside the furniture is no fun. Rats don't usually jump far, though some will. When a rat wants to explore, it's very difficult to dissuade them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I guess I'm more thinking about quality of life I guess? I really would rather they not go anywhere other than on me. I kind of want couch potatoes who will watch TV with me. :) Is DCN + human = enough territory to explore, or would they need more to be happy?

They are around 2 months old. What happens with age?
 

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That depends entirely on the rat...

Tree Jungle Plant Branch Wildlife

This one loved to hang out with me, but I wouldn't say she would have been happy if that's the only place she got to go...

(She wasn't exactly a 'normal' rat so don't try this at home.)

Rats tend to go through a life cycle... as pups they want to be near us as they get older they become more competent and adventurous and like to explore more, then as senior citizens they can become more withdrawn and prefer smaller and darker spaces.
 

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About the couch- rats tend to explore more if they're bored. Norman would always find away off the bed whenever it was just me and the other rats to interact with. It was driving me so crazy until I started putting some hides and toys on the bed. Bam, no more runaway rattie. I'd say let them explore the couch, but make sure there's stuff to do so they don't get desperate for entertainment.
 

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About the couch- rats tend to explore more if they're bored. Norman would always find away off the bed whenever it was just me and the other rats to interact with. It was driving me so crazy until I started putting some hides and toys on the bed. Bam, no more runaway rattie. I'd say let them explore the couch, but make sure there's stuff to do so they don't get desperate for entertainment.
Dirty laundry seems popular. Just don't throw your formal clothes in there.
 
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