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Hi everyone,

I just wanted to check in with everyone as I am a relatively new rat owner. My girl, Mrs wiggles is very playful and active. Every so often, however, she suddenly acts very panicked. It usually entails her eyes getting very wide and her scurrying and hiding. When she's in these moods, she won't take treats from me and doesn't like to be held. Usually when this happens, I put her back into her cage to give her time to calm down. I'm not sure what could cause this but it's happened a few times and started when she was around 8 months. My only theory is that almost every time this happens, I've been around a cat earlier in the day. Maybe the cat pheromones are triggering some sort of biological response in her? Anyway if anyone has any advice, please let me know! I took her to the vet recently for a choking related incident, and the vet said she was in very good health especially for her age, so I don't think it could be an underlying thing? She's about a year and a half btw
 

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Hey Annie,

I don't really think I have enough information to answer this question accurately. The only thing I can say, really, is that rats are creatures of habit. Their fear, for them, is a survival response. So if something even so much as startles them, it's totally normal for them to scurry away and hide for a second. If it happens very frequently, though, it's worth identifying the source and possibly trying to expose it to them more to mute their fear response. I didn't make kissy noises often with my rats and the moment I started doing so it startled them a lot. Repeated exposure helps. Hopes that gives you some good advice!
 

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Oliver Bean, Phyllis, Waffle, Taco, Atlas, Cirrus, Orion
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Hi and welcome! Rats are silly and dramatic little beasts. They can have 'off' days where they act afraid, or just don't want to socialize. I've had a few of those and racked my brain trying to figure out why and found out it was indeed the smell of a cat! The neighbor's kitty was rubbing on me, and I petted him, and didn't wash my hands. I don't do that anymore. The whole gang would look at me like I wanted to eat them and froze and stared and wouldn't come to me for a whole day.
 

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Ruben and Charlie (K9s-Mutts) and various large South American cichlids
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I don't know if there any scientific evidence of this , but I have always found that even my most tame, outgoing girls seemingly can startle at a pin drop, compared to my boys. The boys, of course, can and do get startled sometimes...but the girls have elevated it to an art form, lol... I find that if it was a sudden movement or strange object or sound that initially startled them, eventually their curiosity wins out and they have to come see what it is all about. I just chalk it up to all of their little rat instincts kicking in. I'm not sure if you have other rats too, but it seems that if mine see that one of the girls is being brave the others are more likely to be more confident after being spooked.
 

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Oliver Bean, Phyllis, Waffle, Taco, Atlas, Cirrus, Orion
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Ah yes, the girls 💕 they have that group think going on, and if one gets spooked, they all feed off the fear. It always cracks me up when something falls and makes noise, and they all freeze, to the point where they won't even take food. I can hold the tastiest of treats right under their nose and they don't even blink. Survival mode :giggle:
 
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