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It's called Shoulder Ratting. It is extremely dangerous, requires a well trained rat/human pair, and you still risk losing your rat every time to take them out. Rat Daddy has great info on it, how to tell a good shoulder rat, how to test them, the risk involved, not to mention amazing stories about his Fuzzy Rat. It's a very advanced type of rat ownership, as he discribes in his info thread. It's not for new owners or those who are faint of heart.
 

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It's called Shoulder Ratting. It is extremely dangerous, requires a well trained rat/human pair, and you still risk losing your rat every time to take them out. Rat Daddy has great info on it, how to tell a good shoulder rat, how to test them, the risk involved, not to mention amazing stories about his Fuzzy Rat. It's a very advanced type of rat ownership, as he discribes in his info thread. It's not for new owners or those who are faint of heart.
Well, perhaps "advanced" isn't the correct term. It's certainly risky indeed, to take an unrestrained rat places. And a huge responsibility that I think many do not think all the way through.

If domestic rats escape and survive, that is a big impact on the natural ecosystem, the same type of irresponsibility that occurs when folks "set free" other non-native species, either by accident or on on purpose.

But, taking a pet rat places without a harness/leash--Very akin to taking an off-leash dog places.

If there are not leash restrictions in that area, the risk is at least mitigated by some sort of safety in the area (large open area, away from roadways, etc), AND the animal has had extensive training, then that is at least a more reasonable plan.

It's still a risk, to the pet, other animals and people, and the environment, but a more managed risk.

There will always be a few exceptional animals, dogs, rats, cats, whatever, that can handle this type of scenario, but it's certainly not something that ought to be celebrated as some sort of model for the average pet and owner.

I inherited an "outside" cat who will follow by my side for a two mile walk thru woods, water, and fields, crossing roads safely--he looks both ways and listens, truly--he's brilliant beyond belief, and awesome as all get out, but I still strongly advocate that the safest, best way to keep a cat is as a safe indoor kitty.
 

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It would be great to learn more about what you mean about taking your rats places. I take my rats with me whenever and wherever possible. I especially love travelling with my rats when I go by car. They really enjoy being in a new environment. It's fun having them out on a hotel bed, on the desk or out in the bathroom. It's also fun bringing them back home when they recognize their cage and get all excited to be back in it. :) I've also enjoyed bringing my rats to work and having them out and about on my desk.
 

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I'm wondering, do some people also place their rats in carriers or pet bags when they take them places? I would not risk unrestrained shoulder ratting unless I was really, really sure that rat was cut out for it.
 

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First before taking a rat outdoors, please read my thread on the subject.... It is a dangerous thing to do, but with the right rat and the right person and proper training and testing it's very doable.

This is a spot in our safe site, which is a 40 acre park surrounded on 3 sides with water. My daughter loves to climb trees so they aren't a problem. Fuzzy Rat a great true shoulder rat is on the ground exploring and Amelia who was not cut out to be a true shoulder rat is hiding in the tree. Even a rat that can't be a true shoulder rat can come to a place like this, where she can't get hurt or lost.

Tree Land lot Woody plant Property White pine


This is Max passing her true shoulder rat final test. She earned her place here and proved herself confident and competent... You don't start here, you work up to this.

Sky Tree Wilderness Cloud Sunlight

And yes, this was taken in a large crowd under the town fireworks display. Fuzzy Rat actually liked fireworks, while Max can handle them without panicking... But if fireworks at night in a crowd isn't going to panic a rat... your pretty safe with her elsewhere.

And Max doing a meet and greet afterwards...

Long hair



And just for fun, Fuzzy Rat exploring on her own at the beach...




It can be done with the right rat, but it is never safe, it's risk management...


Now as to leashes and harnesses, I'm generally against them. Rats are expert escape artists and they can literally squish themselves into and out of almost anything. Thinking your rat is safe because you put a harness on her is a terrible idea because you are outdoors with a rat that hasn't been trained or tested that most likely can panic and escape... It's not the harness that get's your rat lost or killed, it's the false sense of confidence it can inspire.

If you are really interested in training a true shoulder rat start out at a safe site before you get the wrong rat lost or killed. With the perfect rat like Fuzzy Rat, it's actually pretty easy, with certain other rats it takes a lot more work and with a normal rat you'll find out it just isn't safely doable. No matter how long we worked with Amelia as soon as we put her down and stepped away from her she panicked and ran for cover... we couldn't even put her down to go to the bathroom outdoors. She was almost two years old before she could even come down from her tree at the safe site and forage around under the branches. By the time Fuzzy Rat was only 4 weeks old, she had already escaped, explored on her own and come back when recalled after nearly an hour... which is when I moved all rat training to the safe site. Fuzzy Rat was a brilliant escape artist, she was also incredibly competent at taking care of herself and avoiding dangers and she always came back to us or back to the house or car on her own. Max and Cloud need more supervision. And as soon as Max figures out where the car is she's on her way there. Cloud basically hangs out with us, which is nice too, she'll explore, but keep us withing visual range which makes her pretty easy to handle.... No true shoulder rat can panic, if your rat panics when outdoors, that's pretty much the end of her training, you won't get her back and you will lose her or she will dart off into traffic and get killed. The rest comes down to your skills and experience and how well you train your rats.

This isn't an activity for everyone, consider your risks carefully before going beyond the safe site.

Best luck.
 

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Rat carriers where rats can pop out of are a hazard around other people. A rat popping out of nowhere can really freak a rat phobic out... It's best when people can see your rat from a distance and avoid you if they have to. Before you get withing 12 feet of anyone they should know you are holding or wearing a rat, this will save you some major problems when you are in a store or in a busy place. 12 feet is a distance where most rat phobics won't start screaming or running about wildly tossing the things they are holding. I watched a father and his kids intentionally maneuver his unsuspecting rat phobic wife up to our rat who was sitting on the bench next to me... Then he turned her around and said look honey it's a rat... she jumped about 10 feet right out of her shoes, tossed her smart phone about 20 feet into the air and ran about 50 yards until she practically collapsed out of breath... her husband and kids were hysterically laughing... Honestly I hope he had to buy her a new smart phone although he collected up all of the parts and her shoes. I didn't find the incident particularly amusing... this is how you get kicked out of a park or a store. Luckily the lady blamed her husband, not our rat, but things could have gone worse.

Now I watch for people driving other people towards us, and am very careful about people wanting to borrow our shoulder rats, rat phobia is no joke and rats are absolutely terrifying to some people. Never let your rats ever pop out and surprise anyone.
 

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Chase is my my wingman. He comes with me to all pet friendly and outdoor places (like fleamakets) Chase is the only rat out of the 3 that I trust 100%. He is also deaf, and has never been scared of anything he has faced (including my boyfriends step-moms house during band practice.) If you do not trust your rat 120% I DO NOT advise taking them anywhere. I have Chase on a harness to ease others minds. They are not foolproof.

Keep in mind if you do decide to take your pet places they must be well behaved and only to pet friendly places. Just because your animal is small, does not mean that they can go in to any store or mall.
The exception is small private-owned businesses with owner or management permissions.

*THIS ALSO INCLUDES: Cooperations such as Lowes and Home Deopt who have recently changed their pet polices to only allow service dogs...Places that only allow service animals, are not pet friendly, just because other do it, does not mean it is ok. Do not think you are above the law.**
 

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Businesses are hit or miss, depending on your rat and the management. My bank branch and one restaurant we always went to changed management and policy, so we changed restaurants and bank branches... I never argue with proprietors or store management, I just support businesses that want our business... And I have very politely told them so.

Overall, it's actually quite surprising how many places will welcome a well behaved, highly trained rat. On the other hand if your rat acts fidgety and it's obvious you are having trouble controlling your rat you'll be surprised how many will implement no pet policies fast. When I told my local auto parts store that Fuzzy Rat walked at heel they dared me to put her down on the floor, something I almost never do in a business... After that she usually followed me around while I shopped there... The staff and customers loved her and regularly asked me where my rat was after she passed away. Cloud's a bit more fidgety and doesn't get the kind of welcome Fuzzy Rat did, but overall she's still welcome in lots of places that have gotten to know her and most of the places Fuzzy Rat used to frequent.

Customer reaction also helps. If other customers like your rat, and the management doesn't have any policies in place, you can almost bet you will be welcome. That's why it's so important to only work with very well trained rats when going into businesses. If your rat scares customers or the store needs an exterminator to recover your rat for you, you can bet you've permanently screwed it up for yourself and every other shoulder rat trainer that will ever go there.

Oddly because of the strange status of rats being wildlife in my state, there really aren't any laws governing where they can and can't go.... So, I'm never breaking an actual law by bringing along a shoulder rat. But there's also no advantage to picking fights either. The worst thing that can happen in my state is that we get asked to leave... nothing ventured, nothing gained. I suppose that everyone should check their local laws in case there's something that can cause you problems before you decide to travel with your rat.

Oddly there is a law in my state that requires people to control/exterminate rats on their own residential property that's never to my knowledge been enforced against a pet rat owner... Many years ago a tenant called the health department to report that I had rats living in the back yard and the health department showed up. I showed them our groundhogs and the opossum and they went away. So as odd as it might seem, I'm actually at greater risk of running afoul of local ordinances by keeping my rats at home than by taking them out with me...

There are big dollar vested interests in rats not having a proper legal status in my state, for the most part I take full advantage of that fact, but I never push the issue to a point that might cause someone to try and figure it out... True shoulder rats are so rare, there's no reason to write laws about them and that's the way I prefer it. You can't be convicted if it isn't a crime.
 

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I prefer keeping my rat outdoors when we go places. She is so well behaved and relaxed when we are just chilling together and enjoying the weather. She gets a bit tense in crowds and likes to sit in her bag, but she's never opposed to meeting new people. Most people I meet are fascinated by her and think she's pretty cute "for a rat". Petsmart allows rats but there's always the precaution of catching sickness from the animals at the store. Most parks allow rats and that's a good place to let your rat meet new people and show off a little. Definitely remember though to never let you guard down, and assess the area before you decide to take you rat there. It definitely isn't for every rat like others have said, I wouldn't trust any of my others beyond a rat proofed room.
 
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