Rat Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm still pretty new to owning rats and I'd like to hear your stories about owning rats. I've read about RatDaddy and his shoulder rat Fuzzy, but as he says, that's the exception not the rule. How much do your rats "interact" with you, and what should I really expect from them?

When I first heard the phrase "trust training" I thought it sounded like a great idea but I've read a little about it and it seems like we've already kinda done a lot of that without knowing what it was called. All our rats are excited to see us when we go to the cage, they all come out onto us, they take treats and will eat them whilst sitting on our laps, and they all enjoy playing with us, but... It's pretty unusual for any of them to let us "pet" them. :(

They're all still pretty young, born October 1st, so maybe that will change in time or is it something that I need to keep working at, am I doing something wrong?



Here's an example of how my rats interact with me.
This morning I went to their cage and they were all out and about and playful. I said "hello" in my usual way, talking to them and letting them sniff and lick my fingers thoroughly before playing "I'm gonna catchya!" for a little while. After this we went through to where we have our free ranging time and spent maybe 40 minutes playing and exploring before I started to get drowsy (the joys of painkillers). Previously I would just take their whole cage through and sit it on the floor, letting them come out and go back as they please, but we just got them their new, far bigger cage and I can't carry it so I have to carry the rats through instead. This was the first time I'd taken them through to free range on my own since we got the new cage and I suddenly realised that I didn't have anyone to help me try to corral 5 squirmy rats and put them back. Oops!

When they had come out of the cage the'd all climbed out onto me at once and I'd just walked through with them but I didn't think I'd have much luck with THAT the other way around. My mobility isn't great (motorcycle accident) and I was pretty stiff and sore from spending 40 minutes sitting on the floor so I stood up and started looking around to see if there was anything with a lid I could use to hold them rather than having to pick each rat up in turn and walk through the house. As I moved around the room the rats all started following following me, then one of them decided that it would have a go at climbing up my pyjama trousers! It made it too! Next thing I know the remaining 4 rats all start climbing up my legs and before I know it I have 5 rats squirming and playing on my shoulders and I just walked (hobbled) back through and put back in their cage. :D

I think this is a pretty good start, and there is obviously trust there but I'd LOVE to be able to show my rats more affection. At the moment I just have to make do with letting them sniff and lick my fingers, play chase, share treats and use me as a "base" when they're out for free play. I'm trying to let my rats determine how we interact with eachother rather than trying to force them, but maybe there's more I could be doing?



So... How does this stack up to how your rats interact with you? Do you have any tips or advice, can you share your stories of rat owners to give an insight into just what it's really like to own rats?

Oh, and thank you to anyone who read all that. And double thank you to anyone who responds! :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
870 Posts
A rat that sits still to be petted? What a radical idea.

Xena and Aphrodite were my first two rats. Xena loved me and would come to me anytime I called, but she had a very busy schedule of exploring to handle, so she would only stay a few seconds before heading back to her own business. Aphrodite tolerated me. During free range she tended to head right back to her cage. If I called her and offered her a treat, she would judge which was closer me or the cage and would only come for her treat if I were closer.

The two boys I have now Petey and Binx stay on the chaise with me, but neither lets me pet him for more than a few seconds before getting back to their own games and explorations together.

I'm sure some rats sit and get petted, but I haven't met on of them yet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
135 Posts
The first few rats I had, when I was about 18 lived a rather chaotic life in a series of squats and warehouse spaces. I used to string up long winding tunnels and boxes or cages between rooms, and the rats would just roam. We ended up with about 35 pet rats between sixteen of us, and were living in a four bedroom place with holes in the walls when someone trashed the rat tunnels and the rats escaped into the wall cavities. Up until that point there had been a certain degree of trying to keep the males and females apart, but when they got into the walls they began breeding prolifically, and we ended up with an infestation. It wasn't all bad in that the rats kept the maggots in the kitchen under control, but we ended up almost burning the house down on several occasions as wandering rodents gnawed through power cables and fried. Cooking in the kitchen also sometimes resulted in death traps for the rat population, especially the ones that would hide in the stove when it was on, or got trapped in the fridge or freezer. We tried to keep as many as pets as possible, and I have woken up covered in sleeping rats - I was living in a walk in closet with one door and no windows, and the room got very cozy, plus it was always dark, but eventually we got evicted because we were a health risk. We managed to take a good deal of the rats out of the house before the landlord got it fumigated, and quite a few of the multi-generational ones had gone completely feral by that stage and no doubt had run too, but its a good example of what not to do I guess :)

Fun things you do when you're young...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
140 Posts
I've owned a total of 8 rats, and only 2 have sit still to let me pet them. One after they had a stroke (and obviously knew their time was up) and one baby that just can't resist an ear rub! Usually with females you just have to pet them as they run. My rats will try jumping onto my shoulder if I'm sitting, but they won't try climbing up if I'm standing (which is good because I never wear long pants in the house, and they'd tear my legs to shreds).

Sounds like you're at a really good point as far as trust training goes! Those ratties really seem to love you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
248 Posts
Are your rats male or female? How they act as they get older is dependent on gender. Females are more playful while males are more likely to come and snuggle.

Don't be discouraged about them not sitting and being petted. It is pretty normal, especially with younger rats. It doesn't mean they don't like you or anything. My girls always did this until they got much older. My two year old, Kitty, finally sits on my lap and gets pets. Her back legs don't work at 100% anymore so she gets tired quicker and wants the snuggles. I guess you will have to wait until your babies get to be two years old before they'll sit and be petted! I have never raised a male, but from what I read they tend to start the snuggle sessions more often than the girls, even at a young age.

When a rat gets tired you can try picking them up and petting them, they may stay longer. If they start to chew on their teeth and kinda shiver it means they like what your doing. Just keep petting in different ways until you find what they love. I have noticed that they like to be petted behind the ears and up and down their nose.

What I like to do with my girls is always give one treat to each rat before I give the lab blocks. Now they come running to the cage, reaching their heads out and looking for the treat. When they get it they go running to eat it. It is really quite cute and now they come running to the cage door even when it isn't time to feed and its easy to pick them up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
raindear said:
A rat that sits still to be petted? What a radical idea.
Lol! Fair point. :) I've seen videos on YouTube of people with rats who seem to enjoy getting a little stroke now and again and I guess I just wanted to be able to do that with mine. My lot all squirm away whenever I try to touch them, unless of course we're playing the "I'm gonna tickle your belly" game.

crice said:
Those ratties really seem to love you!
Thank you so much! I've never owned rats before and really had no idea what to expect. I knew I was never going to be one of those people who trains their rats to do amazing tricks or anything like that, but all you ever see is the extremes - the people with AMAZING rats, or people getting their finger chewed every time they go near the cage.

@Clockwork Ghost - Wow! That sounds crazy! Fun times, huh? :D :D :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Oh! Thank you CJMoore! You must have replied whilst I was reading/typing, lol! Yes, ours are girls so that might explain it. My boyfriend seems to have the majic touch with them. He can usually pick one up, take it to the sofa, and the next thing you know it's got it's eyes half closed in extasy as he tickles and scratches them. I don't know what he does or how he does it, but I'm jealous. Grrrr! ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
195 Posts
All of my current 9 are pretty mobile and don't sit still for long for lovin'. Alfie is my oldest and even he is still really active at 1.5. The boys will come crawl all over me, or sit in my lap for a few seconds, say hi, see if I have any treats for them, and then they're off to explore again.

I'm still training the girls to trust me, so they're not get a whole lot of free range time. But we do play chase in their cage, and Eveleen will pounce me, and then groom me hand, then run away and do it all over again. Isabeal, my 2.5 month old is still SUPER skittish, and is slowly learning that a hand in the cage usually has something yummy, and to come to investigate. She doesn't like being touched a whole lot, and will run away and hide. Sinead is pretty laid back, but she's also on antibiotics as she's not feeling good, so she gets stroked and loved on, and then gets her meds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
246 Posts
Sounds like your rats really enjoy your company.

I have played hand games with them, I usually try to have my hand palm up so they can tell that's when its a game and palm down for petting. It seems to work, but my late Gustav was bigger on cuddling than playing and so is Beadle. My new baby Petri likes playing more than snuggling. It's all pretty individual. Sometimes it just takes them getting older to figure out how nice cuddles can be- though my friend's female rat was never big on sitting still for longer than a minute.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
604 Posts
That story is adorable Guzzi. My first rat used to chase me as I walked through the room as well though she never climbed my legs. She never was too cuddly until near the end. Just play play play.

As for my boys. My 2 years olds are just now starting to slow down but what I notice is that they are lovey in their cage, but not so much outside. When I open their cage throughout the day to say hi both of them are in for major cuddles but when they are outside they know that it's time to run around and get some energy out.

One of my young boys is absolutely crazy and he just goes like the little energizer bunny. He will stop by me for just a second to get touched then leave. Usually for him I just do a run by petting lol. Or I'll grab him and cuddle him while making kissy noises and he wrestles my little skritches. My other young boy is actually the first rat I've met that will chill out for some lovins. He will explore for a little bit and then just crawl up in my lap and push his face against my hands until I pet him.

I think more often then not rats just associate outside time with playtime. Or when they hear the cage open they know its time to party! Lol Then when they are back in their cage they settle down and cuddle with their buddies. But you really seem to be doing some incredible bonding. Just get in the pets when they run by you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
452 Posts
My boys are 20 months old but they still go hard when its free range time! They hardly ever sit still when out, unless theyre eating treats, sniffing something or grooming. They periodically come back to me and climb all over me, but never sit still long enough to call it a snuggle time. Usually I prop the rats front body up with both my hands, with the fingers under them (so my hands are lightly holding its chest, forearms and head) and stroke and rub their shoulders with my thumbs. This makes Chamois lick me for up to 10-15 seconds, then he runs away to explore again. Wolf usually sits there for a few seconds and squirms while pushing my hands away with is hands lol
Ive recently found a new sweet spot that'll make both of them lick me! I prop their forebody up on my left hand, and rub their rumps up and down (both along and against the direction of their fur) and this makes even Wolf lick me happily so I think its all about finding the sweet spot for every individual one of them :D
Im not sure if my boys will ever calm down enough to be petted for extended periods of time haha
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
672 Posts
My rats like to explore too, but at night when I first get them all out, I have six ( 2 boys, 4 girls), they all head for the neck of my shirt, go down the front a cuddle/nap for about 30-60min. I have learned before they all get comfy to put a towel on my chest or All the little nails kill me. After they have cuddled it's off to exploring. The boys usually come back after a wee bit and lay somewhere along my legs, one of them wants to be left alone just to sit there, but Nate is a snuggle bug and loves being rubbed on. Mine are all neutered, except for Mouse (youngest female). I think this makes a big difference even with the females. Mouse never stops moving, while my other females are much more laid back. I have a female who is a full sister to my boys and she is almost as laid back as the boys are.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
My girls have always been more "run and play and climb on you" rats than "cuddle and pet" rats.
I remember Olive was the only girl I had who would ever sit still and just be petted, but I still had a deep bond with everyone else.
Don't get discouraged, most rats just prefer to show their love in different ways that being cuddled.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
195 Posts
My oldest guy Alfie would much prefer to just share air space with me. He's come a long way since i first got him, and I realize now his "cuddling" back then was mainly fear. Now he runs around like a little lunatic, and when he gets tired he'll lay down near me, but not touching me.

All three of my older boys will come investigate whatever it is I'm doing. Last night I had their bottom pan out to swap the fleece out. Sitting on the edge of the bed, with the pan in front of me on the floor, they all came over and hopped up on my lap, crawled out onto my knee and watched me fuss with their pan and the fleece. Ryker especially loves when I sit on the edge of the bed, he climbs up my thigh and will just hang out. Though apparently I don't give him enough room because he's forever using his head to nudge my elbow out of his way. He'll accept a few pats and rubs when he's there, but then is off to play again. Houdini does the same thing, but houdini is a lot more "affectionate." he'll hop up on my lap, let me scratch him and rub on him. If he's not into the pets he'll hop up on my shoulder and hang out. Lately he's taken to playing hair dresser. I usually keep my hair (long and curly) in a messy half ponytail/bun thing. He's taking to grooming and yanking strands out of the hair tie. Strange little boy, but whatever makes him happy. And so long as he doesn't give me a bald spot.

Of my three littler boys, Yasha is the most outgoing and friendly. I don't have to worry about him during freerange, as he usually comes running when I ask him to come to me. The other two boys have a tendency to play for a while, then hunker down and hide somewhere. I've found that keeping spare scraps of fleece on the bed helps as it gives them somewhere to hide, and I don't have to worry about where they are.

It always amazes me just how different each of our little critters are. Their quirks, likes, dislikes can be frustrating, yet so endearing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Thelma & Louise are about 8 months old now. When they were babies, they were much more cuddly. They would sleep inside my shirt or on the back of my neck under my hair, and sometimes they would sprawl together on the couch between me and John. But that phase soon passed and they now zoom all over the place during free roaming time. Thelma is the most affectionate of the two. She likes to come visit sporadically; never staying long. Just a quick visit before chasing after Louise again. Both are most affectionate in the mornings. They want to be on my shoulders much more often.

I don't think Louise is particularly affectionate, but much more of a schemer. Usually, she only crawls up to my shoulders if I'm standing by the kitchen counter because she wants to look for things to steal for her cubby hole under the lower Kitchen cabinets. She is extremely smart and has observed how we open the lower cabinets in the kitchen. Just the other night, John and I heard this noise in the kitchen and when I checked it out, there was Louise crouched in front of the cabinet doors. She had her front paws under them and was pulling them toward her to open them. She looked over her shoulder and gave me this proud look that seemed to say, "Oh yeah; look what I can do now!" I called for John to come look and she repeated it for him, obviously very proud of her achievement. We now have a brick in front of the cabinet doors when she's out because that cabinet under the kitchen sink has access to the dishwasher hoses and she's already chewed through those once before causing a flood in our kitchen when we turned n the dishwasher. Unfortunately, Louise is too smart for her own good and she always seems to be getting into something causing damage. Saying "no" to her even with a little bop on the nose has zero effect in stopping her. Now after I say NO!, I take her back to the cage, cutting short her free roaming session. I think she's smart enough to put it together that doing things we've told her not to do will lead to going back to the cage before she wants to go back. She requires constant monitoring whereas Thelma is a little free-spirited affectionate rat who loves playing but never does anything worse than chew on the corners of our walls, which at one time would have bothered me, but now I realize that's nothing compared to what else a rat can do. LOL
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
135 Posts
I've seen videos on YouTube of people with rats who seem to enjoy getting a little stroke now and again and I guess I just wanted to be able to do that with mine. My lot all squirm away whenever I try to touch them, unless of course we're playing the "I'm gonna tickle your belly" game.
I started stroking Ilsa through my clothes - I would put her on my chest, under my shirt and jersey, and stroke her that way. Where she wouldn't sit still if she was outside my clothes she was more than happy to be stroked if she was in a safe, dark environment. Now Ilsa will quite happily sit outside my clothes for a good petting, and also sits in my sleeve with her head poking out if she wants her ears scratched. Rauha seems to have decided that this is the way things go, as she will come over if I'm giving Ilsa some love and wait for her turn, or get involved in the petting so we have a three way love fest :D

Rats definitely have their own personalities, and some are more interested in having a cuddle than others, much like people. Also, there is a lot of learned behaviour - rats like to test things first to make sure that its safe, like what they do with food they havent eaten before, so keep at it and maybe your babies will decide that scritches are the bees-knees?
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top