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Trouble bonding…

556 Views 11 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  hexrex
Hiya everyone! I’m new to the forum but enjoyed reading many things on it before making an account.

Recently I just got two female dumbos (Kiwi & Dumpling) from a breeder nearby and they made themselves pretty comfortable in their cage! I’ve never owned rats before so this is my first time having them!

The problem is I’m having trouble bonding with them, I gave them 2-3 days to settle in after introducing them to their new home but Kiwi is incredibly skittish and hides in a corner whenever I say good morning and Dumpling always runs around and hangs out (she isn’t very skittish like Kiwi is but will run if there’s a sudden movement or noise which I assume is natural).

I’ve talked a lot and made my presence noticeable when near their cage just so they could get used to me, I play/work on my computer nearby as well so that’s a noise they get used too (I even keep the TV on because we always have it on and I wanted them to get used to the noises of our household). They seem fine with noises but 90% of the time they’re sleeping or hanging out in their hammock and don’t come out until 3-4pm, when they do come out Kiwi just hides when I’m nearby and Dumpling runs up to the door or hangs out.

It seems like they just don’t like me very much, I’ve even put my hand in the cage with treats so they’d get used to my smell and hand. Dumpling will sniff and nibble my hand before taking treats so she seems more sociable, but she has her moments and won’t let me touch her for more than a second or two. I’m also incredibly too nervous to pick them up because I’m scared I’d scare them even if I did it correctly.

All in all I’m not sure how to make them see that I’m not a threat and that I really care for them. Anyone have advice?
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Its completely normal for rats to be nervous! Some will take a few hours, some can take weeks or even months.
Sit with them for 10-15 minutes a day, and talk to them.
You can also try the yogurt on spoon/finger method.

Can you post a picture of their cage please?
Totally understandable! I did a lot of research before getting them, I just get anxious about these types of things because I’d hate for them to not feel comfortable here! The breeder picked them up so easily I was amazed haha!

Here’s some pictures; I tried to make sure they had plenty of hides and toys to entertain themselves and feel comfortable! I actually just had some come in that I need to put in :)!

EDIT: Had to fix the cover for their ramp now that I noticed 😂 Oh! And I forgot to mention they're both 7 weeks old!

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I love the cage!
Definitely put more open hammocks in and not so many hides. If they feel like they can always hide, they'll get too used to hiding all the time.
I would also add in more climbing toys, IKEA tie holders are always a cheap option that work well!
Also try adding a litter tray, it's much easier to clean when it's all in one place!
Thanks so much! Should I take out one or two of their hides? They love the big one on top and mostly spend time in their hanging hammock so I'd assume they'd prefer more hanging stuff! I have 2 more hammocks I just haven't had the chance to put them in because my presence freaks Kiwi out and I hate making her feel that way :(! I'll also definitely get some of those IKEA holders to make up for climbing stuff! As for a litter tray, I actually have one but I don't have a different kind of litter to put in it and I heard that makes it easier-- what's your opinion on it? I'd love to litter train them but I don't know how they'd respond considering!
I would take the blue hide out at the bottom. Maybe take the metal ladder out, swap it for tie holders or more interesting things to climb.
I would always use a different type of bedding for litter, I'm not sure if its available in America but I use Aubiose for the main substrate and Back 2 Nature for the litter trays.
It's very easy, put litter in the tray, shove it in a corner and add a pee rock. Put any poops you find around the cage in the litter tray.
It can take them a little while to realise it's a safe space to do their business.
Rats can be very dramatic! She probably isn't too bothered by you, just a bit unsure.
Try putting your hand in the cage, holding a treat. They have to work out how to open your hand to get the treat! This can be a great way to bond. :)

Possibly add a Perspex tray at the bottom, so they don't end up kicking substrate onto your floor. It also allows deeper substrate which is good for digging and playing in.

Do you scatter feed them?
I'll definitely do that thank you! I appreciate the great advice! I'll have to look into it, if we don't have that specific brand I heard non-scented paper cat litter works just as good! I have been doing the hand with treat, Dumpling actually lets me pet her while she sniffs for them but Kiwi will stay absolutely still and as far away as possible. I know she'll take more time so I get it! I'll definitely need that tray because its everywhere, I put blankets under their cage for that very reason hah! I do not scatter feed them but I definitely plan on it!
I love the names of your rats! What inspired them?

But as for what you could add to your cage, you could do some lava ledges. They attach to the bars of the cage to offer rats another way to climb around.
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Thanks so much! My partner and I actually had a huge list and we chose one each, I picked Dumpling because of her size and he picked Kiwi because of her markings!

I'll ask him if we could stop by the pet store and buy some things some time soon! It's almost the weekend so we'll definitely get some :D!
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