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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone! I am excited to get everyone's opinion on how best to help my new little friend. She was bought at 7 weeks to be food for a frog, lucky/unlucky for her she was fourth in line and by the time her and her cage mate were ready to be fed to the frog they were too big. The frog's owner placed her and her cage mate onto their front porch in a glass aquarium and basically forgot about them. The other rat died of starvation shortly after and I was told that my new rat, Hannah, ate her to stay alive. Hannah spent two months with almost no interaction at all, she was an only rat and the people didn't even meet her basic needs. I found out about her one night and rescued her the next morning. She seems to be sweet but she is very, very shy. She freezes with fear any time she sees us and in her new cage she chose to hide on the one level where she was most comfortable instead of exploring her cage to find her food and water. I had to move her to that level where she drank a lot of water and ate but she immediatly went back to her safe place so I moved the food and water bottle up to that level for her. We immediatly got her a friend because when I was younger I had rats and knew how critical it was for them to have someone. I didn't know about quarentining them before putting them together so I'm praying neither has anything, I would hate that my mistake would potentioally harm either of them. I did pick out the friendliest rat I could find and she has helped Hannah come out of her shell. I had previously done introductions but thankfully these two needed very little help, the new rat, River, went right in and began to groom Hannah right away and they have been best friends since.

My questions are, what can I do to help Hannah gain trust in us and be the most comfortable? I have experince working with shy/feral dogs so I've been able to apply some of that knowledge to our relationship and I do feel she is getting more comfortable however I want her to at least feel safe in her cage. My other question is, we only have the two of them, I always had a few rats together (4 to 6) and never had only two, are they okay just the two of them or should we discuss getting more? I also didn't know if a larger group would make Hannah feel more comfortable?

Thank you for your help and I look foward to hearing what you have to say.
Ashley
 

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I am a real fan of immersion. I used it to get to know my snake food reject, Petey and we were playing on the couch after only 10 days.

As far as getting more, I do believe "the more, the merrier", but you need to consider your cage size and the amount of time you have to interact with them. I had 13 at one time and it was great fun, but I don't want to have more than 4 again so I can give each a good amount of attention. Right now I have 2 and they seem happy.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you everyone!! Kelsbels - thank you for that link!! That is exactly the information I was looking for!! I'm kicking myself about the quarantine, I do it with new/foster dogs why not with the rats. Ugh! Stupid, stupid! I will make sure to do it with any possible new rats. I'm going to start on trust training tonight and tomorrow. I hope it helps!!
 

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I think 2 is just fine. In fact it could go either way with more. It might help her or may make things worse. If her and her new friend are interacting then she's just fine. At least nobody will get left out. Ive never dealt with your situation but in my opinion it will be a slow process cuz of course she would trust nobody right now. I wouldn't be real forceful with her since she's been thru a lot but what I would do is do partial trust training and partial immersion. How I did my first 2 rats was sat with them with their cage open in a small room for a few hours a day and didn't force them out but encouraged them with cereal. They would come further and further out and eventually explored outside the cage. Every once in a while I would force petting or pick them up for a minute. Once they were comfortable exploring they would also explore on my lap and after 3 weeks they were completely comfortable climbing all over me and letting me pet them. At that point I worked more on holding since one wasn't good with being picked up. Everyday I would do immersion by just holding them and petting them alot and not let them go until they calmed down and stopped struggling. I saw great improvement in a short time with doing that. If u aren't making any progress with trust training then I'd do full on immersion but I just think trust training might be better for her given her situation she needs time to come around. It does take much patience tho! Good luck and I'm glad you were able to rescue her. That's just horrible what happened to her.
 
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