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Hola,

New owner here. Just wondering if there are any lessons you may have learned the hard way? Or anything you wish people had told you before you had to learn about it yourself? :confused:

I'm especially curious about stuff people have learned in regards to socializing and training. Are there any mistakes I shouldn't make? Or anything I absolutely have to do?

I've read the stickies about trust training and the like so stuff beyond that would be great. Thanks! ;D
 

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Don't buy expensive toys, your rats will prefer the cardboard box they came in :D with socialising, I kind of wish I'd started socialising them with other people at a younger age, I wish I'd got them used to cars and being in different places because I'm finding it harder as they're getting older.
 

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I've had rats for less than a year but I sure have learned a lot! Some things I wish I had known: firstly, never feed your rats ANYTHING through the cage bars. It's probably told in the stickies but I thought I'd say it anyway, because I've made that mistake. Second, start cutting the nails as early as possible ;D I don't know if you've had any problem with it but I sure had and still have. Third, handle the rats a lot, even though they may not like it. And last, don't stress too much about whether you're doing everything perfectly or not. In my opinion it's more important to really love your rats than just giving them free range 60,0 minutes 7 times a week, feeding them the exact amount of the perfect diet food and such. (I'm not saying those things aren't important but I think you got the point :D) I'm not sure if this is helpful at all but hey, I tried! Good luck with your ratties :)
 

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If, by chance, you DO feed them through the bars even though you know you shouldn't (looking at you, 16 year old me...) Do not, and I repeat DO NOT put your nose too close to the bars.
If you do you will end up with a really impressive scar on your nose and people will make jokes re: your ability to sense rat Voldemort for the next seven years at least.

In all seriousness though, the biggest thing I've learned is to try and not stress when your rat does something unusual, like sleep in a different part of the cage. Its really easy to worry about every little change, but most of them are totally fine.
 

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@Adeliek: haha it's too late for that. I already bought a Critter Nation (and was thinking about getting the double) along with a whole slew of toys and expensive food. I think my startup total was something like $350+ :p But you're right, they do seem to mostly ignore the expensive hanging bird toys and go nuts over the paper towel roll I gave them!

@Pitacoconut: I read about the food through the bars thing and have been good about not doing it! They only get food when the cage is open. I haven't cut their nails but don't have any problems with is yet. I hope I don't! I've taken them out of their cage twice. They really don't seem to enjoy it and I feel bad about doing it. Will they eventually get used to it? Or should I get them to be a little more confident with me handling them in their cage before I take them out too often? And yes I'm an engineer who likes to approach problems the best way possible! I need to just focus on loving them rather than trying to do everything perfectly. :)

@Marz42: I'll remember your advice! So far I'm feeding with the doors open, though.

Thanks all. Anyone else have stuff to add?
 

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I'm really not an expert but I'd say keep taking them out of the cage... My rats hated it too at first but I just forced them out (lol) so yes they eventually got used to it. Nowadays they just love free ranging and give me a sad face when I put them back in cage! It just takes time and patience for them to get used to your and your house :)
 

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As far as training, read up on operant and classical conditioning, and use those concepts in a positive way--yep, scientific stuff, but very well worth it. Try to go in steps, rather than flooding them and forcing them into learned helplessness--in the end, you'll get to similar scenery, with rats who come out to play and interact with you, but it's only the same place to the casual observer--the slow trust-building makes for a whole different relationship with the rats.

If you don't buy foods or treats made in China, you'll be ahead.

You'll love your CN, and won't regret starting out with that--don't waste your money on cages you'll not be happy with, if you end up getting another.

I've been in rats for five minutes, but that's stuff I already learned.
 

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we have never really trained our rats but all of them have been really friendly mostly because there was always a little kid who would never leave them alone, it made them get used to people and use constantly being around them
 

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You really have to be confident about taking them out. If they are babies they will learn and grow to either love it or tolerate it. Let them comunicate with you and learn what they mean when they do things. And adjust your methods based on your gut and your rats. Each is diffrent and no one size fits all exists. With our rescue girls one was really into us, one was wary and one down right terrified. We could have done trust training, or immersion, or any number of things with her but we let her pick the pace. For her it seemed the best option and after months she will come to us, she doesn't panic as much when we pick her up, and we can reach in and touch her inthe cage without her bolting. When I got Cricket she was a curious but cautious baby, fear pooped all over me first couple days. I kept taking her out and now she'll jump on my shoulder and I can wander the house with her. She even went with us when we met up to pass off two babies to their new owner and she jumped on them without fear and was perfectly at ease in the middle of a parking lot at night. Something Cricket taught me is even though you need to be watchful and cautious, especially in an unsecure space or with slippery babies, you need to trust your rat as well. And let that trust evolve as you relationship evolves. It's not a pet. It's a tiny fuzzy person. And they know when you don't trust them, I'm convinced. And then they may not trust themselves.
 

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First rule, rats are EXPENSIVE. When I got mine I was informed (by idiots) that they only cost about 50.00 a year. That is the biggest load of crap ever. I've spent several thousand on mine so far and still counting. My newest cage alone was 280.00! And boy let me tell you vet visits and meds are expensive! I suggest you start a vet fund, you never know when one gets sick or hurt. Also find a good vet who knows what the heck their doing. Those are the major things I wish I had known when i started out.
 

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I've learned yet another new thing reading this thread. Not to feed them through the bars of the cage. Oh goodness, I give them little treats through the bars. I had no idea this was a bad thing! Why is it a bad thing though?
 

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I've learned yet another new thing reading this thread. Not to feed them through the bars of the cage. Oh goodness, I give them little treats through the bars. I had no idea this was a bad thing! Why is it a bad thing though?
You can be training them to bite through the bars. So when you put your finger through the bars, they may mistake it for food.

I can say, I've been bad on this one, I stick my fingers in the bars probably every time I pass the cage-which can be several times an hour. Some times they get a treat too. I've done this for the many decades of having rats and never had rats that bite when in the cage. It might be because it's rare that I treat through the bars, they mostly just get fingers so they never really associate something coming into the bars = treats. Instead something coming bars = fingers....unless it's your lucky day.
 

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I've learned yet another new thing reading this thread. Not to feed them through the bars of the cage. Oh goodness, I give them little treats through the bars. I had no idea this was a bad thing! Why is it a bad thing though?

I'm wondering this too. I feed all of mine through the bars all the time and they've never bit. They try and mouth my finger but that's it.
Sometimes I hand them things that aren't food and they grab it immediately cuz they're so greedy an then get disappointed when the realize it's not food
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks all!

I've not even had them for two weeks but already I'm learning a lot and seeing a lot of progress. When I first got them they'd cower in their cage when I came near and would not come anywhere near the front of the cage.

I've slowly been socializing them, getting them used to me and associating me with treats! They used to cower but now I've gotten them to the point where they'll put their front paws on my hand and let me pet them while they're distracted by food. I think when they get really used to me I'll start taking them out on a daily basis. I just don't want to scare them back to step 1!
 

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Don't buy expensive toys, your rats will prefer the cardboard box they came in :D with socialising, I kind of wish I'd started socialising them with other people at a younger age, I wish I'd got them used to cars and being in different places because I'm finding it harder as they're getting older.
The socialization thing is interesting. My boys are all very friendly with me. (well except Tempy) They all jump up on me, groom me, pee on me, and play with me. I assumed this meant that they were all just happy go lucky but last week we had a couple friends over and tried to let them play with the boys and it did not go well at all. Buddy was fine, but he's always fine, that's just his personality. But the other three just hid the whole time and then acted weird even toward me for a couple days after. It sucked. I didn't realize they needed to be socialized to strangers separately. I just assumed that once they were friendly they were friendly.

My Niece is staying the night this weekend we'll see how they react to her. She's only 10 so maybe they'll be better with her because she's smaller. I hope they're not all weird for 2-3 days again.
 

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You can be training them to bite through the bars. So when you put your finger through the bars, they may mistake it for food.

I can say, I've been bad on this one, I stick my fingers in the bars probably every time I pass the cage-which can be several times an hour. Some times they get a treat too. I've done this for the many decades of having rats and never had rats that bite when in the cage. It might be because it's rare that I treat through the bars, they mostly just get fingers so they never really associate something coming into the bars = treats. Instead something coming bars = fingers....unless it's your lucky day.
Makes sense! Thanks Mimsy. Never thought of this....definitely don't want the boys associating our fingers with food!
 

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I think my biggest surprise was just how much rats brains function like ours and how intelligent and competent they can become. When you first get them you pretty much see them as small animals, helpless and needy, sort of like infants.... then they start learning and experiencing and the more you teach them and let them do the more they grow up into amazing individuals.

It's easy to forget that rats live in the worlds most dangerous places; subways, factories, ships, cities, jungles and forests. And they thrive on 6 out of 7 continents. These are the worlds second most successful animals right behind us. They have most likely been around longer than humans and will most likely be around after we are gone from this planet. Yes, they can be sweet loving best furry friends, but they are also so much more.
 

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I think my biggest surprise was just how much rats brains function like ours and how intelligent and competent they can become. When you first get them you pretty much see them as small animals, helpless and needy, sort of like infants.... then they start learning and experiencing and the more you teach them and let them do the more they grow up into amazing individuals.

It's easy to forget that rats live in the worlds most dangerous places; subways, factories, ships, cities, jungles and forests. And they thrive on 6 out of 7 continents. These are the worlds second most successful animals right behind us. They have most likely been around longer than humans and will most likely be around after we are gone from this planet. Yes, they can be sweet loving best furry friends, but they are also so much more.
Me too!! Admirable little guys. Much like us, they can be destructive, invasive to other animals ect. They also like us, can be compassionate to each other, inventive, and much like us in their intelligence. I say intelligence like ours, because other animals-such as reptiles-maybe intelligent, however their thinking is fairly foreign to our own so difficult to gauge.

Speaking of intelligence, my half wild babies seem to of figured out where the locks on cages are. The DCN I don't see them every figuring out, however the top lock on the bird cage has a lock that is just moved to the upright position to make the door come down onto a platform. I caught a boy hanging upside in the cage and messing with it till it came down. I had to binder clip it to stop that nonsense. :) He seemed really proud of himself. I went over and he jumped from the platform and onto my shoulder and shoved his nose in my ear. I didn't hear anything, but I'm certain he was mocking me.
 

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We loved out part wild rat, she was special in so many ways and exceptionally bright and capable of things that boggled the mind... It's really important you get them well socialized as pups. Still your in for a real treat as they grow up. Mine leaped from my desk to my face to mock bite my nose when she hit that play fight stage... she tore around attacking and mock biting like a banshee, no she never drew blood or even caused pain but she could be terrifying to watch, and that was just her idea of play.... Just a bit of advise to keep your insurance premiums down, my part wild rat was a one family rat, if a stranger tried to handle her without a proper introduction she would tear them up. When she lost her cool, she bit hard, fast and often. If the stranger was properly introduced she was meek as a kitten, still, she wasn't a rat I would just grab without making sure she knew it was me first. She was one of the finest rats I've even known, a girl that could nap in my lap for hours. Our stone cold sweetheart psycho killer... Last note, keep your half wilds away from other small animals, they will kill and/or eat them on sight, at least mine did. If you want to get rid of mice in your house just set them free overnight and in no time your mouse problem will be gone.
 
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