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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was struck reading Rat Daddy's story about his daughter's encounter with wild rats at a zoo. In the past few months my wife and I have been more or less approached by (single) wild rats in suburban environments, much the same way described in that story. (Places where you'd figure rats might live, but not where you'd really expect to see one. Previously I have only caught glimpses of urban ones scurrying somewhere.) Does that happen often? Do we really reek of rats to a rat, even outdoors, 20 feet away?

In fairness, I should note that two of our rats are pretty serious pee dribblers, and we were probably wearing hoodies or something that were not fresh out of the laundry...

I'm new to the forum (HI); I did a search but didn't find anything--apologies if this has been discussed to death already...
 

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Funny, you reminded me that my step-mom saw a wild rat for the first time just a few weeks ago. I'd had my two females for about two weeks at that point. I wasn't outside but my dad said that my step-mom suddenly screamed and jumped up on a chair (She's afraid of my pair too XD). My dad didn't see it the first time but apparently it just waltzed right across our porch and jumped off the other end. A bit later it even jumped back up on the porch and looked around for a moment! XD My step-mom says it was huge but since she's never seen another wild rat I don't know how big it was actually.
 

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It is true that Fuzzy Rat was about the only girl we ever had that scent marked us. she didn't drip a lot but after we came out of the shower, she always made a point of leaving her scent. And rats can definately find their own scents from quite a distance. I've seen most of my girls leave a mark as soon as I put them down and then run back to it later on. It's the yellow drip road back home.

I've also seen Fuzzy Rat sniff out the scent marks of other rats and start following their trails. So yes, it's possible that the scent of you rat is attracting attention when you are outdoors.

It was rather bazaar watching a pack of rats engaging my daughter. I mean she clearly didn't look like a rat and by the time the game got started, I can't imagine that any of the wild rats mistook her for another rat, but I suppose it's reasonable to assume they also smelled Fuzzy Rat on her and that peaked their curiosity and perhaps told them that she wasn't a danger to them.

Honestly we don't know how much information is transmitted by the scent rats leave behind. And keep in mind Fuzzy Rat was a girl, the scent of a boy rat in another boy rats territory may be less welcome... Just a thought.

I have to say it's a unique experience either way, it gave me a better understanding of how rats function as a pack and how they meet and engage other rats.

I think many people think their domestic rats have lost their wild behaviors and instincts, which I don't think is entirely true.... Mostly in the confines of a cage or house they don't get much opportunity to express it. The same pack bonding ability that allowed the wild rats to engage my daughter as a group is the same bond that keeps out shoulder rats with us when we go outdoors with them and likely what kept my dogs from running away when I let them free range in the woods.

Rats and dogs are pack animals... yes they are somewhat different in how they structure their packs, but never the less it's what makes them real companion animals to their humans and a basis for a social relationship. Unlike other "pets" rats are with us because they want to be with us and they want to belong in our families.

I think some folks read immersion and get stuck on the element of who the alpha has to be, and yes in a healthy mixed human and rat family the human usually has to be in charge to some reasonable degree, but the bigger picture is the bonding process itself. Rats don't obey orders, nor do they salute or march in rank and file, but they do feel a very strong need to bond to their family and they have certain roles they play in their society. Understanding that, makes communicating with your rats easier for both you and your rats.

I'm guessing in a suburban setting rats have larger and better defined territories and as you own males, it's more likely that a male rat will come out to check you out (perhaps the alpha). With a female rat, like Fuzzy Rat, I suspect it was the other girls that showed up as a foraging group. They were in fact all relatively small. In an urban environment, I'm guessing there is so much scent marking going on and the rats there are likely more wary of humans that they are less likely to approach you to check out a new scent.

There's a great deal we can learn about our domestic rats that live in cages or in our homes, there's more we can learn from the true shoulder rats that become so very competent and there's even more we can learn from how our rats wild cousins master their universe. Humans are the most successful animals on earth because we can build societies, and rats come in a close second and perhaps it's their social skills that make it possible for them to survive and thrive too. As a shoulder rat trainer, I rely on this strong bond every time I take my rats outside, but in all reality it's what makes rats great companions for all of us.
 

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Ok...story time. So before I got my boys it was fall and I was sitting in my dining room eating dinner. I looked out the sliding glass door onto my porch and there was a huge brown rat enjoying the dog food that was out there. I quietly watched him till he moved on. Fast forward six months and we got a pizza delivered, the pizza guy goes "Ummmmm....you have a rat in your front yard"...there was a dead rat out front...once again a HUGE one. Then last week we ordered pizza again....same delivery guy wouldn't you know it....and this time he goes "Umm...there's rats in your window this time" and I explain that this time they were supposed to be there. He just kind of shook his head and walked away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ha, great story.

Our pee dribblers are actually female, but in their 2-rat colony they seem to have adopted traditionally male roles--including extreme antipathy toward rat strangers.
 
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