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i have a wild rat as a pet. I rescued it from somebody who caught it & had the bad idea to make a pet out of it. He didn't even want it. He kept it in a tiny cage. It had been in captivity for 2 years when I came on the scene. He couldn't let it go because of feral cats in the area. I felt so sorry for it. I decided to adopt it, & my boyfriend got him a huge cage & a wheel to run on. His name is Rattini. He love his wheel but is still afraid of me after 2 years. Anybody else have experience with wild rats?
 

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If its a wild rat and wasn't even raised by humans as a baby then there's a good chance he'll never be tame. There is one big thing missing from his environment already, and that is that wild (and domestic!) rats ALWAYS live in groups and they take comfort in being with their own kind. But introducing an adult wild rat to domestic rats is probably not going to go well so that's a hard situation to fix. Maybe you could try introducing some younger domestic rats and see how that goes, but you'd need to be very very careful.

Otherwise, he needs stimulation, hides, and foraging things. Rats are at their core prey animals and this means they really fear wide open spaces. Adding lots of hides and bolt holes lets them feel safe as they know that if they get scared, they have a way to get out of that situation fast. This is also why rats need a large cluttered cage, more clutter means more places for them to hide and leads to them feeling more secure in their environment.

In terms of stimulation you can use anything from bird foraging toys to something as simple as food wrapped in a tissue. Rats are VERY intelligent and would naturally be foraging around for food. Our pet rats don't have to do this though and as a result they can easily get bored. My girls love their bird foraging toys and I you'll be surprised to see how quickly they figure them out!

In terms of the wheel its great that he loves it, some of my rats have and some of them haven't but they all know how to use one. My one tip here is to make sure its at least 12-14 inches in diameter as any smaller can cause unnecessary curvature of their spine (and tail) and hurt them in the long run.


Other than that if he really is terrified of you you might be best off just letting him do his own thing. Taking a wild animal into a domestic environment is very stressful on them and your guy is all alone which is hard for such prey based animals. So at this point you might just make more progress if you don't try and push interactions, maybe leave a treat in the cage when you go past but don't try to force physical interactions. I've had some very shy rats that remind me of wild rats just temperament wise, but these ones have been 100% domestic and just poor tempered for pet rats. In their case it was their more confident cagemates and liquid treats like meat baby food that won them over, I would have the confident rats eat next to me and the skittish ones would get curious and occasionally dart over for some yummy meat baby food and to be with their friends. Over time I was able to transition this to climbing onto my hand for food and allowing handling for food and they came around to the point of tolerating (if not enjoying) handling.



In terms of wild rats though I've seen many posts on here and the rat fan club about people raising them from pups. Even when raised on a bottle with human care many of these babies would revert back to their wild and skittish nature when weaned and eventually most of them had to be released. There was even someone on here who raised 2 baby rats (a boy and a girl) from like a week onwards and went so far as to have the male neutered at a young age so that both siblings could stay together. But by the time they reached 5, 6, 7, 8 weeks old they were becoming so jumpy and frankly unhandleable that the poster ended up releasing them back into the wild because they just never enjoyed the domestic environment despite pretty much being raised in it. Of course there are some success stories but for the most part wild animals just don't do well in domestic environments and this goes doubly so for if they're made into "pets" once they're already weaned and sufficient adults.
 
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