Raising Friendly Rats! ETA taming underage kittens

Breeding related topics, including the care of pregnant and nursing does, kitten questions and subjects like inbreeding and outcrossing.
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urbanwolf_uk
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Raising Friendly Rats! ETA taming underage kittens

Post by urbanwolf_uk » Fri Sep 25, 2015 10:07 pm

Hi all!

I'm a first time rat owner and I've had my three boys (four weeks old now) for just about a week. They have a huge cage with all the trimmings and they seem comfortable enough exploring around it. So naturally, I want to start getting them used to coming out of it!

At first, my thought was to only bring them out if they seemed somewhat willing. None of them are particularly up to volunteering to go out of the gage, but one seems close. So he was getting some time out. The other two, if anything, seemed to be getting more and more skittish.
Then after reading a bit, I wondered if perhaps I was training them that running away and hiding at every opportunity was actually the 'right' response just making them more inclined to hide every time I was around! So I decided to turn it around, making sure every rat had some time out, whether they wanted it or not.

... this has resulted in a couple near-escapes and a fair amount of distress for the rat! They're absolute angels and have never once given me any nips despite my poking, but they're obviously tense whenever they think it might be their turn. I absolutely hate putting them under stress, but I have no idea how to avoid sending mixed signals, or the wrong signals! Am I pushing this too fast? Should I stick to my guns? Please help! :(


Note: title extended for clarity, and thread moved to Breeding.

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Caza66
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Re: Raising Friendly Rats!

Post by Caza66 » Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:36 am

I tend to go for the direct approach with newbies. I free range on the sofa wearing and dressing gown for the first couple of days until they get used to me and what is going on, so wearing the dressing gown, take them out of the cage and stuff them in there and carry to the sofa. After a couple of days I take them out of the cage and put them in a carrier for safer transporting to the sofa. You'll find they will soon come around. My latest babies (I've had for 6 weeks). They get full free range in the hall and eagerly come running to me when it's time to go back and I can carry them in my arms.

I also think that 4 weeks is extremely young, they shouldn't have been rehomed until about 8 weeks old (I think). Are their ages correct?
Officially ratless. Groot, Star-lord, Yondu adopted by another rat lover.
:rattyrainbow: To all those who have filled my heart, have fun at the bridge.

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bazu
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Re: Raising Friendly Rats!

Post by bazu » Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:43 am

Agreed that 4 weeks is very young - not your fault, obviously!

I would definitely stick to your guns though - rats are very good at adjusting to new situations, but they won't adjust if they're not pushed into it! Caza's dressing gown method is one a lot of people use; it gives the rats somewhere warm and dark and 'safe' and they come to associate you with fun :D I have a playpen that I also use; I lay down in it with a towel over me and just let them run around in there - if I'm the only thing in there, they soon come to explore, and again, it's somewhere warm and dark and fun that they'll associate with your smell :)

I've had a lot of nervous babies over the years, and I can only say that gentle persistence is crucial. To help them get used to being handled, I used to scoop them up with both hands (large, stable surface so all four feet are grounded), hold them for a few seconds and then put them down again, just so they got used to the idea that being picked up wasn't scary. I'd repeat it several times in a row, ideally a few times a day, until they were less nervous, just to drive the message home. They're prey animals by nature, so bigger animals grabbing them will be scary - you just have to gently override that :)

Another one that might help is letting them get used to your hand in the cage - just leave your hand in there, and let them get used to its presence/your smell while they're in their 'safe' environment.

Good luck with your babies! :luck:
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urbanwolf_uk
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Re: Raising Friendly Rats!

Post by urbanwolf_uk » Sat Sep 26, 2015 3:36 pm

Thanks for the replies!

They were three weeks when they were sold to me - at least that's what the breeder said. I had hoped that younger would be better and, all things considered I think they're doing very well.
My main problem is that my flat is not very rat friendly. Old floorboards with a few holes here and there. If they've escaped to a point where I couldn't know where they are, there's a good chance they wouldn't come back! So I've tried to avoid having them on the floor at all costs. I put them on my bed but I get very nervous when they inevitably look like they're going to try a jump. I'm still working on rat-proofing the place, but it'll have to be something I feel out over time.

My lil' guys are named Solaire, Havel and Artorius (light blue, grey and black), named after knights matching their colours :D
Solaire is by far the most friendly. He shows a keen interest in my hand but isn't ready to volunteer to come out yet. Havel is making a lot of progress, but is still quite skittish. Artorius is by far the smallest and shyest. Things got unpleasant the other day when I was taking him out of the cage (lots of chasing and squeaking :<)

I'll stick with it! I've gotten rid of the maze on the middle floor of their cage (it was a little too convenient for hiding) and will probably replace it with some climbing ropes! They're getting lots of treats (they love ryvita thins), partly so they like me more, but also because I feel bad.

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Solaire and Havel.

Bilbo
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Re: Raising Friendly Rats!

Post by Bilbo » Sat Sep 26, 2015 4:15 pm

They are beautiful. My house is also very Rat unfriendly with gaps in the skirting boards etc so I free range mine in the bathroom. I take them up there in a carrier. One of my girls is very nervous as she had not been handled when I got her but when I free range them I sit on the floor and they climb on me. Seeker (the nervous girl) even climbed on my shoulder the other day. She really has come on leaps and bounds. Also if you do manage to Rat proof an area so you feel safe letting them have a run around you will relax more and the experience becomes better for all of you.
Seeker, Chaser.,Luna and Madeye.
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Caza66
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Re: Raising Friendly Rats!

Post by Caza66 » Sat Sep 26, 2015 4:44 pm

Gorgeous ratties.
Officially ratless. Groot, Star-lord, Yondu adopted by another rat lover.
:rattyrainbow: To all those who have filled my heart, have fun at the bridge.

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Stovokor
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Re: Raising Friendly Rats!

Post by Stovokor » Sat Sep 26, 2015 6:03 pm

They are beautiful, but I am not really surprised that they are shy, as they should still be with their mother, learning social skills and gaining confidence that way. I am really appalled that a breeder rehomed them so young. I am assuming they were not on the NFRS register?

urbanwolf_uk
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Re: Raising Friendly Rats!

Post by urbanwolf_uk » Sun Sep 27, 2015 11:52 pm

Goodness! That didn't take too long at all.

I decided to hit a middle ground. Rather than taking them out of the cage completely and letting them roam on the bed, over this weekend I've been giving them lots of little trips out side of the cage. Less than a minute, really. I've also been giving them lots of cuddles and treats with my hand while they're in their favourite spot (a large tube made of willow wicker, lined with a tea-towel).
The turn-around was quite dramatic. Even my shiest rat Artie is now quite happy to climb up onto my hand while he's in the cage. I'm a little worried they might end up thinking my fingers are literally food (are those friendly licks or I-taste-good licks?) but it's going well.
They're still flinching when I do things like fold laundry a bit too fast in front of them and definitely not ready to roam around outside of the cage probably for a little bit, but I'm quite impressed with how much more sociable they are after just two days with the right technique. :D

Solaire's at the cage door now in fact giving me a very curious look...

To those who asked, no the Breeder was not on the NFRS. To make a long story short, I was really hoping to get rats sooner rather than later, and it seemed every NFRS breeder within a reasonable distance had hit a dry spell of kittens for sale, so I turned to Gumtree!
In truth, I could have waited another two months, but the huge empty cage in my room was eating at my patience. Given the outcome, I'm not displeased!

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cyber ratty
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Re: Raising Friendly Rats!

Post by cyber ratty » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:28 am

urbanwolf_uk wrote:... Given the outcome, I'm not displeased!
I would encourage you to look at the bigger picture - letting babies go to new homes far too young really is unforgivable (6 weeks is the minimum age stated in the NFRS guidelines), and definitely a reason to be displeased whatever your personal outcome has been. Bear in mind that by buying from them, you are endorsing their actions and ethics, so next time, a little more patience would be better for the sake of all the rats involved.

Apart from their socialisation requirements, young babies also need to be fed properly - please read this article to ensure you provide the right diet at this stage.

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Hobbit Stealer
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Re: Raising Friendly Rats! ETA taming underage kittens

Post by Hobbit Stealer » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:42 pm

I think the outcome of 3 week old babies being homed is not a good one :( That is the youngest I have ever heard of an irresponsible breeder selling kittens. Really shocked :( Sorry to be negative, but I do think it's really important to make that clear on here because you never know when potential new owners may read of things and think it's okay, so it helps for the future.

Lovely babies though, glad that they are coming out of their shell. Keep persevering, I agree with the method of 'pick up, put down, pick up, put down, pick up, put down' because that's how they learn that when they are picked up nothing bad happens and it only lasts a few seconds anyway!
Formerly known as Hobbit Stealer

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bazu
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Re: Raising Friendly Rats!

Post by bazu » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:18 pm

urbanwolf_uk wrote:They're still flinching when I do things like fold laundry a bit too fast in front of them and definitely not ready to roam around outside of the cage probably for a little bit, but I'm quite impressed with how much more sociable they are after just two days with the right technique. :D
It's wonderful how quickly they come around :)

I'd say the next step in their 'socialising' is to make sure you do things around them exactly as you would normally - don't think you have to walk on eggshells to keep them comfy! Things like hoovering, folding laundry, rustling plastic bags, anything noisy that you'd normally do in that area, just keep doing. As before, they'll only get used to it if they get exposed to it!

(For the record, I agree with the others about the bad breeder, but as they said, at this point it's a warning for any would-be owners coming by - you didn't know any better, but we can try to make sure others do!)
Currently servant to Pidge and Hunk.

Gone but never forgotten: Twenty-seven beautiful whiskery angels

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