Are your new rats shy? If they’re not excited about coming out of their cage to be with you or they don’t like to be picked up or petted, here are some tips you’ll love! These ideas also work great for any rat who, in general, doesn’t seem bonded to you.
Taking your rats out in an area where they haven’t been before is a great way to get them more used to being with you. Once they’re in a new territory, you will become the only thing familiar to them. They will then naturally want to stay close to you or at least return to you for safety. An ideal place in which to do this is a bathroom.
[For more tips on setting up danger-free rooms, see Making a Room Safe for Your Pet Rats.]
Are you able to pick up your rats? If so, bring them into the bathroom on your shoulder—-this is ideal. Sit down with them on the floor. They’ll gradually begin exploring their new surroundings and will periodically run back to check in with you for a feeling of safety. You’ll become their “refuge” and “safe zone”.
If you’re not able to pick them up and bring them into the bathroom on your shoulder, bring in their cage and place it in the middle of the bathroom floor. If their cage is too big, you can bring them into the bathroom in a smaller cage, cat carrier or cardboard box. Open the door of the cage or carrier and sit on the floor next to it. Plan on being there for awhile——bring in a book to read or a laptop or tablet to look at while you sit quietly with your rats.
From time to time, talk softly to them. If they’re too scared to come out, offer tasty treats that smell yummy. Small pieces of bread with peanut butter spread very sparingly work well. (Make sure you don’t put too much peanut butter on each small piece of bread because rats can choke easily on a big “glob” of peanut butter.) Another treat rats enjoy are Cheerios which you can break into quarters so they only get a tiny amount at a time.
At first allow your rats to take the treat from you even if they just come to the door of the cage or carrier. After they’re comfortable doing this, wait until your rat sticks his or her head outside the cage before offering a treat. Then, gradually coax them all the way out of the cage before giving a treat. Once they’re completely out of the cage, move the cage or carrier to an area they can’t reach. This is when YOU will become their refuge. When they see there’s nowhere to go to hide and you’re continuing to talk softly and offer treats, they’ll want to be with you. Even after they start to gradually explore the floor of the bathroom, they’ll run back to you to make sure you’re still there as their protector.
The key is to do all of this gradually, to move slowly and talk softly. Also, be sure and work with your rats every single day. Preferably, having your rats out at least twice a day is best.
I hope this information is helpful for you. Please let me know if you have any questions by adding a comment below.