First Timer!

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First Timer!

Post by IanOT on Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:17 am

Hey Everybody!
My names Ian and I just bought my first ever two rats! I was hoping people here could help me out as im just starting out! The 2 rats are just about 4 months old and I bought them from a pet shop , I know neither there age or the fact I bought them from a pet shop is ideal but I've wanted rats for sometime now and when I saw them in the shop I didn't want someone with a vague interest to buy them just to see what there like. The main question I want to know is how long your rats took to really bond with you? I'm afraid they'l never come around to liking me as there quite skittish of me right now and aren't fond of being held, I no I've only had them 2 days and they weren't handled that often in the pet shop so have more work to do, but can any1 tell me how to help bond with them ? Ive been giving them small amounts of treats like rice krispies from my hand etc and just petting them but any other ideas? Any other information that will help me with the rats would be greatly appreciated. Well thanks for the time and hope someone can fill me in . Thanks Everyone!

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Re: First Timer!

Post by Zoundz on Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:04 pm

Hello - and welcome to our little corner of the web! Smile

Pet shop rats are often not socialised or hand tamed, so it can be a real challenge even to an experienced owner to bring them round - but it's usually possible! I think you're doing things right so far - plenty of gentle talking near the cage, putting your hand in and letting them come to you, stroking them if they'll let you and hand feeding them. Showing them that they've nothing to fear with you - and if you need to, resort to forced socialisation. I find "Rat Bags" are good for this - it's basically a special pouch you wear around your neck, and the rat goes inside. They feel safer in an enclosed dark space, and you can rub them through the bag, or in the top of it - and it gets them used to you in a way they're comfortable with. Not all rats like it, but I've had great success this way.

Would love to see pictures of them! Grin

xx

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Re: First Timer!

Post by GillianK on Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:23 pm

Hi and welcome!

I was very lucky with my pet shop bought rats. I got my girls from Pets at Home and they bonded with me almost instantly. Blanche was on my shoulder, licking me and even grooming me using her little hands within 2 hours of my bringing her home. And her sister Stella was doing the same the following day. Straight away they ran up to the cage door and wanted up to me. I don't know how I got so lucky with them. But I did! Even though they came from a pet shop, I couldn't have found tamer ratties.

That said, my other rat Dorothy was a totally different story. I've had her over a month now and although she is getting better is extremely skittish! I bought her from a lady in Donegal who kept and allowed her rats to breed. When I went to view her, the lady showed me her dad and he sat on my shoulder and was a lovely rat. But she and her siblings wouldn't even go to their 'breeder' and Dorothy was 8 months old at this stage. So she clearly hadn't been well handled! Although as I said her dad was very tame. Some people aren't that bothered with handling the kittens their rats produce and in future I'd be careful to go to a good breeders like Laura (Zoundz).

As Laura advised, I have bought a rat bag for Dorothy to carry her about in and get her used to me. Any time I'm reading or chilling out I let my rats on the sofa or my bed so they can run around me and climb all over me. That helps too. Talk to them in a nice soothing voice and instead of just trying to pick them up, stroke them and let them sniff your hand. Put peanut butter or something on your finger, let them lick it off your hand. If they associate the cage door opening with something good happening like getting a treat or a little pet they'll start running to the cage door any time you are near. I can't even go in to the living room now without my Blanche running up to the door and she always sits on my shoulder whilst I'm hoovering, doing housework etc. In time they will be just like her, although as I said Blanche was like this from day one so I don't know how I got so lucky. And I am struggling with Dorothy but seeing improvement.

What do you call your 2 ratties? Post pics of them! :-)


Last edited by GillianK on Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: First Timer!

Post by Zoundz on Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:31 pm

See Gillian - this is why we don't like calling that sort of person a breeder - because it makes all of us sound crap Wink Truth is, you didn't go to a breeder, you went to an idiot who multiplies rats for petshops, donedeal and possibly food. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but the general idea is that breeder rats *are* a better option than petshops because you know the history of the rats you're getting, can usually see the parents and can be pretty sure of extremely fit, confident and well handled babies. The key here of course is caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. If I'd visited a breeder and the rats, at 8 months, still hadn't sold - I would wonder why (we are not allowed to sell rats over a certain age - 13 weeks I think - if they are reserved as young babies it's different, but we cannot sell adults that didn't sell as kittens, NFRS rules) and also I would wonder very seriously about why the rats were unhandleable. I would never support a person who 'breeds' in this way, and would just leave empty handed. I appreciate it's difficult for newer people to see the difference a lot of the time, that's why we always invite people here so we can talk to them about rat ownership, how good breeding works, and show them the difference between the sort of breeder we are/aim to be, and the sort of muppet you find selling through donedeal Wink

xx

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Re: First Timer!

Post by GillianK on Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:40 pm

Hi Laura,

Yes I do understand and I was bitten by it by how unhandlable Dorothy is even now. She behaves like she was abused in the past! I guess when her dad was sitting on my shoulder and he was a sweet rat that Dorothy came from a good enough home. I thought she'd be fine in a few days. But I was wrong. I was so lucky with my first 2 girls, that I figured she would be grand. I still don't understand why Blanche and Stella were fine to handle and Dorothy isn't when as they were pet shop bought, they surely wouldn't have been handled much either. Maybe they had better breeding? I don't know. As you know, when I bought Dorothy I was really looking for company for Blanche and bought in haste. It was a mistake but I think I'll win Dorothy round. I call her my little rescue rat now! And yes, I'd be a lot more careful in future!
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Re: First Timer!

Post by Zoundz on Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:44 am

((((hugs)))) most of us have been there - don't worry about it Smile It can be very hard to tell who is good sometimes. Could be that when you got your first girls, someone in the petshop loved rats and handled them from when they came in? Smile

xx

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Re: First Timer!

Post by katherine on Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:13 am

With Bertie I got a cheapo dressing gown from tescos and sat him in the sleeves while I wore it in the evenings. He's not what I'd call a handleable rat now, but it certainly made a difference Grin

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Re: First Timer!

Post by GillianK on Fri Feb 10, 2012 6:28 am

Laura, well I actually got my girls within 1 day of them arriving at the pet shop. They never actually went on display. I asked if they had rats and they said they had 2 coming in the following week so I booked them in advance. They had to spend 24 hours in quarantine at the pet shop and then were handed to me. But the guy who sold me the girls adored rats and kept his own at home, so I'm sure he'd have handled them a bit. But as I said they were only there 1 day.

Perhaps some person took to them at the place where they were born, and I was lucky to get them when they were only 8 weeks. But I don't know where that is! Does anyone here know actually where Pets at Home get their animals? I dunno ... I probably wouldn't be so lucky if I got them from there again. I imagine an awful big factory where they turn out hundreds of rats. But I dunno. That's the difficulty with the pet shop rat ones. I have no idea where Stella and Blanche came from or what might have happened to their siblings. :-(

Katherine, great idea with the dressing gown! Might try that with Dorothy!
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Re: First Timer!

Post by Zoundz on Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:35 am

I don't know about Northern Ireland, but I know in the UK the rodents in Pets At Home are all sourced here:
http://www.simonsrodents.co.uk/

This is the reality of buying from petshops:
http://ratz.co.uk/rodentfarm.html

xx

ETA - looks like Simon's Rodents do supply Northern Ireland too.

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Re: First Timer!

Post by GillianK on Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:20 pm

Yes, the man who sold me my rats told me they were shipped from England so this probably is the place. How awful. The little Topaz dumbos second last picture look just like Stella! Aw my poor Blanche! And my poor little hamsters too, they came from Pets at Home. What awful conditions. :-(

Thanks for sharing Laura. I knew when I bought them they weren't coming from the best place, but I never thought it'd be as bad as this! No wonder the bunnies in Pets at Home look happy in their new pet shop environment where they get access to light, fresh air and space whilst on display!

This has opened my eyes to buying anything but fish from Pet Shops again. And to think I was going to get Blanche her companion from there, and the only reason I didn't was that they told me that 'we can't guarantee a female rat. It might be a male'. !!!
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Thank you!

Post by IanOT on Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:05 am

Wow thanks everyone for getting in touch! Been trying to put pics of them up but having some problems will try again today! Their called Roly (From Roly-Poly Pudding) and Henry (The rat from Goodfellas) .So the hand feeding is going well, yesterday one even came onto my arm for a look around and then peanut butter was a big hit :-P but then today they were back to nervous and skittish :-/ I don't have a rat bag just yet so have been wearing a hoodie backward with a large hood that they can go into. That is when I can get them out of the cage :-/ Should I be taking them out of the cage regardless of whether they want to just so they can get use to it or leaving them till they don't freak out so much ? I'm sorry i didn't come onto this site sooner as I would have got them from the likes of Zoundz now that I know :-/ I hope i'm able to turn them around without any experience for the rats sake!

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Re: First Timer!

Post by Zoundz on Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:06 am

I am quite sure you will Grin keep at it, and eventually it will come Smile Just give them loads of affection and strokes and hand feeding, and yes, I would force them to come out and be handled, especially while they're quite young Smile

xx

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Re: First Timer!

Post by redrach on Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:26 am

Hi Ian, welcome to the forum!
I'm glad you're making progress. A lot of us here started out making the same mistakes and starting out with petshop rats, so don't worry, the important thing is we're all here to learn together.
Smile
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Re: First Timer!

Post by Steve on Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:28 am

Hi Ian welcome to the forum, this is a wondrful site to share and learn, and I am still learning. Patience brings great rewards with rats, I talk to mine all the time, and keep the doors of the cage open while I am in my room, and they come out to watch me as I watch them. Hand feeding is a great way to build up trust, also stroking them all the while talking to them. Believe me they will respond, in their own little ways, soon you will see their personalities show, and how different they can be, just like humans. Good luck, Steve

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Re: First Timer!

Post by Francois on Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:12 pm

Pet shop rats are like a lottery in terms of level of socialization and health, the link that Zoundz put up just made my blood boil, ratfactories have dollar signs in their eyes (or £ signs in this case)

I have 4 pet shop rats (had up to 13 rats before the current 4, various sources) and definilty would be looking for a good breeder after this lot. Don't get me wrong, I love my ratties, but I can tell the difference bteween them coming form a pet shop or being born and bred with lots of loving from the moment they let out their fist meep.

My 2 bucks are not (yet) the big soppie bucks you commonly encounter, they are not that keen to be petted and scritched that much, but have wonderfull personalities, especially Jack Cool

My 2 girls are so different from each other (from separate pet shops) where Bubbles is way more trusting and affectioned then Shiva, who still is a bit skiddish and doesn't like to be touched that much.

Still I wouldn't part with them for anything in the world, they all have their unique personalities and definitly express their affection to us as well Love

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