Welcome to the wonderful world of rat ownership (or should I be welcoming
Chalk and Cheese to the wonderful world of people ownership?!) :-)
In reply to your first question......patience is the key. Try putting your
hand in the cage and letting them sniff you. Chances are that you bought
your little bundles of fun from a pet shop, where they may not have been
handled very much. They need to get used to you and your scent. I would
imagine they are feeling pretty insecure right now and they need time to get
to know and trust you. We make a point of never taking ours from their cage
or invading their place of privacy (their nest box). We let them come out
of the cage of their own accord.
Try offering a treat in your hand (which brings me nicely on to your second
question). Cheerios seem to be the usual currency for *** and
corruption! :-) Although any small unsweetened breakfast cereal would
suffice <fond memories of one of our rats making off with a whole weetabix
from one of the kids' breakfast bowls!> Once they have started taking
treats from your fingers, you could try putting the treats on your wrist so
that they have to climb over your hand to get it. Basically, you make them
work a little harder for the treat each time. It is then a short step to
offering treats at the cage door to tempt them out.
In order to establish a home base where they can feel secure, we have always
carried them around the house on our shoulders for the first few weeks
before allowing them to discover the floor. This way, you become the first
point of safety for them (if anything should upset them - strange noises,
people, rooms, etc.). It worked for us anyway - it's kinda cute when they
come running back to "Mum"! Once we had rat-proofed the living room (i.e.
cables, escape routes, etc .) we started letting them explore the room in
the evenings whilst we were there to supervise. They keep coming back to
check on us from time to time, and pop back in to their cage briefly for a
drink of water, etc.
You may also want to bear in mind that each rat has its own personality.
Our two have completely different characters - Sky is the quiet, sensible
one while Chelsea is the cheeky, daredevil one. They are both from the same
litter and their personalities are as different as, well, chalk and cheese!!
When in the future you are trying to get your little devils back into the
cage or out of your sleeve or detangled from you hair....you will look back
on their shyness with affection :-)
Hope this helps,
>Since Saturday, I am now the proud owner of 2 female rats.......Chalk
>I have read a couple of Rattie books and have been following this
>group for a while, trying to take in as much as possible before
>becoming a rat owner.
>But...I have found nothing quite prepares you for their arrival and I
>still have a couple of questions which I hope you will be able to
>answer for me.
>Both rats were really shy and scared when we got them, one (Cheese)
>seems to be coming out of herself a little bit, while the other
>(Chalk) seems to rely on her sibling to get her food for her!
>My first questions..what can I do to help them settle in? I Sit and
>talk quietly to them and gently stroke them and have actually managed
>to pick Cheese up ...but I am afraid of scaring them or doing
>something that will "set them back".
>My second question is....treats, should I be using them at this stage?
>and if so what? I don't want them to become fat and learn bad habits
>from the start!
>Thank you for showing me just how much fun rats can be, I love mine
>already and its nice to feel there are others who feel the same.