Companionship for your rats
Rats should never be kept on their own as they are likely to get depressed with the company of other rats. They’re also mainly active at night so need another rat or rats to keep them company while you’re asleep. Rats can live in groups, but make sure they have plenty of room or they can become stressed. Where possible it’s best to have same sex littermates who are bonded from birth. However, rats usually can bond well if introduced before maturity. Avoid mixed sex groups to stop any chances of unwanted litters and fighting.
Bonding with your rats
From when you first bring your rats home, you’ll start bonding with them. To help you all get used to each other, make sure you put their cage in a busy part of the house. Rats love to be able to feel part of what’s going on, and it means you’ll interact with them more. When you walk past, gently speak to your rats!
Physical contact is very important with rats. When they’re comfortable with you, they’ll love to sit on your shoulder or nestle into a shirt pocket. As with most animals, slowly introduce yourself to them. Let them sniff your hand and move at their own pace. Rats should be socialised regularly, so get them out of their cage every day.
Handling your rats
Before you try to pick up your pets, use some getting-to-know-you techniques to minimise stress. Let your hand be sniffed. Speak softly. Try some gentle stroking. All of which minimises stress. When you feel ready, and you feel they feel ready, scoop them up in your cupped hands. Never lift a rat by the tail – it can cause them discomfort.
Rats are very happy to sit in your lap or on your shoulder. They can’t have a quiet word in your ear, but you’ll be able to tell when they’re content. Just listen to them grinding their teeth. It’s called bruxing.
Did You Know?
Rats can remember faces! Rats have great memories. As well as being able to recognise your face, they can also remember different routes once they get used to them.
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