Closing the Barn Door

by Jane Adamo

1) You must keep male and female rats in separate living quarters.  All
the time.Starting when they are 5 1/2 weeks  old.
2) You don't let them mix even for "supervised play."  Don't let them
visit.  Don't even let them send flowers.
3) It takes them 1 second to have sex.  You won't even see it. They will
even do it if they can get through the bars of the cage.
4) It takes them 3 weeks to have...
5) 11-17 babies
6) They have the ability to do this from when they are 5 1/2 weeks old.
7) Reread 1.

"Jane Adamo" <> (edited 2014)

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Bonding with your Rat

( or: Rat Socialization 101)

by Robyn Arthur

Any rat you bring home is going to be scared at first. It's in a
strange new place and it doesn't know you're a nice person... yet.
Some things you can do to encourage your rats to trust you:

* Treat, treats, treats!! Feed them treats from your hands... peas,
corn, yogurt drops, bread and butter, pieces of fruit, anything!
Things they have to lick off your fingers are good (like yogurt, cream
cheese, baby food), since they can't just grab it and run.

* Around their cage it is best to have soft or no sound (i.e. music
but not tv), soft or no light, no sprays, smokes, or fragrances, and
no voyeurs (i.e.. cats, dogs) which may frighten them. Speak softly
and soothingly to them and don't wake them up abruptly.

* When you approach the rats, be sure to "knock before entering"
(e.g.. by making a special "I'm here!" noise outside the cage)
Respect their home--it is very distressing to a new ratty to have
you reach right into their one safe and personal space, grab them
and yank them out. Let them come to you instead.
Bringing a little present is always appropriate--a strip of paper towel
for the bedroom, a yogurt drop for the stash, a leaf of lettuce for a
shared meal...and when you "leave", take a wet piece of nest
material with you!

* Play with them at night, when they're most active... you can start by
placing your hand in the cage and letting them sniff you/take treats or
pet them. Encourage them to climb onto your hand or shoulder.

* Place the rat down your shirt. Here they'll feel safe and also learn to
know your smell (you may wish to wear two shirts if you don't enjoy
being shredded by sharp ratty claws)

* When you get them out of the cage, keep the play area dimly lit
(harsh lighting may make them nervous) and provide a "safe place"
like a nest/shoe box for them to run to if frightened.

* Be aware of the signs of a frightened rat so that you know if you're
pushing your rat too far. A scared rat might bite, run and hide, go
catatonic in fear, or poop or pee on you. If you see any of these,
take the socialization process slower.

Your rats will eventually realise you're not a threat and before long
they'll be leaping out of the cage to brux on your shoulder and groom
your eyebrows. Don't expect this to happen overnight... it could take
several weeks or months depending on the rat. Some rats are just
scaredy by nature. Be patient and keep at it, once they trust and
love you they are just such rewarding pets.

Thanks to contributions from Ann, Lisa E, Andrea and anyone
else on the List I've gotten ideas from. Further suggestions are


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2014 update: Over the years, since the forced socialization method was first described for use with rats, we have learned much more about rat behavior that has helped us to use more positive techniques in Socializing and Trust Training of rats. For further information and instruction regarding positive reinforcement techniques in Behavioral and Trust Training visit " "

The Forced Socialization Method

by Jane Adamo

Every day, take the problem rat out of the cage and spend one continuous
20-minute period handling him/her.  NO SHORTCUTS! TIME IT! Mix it up:
let them sit on your lap/shoulder, let them walk on you, pet them, don’t
pet them, hold them, scratch them, massage them, put them in your
shirt.  You can walk around, you can watch TV -- just don’t let the rat
get away from you for 20 minutes.  Talk to him/her:  "Relaaaaax. Good
girl! No, no -- stay here." etc. Just make sure you HANDLE them: 20
minutes of the rat sitting on your shoulder won't accomplish anything.

This method gets fast results: the rat’s fear can't sustain itself for
20 minutes and it just burns itself out. The whole process will probably
take only a few sessions.

If you're afraid of getting nipped, wear a pair of cotton gardening
gloves: the ones with the rubber dots.

During the few days of the socialization period, keep the cage clear
enough that you can always easily and quickly get to the rat.  The rat
should never think that they can GET AWAY from you. They should be under
the impression that no matter where they go, YOU can get to them. Again,
if the rat seems frightened enough to bite when you reach in to get him,
wear the gloves.  But please try to see things from the rat's point of
view: in the wild, rats are very wary of "danger from above" -- an owl
or hawk swooping down to grab them.  And that's what your hand looks
like!  So be a kind, gentle, loving and reassuring giant.

This method works great with domesticated Norways but it will also work
with wild Ship Rats.

EVEN FASTER if you promise to take them to McDonalds afterward.

**Additional helpful comment by Alicia Andrea:

<<Forced Socialization involves simply holding the rat for 20 minutes, even
against his will.  Don't squeeze, of course.  If the rat wants to move,
let him run through your hands.  Just keep your hands on him for 20
minutes.  At first they'll be afraid, and they might struggle or squeak.
But after a time they'll lose their fear--they just can't keep it up after
that long.  This exercise works because of rat psychology--rats trust rats
who can dominate them yet not hurt them, and that's exactly what you're
doing when you restrain them.  This technique REALLY WORKS, and it works
almost immediately.  Do it for a week or so on your rats and see what happens.>>

Jane Adamo <>

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When Playtime's Over

by Jane Adamo

(Responding to the question) "How do you teach your rats to go home??? (My new rat) is...[hard to] pick up/catch"

1) She'll get better as she gets older.
2) Can she get to the cage on her own?  I leave mine out all night and
in the morning, they're all home.
3) WORK WITH HER.  The problem is -- she KNOWS that whenever you pick
her up: she's going in the cage.  She sees your hand and knows you are
going to spoil the fun.

Start working with her.
a) Sit in the floor with a book or the paper, or dinner and get her used
to you just sitting there.  Eventually, she'll walk over.  Eventually,
she'll jump on you.
b) Then get her used to you PETTING her while she's out of the cage, but
NOT picking her up.
c) Then get her used to you PICKING her up but putting her down right away.
d) Then get her used to you PICKING her up and holding her, but not
putting her in the cage.

This sounds like a lot, but it won't take long and it doesn't really
take much effort: they're smart.  (My rat) Nomar is like this and he got MUCH
better in two weeks, honest.

"Jane Adamo" <>

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How to Catch Escapees

by Julie Eschliman

    This is a subject that comes up quite often on the Ratlist, and the first thing we usually do is direct
the desperate owner to this wonderful article: Lost and Found: When Your Rattie Goes Rambling
    If your rat is lost outside, things get a bit trickier.  You should get a live trap as soon as possible,
from the humane society, animal control, pet store, or feed store, and set it up in the area you think
the rat may be in.  If the area is large, setting up more than one trap would probably be more effective.
The trap can be baited with the rat's favorite treat, or something (such as bedding) that smells like
home.  If you have access to a rat of the opposite sex, Robyn suggests baiting the trap with something
scented in that rat's urine.
    Says Sue of Pendragon Fancy Rats:
<<I found the way to catch them was to wind a piece of bacon rasher rind round the hook that
attaches to the loop. The bacon will keep for a few days and the scent is irresistible... and also the
rat has to pull to get it off, which slips the rod out of the loop very effectively, closing the door behind
    I am also told by someone else who has one of these, that a chicken bone on the hook works as
    The important thing is not to lose hope too quickly.  Click here to read about a distraught Ratlister
whose escaped rattie returned to her against all odds:  Golden Boy's Story

Julie Eschliman

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