Introducing: Nibbles and Treacles (rats)
Here are the latest additions to our family (and ever growing "zoo"):
The dark grey one is Treacle and the other one is Nibbles. I'm trying to get more photos today.
You can tell who's the more confident one
Nibbles playing "peek-a-boo"
Treacle not very impressed
Still in statue mode
We got Nibbles (now 8 weeks old) 2 weeks ago. She was the last of the litter (incidentally nobody wanted her, as she was the smallest one). We only bought her with the condition (from my side) that we would find another female companion as soon as possible.
In the meantime she settled in absolutely fine. It only took 1-2 days before she came out by herself and started exploring us and her surroundings outside the cage. She seems more or less fearless, even the sight of a huge dog popping his head up next to her cage (he's still fixating on her too much - work in progress) doesn't faze her at all. She loves to groom our hands and had no problems taking treats from our hands right from the beginning. She's so food orientated, that it's quite easy to work with her. During the day she doesn't even bother about her house, but sleeps on the platforms so she doesn't miss anything. And she begs during meal times...
Anyway, after browsing 4-5 pet shops which either only sold frozen rats or only had males left, we finally found Treacle yesterday. I hang my head in shame and admit, that she was a sort of impulse buy and thinking back, I'm getting a bit suspicious about the circumstances. When we got to the shop there were only near adult males "on display" for sale, but on inquiring the guy went to the back and came out with a small cage full of 4 female rats. We picked Treacle (there were one that looked like her but didn't have the white paws and two albinos) and he got her ready. In the shop they said they handle them all the time, but obviously she would need to get used to being handled by us. They also gave us advise in how to introduce the rats to each other (something I had already prepared - neutral area, etc).
Looking back, none of the rats seemed very interested in "meeting" us, but kept squeezing into one corner unlike Nibbles who was straight out to greet us. When we got her home we introduced the two rats in a neutral place. They got on straight away with Nibbles, despite being younger and smaller being the more dominant one. After a while we let Treacle into the cage, so she could put in her mark. Nibbles followed a little after and they both went exploring together. Treacle seemed quite happy to climb up and straight away took to the bridge.
We did as it was advised and left them to it for a couple of hours, but already noticed that Treacle would freeze with her eyes bulging out every time someone would go near the cage. When we changed the food and water later on that evening, I tried to get her to sniff my hand, but she just froze. She doesn't even want to take a treat even if it's dropped in front of her (tried all sorts) and left alone. She relatively easy to pick up and carry (during transfer to the cage), but only because she is so terrified to move. She still doesn't want to even smell our hands/fingers.
Am I correct in thinking that the shop assistants were maybe talking bull and those rats have not been handled a lot at all? Or am I doing something wrong (maybe expecting too much from her, being spoiled with Nibbles who was keen to interact right from the start)?
I've now read up a lot on socializing shy rats and will do it step by step and give her all the time she needs. She's here to stay and I'm sure she'll "get there" in the end. I just need to find out, what she really likes (Apart from being ignored, lol) and bribe her.
WElcome to the world of pet shop animals lol. I doubt very much if Treacle has beenhandled at all since she has been in the pet shop as there are just no tenough hours in the day for them to spend time doing so. It wilalso depend on whether it is a big chain store like pets at home or a small local independant store that is still willing ot buy from local breeders to ensure good stock, rather than farmed babies that most large chains get their stock from.
Also it wil take a few days for Treacle to settle in (hoping i have them the right way round lol) to her new surroundings and know that she is safe.I have just done a large introduction of a group of 4 sisters and a mum and 2 pups all female which i must admit tend to be easier to inroduce than boys lol. which has gone amazingly I do wondr did oyu put any of treacles bedding into Nibbles cage so that she had soemthing that she recognised in there as that may help.A bonding pouch will also help in the taming process as she can hide in the pouch to feel safe and oyu can still stroke her and interact with her and gether used to being touched and handled during free time. Give her a little more time to settle then start with the treating etc and I am sure you wilse a huge difference and if Nibbles is already very friendly Treacle will take her cue from her and slowly she will come out of her shell for oyu.
2.1.0 corn snakes(Amethystos,Grim)
0.0.1 african plated lizard (Bahamet)
4.0.0 cats(Figaro and Nero Loki and Gizmo)
1.1.0 dogs(mysty and storm)
0.1.0 german giant beardie(Zeus)
0.1.0 bearded dragons (Faith)
0.1.0 Bosc monitor (Hercule
1 tank of tropical fish
1.0.0 Bushy tailed Jirds (Fuzzbutt)
0.7.0 Fancyrats (Blaze,Nibbler,Cleo Patchra)
Thank you for your great advise, I will take it on board.
You were spot on with small familiar pet shop (Nibbles) vs. chain (Treacle).
Treacle seems to be a little bit braver today, not instantly freezing as soon as someone approaches her. She even sniffed both my husband's and my hand, yay. The two of them are getting closer, too, with Treacle orientating on Nibbles (I take that as a good sign), following her around and snuggling up to her.
Unfortunately, treacle didn't have any bedding with her (another minus point on the shop list), but she seem to like the cage and feels save inside the hiding spots. At the moment, they're both huddled up in the tiny little "box thing" at the top of the cage.
I'll check later for the bonding pouch, maybe I can make one from an old sock, lol.
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