So you did it, you finally got your very own pet rat to love and care for. But now you’re wondering how to bond with them effectively and get to know them. Creating a bond with your new friend is an important part of building a relationship with them.
Much like its feline and canine counterparts, your pet rat is a very social critter and benefits greatly from the trust formed with you, its owner. It’s no secret that stress is unhealthy. The mental stress created from a volatile relationship with your pet may seem insignificant but it can build up and may harm both your pet rat’s and your own mental health.
Whether your new pet is a baby or an adult, there are ways to bond with rats of all ages! We will go over a few tips for socializing so that you and your pet rat will be best friends in no time!
You brought your pet rat home, now what?
The first part of building a solid relationship with any pet is to provide them a clean and safe environment to live in; your pet rat will be much more open to socializing with you if it feels relaxed in its space.
Make sure your rat has adequate, plenty of toys to play with, and bedding to shred and nest in. A happy rat is a social rat, stressed rats tend to be less open to human contact.
An important thing to remember about rats as with all new pets is to take your time socializing with them. Joining a new family is stressful on any animal so you have to do your best to make them as comfortable as possible.
You start by offering them food by hand, even the shyest rat can’t resist a good treat! If your new four-legged friend is engaging with hand-feeding it means that he/she is beginning to trust you. It may now be time to hold your pet rat in your hand.
Hold your hand out flat in front of them and gently pick them up and place them on your hand. Never grab them by their tail or by their legs! Don’t overdo it! If they seem stressed by this, slowly place them back down and try again later.
Eventually, they will become accustomed to being held in your hand and will start to feel at home. Many rat owners like having their rats sit on their shoulders and crawl down their arms, some rats even like burrowing inside sweatshirt hoods and pockets.
These actions require a considerable amount of trust between the rat and the owner, and should not be attempted without first forming a solid baseline of trust. Bonding with your pet rat may take some time and may seem hopeless at times, but it is crucial for having a happy, healthy rat!
What if my pet rat is particularly shy or an adult?
If you find that your new rat is particularly shy and closed off, they may benefit from having a companion. Being the social creatures that they are, rats love living with at least one other rat (link to companions/pairs).
Having a friend may help your rat relax and be more comfortable in their home. Not only will this improve the life of your rat and alleviate any loneliness they may feel, but it will also in turn help them become more open to socializing with you.
The cost of feeding and providing for two rats over just one is rather small, however, just make sure that their enclosure is large enough for both of them.
You may or may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can definitely teach an old rat new ones! As one would expect, juvenile rats are easier to train and socialize with than older rats. If you adopt an adult pet rat that doesn’t seem to like you, you may feel stuck in the water. Fear not!
Older rats still want love and affection, they just might need some time to learn how to receive it from you. Just take your time with approaching them, and make sure they are completely comfortable before trying to pick them up. Rats young and old love yummy treats so they are a great tool for building trust as a provider.
Be compassionate to your rat, they may have had a rough childhood and have trouble trusting humans or may have never even had contact with one. Either way, patience is key! If you take the time to bond with your adult rat you will be rewarded for your efforts!
So you bonded with your pet rat, what next?
The bond that you form with your pet is a mutually beneficial one. Ask any pet owner and they will tell you that they get some degree of mental/emotional benefit from being close with their pets. This is the reason why emotional support animals help so many people.
Here are a few things to remember when bonding with your rat: Rats love being active so providing them with a wheel and proper toys is important to let them release energy and keep them healthy.
If you are having trouble with getting to know your rat, treats and food go a long way to help build trust! Rats are incredibly affectionate animals and no doubt provide similar emotional relief for their owners.
They are also very affordable to care for and are a great option for someone who wants the love of a pet but also lives on a budget.