by: Catherine Smith

Patience is a virtue when dealing with nervous rats. A little understanding goes a long way. If your new rat hasn't been handled much by the pet shop/breeder or rescue centre you got her from, she will be nervous, but don't panic, you can still build up a wonderful relationship with your new pet.

Let her settle in

Give your rat a couple of days to settle into her new home. Some rats take to their new environment straight away, whilst others need a little more time. Make sure she has somewhere to hide in her new cage, so that she doesn't feel overwhelmed by all the changes. Speak to her through the cage, so that she gets used to your voice. Don't feed treats through the bars, as this may encourage her to nip your fingers.

Let her come to you

Sit next to the cage, with the cage door open. Be quiet and patient. You can even read a book. Let your rat come out of the cage to investigate. It may take a while, but you will probably find she will come and sniff you and explore her new environment. Have a few tasty treats on your lap to reward her with, if she manages to make it all the way to your lap, let her take a treat and talk to her in a soft, reassuring voice. You will find she gains confidence over time.

Make her feel safe

You want your ratty friend to associate you with safety. She will see your hands as these big, blurry shapes coming towards her and that sounds pretty scary. Always pick her up to put her back into her cage, so that she associates you with going to a place of safety. Have her food ready for her when she returns to the cage. She will think, "Hey every time I go out, when I come back there is food for me".

Give her time

I have two beautiful boy rats, Billy and Ringo, who had never been handled before they came to me. It has taken 4 months of quietly and patiently building up their confidence, before they truly trusted me. This is an extreme case. It doesn't usually take this long. Now the boys love tummy tickles and playing chase with my hand and grooming my hair. It shows what can be achieved if you just give them time. Try not to make any sudden movements or loud noises, especially in the first week.

All rats can be lovely companions if they are just given a chance. Put yourself in your new ratties position and see how scary it could be. If you rat is a rescue and has never been handled, or a lab rat that may have been abused, you are changing their lives for the better and eventually they will understand this and hopefully learn to love you, as much as you love them.

About The Author

Catherine Smith Catherine Smith 2007-2009. Article from EzineArticles.