The desire to welcome a rat into your home does not prevent you from having a little apprehension. You may be wondering if you will know how to deal with it properly. Or if you will know how to handle it without hurting it or if there is no particular way to stroke it. Do not worry: with patience and gentleness, you will be able to establish a relationship of trust with your animal.
The advantages of the domestic rat
The character of the rat has points in common with that of the dog: it is faithful and runs when it hears its name. It can perch on your shoulder during a walk or slip into your purse if it becomes necessary to hide it for a few moments.
Despite the fears that we can feed against it, the rat does not react at all like the hamster which can bite suddenly, for no well identified and clear reason. Is it due to his intelligence? In any case, it is rare that the rat bites, to the point that it can even live with children.
Thesmell rat is particularly fine, estimated at 300 times greater than ours. These animals are also used to detect abandoned mines in areas of confrontation. It is quite possible to use this meaning to promote the development of a harmonious relationship with your rat: provide him with a T-shirt that you have worn and that you will not have washed so that he can make its nest. Your smell will be familiar to him and associated with a pleasant moment.
Catching and handling your rat
When you want to carry a rat, it is important to to secure. You have to do it in such a way that your grip does not awaken in him an instinctive feeling of danger, a survival reflex. The seizure of the animal must therefore be:
- predictable and gradual, not sudden,
- gentle, not abrupt.
Once you have approached your rat, you will grab his body. The most intuitive is probably to circle the thorax of the thumb and middle finger just behind the front legs. This is not enough to make the rat feel comfortable. It is essential that the free hand is placed in support of the rear legs. The rat thus does not hang over the void and will not struggle to seek the support it lacks.
When you start to get used to it, and provided the rat is of a temper calm, the hands can be placed under the rat, forming like a cradle. However, this technique prevents any catch of the animal. The rat can therefore struggle and jump, without you being able to hold it back.
What to never do
You should never grab a rat by the tail. As with many rodents, the tail is an essential organ that is an extension of the spine. Its functions are multiple: balance, thermal regulator and input device. Covered with small dermal scales, it is not rough. Some people can’t stand to see this part of the rat’s anatomy. It is undoubtedly for them that a variety of tailless rats was created: it is the manx rat. The manipulation of the rat’s tail is painful for the animal. It is not forbidden to seize it but it should be reserved for an emergency situation.
The neck area is also sensitive. Grasping a fold of skin on the back of the neck is painful, and the rat is likely to react aggressively and defend itself by trying to bite you.
Stroke your rat
Each rat has its own character and it is very difficult to make predictions. Even if rats from small farms, where they were able to come into contact with humans early on, are more conducive to developing sociable behaviors, you will find some who will be more independent and will not enter. willingly in contact with humans. If you are lucky that your rat is one of those who appreciates and craves petting, you will find out what he enjoys by trying to rub certain areas and checking his reaction. There is no generality: for some, the scratchy can be done on the whole body, for others, it will be necessary to avoid the stomach or the lower back.
You will finally know quite quickly if he appreciates your caresses or not. If he’s happy, he’ll be able to lick your hand, and even cringe if he is very happy and confident.
Put the odds on your side
When you face a litter of rats and need to pick one, go for the most curious of all, for the one who will come to feel you more closely. Leave out those who urinate in fear when handled: they will be more difficult to tame.
The taming can vary enormously from rat to rat. For some it will be done in a few days, when it will take weeks for others. There is an element of alchemy, of instinct. Even if you do everything right, gently and patiently, the rat decides.
Males are known to be calmer and more lazy, more inclined to spend hours motionless being petted. But they have the disadvantage of having a greasier coat when they are adults, because of the action of their sebaceous glands, boosted by their hormones. Their smell is also a little stronger than that of females. However, they are more active and curious. Contacts with them may be more fleeting because what they are looking for is more action and exploration than endless taste buds.
Your rat should not be disturbed in the following situations: when it is sheltering, when it is eating and when it is sleeping. The youngest will be able to forget more easily that it is about a living being and not of a toy which one could request at will. The rat is a sensitive animal that will not stand to be forced. He would only develop more mistrust of you. It is he who will decide when it can be carried or caressed. If he runs away, leave him alone. Such an attitude on your part will be interpreted positively by the rat. The system reward is also a great way to attract the rat to you and establish a relationship of trust. However, it should be used in moderation so as not to promote overweight in your rat.