Rats are curious, extremely social, but also very cautious creatures.
They live in family groups – playing, eating, grooming, exploring and sleeping together. However, you have to also remember that their instincts are telling them to be afraid because there are many predators out there (humans included) who would not hesitate to harm or kill them.
In order to socialize your rats, you need to show them that you are there to live WITH them, and NOT to harm them.
If you want to introduce a new rat to your resident rats, a step-by-step method must be used to avoid serious fighting that can result in injuries. We recommend reading and following the information found here:
STEPS to Successful Socialization:
- Speak quietly and kindly to your rats. Let them hear your voice. Lean in very close to their cage so they can smell you as well.
- Let them explore you with their nose and their whiskers. Sit in a small, enclosed area with your rats. It could be on your bed, in your closet, or in the bathtub. Be very quiet and still and let your rats explore YOU.
- Let them smell your hands and stroke them gently once they know it is there. Hands are usually the scariest part about a human to a tiny little rat.
- Pick them up gently by scooping them up from below. Support their legs against your body or your arm. Make sure they are flush against your body so that they feel safe.
- Spend time with your rats every single day for at least 20 minutes at a time.
- Always make their time with you a positive experience. Play, tickle, hand out treats and give them new toys.
- After a long session of playing and running, see if your rats would like to settle down for a cuddle. Favourite scratch spots include: behind the ears, between the ears, the dip between shoulders, and their rump, right at the base of the tail.
- Shower them with flattering words and gentle kisses whenever you get the chance!