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7 Easy Steps To Tame Your Pet Rat

By Eddie Chevrel


Updated on

Your new fancy rats will be jumpy and overly excited little powder kegs that you don’t want to start handling right away. So the process of taming your rat requires that you follow very simple steps that will ensure they’ll become loving and dedicated companions for you.

How To Tame Your Fancy Rat

More than likely you’ve already gotten your cage set up ahead of time and are ready to bring your new little rat or rats home. These tiny rats won’t be more than 6 weeks old and will be overly excited when you transport them back to your home. Once you put them into their habitat very carefully, this is when the real work or taming begins.

1. Give them time to adjust

With this being said, you need to give your new rat some time to cool off inside its cage. This will allow them to adjust to being in a new environment where they can explore and become comfortable on their own. This should take at least one or two days depending on how they are getting along in their new habitat.

Once you see that your rat is looking comfortable and not acting erratic like the day you brought them home, you can start the next step. Be sure that you have given enough food in their cage when they are sleeping. Just make sure you don’t make sudden noises while putting baby fancy rat food pellets and other items in their food tray.

2. Be patient and calm with your rat

Now you want to have a very clear approach to taming your rat. You have to be patient, but taming a rat won’t be hard if you follow these steps.

Make your presence known in the room more often by coming into where your rat cage is located for a few minutes. This will start to condition your rat to your scent and soon you’ll see they begin standing up with their nose in the air. When you see this, you can now take the next leap into letting them know you.

3. Sit by their cage

Sit at a desk or table near their cage and spend at least an hour or two just doing something quiet. This can be something as simple as looking at your smartphone or even reading a book. The whole point is to let your rat become accustomed to you being close to its cage.

If you can put your hand close to their cage, this is going to help start to spark their interest so they won’t be afraid of your hand. You can also spend time passing by the cage or getting close at some points. Try bringing food more often and see if they want to take it from your hand through the cage bars.

4. Open the cage door

Image by Hutzpah from Pixabay

This is going to be a bit different for your fancy rat, so they will be tempted to hide from you or act threatened. This is where you shouldn’t try putting your hand inside the cage and let them become used to that door being open. They won’t try escaping either, which is nice but don’t break that boundary line.

This could get you bitten from making a defensive move like this, but instead, just keep offering treats through the cage bars. Slowly make your way to the cage door until you can get them to take this food with no incident. You always want to be sure they are reaching for the food outside the cage and not putting your hand inside the cage at all.

5. Use treats to attract them

This is going to be what defines what a treat means to your rat, so they will become aware of why they come to you. It needs to be something totally different than their regular food and will be tempting in a scent or flavor that is appealing to them. You’ll need to decide what these treats are going to be, but nothing that is overly sugary, so you can give it as a regular healthy snack.

One good tip I can recommend is using a cork flake or Cheerio that is totally healthy for them. These tastes are special for them and should be a treat that will get attention because of their overall shape. Don’t use a snack that has a strong smell like cheese, or strong-smelling food, so always use a neutral-smelling snack.

6. Get them to eat from your hand

This is when you can start to put your hand at the entrance of the cage door, but be sure to have very clean hands. The challenge here- is putting the same snack on the center of your palm, and then waiting until they come to get it. By now, they’ll be used to your scent and will identify the smell of their snack.

They will be extra cautious, but when it comes to snack time, their training starts with your rat wanting their snack. This will become a form of trust that lets your rat know it can trust you by being tame. It will take a few days or more before you will be able to take the food from your hand and wait for them to walk onto your palm.

You can try offering them this snack with your free hand instead to see if they are receptive to the reward.

7. Take it to the next level

By now your rat is getting used to being on your hand and will be ready to softly touch its fur. They won’t perceive you are trying to hurt them since they have their treat, so while your rat is eating, you can stroke their back fur or even the top of their head. This can continue in many ways including holding your rat on your lap if they aren’t objecting.

Let them roam back and forth from hand to hand guiding them as you go. Do this for at least an hour a day and work up to more exercises where they can crawl. Once your rat sees you aren’t being any threat to them, they will always be happy to get a little treat along the way.

Source: Emiology

Can you train a fancy rat to do tricks?

You bet your rat can learn tricks provided you give them a treat afterward for following what you are guiding them to do. The more you practice these tricks, the better they get at completing each task. Once they’re tame, you can let them crawl up your sleeve and rest on your shoulder.

This is part of their curiosity and they will be happy to crawl over you or hide in your pockets if there are any. Fancy rats are very quick to learn new tricks and will surprise you with how fast they catch on. In many ways, they learn so much faster than dogs do since they value getting a good treat every time.

Do fancy rats like to be handled?

Any rat that is used to being held in your hands will love your company and being on or around you. Just open their cage door and knock a couple of times or call them, they’ll figure this out quickly and come to you knowing it’s playtime. Even if you aren’t at the cage door, they’ll come out and search for you.

If you have more than one rat, both of them may choose to come out just to be cuddled. Having more than one owner is also good so they get used to multiple scents and aren’t afraid of being held by others. This is very important if you take your tame rat out to be shown to friends who are curious about owning a fancy rat.

Do pet rats like to cuddle?

Rats are very social and they do like to cuddle and find a place they will even take a nap on you. It can be on your shoulders or inside your hoodie. Oversize pockets especially are a good place for them to hang out and rest. You’ll find they love laying where it’s warm, so your stomach is a likely spot they’ll feel safe snoozing for a little bit.

Likes like to be stroked and will return this favor by grooming you at some point. As long as you keep your hands clean, they’ll be happy to show you lots of affection along the way. Over the next year or so, you will see how attached they’ve grown towards you making fancy rats lovable bumbling critters.

If you are indeed a real rat-lover, you’ll enjoy having rats for as long as they live. Getting new rats is always an exciting part of being a rat owner since they will all have slightly different personalities. Give them fanciful names, so match what kind of ratty persona they tend to have!

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About Eddie Chevrel

Eddie Chevrel is an animal journalist and the founder of ThePetSavvy. He's very passionate about exotic pets and spends most of his free time doing research, meeting, and interviewing people working with animals. Learn more about The Pet Savvy's Editorial Process.