How Can I Socialize My Pet Rat?

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 17, 2009 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

I purchased a pet rat a few months ago and I’ve been trying to socialize her as best I can. Whenever I’m around I make a point to pet her and reward her wth treats for being social. I also have tried picking her up while she’s sleepy to let her rest in a towel on my lap while I watch tv just to get her used to being held. However three months later she still won’t come to me and doesn’t show any interest in people. She doesn’t like being held at all. I’d really rather not purchase another rat so if any experienced owners have any tips on socializing single rats I’d really appreciate it.



  • Vinny says:

    She’s most likely depressed. Rats are social animals and need to be kept in at least pairs. Human socialization cannot replace socialization with another rat, just like a rat can’t replace human contact for you. And, two rats aren’t any harder to take care of than others.
    Of course, it could also be a personality issue. Just like humans, rats have different personalities and she could just not be an outgoing rat. If you don’t know her history, she could also have been mishandled or abused. Or, when you say she doesn’t like being held, it may very likely be that she’s just like all other girl rats and has alot of energy for exploring. My boys will sit in my lap content to be petted, while when my girls are out they want to explore and will come back to me when they feel like having attention, then go off again.
    I have eight rats, and they each have completely different personalities. One of my girls originally came from a petshop and is very similar to how you describe your girl. She’s a sweetheart, but she doesn’t like being held and because I have my other girls and boys, I don’t have a problem letting her be and playing with my more friendly rats.
    I would advise getting another female from a rescue who has been socialized and who you know will be friendly.

  • pinpinmo says:

    Well I’m not that much experienced, but I still have some tips that might be helpful. You can try to put your hand in the cage to make her more used to your hand if she isn’t yet or anymore. Then after a few days or so, try gently picking her up and talking to her in a soft voice, making her feel safe. Then slowly bring her towards you. Make sure you are holding her safely so if she tries to get out, she won’t fall. Try giving her that treat you used to give when she allows you to pick her up. Also, a good thing to do is to let her run around or on you so she can get used to you more. Hope this helps and good luck.

  • Rebecca D says:

    Rats are noctural of coarse, and you have a female rat, which generally means she is more likely to do what she wants and go where shes wants. All you have to do, is let her out of her cage, supervised, let her explore and lay treats down near you. reach out to pet her when shes eating and talk to her in a calming voice. Once she learns to recognize that you mean no harm, you can try to slowly pick her up and handle her. Also, promote other people to treat her with care, and not to overwhelm her with talking and handling.
    And since they are noctural, you can change their sleeping habits by bumping back “play time” and hour at a time each week. soon, she’ll sleep during the night, and play during the day.

  • Redneck Crow says:

    Part of the problem might be that you have a single rat. Rats need to socialize with their own kind even above and beyond socializing with people. I would suggest that you get another rat if you are going to keep her. I’ve always had good results with rats kept as pairs.

  • Anonymous says:

    you’re doing everything right. I’ve raised rats & the breeder rats became pets but even though they tolerated all types of handling & playing with the kids, they never actually “came to us” on their own free will. They just didn’t resist social contact with us & allowed us to handle them freely. One breeder female especially enjoyed riding on my shoulder everywhere I went & even slept on the back of my neck, underneath my long hair, no matter if I was sitting down or wandering around! LOL! I know you’ve seen trained rats on tv but don’t expect too much of your own pet & just try to appreciate & enjoy the fact that it allows you to interact with it.

  • rdrmn says:

    I wish I could help, but I have had no luck with female rats. Out of three I have owned, none were too friendly. Two out of Two males I have had were very friendly and loved being held.

  • Rain S says:

    Female rats are generally not as social as males, but I have personally ALWAYS preferred them as pets. It honestly sounds like you are doing everything right. One other trick I used to use, and this may sound weird, but I had a shower with sliding doors, and I would sit in there with her with the doors closed so she could explore me and check me out all she wanted without any risk of her getting loose while we bonded. This gave her some freedom with me, and we became the best of friends. I would make it a point to also ONLY give her special treats when she is being held and never when she is in her cage. Just keep loving her and it may just pay off in the end. 🙂

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