How Do I Get My Pet Rat To Eat Food Out Of My Hand?

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 18, 2009 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

I just bought a new pet rat, her name is Rosalie and she is 8 weeks old. I’ve been trying to get her to eat rat treats, sugar-free cereal and peanut butter out of my hands so we can bond, but she doesn’t take anything from me. She likes sitting on my shoulder and doesn’t mind being picked up, it’s the eating thing I’m having problems with. Also, I’m a first time rat owner so any tips at all would be heaps appreciated!

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  • Angela L says:

    OK. I agree with what many other people have said. no peanut butter, your rat can choke on it and pass on. My rats are Dumbo eared rats. both females, their names are Butters and Maggie. Maggie will eat out of my palm and Butters wont. But everyday i put some food on my palm, take all hiding places out of the cage, and place my hand (open) in the cage. I have sat there for 2 hours, waiting for my rats to eat out of my hand. this may take a long time but they now eat out of my hand. you should really try that. this method is a commitment to the rats and they start to trust you more and more after every day. Also, make sure your rat has a little friend. they should be the same gender and also the same breed.

    I hope i helped you. Good luck.

  • Brittany says:

    You actually should not give your rats peanut butter.
    They can easily choke on it and rats cannot throw up.
    As far as trying to get your rattie to eat from your hand, be patient and try different kinds of treat. Good snacks would be eggs, yogurt, goldfish, peas, carrots, any fruits or veggies that are fresh. Some times a piece of dog food is a good treat for them.
    Good luck with further bonding with your rattie

  • Chamada says:

    I have the same problem with my rat. He likes to sit up on my shoulder and sniff me. I try feeding him treats too but he won’t take it. You have to put it on your palm and wait for a couple minutes and she may take it. Also NEVER give a rat peanut butter. Cherrios are good treats and here are better treats:
    Dry cereal
    I hope I helped. Good Luck!

  • esuomom says:

    If she approaches you to be picked up and willingly sits on your shoulder then there is no reason to be concerned that she is not eating out of your hand. Most ratters do not recommend hand feeding frequently anyways because it may encourage some rats to nip. Speaking to her sweetly and giving her pets if she likes them is a perfectly good way to bond.
    You should not feed your rat peanut butter however, firstly because of the high fat and salt content, and secondly because rats (like small infants) risk choking on peanut butter and other sticky foods. Some people have fed their rats peanut butter for years not knowing better without any problems, only to one day see their rat start to choke. It is always a risk.
    If you are a first time owner I recommend that you research carefully proper housing (and especially cage hygiene) and proper nutrition especially. Most first time rat owners make serious mistakes in these areas that shorten the lives of their rats. This is most often because well-meaning pet store employees, vets or other individuals have given them bad information. Most peoples’ knowledge of rats is still based on what is popularly imagined to be true about them rather than what actually is true. As a result, even many of the products that are sold in pet stores for rats are unsafe.
    This page has fairly good short articles on keeping rats:
    You should also know that there are no ratters who recommend keeping a rat alone. Solo rats tend to become less friendly to humans and are prone to psychological problems.
    The National Fancy Rat Society has a good page explaining this:
    You will also want to research common health problems and find a rat experienced vet in your area now before any problems arise.

  • Ratlover says:

    OMG! everything you described is happening to me too!! The only diff is mine is a hairless named tinkerbell.
    The only thing I can think for you to do is show her the same treat, and if she doesn’t take it, drop it in front of her. When she eats the treat, come back later in a couple of hours and give her the same treat but hold it in front of her. If she doesn’t take it this time, keep the treat, and leave.

  • Michelle H says:

    You can try putting the treat on your open palm instead of holding it in your fingers. She’s probably too intimidated by you to take food out of your hands. In time she might do it, but for now you can get her used to eating from your hand by letting her do it from your flat, open palm.

  • Andy D says:

    Dear Raven,
    First of all you are having problems with trust / bonding issues because she is kept alone. Rats need to be kept in pairs (or more, I have three female rats) otherwise they get depressed, but are also scared. Second you should NEVER give rats peanut butter, it is far too thick for them and they can choke and die.
    However if you want them to take treats from your hand you have to be patient. Leave your hand with the treat (cheerios work well) near Rosalie. Keep it there for 5-10 minutes. If she doesn’t take it just leave, if she does gently stroke her with one finger from the tip of her nose to her tail, rats love that.
    Good luck with Rosalie and please get another rat.
    Your rat is still very young, give her time.

  • masticin says:

    You know yes a rat alone is different then a rat with ratty friends.
    I suggest getting her a friend to cuddle up with. That she sits on your shoulder and is easy to handle is a good sign. Maybe she is a shy type of rat.
    Rats come in different personalities, some are shy but those make also the greatest of snuggles. There are those that want to know everything..and I mean everything..and are hard to keep sitting somewhere.
    So get your ratty friend an own ratty friend and give it time.

  • Emmyjak1 says:

    While most rats have no problem taking food out of your hand, some rats simply will not. What you may want to try is putting the peanut butter, or yogurt on a spoon and slowly (several days) move your hand closer to the head of the spoon. Then place the food on your fingers to try and get her to eat from your hand. Regardless whether or not he eats from you this will be a bonding experience. Once you rats associates you and food, she will want to be with you all the time!
    Also if you only have one rat, you have an unhappy rat. They are extremely social animals and even if you spend 24 hours a day with you rat, you cannot replace the companionship of another rattie. You should get another female soon.
    Never use pine or cedar bedding for your rats, the oils are toxic and cause respiratory and liver disease. You may not see symptoms but damage is being done. Eco-Bedding is a great choice. A lot of people also use CareFresh and Yesterday’s News.
    For food, they should get a base diet of Mazuri lab blocks. Do not feed them seed mixes. They are incomplete diets. They should also get a variety of fresh fruits and veggies every day, as well as COOKED beans, soy yogurt and soy milk. It has been proven that blueberries and soy help prevent tumors, which females are extremely susceptible to.
    Good luck with your ratties!

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