How Do I Get My Pet Rats To Eat Treats?

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 22, 2009 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

I just purchased two baby rats from my local pet store yesterday. They are both very scared and I’ve been letting them smell my hands and holding them for a few minutes at a time to let them get used to me. I’ve read that to get them to understand that I’m friendly I should give them treats. The problem is, they won’t eat any of the treats I’ve offered. I’ve offered a bit of apple, a cornflake, one of those little yogurt bites, and a few other similar things. They sniff them but won’t even taste them.
Is there something else I can try? Am I doing it wrong? They don’t seem to understand what the treat is or maybe they just don’t want it.

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  • Chamada says:

    I have a rat named Sniffs and he won’t eat off my hand either but I tried something else.
    I went to his cage and I gave him cherrios (never peanut butter they can choke) I let him smell it for like a minute and then I put it on his bowl. Then I left and checked the bowl and the cherrios were gone. Then try feeding more cherrios.

  • Dani says:

    They won’t eat because right now they are petrified of their new surroundings and their new care-giver. You are doing everything right, you’re a natural. Just be patient for a while longer and give them time to get to know you.
    I doubt very much that they were handled at the pet store, and right now human hands are a very scary thing coming into their cage.
    Here’s something else you can try:

    They don’t know about those new foods you are offering them because they were given such a bland, blech, boring, diet at the pet store they don’t know about anything else. Here’s something that can work. Take a corn flake, make it soft by putting it in your mouth, blow on them, spit out the corn flake, and offer it to them. This is how the babies learned which foods were safe to eat at the pet store. When their mother ate that bland, blech, boring, diet, they smelled it on her breath. Now you are their mother, and you can teach them what foods are safe to eat.
    Foods that rats go nuts for are yogert chips, peas, and avocado, and they can learn to love all kinds of foods.
    Have fun with your new babies 🙂
    Whoa! No lettuce, especially not iceberg lettuce, it has no nutrition in it. Ratty digestive systems don’t do well with lettuce. Too much lettuce will give rats diarrhea and you certainly don’t want that this early in the game.

    Rat Slave at 38
    Specializing in the health and care of pet rats since 1997
    “If you can’t say something nice about pet rats…don’t say anything at all”

  • ILoveNj says:

    Thats normal. They probably didnt get much socialization in the pet stores.
    I’ve read that yogurt works great because they have to eat it off of your hands.Peanut butter would probably work too. Something that they cant just snatch and run off with. Of course right now theyre completely petrified…so that too might take a while. Give them some time to settle in. stick your hand in the cage and talk to them gently, let them get used to you. Right now youre some huge scary creature that could squish them at any second. with alot of love and a lot (And I mean alot!) of patience, they’ll be begging at the cage door to get out every time you walk into the room.
    If you check my questions asked, you’ll see I asked a similiar question (the question was, which method is better for taming rodents) I got some really good answers, and the best answer I chose even provided a link to successful ways to train a rat. Good luck with your new babies!

  • missoran says:

    Your pet rats don’t need treats if they don’t want them. Make sure you feed them a balanced rat diet and they will be fine. Rats are great pets, handle daily and you have have best friends.

  • scarfies says:

    Rats usually dont take things that they dont already know as food right away, they need to get used to the scent and then they will usually nibble at it to figure out if it is ok before eating. Try putting one or two of the treats in the cage with their food and just letting them eat it on their own, then once they get used to them then you can try offering them from your hand. Since you are new to rats I am going to include my basic rat info sheet.
    Rats are wonderful pets, I have five right now, they are very intelligent, clean and friendly animals. Every time I walk into my pets room they are up on the sides of their cage wanting to come out and I have never been bitten by any of my rats however they do kiss alot. They also know their names and the sound of their treat jar. Their basic care is pretty simple, they need their cage cleaned at least once a week and their food dish and water bottle full at all times and they should also get fresh veggies every day. (If they are not used to veggies start them out once a week then move up slowly so you dont upset their tummies) Also they love time out of their cage and should get a minimum of thirty minutes out every night, if you cant spend the time with them on some days you can rat proof a room such as the bathroom and let them play together. Room temperature is fine, try to keep them out of direct sunlight and drafts. The price per month that it takes to care for a rat depends alot on what you are feeding, using for bedding, etc. An average range would be $25-50. And of course you could go up from there and depending on where you buy your food and bedding it could be a little cheaper. This amount does not include any amount for vet bills, they need checkups every six months and they are prone to tumors, respiratory problems and as they age cysts. I would start putting a little money back each month just in case of an emergency. Supplies you will need include
    Cage: at least two square feet per rat and wire, aquariums do not give good enough ventilation and can cause illness because of this. Ferret or Guinea pig cages work great. Make sure whatever cage you get does not have wire on the floor this can cause bumble-foot in rats. Also check the bar spacing to make sure a rat could not get out or get its head stuck.
    Bedding: AVOID CEDAR AND PINE these cause respiratory problems and liver damage, aspen is safe if you are looking for a cheaper alternative, carefresh and yesterdays news are good as well.
    Food dish and water bottle: I recommend a ceramic dish for food because they cant be chewed like plastic and are heavier so dont tip as easily as the stainless steel ones.
    Food: Pellets called Lab block or rat block are best because they will pick only what they want out of the seed mixes and leave the rest so they dont get a complete diet. Mazuri is a good brand.
    Chews: They need chew sticks to keep their teeth trimmed down whole nuts in the shells, dog biscuits and lab blocks work great for this also.
    Hides:A shoebox with a hole in the side works well as does commercially bought hides
    Toys: Hammocks, ladders and bird toys are great, rats are very intelligent and will get bored easily without stimulation. Here is a site that shows you how to make your own toys
    Its also a good idea to rotate toys (take out the set you have in and put in a different set) I do this with all of their toys once a week at least.
    Treats: Fruits, yogurt, pasta and dog biscuits are great as are hamster and rat treats that you can buy from the pet store.
    Another rat: rats are very social and do best in at least pairs (same sex) they groom each other and snuggle and play together they will not bond any less with you if you get pairs and they will enjoy their lives so much more.

    Good Luck with your babies they will get used to you soon.

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