Why Is My Pet Rat Afraid Of Me?

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jan 17, 2010 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

I’ve had my pet rat for about two weeks. Ever since I got her she’s been very skittish and antisocial. She’s always running and hiding which is extremely frustrating. I’ve done nothing to harm her or make her feel uncomfortable.
Does anyone know why she’s acting this way or what I could do to make her want to be more playful?

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  • Sam says:

    I’ve had my baby rats now for three weeks, every day so far I have spent time talking softly to them,treating them when they come out of their cage, I even picked them up a couple of times. They were brought from a pet store and were 12 weeks old when I got them. They are so nervous around me, I’ve read tons of blogs and every day spent time with them, they seem to be getting worse. Please help someone? Will it ever change?

  • Bobby says:

    I am having the same problem of my rat sparky being scared of

  • Rat Lover says:

    I need help… I got a baby rat about 6 months ago, and we have bonded…but even though I’ve been treating her nicely,she’s become anti-social and aggressive! What should I do? RASAP

  • StephenJack says:

    Rats are very small and even the babies are very much aware of the fact that almost everything bigger than them wants to eat them.
    It took my rats about a month for them to realise that I’m not going to hurt them. And now they crawl up onto my shoulder to beg for treats or play with my beard.
    Leave your hand in the cage for a little while each day, eventually, they will take an interest and start sniffing it and eventually licking it. If you feel their teeth, don’t worry, they’re not biting you, they’re just scraping dirt off your hand.
    When they take an interest in your hand you should start offering them treats, make sure they take them directly from your hand. And just progress from there, get them to come to the cage door for treats and later out of the cage, into your lap, etc. Right now my boys know they only get treats if they climb onto my shoulder.

    Also, I seriously advise getting a second rat of the same gender. They can get very lonely without another rat. And having another rat around makes them feel much braver about the big scary thing that has the food.

  • rat.girl says:

    I just got a pet rat from a pet store. she’s about 3 months old. she has another rat to play with but she’s still really skittish though. she’s fine in the cage but once I get her out she runs really quick and tries to hide. sometimes she’ll even nip at me. I’m gonna try putting my hand in there for a cupple minutes. and who knows, maybe she is just playing with me!

  • ALW says:

    I was fortunate that I was able to get the rat I had years ago when he was obviously only about a month old. He was originally supposed to end up being a live feeder at the pet store that I bought him from. He ended up being a great pet rat. He was just an ordinary gray color. I named him Dusty, since that’s the color of dust and it’s an actual human name.

    With consistency and following the suggestions already given, your rat will become accustomed to you and will eventually bond with you. As was already mentioned, rats aren’t typically anti-social with their human care givers. It’s obvious that someone didn’t spend enough time socializing the rat when she was still a pup. It will get better after giving her enough time to acclimate to you.

    I actually knew this when I bought my rat when he was only a little pup that had to have been only a month old and just barely freshly weaned from the mother rat. As he got a little bit older I even got him so used to being handled that I was able to trim his toe nails with human baby nail clippers. I only did this as needed every few weeks, like one would do with a cat or a dog. I only trimmed the sharp tips, so he wouldn’t unintentionally scratch me as he got older. I also got hin used to letting me put a cheap adjustable cat leash on him, so I could take him outside to get fresh air and exercise.

    So, I know your rat will eventually warm up to you. They typically live in colonies in the wild, which is why they’re more inclined to be social with their human companions than the other “pocket pets” are.

  • Here is a good book you can purchase that will help you to socialize her.

    The Rat: An Owner’s Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet

  • ratluvr says:

    Where did you get your rat? How old is your rat? These are important questions that we need to know the answers to.
    If you got her from a pet store, she is probably antisocial. However, it is not common for rats to EVER be antisocial, if they have had a traumatic experience, it is very possible for them to be skittish. Perhaps she had a traumatic experience at the pet store? If you bought her from a pet store, was it a good pet store? Or was it dirty, overcrowded, and gross? If you got her from a good pet store (if there is such a thing) or a shelter, perhaps she is just being playful.
    Is she young? Or old? If she is young, then it is likely she is being playful. New rat owners, such as yourself are often surprised by a young rat’s excitement. When your rat runs away, does it come back a few seconds later. Rats do this really cute thing where they run away, then come back, expecting more, almost like peek-a-boo. Or does she run away and hide from you? If she puffs out her fur or lifts one paw when you are around her or when you try to pet her, there could be a problem.
    I’m sorry I’m not giving you a very clear answer, I’m just trying to assess the question. I know something that you NEED to do. She needs a friend. There are no ifs, ands, or buts, about this. Rats are very social creatures, and frankly, it is cruel to keep them as single pets. I promise that taking care of two rats is not any harder than taking care of one rat, but it is twice as rewarding. If your rat is truly antisocial, a friend will help her come out of her shell. She will feel a lot more comfortable when she has a friend. If she’s just being playful, a friend will give her something to direct all of that playfulness towards.
    Please take my advice and get her a friend. It really is important. No human can do for a rat what a rat does for a rat. 🙂

  • Isa says:

    It still does not trust you it could have some trust problems, she is shy, also it depends on the rat

  • Cowgirl3 says:

    My rat, even though she was from one of the “trustworthy” petstores, was like this. Lots of patience, trainings, and little treats, and now she’s super social!

  • Kamaresh B says:

    Get it another rat, Introduce it to her, I dont know how to do that but Im sure others do.
    They need another friend of there kind to be more happy, ect.
    Maybe that will open her up a little.
    Should have done more research, sorrry. xP

  • Yykg says:

    You have to tame them. Pets don’t come tame what I suggest is to hold your hand still in the cage for 5 minutes a day till the become use to you (usually take 2-7 days). Also try to get eye level with animals they don’t like being looked down on some take this as your Superior and get scared.

  • mll123 says:

    your rat is afraid of you because if it came from a pet store they usually dont handle them very well, and you need to socialize it. You just need to put on a glove or something protective and start to handle it. After a while your rat will begin to trust you and you can go without the glove. GOOD LUCK! 😀

  • B says:

    I agree about getting your rat a companion. I had a single male rat for a while that the pet store swore was totally fine being on his own (they handled their pet rats a lot too… we picked him out because we overheard the pet store worker talking to him while they were holding him). Anyway, he was fine for almost a year but then developed some behavioral problems (he seemed to be masturbating.. licking his crotch until he squeeked and fell off his perch) so we got him some buddies and never saw him doing that again.
    However, rats are often very skittish at first. You have to handle them or else they wont’ really get used to being handled. Be patient though and don’t drag her out of her hut. Treats will lure her out as well as curiosity. Be patient, give her a ladder to climb out to you if your cage opens on top, otherwise open the side door and let her come to you. Once you’ve grabbed her, sit on a couch with a blanket (like a fleece one or something solid) in your lap. Let her hide in your lap and give her lots of snacks, fresh fruit and veggies etc to make it a happy experience for her. Just put your hand in the blanket and let her sniff it etc.
    Good luck and be patient!

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