This article is from the WSSF 2015 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Karen Robbins
Ayla Michelle Pless, Facebook
Q So my cute ratties are acting strange. I got them from a breeder at 6 weeks (the breeder seems very good, her breeding stock were healthy, properly caged, and well tempered), now they are 8 weeks. Every day since I’ve had them I’ve held them, petted them, given them treats, made sure the water bottle and food dish were never empty, and made sure they had a place that was dark to get away and sleep, etc. But they are acting frantic and scared skittish like they want to bite if you try to pick them up and they constantly try to escape their enclosure like they are spooked. Their cage is on a table about waist high. We have a cat but she doesn’t go near the table and would be unable to get onto it if she did. I handle them a couple hours a night after my kids go to bed so I can focus on them. I talk every time I walk by. I give them treats several times a day. They’re fine with being petted and taking treats from my hands but don’t want to be held at all. No electronics near them—I knew about the electronic thing. I’m a very experienced rat owner but this is new for me. I’ve never had any like this before that were okay then reverted to being skittish. These aren’t aggressive but they are constantly trying to get out like something’s trying to get them. They aren’t sick, I had them checked. Help please??
A You might try taking out any hidey places to see if that helps. Some owners will take skittish rats and have them on them (in a pocket, shirt, snuggle scarf, etc.) for several hours a day while they go about their daily activities to get them used to the new smells and sounds and get them bonded to them. Have you tried moving them to another part of the house/different room?
[Ed. Note: Two weeks later the rats were getting worse, owner got a new bigger cage, lots of toys, new treats, but still no change.]
UPDATE: I think I figured out why they were acting funny. There were ants in their cage! They were coming up the back side of the cage going after their food and water, so I didn’t see them. My 4 year old pointed them out. I cleaned it all up and they are acting a lot calmer.
Good to hear! No wonder they were