In my last post I introduced you to our two new rat babies, Toothless and Shenron and today, I want to share their updates with you.
The babies have been in quarantine for 3 months. This may sound like a long time, but we wanted to give Toothless and Shenron enough time to settle in to their new surroundings, to get used to us and to being handled, and to ensure they had no illnesses that they could pass on to our existing rats. After our last intros, we felt we moved a little too quickly with all of the steps, including this one, so we wanted to really take our time and ensure we went through the steps a little more slowly.
What is Quarantine? and why is it important to Quarantine your new rats?
Quarantining is where you put the rat(s) in a separate cage, in a completely different air space from your other rats.
You may need to do this because you have brought home new rats, or because you have been to the vets with your rats, or perhaps you have taken them to a small animal pet show – whatever your reason, it is important to assess the risk, and use that to decide if you need to quarantine your rats, and for how long.
It is important to do this with new rats as you do not know if they could have illnesses that could be passed on to your existing mischief. It also gives you time to assess their health, get to know their personalities, and give them time to settle and get used to you.
Our taming process with Tootless and Shenron started from the first day we brought them home. They were adopted from Support Adoption for Pets at Pets at Home (you can read more about their story in my last post). The employee who served us was not very confident at handling the rats, and mostly chased them around with a cardboard box to get them out – which was unsuccessful. After awkwardly watching him do this for a while, I asked if I could try to get them into our carrier. It took a bit of manoeuvring to get into position – the cages at Pets at Home are not very well set out – but I managed to quite easily scoop up Toothless and pop him into our carrier. Shenron was a lot more nervous, and it took me longer to coax him out, as he had buried himself right into the hardest to reach corner of the enclosure!… but eventually, I managed to scoop him out as well.
We knew that they were highly anxious at this time, and were pretty afraid. Luckily we only had a short drive home, and they were not stuck in the carrier for too long. When we got them back – our spare cage was already set up for them in my walk in wardrobe – we both gently stroked them inside the carrier and carefully picked up a rat each. I took out Shenron and Stuart took out Toothless. We handled them on our arms for a few short minutes, with a bit of gentle stroking, and then placed them into the cage. We wanted to show them that not all humans are scary, and made sure this first experience in their new home with us was short, and calm. Toothless explored the cage a little when we first put them in, but Shenron hid straight away, and Toothless soon followed him. We left them to settle on this first day, and gave them a little peace and quiet to calm down!
I would highly recommend reading more information about taming from Isamu Rats – her resources are fantastic for any new rat parent!
From here, our taming process was gentle and slow. We started off with in cage socialisation, where we would place our hands in the cage and allow them to sniff us, and when they were calm we would stroke their backs. Toothless was really curious straight away, and would climb on our hands, but Shenron took a little more convincing. Luckily, he is very food motivated, and when stated to introduce treats he was on board! He took treats from our hands really easily, whereas Toothless was not as food motivated and wasn’t always bothered by the treats. So, we had one confident boy who was not really interested in food, and one shy boy who was super interested in food!!
Soon, we were ready to start picking them up and taking them outside of the cage. Toothless was really eager to come out and explore, whereas Shenron was a little more timid and it took him a while to trust us enough to pick him up. Lots of treats helped! We had them out in the walk-in wardrobe space that they were being temporarily housed in, as it is a secure room, and while there is a lot of stuff in there for them to hide in, the room is small enough that we could easily keep an eye on them. Toothless loved being out, and all his popcorning showed us how excited he was! and he even started to enjoy interacting with us as he realised we were excellent climbing frames! Shenron always hung back a bit, but he cautiously started to follow his brother’s lead. As long as we had treats to offer him, he was happy to come over and interact with us – but always on his own terms! While free-roaming the pair, we would make sure to try and pick them up as much as possible. Practising a quick scoop up, and then putting them straight back down allows them to get used to the idea of being picked up and held, without it being too anxiety-inducing for them. We limited the first few sessions to only 30-minutes a time, and then slowly upped the time that we were spending with them. It didn’t take too long before they were starting to relax around us, and both would confidently interact with us. For Pets at Home babies that were not used to being handled, they tamed really quickly, and we had barely any issues with them. Even with Shenron being so nervous, he still progressed fantastically well. I’m super proud of my babies!!!
I am confident that they are now ready to be introduced to the rest of the mischief, and in the next couple of days I will be documenting their rat introduction diaries with you!
Fluffy Jellyfish out.