How Do I Make My Pet Rat Like Me?

Updated on July 1, 2019
My baby champagne colored rat exploring the top of his cage.
My baby champagne colored rat exploring the top of his cage.

How to Socialize Your Pet Rat

Rats are very intelligent, curious creatures, and a pet rat is probably one of the friendliest pets you can own aside from a dog. Most well-handled rats are friendly, but sometimes a rat from a pet store or a rescue rat can be scared of people. It is possible to tame your pet rat quite easily with a little time and patience.

There are two different types of behavior to watch out for: one is aggression, and the other is shyness. A rat that is merely shy should be given a few days to get used to their new home and then gentle, confident handling should begin, whether the rat seems to have a fondness for you or not. You need to get your rat accustomed to being handled, and most people with shy rats have had success taming them simply by taking them out of the cage every day and petting them for a while until they become used to it.

Should I Just 'Give My Rat Space?'

It's important that you don't overstimulate or scare your rat with loud noises and sudden movements, but frequent handling is essential if you want your pet to get tame and remain tame. Experts recommend at least an hour of 'out of cage' time for rats every day. A decent proportion of that time should be spent with you handling your rats and being around them.

How Do I Get My Rat to Come Out Of Its Cage?

Most rats want to come out of their cage. Even the biggest cage gets boring after a time. Assuming you've had your rat for several days and they've had time to get used to their new surroundings, simply leaving the cage open whilst sitting nearby should encourage your rat to come out all on its own.

A healthy rat is a curious rat. If your rat doesn't come out at all, check that it's not sleeping. Rats, especially baby rats, need to sleep a lot during the day and it may be that you are trying to play with your rat at the wrong time of day. The best times to play with your rats are in the morning and later on in the evening.

Will Keeping a Rat Alone Make It More Friendly?

A lot of behavioral problems in rats arise because people keep them alone, thinking that a rat kept alone will bond better with people. This isn't the case. A rat needs its own kind if it is to be mentally and emotionally balanced (yes, rats have emotions!) If your rat is very timid and anxious, it may be because they are craving a friend.

My Rat Is Suddenly Aggressive? Why?

Sometimes older rats can develop tumors, which make them aggressive. If you have an older rat whose personality changes quickly from good to bad, it's worth taking them to the vet to see if there is a medical reason for the behavior.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Bob Stain,

      Why? She may just be nervous... find the cause...

    • profile image

      Bob stain 

      3 years ago

      My rat doesn't like me

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      my incle is getting me rat so i wanted to make sure i was going to play with it at the right time


    • OutsideTheLines profile image


      8 years ago from Tulsa, OK

      Awesome information. Ive been looking into getting one for awhile and this gave me some good things to look out for.


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