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February 5, 2010

Welcoming Your New Rat

The Humane Society of the United States

When you first bring your rat home, she's likely to feel stressed by the transition to an unfamiliar environment. She may be away from her littermates for the first time and will be inundated with strange sounds and smells.

Less stress

You can ease your rat's stress by following a few simple steps:

  • Set up your rat's cage with appropriate accessories before you bring her home; a nesting box and other places to retreat will help your rat feel safe.
  • Use the same type of food and bedding that she's used to and introduce new products slowly.
  • Give your rat a day or two to get settled after her arrival, and discourage friends and visitors from handling her during this adjustment period.

Once your rat is comfy and relaxed in her new home, you'll be ready to take your relationship to the next level by introducing her to gentle handling.

Multi-rat households

Rats are social animals who crave the company of other rats. Even so, if you've acquired a new rat as a companion for another, you shouldn't introduce them right away.

You need to keep your new rat quarantined for at least two weeks after you bring her home to prevent the possible spread of disease. This means keeping her in a separate cage in a separate room of the house and not allowing her to interact with your resident rat.

During the quarantine period, make sure your new rat is eating and drinking normally and appears active and alert. Once you've had your veterinarian check her out, you can begin introductions.

Introductions need to be gradual to allow the rats to get to know each other's scent. Introducing them too quickly can lead to fighting and rejection.

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