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How to Socialize a Pet Rat

Learn how to socialize a pet rat in this Howcast rat video featuring veterinarian Anthony Pilny.


One of the most important things to remember with any pet, but especially with your new pet rat, is to socialize them properly. The goal is to handle them a lot, get them used to human interaction, get them desensitized to the environment they're going to live in. Letting them learn and adapt to your lifestyle, learning how to live with you, and understanding what it's like to be a pet for you in your home with your family, with your other pets. With anything that's normal or natural with your lifestyle, your routine is something that your rats will learn about as well.

What I strongly recommend is when people obtain rats, the goal is to try to get them as young as possible. Generally, that's the best way to train them, socialize them, and that's the best way to get them used to you. What you needed to do is plan to handle them often. To pick them up, to hold them, to be able to have them secure enough that when you lift them up they want to be held, they want to be petted. They want to understand that you want interaction with them. You want them to want to spend time with you.

So, the techniques, generally, are going to involve, one, not being afraid them. It is extremely rare that pet rats will bite. And especially when they're young, unless they're extremely fearful and nervous, and you were to approach them quickly and aggressively grab them, it's extremely uncommon that they will bite. And this lends to the ability to be able to socialize them in a bit more natural of a method. They usually take really well to children. They take really well to any member of the household, so socialization, handling, spending a lot of time with them, making that early commitment to have them fit into your lifestyle, to become friendly, to not be fearful of people is very important in having a well-rounded pet rat.

What's also important is introducing them to other pets in the household. Generally, you don't want to take any chances if there's any potential that the other pet, for example a dog or a cat, may potentially show aggression towards a rat. But in that case, you want to very carefully, very slowly introduce them. Never leave them unattended alone at any time. And be able to make sure that the animal gets sort of desensitized to the fact that there's now a small, furry rodent that may scamper around, that may run for them, and that may be curious and inquisitive, and show any fear of them as well.

So, overall, it's very important when you obtain a new pet rat, especially if it's a baby, to devote a lot of time, to make commitment to handling them, socializing them, getting them used to your lifestyle, your home environment, getting them used to the vacuum cleaner cleaning up around their cage, getting them used to other members of the household so that they become excellent pets. That they're social, they're friendly, their national inquisitive behaviors can come out, and they'll overall be a much more rewarding pet.

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