Since last Wednesday, all the rats have become comfortable taking food from me as I hold it. Now they’re running up to me to take it when I make sounds and open the cage. Fairly good progress for ‘feeder’ rats– rats that sit in a cage their whole lives not getting handled and then getting fed to snakes. They still don’t love to be picked up, but they let me massage their jaws, and start bruxing (grind their teeth) which means they like it. Now we play a game, they run up grab a piece of food (I’m using Cheerio-like things) and run away to eat it.
The scab on my hand is from last weekend’s performance, not a rat bite! Some rats are developing personality traits. Enio, one of the large ones, is always coming up to greet me, and is very curious about the outside world. Dino, one of the smaller ones, is a cache artist. He takes morsels of food from the dish, one by one, and takes them downstairs for later. Extremely cute. They’ve been wrestling and relaxing.
Tonight some of them made a breakthrough. I put the rat towel on my lap and push my leg up against the top of the triplex, where the opening is. I left the cage open and they began to explore. They came out, tentatively, and explored the territory under my shirt for a while, nuzzling and rustling. The nicest part, for them and me, was that they didn’t poop at all! That means they were not freaked out. Getting there, getting there. Next up is more of the same. Not going to push it too fast. Sensitive creatures. If I do this 2-3 times a day, unforced, they’ll be good to go. There was one little guy who is an escape artist, crawling down the side of the cage. He’ll have to be watched closely.
Kiss for me?
One thing I’m not looking forward to is introducing the two big guys to the rest of the bunch. Apparently a rat can eviscerate another rat in the blink of an eye. There’s tried and true methods to introductions that I’m following, but it would be much better if they just play nice from the beginning. Good source material for all things rat: http://rattyrat.com/ , and http://www.joinrats.com/ . Here’s hoping.