Baby Rat “Handling”


New Member
Jan 31, 2019
Nagasaki, Japan
Hi all, I haven’t made my official introduction yet to the forum because I wanted to upload my baby rats photos with it. I’ll be getting my 3 baby boys in two days & although I’ve done a lot of research into rat care I don’t know too much about “handling?”.

What I mean is, when I bring them home how much time do they need to themselves to get used to their new environment/cage/me?

Can I take then out of the cage the same day, next day, next week to interact with them? When should I introduce free-roaming? I just wanna know how long should I let them “chill” before I start interacting with them in order to create less stress.

I also wanted to know at what age should I begin to train them for tricks & whatnot.

Thanks in advance!


Well-Known Member
Jan 28, 2019
Minnesota, USA
Welcome to being owned by a rat! Three years ago, I got my first few rats and haven't looked back since.

It really depends on the personality of the rats you're getting. If they're braver, more extroverted rats, they may be open to being handled sooner than more shy, cautious rats. Shy rats can become extroverted, they just need more patience than their brave siblings. Of my first three rats, I brought home two shy rats. One became very sweet and extroverted not even six months later, while one of them wasn't shy, he preferred to keep company with his own kind. For me, I generally don't handle them more than absolutely necessary for probably about two or three weeks. However, I'm not leaving them completely alone in those weeks. In that span of time, I'm offering them food, talking quietly and softly to them, letting them sniff me and my hands, maybe even my face if they're brave enough. During this time, it's a lot of trust building. No sudden movements, as that can be scary to them.
At first, baby rats go through this phase of nibbling your fingers and nails. They're figuring you out and whether or not you are or aren't food. It very rarely hurts. They learn very quickly not to bite down on the squishy, fleshy fingers. Nails will probably still be nibbled on into their adulthood (there might be food hiding under there, after all).
Free-roaming can be introduced about two or three weeks after bringing them home, as well. This is also a great time to further the bond, because then if the babies want to then, they can come and climb around you on their own accord. At this point, just let them do their own thing, don't force anything. That's sort of the whole message of the first month or so with them-- don't force anything, let them get comfortable with you.

I actually begin training the day I bring them home. Albeit, it's not fancy tricks like seen on Youtube, it's just me teaching them their name. I give them a highly valued treat, such as Gerber's Puffs, and when they take it, I'll say their name. At first, they may not want to take food period, which is okay. They're learning to trust you. And when they do, great! You've built a relationship with that rat. I'll keep reinforcing this until they come when their names are called. Then from there, you can decide whether or not they enjoy or are ready to learn anything else.

Good luck and well wishes!


Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2018
For the first couple of weeks, I let them take it at their own pace. If they seem inquisitive, I put my hand in more often. Shy, I'll just talk to them and offer a treat as I pass, or if they come out. I use puffs also, but I break them up into at least 3 pieces. I used trick training to gain my youngest rat's trust. He was very bitey, and would run right after. So I took a deep breath, and opened his cage (after 4 weeks. No lie, it took this long), and just gave him room. I took away all hiding spots but one, and offered yummy treats, until he would come near me, then thaught spin. That's when he really came out of his shell. He was only about 8 weeks old at the time. Just watch their body language, you can look up on YouTube what all to look for, and go with the flow. They will let you know what speed to go at.