Very concerned about going away for 2 weeks

Discussion in 'General Rat Chat & Photos' started by SuAlaska, Oct 15, 2019.

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  1. Oct 15, 2019 #1

    SuAlaska

    SuAlaska

    SuAlaska

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    Hello,

    Thanks so much in advance for reading this.

    I am going to Poland with my brother for 10 days (but almost two weeks total with flying 20 hrs each way, unfortunately) to visit my grandmother who is struggling after a knee injury.

    My parents will be caring for the rats, but they are very timid even after bonding (I'm genuinely trying my best), and only come to me when they feel comfortable. Normally they get time outside the cage pretty much every day in my room--however, my parents are renovating the upstairs and I have moved the rat cage to a safe and quiet location in our basement.

    I just let them out and they no longer come to me on demand the way they usually do. New location, they're scared, makes sense I suppose. I will let them out for longer periods during the week and see what happens.

    My concern is that I'm not sure whether my parents, who are well-intentioned but also nervous, will be able to take them out to play. My dad enjoys handling them on his shoulders and giving them food, but that's only a few minutes each day. I'm scared that if they let them out, they will be stuck with rats running around a room with plenty of hiding spots and difficult to get back.

    I will also be making some boredom breakers and instructing my mother to give them some whimzees chews on a regular basis, rub some peanut butter onto the wooden objects in their cage, etc. to prevent them from being too destructive. They also have a wheel.

    I'm wondering whether it would be extremely inhumane to keep them just with human voices/hand interactions daily for a maximum of two weeks? I know it's not a great situation and I'm really worried about them. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Oct 15, 2019 #2

    ViciousCurse

    ViciousCurse

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    I've had a similar situation, except not for long and it was my friends who came to say hi. With my friends, I told them no handling, just interacting and giving food (and, of course, making sure food and water bowls are full), because my friends aren't rat experienced enough for me to be comfortable with handling them. I just worry too much that one rat could scamper off (we know how great rats are at playing Houdini) and then get lost. However, I would encourage interactions between your parents and rats.

    Make lots and lots and LOTS of toys! Make new toys they've never seen before and spread them out over the course of a few days, then that should make two weeks just breeze by! I've done things such as giving them toilet paper tubes that have been folded up and (of course) stuffed full of treats. Done this with paper cups as well.
     
  3. Oct 15, 2019 #3

    Evermore

    Evermore

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    Oh that's difficult... especially since, while I would (as ViciousCurse mentioned) encourage interaction between your parents and rats, you want to make sure the anxiety of the people isn't rubbing off on the rats, and vice versa. If possible before you leave, maybe schedule some time to sit with your parents and the rats both and give some pointers? Let your parents offer your rats treats, just in the cage, or even just scoop them up during the more sleepy time of the day and have them cuddle while listening to music/watching TV/movie/whatever? Big sweaters are a god-send with skittish/timid rats, since it holds them close for bonding but allows them the warmth and security of hiding.

    I second the new toys they've never seen idea, and if you can, toys they need to "puzzle" out. If you have the time and the means before you leave, a makeshift snuffle mat may also be a good idea (typically used for dogs).

    Two weeks without the free-roaming time is okay, though if it can't be given safely, I advise supplementing it with the cuddle time. Otherwise, rat-proof an area and block off any/all small holes and escape routes so your parents also feel more secure about free-roaming them.

    Toddler rules apply: Do not let your attention divert for a minute, or they might get into mischief!
     
  4. Oct 17, 2019 #4

    ViciousCurse

    ViciousCurse

    ViciousCurse

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    It all depends on their parents' comfort levels, honestly. I wouldn't trust my grandma to watch my rats for two weeks because she doesn't care for them too much. Sure, I'll give my grandma thinks and leave instructions like "give this on this day, check food bowls, water bowls and bottles, remove any cardboard boxes and replace them, etc."

    I feel like my friends just aren't experience enough to properly give my rats free roam time. I'm just worried that they would walk away, look at their phone too much, or not know how to react at certain times, etc.

    To add to this, just be prepared for sweater pockets to possibly have poo in them! We all know how rats nervously poo lol. You can also buy those snuggle bags that people wear across their necks or chests too.
     
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  5. Oct 22, 2019 #5

    SuAlaska

    SuAlaska

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    Thanks so much for your responses!
    I have made a number of boredom breakers. Similar to a snuffle mat, I took a cat scratching post insert with corrugated cardboard and stuffed small treats throughout. I also prepared some chews and a nice set of treats to be dispersed over the two weeks. My parents now feel comfortable handling them (with hoodies, as suggested), and they will get plenty of interaction within the cage--they just may not get too much time to run and play, if any. I did that with my parents a couple of times but encouraged them to go as per their comfort zone and only if the ratties were comfortable enough to climb up their shoulders/be handled. They have a rat-proofed room regardless.

    They are not even comfortable enough to cuddle with me so far--they'd much prefer running around, although I've been hoping to take them into my hoodies when they're in sleep mode after they're a bit more comfortable with me. We'll see. We've been working very carefully on taming and I just don't want it to go out the window within these two weeks.

    Thanks again; it was a big help to hear some input from other rat-owners!

    -Victoria
     
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