How to handle your rats

Learn how to handle your pet rat with our expert advice. If you've recently got a new pet rat, allow them to settle for a day before handling them for the first time.

Be patient with your rats

When taking your new rats home, allow them to settle for a day or two before regular handling and time out of the cage. New owners and environments can be very intimidating for a rat, possibly resulting in a bite.

Rats can find a hand suddenly hovering above them when they are resting very threatening, so make sure you respect your rats’ territory.

How to pick your rats up

When handling your rats, ensure they are alert and aware of your movements. Gently but confidently, place one hand behind their front legs. Once lifted, support the rear end with the other hand, and place the rat into your arms.

Never try to pick rats up by their tail – this can result in damage or even loss of the tail.

Let them come to you

Your rats will find it more enjoyable and relaxing to climb and sit on your arms and shoulders rather than being held. Young rats or adults who have bonded with their owner are often very inquisitive and will come to the door of the cage or stand on the edge of their hammocks, ready for you.

Placing your arm out for them to climb on is more relaxing for them than being picked up. If your rat is a little timid, encourage them to walk into a tunnel. Carefully place the tunnel on your lap, and allow them to climb onto you in their own time. Offer small tasty treats during this time to help to build a bond.

Wear cosy clothing

Wearing a baggy hoody or a dressing gown during free-range time is always popular with rats. They can sit and snuggle with you once they have had enough of exploring – or use you as a safe space to return to if they’re not as confident at exploring.

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