Bonding with your Roof Rat
Once your Roof Rat has progressed to Stage 5, and he is already willing to take treats from you and eat them while sitting on you, you are well on your way to bonding with your pet Roof Rat.
Roof Rats have 3 basic needs: safety, food and sex, in that order. If your Roof Rat doesn’t feel safe when he’s with you, then he will associate you with discomfort and unhappiness. He cannot bond with you under those circumstance.
Once your rat feels safe enough to eat treats while he’s with you, make sure that you always have some ready whenever it is playtime. Reward him with treats whenever he is with you, and he will learn to love you.
It really is that simple and predictable. I’ve found that raw, unsalted almonds work great for this purpose.
This is Bao Bao:
I greeted him every day with an almond, and now he practically begs to come out to be with me, and doesn’t like to go back into his cage. I can put him on my desk, or on the sofa, and he will hang out with me for as long as I like. Pecan is not quite there, yet, but he could be if I keep rewarding him with treats. As far as I know, any Roof Rat that we breed as pets will bond with people in this way.
Once your rat is bonded with you, you can even keep him with you out of his cage all day, if you like. This is called “Free Ranging” and it is very enjoyable for both you and your rats. Here is Walter enjoying a day spent Free Ranging with me in my home office: