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Some Ideas on Rat Restraint

One of the hardest things a pet owner faces is having to do something to their pet they don't really want to do. This is why god made vets. But sometimes, for whatever reason, you have to do it yourself.

Debbie Ducommun has some great suggestions for rat restraint in her Rat Health Care booklet - it's cheap and worth every penny. But perhaps you haven't ordered that yet so I'll tell you what we do:

First and foremost you must be confident. Rats sense your nervousness and they tend to be behavioral nightmares if you're not confident. I'm not suggesting you squeeze your rat silly and shatter his bones, but you must be firm.

Grounding: Grounding is most important. Your rat does not like flailing around. If you can give him some footing he'll be most appreciative.

Security: Hold your rat securely by holding him by the nape of his neck. His mom did it and you can too.

I find that the best way you can do anything is with two people. This way one person can hold the rat in her arms securely and provide distractions while the other adminsters a shot, gives oral medications, drains an abscess, trims teeth, etc.

Barring the two-people approach, I find that letting the rat run around to expend some energy, then, when exhausted, holding the rat by the nape of his neck is the next best approach:

He may move around some but I've found that it's pretty easy to move with them - they can't go far when you've got them by the scruff of the neck.

Some activities aren't conducive to rats lying flat. Perhaps there are more, but the only one I can think of is teeth trimming. This definitely takes two people. The person holding the rat should hold him similar to what is depicted below.
Of course in the case of trimming teeth, you would not use your index finger to pull the neck skin downward to raise the head upward as is pictured. Instead, you would use your index finger to pull the cheek-skin backwards in order to expose the teeth. This way the second person can focus on safely getting into the rat's mouth.
I would also recommend that the person holding the rat use their other hand to hold the rat's feet. Although there is no harm in dangling the rat in the manner pictured, your rat would prefer having a place to put his feet:

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Disclaimer: There are many non-sarcastic accounts and tips on the web regarding rat care. This is not one of them. These are merely accounts of our experiences with rats, our perceptions of these experiences, where we've failed and where we've succeeded. These accounts are here for two purposes:

    1) To entertain.
    2) To help avoid repetition of mistakes

  Remember! Your rat is not a science project, he is your friend!

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