Help! My Rat Is Lost!
Nope, I can't find him/her for you but here's some suggestions:
Unless something really scared the crud out of him, he's not going to be any more than 4-6 feet away from that cage. The more time that passes, the further out he'll go, though.
Close the door to the room that has the cage, if there's a gap under the door, drop a towel down so he can't get through. Unless something really spooked him, he's in that room.
Inspect closely for any holes that may give him access to the area between the walls...
Keep in mind that they seek darkness, warmth, and quiet. Everything else can be carried to that location. That's the place you're looking for.
He will be building a nest and making a stash. Look for stray pieces of tissue, fabric, yarn, food crumbles.
They will almost always travel along baseboards, not via the "shortest distance" across the center of the room.
When looking for him, use your ears, not your eyes. Listen for scratching, chewing, rustling, and sneezing.
Make microwave popcorn. The smell alone should get him to pop his head out.
If you have other rats that you know will come back to you, let them run around in the room you think he's in. they'll find him. But beware: This could spook him more making him harder to catch (but at least you know where he is).
If you spot him, be patient and wait for enough of him to come out so that you can catch him before he darts back in his hole. This may ultimately mean grabbing him by the base of his tail.
Don't bother looking too hard during the day. Set the alarm for 2 am and just "sleep" on the floor for two hours.
You should be able to find him soon. If not, use his needs to your advantage: That need is thirst. Get a fairly tall trash can (~ 2 feet tall), and cover it with a paper bag and tie it securely to the top of the can with a rope. Cut a smallish X in the middle (small enough to make it seem stable, large enough for him to slip through). Suspend a water bottle above the hole so he can reach it. Surround the can with a mountain of stuff so he can reach it. Leave a plate of fruits, veggies, and lab chow in the can. This is often more effective than a humane trap.
Note: A rat you just got a couple of days ago is going to be harder to catch than a rat you've had for a couple of months because everything is new (the sights, the sounds, the smells) and this makes them nervous.
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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: