DISCLAIMER: KP Exotics no longer offers pet rats to the public. This post has useful information, so we are leaving it up for educational purposes.
Let’s talk about temperament testing. Not all rats will make good pets even if both parents were the sweetest booboos ever. As a breeder, that means temperament testing is very important to make sure people who adopt from you are getting quality pets that will stay with them in a good home for life. Picking the best pet prospects takes more than one interaction. Here’s what we do at KP Exotics.
First, we do not handle rats very much when they’re young. Handling too often early can desensitize rats to humans which can mask behavioral issues that may pop up later in life. At birth and 2 days old we do a check on mom and babies to make sure all are healthy and babies are eating. After that we clean rat bins weekly and check them over then for health and a little quick handling, noting any that act fearful.
At 4-5 weeks old babies are weaned and the first temperament test is done. I want to see curious behavior. They should come up to my hands and investigate. Babies should be easy to pick up, not squeak or squeal, and don’t try to immediately run away. They are scruffed and scratched all over. Rats that pass this initial testing are set aside in pet grow out bins.
At 6-7 weeks a second similar session is done. This time they’re also introduced to some other older rats of the same sex to see how they play with new friends. Rats that do well are the ones that are photographed and offered for adoption.
Not all rats are good pet prospects. We strive to only adopt out those that enjoy human interaction.
As an adopter, how do you choose the best pet for you? I suggest just playing with them. Pick them up, rub their faces, let them crawl on your lap, etc. See who is easy to handle, curious, and wants to investigate you. Your rat will begin bonding with you pretty quickly.