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Pet Rodent Socialization Guidelines

February 01, 2015

You’re about to bring home your first pet rodent, although you haven’t decided beween a hamster or pet rat. After considerable research, you’ve identified the rodents’ respective habitats and behavioral quirks. When your new rodent visits your veterinarian from Poughkeepsie for a new patient exam, you’ll also ask for diet recommendations. Before the exam, though, request some tips on socializing your new rodent. Read more about socialization guidelines that might also prove useful.

Plan Your Initial Meeting

Give yourself enough time for a proper introduction. In other words, don’t try to cram your rodent’s introduction into an already jam-packed day. You don’t want to feel rushed, and your little pet will likely sense your time-related panic.

Make your introduction sessions shorter for a younger pet. Include extra time for your rodent’s snack and bathroom breaks; and prepare for some relaxation time while your rodent takes his own time-out. Remember, he’s likely overwhelmed and needs to take a break.

Put Yourself on Their Level

To your new rodent, you’re a giant potential predator; and standing above his cage will only maximize his anxiety. Instead, sit on the floor, or raise the cage so you’re not quite as huge.

To retrieve your rodent, don’t thrust your hand into his cage. Instead, use a small cup or other non-threatening object to gather your little pet. Let him walk onto your hand when he’s ready. By approaching him in this way, you indicate that you respect him and want to provide him with a low-stress interaction.

Banish Thoughts of Punishment

Even with your slow, gentle approach, your rodent might scratch or nip you out of anxiety. Remember, he’s acting instinctively; and he really doesn’t hate you. Don’t slap or otherwise physically punish your little pet; you don’t want to injure him, and you don’t want to set the wrong tone for future meetings. Distract him with a chew toy; or deliver a gentle puff of air that makes him think twice about nailing you again.

Keep Up Your Efforts

Since socializing your rodent probably won’t be a quick process, plan to interact with him at least every other day. For smaller rodents, limit your sessions to slightly more than 10 minutes; for larger animals, plan a 20-minute interaction. Over time, your rodent will conclude that you’re not trying to eat him for dinner. He might even figure out that you’re trying to provide him with a comfortable life full of food, toys, and nice comfy bedding.

When your rodent next visits his Poughkeepsie vet, your vet will meet a well-adjusted little pet who might even enjoy meeting a new friend.

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