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I feel guilty because I didn't interact with my rat as much as I probably should have

  1. #1

    I feel guilty because I didn't interact with my rat as much as I probably should have

    Years ago I got a rat. (Just one rat. Yes, I know my first mistake. Always get at least 2)

    Looking back, I'm not sure I interacted with her and let her out of her cage as much as I should have. I would talk to her whenever I was in my room and sometimes I would pick her up, hold her, and pet her. Sometimes I'd just pet her in the cage. She had a running wheel and she loved it. Only I would never take her out and just let her run around. A few times I sat on my bed with her, but I was worried she'd get lost or hurt if she slipped away from me.

    Years later I learned rats should only be adopted in pairs, so I immediately thought back of my by now deceased rat and felt my stomach drop. I looked up signs of depression in rats, such as chewing on their cage bars, a changed appetite, wanting to be left alone, and less interest in what's going on around them. Well, my rat did chew on the bars of her cage. But I remember her appetite being the same. When she heard me open her cage door she'd poke her head out of her house or wherever else she was and pay attention. Sometimes she'd jump up to the top for a pet. When I dropped in new toys or treats for her she would always check them out with interest.

    I don't have much else to say besides I hope she was happy and my casual attention to her whenever I walked into the room (and my sister's baby-sitting her during the weekly cage cleanings) kept her happy. If I ever get rats again I'll certainly only adopt pairs and I'll try to find a way for them to safety move about the room. The guilt from this has been with me for awhile and I hate the idea that I made any animal depressed.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    10,755
    Hi and welcome to the forum! A lot of us have learned from things we've done in the past years with our pets, as long as we keep that in mind and treat our next ones much better, that's all we can ask for. There's no going back in time, and you're not alone in feeling guilt about how we did or didn't do things in the past. Don't beat yourself up about it, if you get rats again, like you said, adopt in pairs, pay more attention to them, socialize with them more so they aren't stressed and feel loved and do all you can to keep them safe and healthy!

  3. #3
    I try to keep telling myself that I did plenty right. Her bedding was kept clean (I actually did a complete clean every week, like with soap and water), her cage was plenty large enough (according to that formula, almost 4 rats could have gone into her cage), I gave her a few toys and many treats, and she always had food. And even if I didn't spend enough time with her, I did put her in a room I used so she did see people everyday and she was spoken to every day. During the summer when it was really hot, I pointed the fan at her instead of myself. I even poured water on her a few times when she seemed extra hot. We had no AC.
    I spoke to some family members and friends, and they all insisted, "But you took great care of that rat!" But of course they probably don't know about rats needing a friend or that they can't just live in the cage with some casual attention being given like some rodents. They really don't know more than what I did.
    Plus, I got her as a baby so I sort of hope she just got used to being alone as she grew up. She chewed on the bars of the cage and seems restless in my memory, but she didn't do any of what I read really depressed rats do, like eat less, tear their own hair out, or chew on themselves. She looked really healthy and her coat looked nice. So hopefully she still had a good life despite perhaps being a little lonely. That's what I tell myself anyway.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    10,755
    I'm sure you did plenty right, just keep the good memories of her and toss the rest...the past is the past.

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