Hi all! I feel kind of weird posting here, but I seem to recall there were some rat owners here. I recently got two male fancy rats a bit less than three weeks ago. (I got them at PetSmart. Wait, don't kill me! I went in there one day just so I could squee at the cute animals, and I got to talking to an employee and started to feel like at least this PetSmart takes pretty good care of their animals. Though I'm starting to thing a private breeder would have been a better choice for practical reasons. Oh, well.)
Anyhoo, the rats sneezed occasionally when I first brought them home, and over time, the sneezing has become much more frequent. Other than some soft poops off and on, which seems to be directly correlated with giving them too much veggies to eat, they don't have any other signs of poor health. No running nose or eyes. No red eyes or ears. They sleep a lot (or maybe they're just hiding?), but they're pretty energetic when they're awake. So at what point is sneezing cause for concern? (Well, they make all sorts of sounds, and since I'm a new rat owner, I don't know which sounds are "normal," you know?)
For the record, their bedding is made 100% of CareFresh Basic, which I think was the same thing being used at the pet store. The website says it doesn't have pine or cedar. The cage is wire and well-ventilated. I don't think my apartment is particularly dusty. I suppose the air is kind of dry, but usually less dry than it is outside (we live in mid-Arizona) (I hope that's not the problem because my DP has this seething hatred of humidity). I do have a reed oil diffuser thingy on the far side of the room that the rats are in. I let them run around in the bathtub (drain plugged, shower curtain pulled out, and of course no water!) with supervision because there's no where else in the apartment where I don't have to worry about them getting lost or chewing wires.
That aside, the rats have finally gotten comfortable with me. They don't run and hide when I approach the cage, they'll randomly come to me when they're running around freely, they'll sniff me or put their front paws on my hands, etc. They don't seem nervous at all. So I figured it was time to start teaching them some tricks! But... they won't take treats from my hands. They'll come up and sniff the treat, but not take it. They'll eat it if I leave it in the cage. I thought maybe they just didn't like the treats I bought, so I've tried dehydrated banana, dehydrated papaya, these peanut things coated in a peanut butter mix then sesame seeds, and a store-brand equivalent of Honey Nut Cheerios. They will enthusiastically chomp anything--food or not--that you place through the bars of the cage, and if it was a treat (and they successfully get it into the cage after grabbing it), they'll start munching on it. But otherwise, they won't take anything. Weird.
Whoops, sorry this post got so long. Anyway, any advice for me, rat owners???