Why Do Rats Squeak When You Pick Them Up And Pet Them?

Rats can be very vocal pets. They’ll let you and their cage mates know when they feel like something is wrong, and when they like something as well. That’s usually done by making some type of squeaking noises.

This behavior can usually be seen when you try to pet or interact with them, and it can mean multiple things. So, why do rats squeak when you pick them up and pet them?

Rats squeak when you pick them up and pet them because they’re trying to communicate that they’re feeling happy, stressed, or scared.

As your rat is squeaking you can usually tell what they’re trying to communicate by how they’re behaving when they do it.

Why Does My Rat Squeak When I Pick Them Up And Pet Them?

As you start petting or grooming your rat you may notice that they squeak a lot, and they’ll often squeak when you pick them up in general as well.

Although this is a very normal behavior that they usually show when they’re trying to communicate something, there are many reasons why they’ll do this.

The main reasons are:

  • They’re trying to communicate with you or their cage mates.
  • It can mean that they’re happy and love the attention.
  • They might just be scared of the situation.
  • Your rat may be showing signs of protest.

So to figure out which squeak means what, you’ll have to first check the signs that they’re showing.

How they’re behaving when they start squeaking will usually show you if they’re feeling some form of happiness or if they’re scared of something.

Your Rat Squeaks Because They’re Trying To Communicate Something

When pet rats start squeaking it means they’re trying to tell you something. It’s their way of verbally communicating how they feel about the certain situations that they’re in.

So when you pick your rat up or start petting them, they’re going to naturally try to tell you or their cage mates something that they feel is important.

Rats have more than a few ways that they’ll convey their thoughts and it’s usually out loud or through their body language.

So as long as you know the main reasons why they’re squeaking, you’ll get better at understanding what they’re trying to communicate as time goes on.

They’re Happy And Like The Attention

One reason why your rat will squeak as you pick them up and pet them is that they’re happy.

It can be an activity that they really enjoy doing which would cause them to squeak out of pure joy.

You can tell that they like it because they won’t show too many signs of being stressed.

Your rats won’t:

  • Flinch when you hold them.
  • Puff their fur up.
  • Try to run away from you.

What they’ll do instead as you’re holding them is sit there peacefully as they let out a few short squeaks that aren’t too loud.

It’s one of the ways that they like to show their happiness. Some rats just really love the attention as well.

Even though they are prey animals, not all rats are scared of everything. So if notice that one of your rats likes to be held and petted that can be a really good sign.

It can mean that they’ve gotten used to you which usually is a sign that you’re doing a great job as their owner.

Your Rat Could Just Be Scared

Sometimes your pet rat might squeak because they’re scared. One reason why they would do this is that they’re still getting used to their new environment.

It can take a while for a rat to become accustomed to any new living situation.

So if they’re squeaking because they’re scared it may be because they’re still trying to get used to their new home.

They can also squeak out of fear when they’re not familiar with their owners as well.

As I said before rats are prey animals, so if they’re newer to your home then they may still need some time to figure out if you’re a friend or foe.

Once they’ve gotten used to you and figured out that you don’t mean them any harm, they’ll stop squeaking out of fear so much.

The best thing that you can do is take the time that they’re getting used to you and try to make them feel a lot more comfortable about you picking them up and petting them.

Squeaking Can Be A Sign Of Protest

When you pick your rat up and pet them and they start squeaking, it could be because they’re trying to communicate that they think something dangerous is happening.

When rats think they’re in danger usually they will start squeaking out of stress and so that they can warn their cage mates of a possible threat.

Just like when they’re scared, the reason why this usually happens can be because they aren’t that used to you yet.

They don’t always squeak just to warn their cage mates though. Sometimes rats start squeaking because they’re trying to alert their friends of something that’s generally happening around them.

Like when you’re near their cage or walking past it. Either way, their squeaking most likely is from them not being comfortable with you yet.

So you’ll have to try to get your rat used to you if you want to start or continue to pick them up and pet them.

Getting Your Rat Used To Being Picked Up And Petted

If you want your rat to stop squeaking out of stress and start squeaking out of happiness, then you’ll have to get your rat used to being held and touched.

A great way you can start this process is by first letting them take treats from your hand. This way they can become familiar with your presence and your scent.

As they’re starting to get used to both of those, it’ll be easier for you to physically interact with them going forward.

Once they’ve become more sociable with you, then try picking them up or petting them slowly every now and then.

After that, you can then gradually increase how often you touch and hold your pet rat.

Always Check The Signs Your Rat Is Showing When They Squeak

When trying to figure out why your rat is squeaking you’ll want to look at their behavior and some of the signs that they’re showing when they do it.

If they’re flinching and squeaking while you pet them then they’re most likely very scared or nervous.

In that case, you will have to take some time to get your rat more familiar with you.

If their squeaks are long and loud, then they may be uncomfortable or in some type of pain.

Rats can hide when they’re hurt very well, so if they’re in pain and squeaking then something might be wrong.

At that point, you may need to take them to see the vet, especially if you notice any physical injuries while you’re holding them.

Remember, all rats have their own different personalities and behaviors. So if one of your rats gets scared easily while you’re petting them that doesn’t mean your other rats will all act the same way.

The best thing that you can do is try to help your rat get more used to you slowly over time.

That way when you do decide to pick your rat up and pet them, they won’t squeak because they’re scared, they’ll squeak because they’re happy.


Hi, I'm Mason, I've kept small animals as pets since I was 8 years old. I love to learn and talk about them basically every day. Over the years I've adopted small pets like hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs.

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