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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I was wondering for those "veteran" rat owners, if you can give me a ROUGH timeline when your rat started allowing you to hold him/her in your hand without wanting to squirm away? I do realize each rat/case is different, but if I can get a rough ballpark, I will feel more reassured that my boys will not always want to flee from me whenever I hold them.

Here are some things I've tried. Please let me know if they are the right/wrong things (again, I realize each rat is different).

- Taking them BOTH out at the same time into my master bathroom to let them run around while I sit on the floor. Usually, they will hide under my legs.
- Giving them treats. Thankfully, they will take them from my fingers and eat them. I count this as a good sign.
- Forcefully holding them (not to hurt them) - They just squirm out of my hands.

I'm really getting discouraged and I'm coming to you because I want this to work. I also am intelligent enough to know that it's been just about a week...thus why I'm asking for a rough ballpark timeline. If I know there is light at the end of the tunnel for, say, two weeks or three weeks, then I can shoot for something.

I've read Jaguar's trust training thread/post so I may try some of those methods (with a towel or such). I just always thought a towel would scare them more?

Or maybe I need to not free-feed them but regularly schedule feed them? So they see me as a provider?
Or maybe take one out at a time?

Also (kind of related) - when I put them back in their DCN (lower part), they make as if they're going to jump down and escape. I'm not sure the best way to handle this...because it's hard to keep both of them in. It's like herding kittens! :) And escape is not an option. I don't have them in a room all to themselves...so if they were to escape, and I couldn't retrieve them... they could end up anywhere in my house!

Thank you for any advice and reassurance. It's appreciated.
Ted
 

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Two - three weeks actually is about what it took for my rats to get used to being handled.
I started by picking them up randomly, only for about a second and very frequently. Sometimes I would give them a treat before I put them down.
Slowly would increase this time.

I also started to teach them "on hand" at an early age, I would hold my hand near them and lure them onto it with a treat.
First it was only a paw, then two, etc. Now they are only treated when they're fully on my hand.. but thats a little hard seeing as they're big boys now! Haha.

These days I can pick them up with zero issues, they simply squish and dont even bother squirming anymore. My 4 year old nephew can also pick them up and they couldn't care less, even though hes a little rougher than I am.

They don't like to sit still though, even for year-old boys, and would much rather be off exploring than getting held for an extended period. But once they got that out of their system they relax and allow me to hold them.. and play with their faces. And ears. And their paws. And boop their noses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Tok, thanks so much! This is perfectly what I needed to read. :)

I think one problem I have is that I read the forum here and read of all these great interactions and expect my boys to be the same. That's not fair.

Every rat learns differently...and apparently, so do their owners. ;)

I just don't want to let them down or do things wrong.

I'm a perfectionist. :(
 

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I can understand getting your hopes up. I had some expectations of my own. They're mostly met, but they didn't happen right away.

My oldest rat is the most personable. She's all for being picked up, and she's the first one to run to the cage door when I get home. She's like a tiny dog. It didn't take long with her, maybe a couple of weeks. I've had her for 4 months.

My middle rat must have some wild in her still. She's still not thrilled about being held. She loves her cage and doesn't want to see the outside world (my living room). She knows that being picked up means taking her out of the cage, so I may consider picking her up for brief time and putting her back down. In the evenings, she gets a little better and will walk on us when we play with the girls. She isn't thrilled about the hand, but if we put our elbow next to the top shelf, she'll climb on board and allow herself to be petted. It has to be on her terms, though. If she's picked up without permission, she squirms and whimpers. We've had her for 4 months as well.

Our youngest is doing quite well. She used to squirm and poop like no one's business when being picked up. We've had her for 3 months, and I'd say that it took at least a month for her to really feel comfortable with being picked up. She's still not thrilled when it's not on her terms, unlike the oldest who accepts being picked up at all times.

So, depends on the rat, of course. I'd wager it'd be less than a month—probably way less.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you, Kuildeous. :) It's good to hear about different rats in the same family.

If I can ask, do you spend one-on-one time with your rats or do you take them all out at once?

These stories by you folks are REALLY reassuring. Please keep them coming. :) And thanks!
 

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I agree with 2-3 weeks with most rats. Also seems to depend on how much time you spend with them. And yes, some rats are just very fidgety and will never really "like" being picked up. Most of my rats do not mind being handled but are very eager to explore and don't like being in one spot for too long. May-May lets me pick her up but she immediately climbs to my shoulder and looks for a way off, lol. September evades me like no-one's business but once I do pick him up, he stays. Bear will willingly climb onto my arm but if I pick him up with my hands he wiggles and tries to jump away. Squeaky goes totally limp when I pick him up and waits patiently for me to put him down. It's definitely all in the personality. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I agree with 2-3 weeks with most rats. Also seems to depend on how much time you spend with them. And yes, some rats are just very fidgety and will never really "like" being picked up. Most of my rats do not mind being handled but are very eager to explore and don't like being in one spot for too long. May-May lets me pick her up but she immediately climbs to my shoulder and looks for a way off, lol. September evades me like no-one's business but once I do pick him up, he stays. Bear will willingly climb onto my arm but if I pick him up with my hands he wiggles and tries to jump away. Squeaky goes totally limp when I pick him up and waits patiently for me to put him down. It's definitely all in the personality. :)
Haha...thanks for the descriptions, Jess. :) I laughed at the "goes totally limp"...like "okay... resistance is futile. Do with me as you will." ;)
 

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If I can ask, do you spend one-on-one time with your rats or do you take them all out at once?
I usually take them all out at once. I don't spend as much time as I should in the play area (le bathroom), but when I do, it's all three of them.

Even when we don't have time for prolonged playtime, we interact with them by opening up the DCN to feed them treats, ruffle their hairs, and generally love them. About 20% of the time, the shyest will actually crawl on our arms while doing that (I'm really grateful that the DCN is adult height). Even in the rest of the time, she'll come up and lick our fingers even if she's in no mood to be picked up, so she gives us lovings in her own way.

Interestingly enough, when playing in the bathroom, the shyest one will climb up on me and not even protest at being picked up. She's completely confident there away from the cage. It's like the cage is her crutch. If our place was actually rat-safe, I'd love to have her explore. Unfortunately, that just don't work with our place, so she'll have to be content with being a homebody. Maybe if I can schedule more playpen time, she'll come out of her shell.
 

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Not to discourage you, but I just wanted to say that my Neera just simply doesn't like to be handled. She's very licky, (She even licked the vet! XD) but if you go to put your hand around her, she darts away or squirms like crazy. I've had her for a few months. She will crawl on my hand on her own, but she doesn't like to be lifted in the air or grabbed. She's just hand shy I guess.

Dela doesn't mind to be picked up and will even climb on me and chew on my shirt until I carry her to where she wants to go! XD But they're very different girls and sometimes I have to realize that. :3
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Even when we don't have time for prolonged playtime, we interact with them by opening up the DCN to feed them treats, ruffle their hairs, and generally love them. About 20% of the time, the shyest will actually crawl on our arms while doing that (I'm really grateful that the DCN is adult height). Even in the rest of the time, she'll come up and lick our fingers even if she's in no mood to be picked up, so she gives us lovings in her own way.
Thanks! That's what I do, too. Just put my hand in there...pet them, touch them, etc. Thankfully, they don't run away in a panic. ;)

Not to discourage you, but I just wanted to say that my Neera just simply doesn't like to be handled. She's very licky, (She even licked the vet! XD) but if you go to put your hand around her, she darts away or squirms like crazy. I've had her for a few months. She will crawl on my hand on her own, but she doesn't like to be lifted in the air or grabbed. She's just hand shy I guess.

Dela doesn't mind to be picked up and will even climb on me and chew on my shirt until I carry her to where she wants to go! XD But they're very different girls and sometimes I have to realize that. :3
Not discouraging at all! If anything, it helps me understand that there's a possibility that my boys may never want to be held, and that that is not abnormal or unusual...that their personalities just may be that. :) Thank you, Sabatea!
 

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Tok, thanks so much! This is perfectly what I needed to read. :)

I think one problem I have is that I read the forum here and read of all these great interactions and expect my boys to be the same. That's not fair.

Every rat learns differently...and apparently, so do their owners. ;)

I just don't want to let them down or do things wrong.

I'm a perfectionist. :(
I'm glad to have helped! I got my boys fairly young so they came with their own little awkward issues[I think I picked them up when they were about 3 weeks, they were tiny]. They have remained a little awkward, esp Lewis, but I love them dearly.

As far as the frequency of how often I would pick them up.. it was a LOT. Usually around every 30 seconds at first, I would give them a little "I'm gonna pick you up!" warning and then grab 'em and let them go again. I likely annoyed the heck outta the guys but it worked well for me and them in the end. They got desensitized to the grabby motion :)

I'm about to go pick up a pair of new boys in a month! Time to start another adventure. ^^
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm glad to have helped! I got my boys fairly young so they came with their own little awkward issues[I think I picked them up when they were about 3 weeks, they were tiny]. They have remained a little awkward, esp Lewis, but I love them dearly.

As far as the frequency of how often I would pick them up.. it was a LOT. Usually around every 30 seconds at first, I would give them a little "I'm gonna pick you up!" warning and then grab 'em and let them go again. I likely annoyed the heck outta the guys but it worked well for me and them in the end. They got desensitized to the grabby motion :)

I'm about to go pick up a pair of new boys in a month! Time to start another adventure. ^^
Please keep me posted on how your new boys' adventure works out... I'd love to follow along on what you do/don't do/etc. :)
 
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