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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

Just a query really, I'm looking for any opinions/ideas I can get.

4 months ago I was given two baby wild rats (their nest was dug up in a field by builders and most of the nest were dead when they were found) and hand reared both of them. Unfortunately, it seems that the little boy had a blood clotting problem and died from a knick on the finger at 6 weeks (hence why we didn't release the girl, in case she had the same illness! Luckily, she doesn't!), but the little girl, Max, is still going strong!

My question is this; does anyone know how to calm a rats nerves/skittishness?

Now, I wholy appreciate that she will NEVER be as tame/handleable as my lovely little fancies and will retain her wild insticts. She's very skittish (I call her my jumper hugger - as that's the only place she ever goes when she's out!) and has more bounce than a jumping bean! She's not vicious at all and loves running rings around me while I'm in the bathtub! Lol. She's an olympic jumper and a professional hide-and-seeker too! But she's not comfortable with sitting in my hand, or allowing anyone but me pick her up (to be honest, she doesn't even let anyone other than me near her without protest!) Although, inside my jumper she'll let me do anything I like! I even get the occasional bruxing session! She's a completely different rat in my hands compared to what she is in my jumper.

I've been working a lot with her - I put her cage in the centre of our living room on the floor when she was young, so she could acclimatise to sounds and household activities, which she has done very well (she'll even sleep in her bed out in the open now!). I also make sure that whenever I go to the vets she's in my jumper, so she can get used to outside noises and unexpected noises etc. I handle her as much as possible (as much as having 15 others permit me too anyway!)

Does anyone know of any other tricks to possibly calm her down a little? I'd be interested in what you guys think. :)

Thanks very much
 

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My rat has never particularly cared for being picked up. Usually I can only have her in my hands for a few seconds to put her up on my shoulder or some such before she starts to struggle. I've found though, that if I make a cup out of my hands and pick her up, she's a little less resistant. She loves to play just like yours, it's just the being-picked-up part.

I think part of the reason for my girls resistance, and maybe for yours, is not being handled enough when they were young. My rat came from a pet store and we had trouble catching her to get her out of the tank they had her in (all of the rats at PetCo were extremely nervous). She's sweet as can be, but it definitely took some time for her to get comfortable.
 

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Lilspazz has some half wild rats. You might want to pick her brain for advice. From what I've read on her threads they seem like completely different animals! I'm not sure if it would be possible to calm her down. That's not in her genetics to be calm, she's not bred for that. It might be more realistic to work with her like you have been and find what's comfortable for her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Lol. I've known her to jump at least 3 feet from the edge of the bath to me before, compared to pet rats, she's a regular athlete! Trampolines sound like a good idea!

As for hand-fed treats, I do try to hand-feed whenever I give her them. Although, she defies her 'eat garbage' wild rat stereotype and will only eat posh peoples food, like chinese take away and cadbury's chocolate. She turns her nose up at rat yoghurt drops, but loves fromage frais! Lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Poppyseed and Macabri for your advice!

Macabri: I'll definately try the 'cupping' technique (no doubt it'll take some time to stop her running up my arm straight away! Lol) As for handling when she was young, I deliberately held her for hour-long sessions two or 3 times a day (mainly during feeding) straight after her eyes had opened for the reason of getting her used to being held. I'd hate to think what she may have been like had I not! Hairball hurricane no doubt!

Poppyseed: I think you're right with what you say, I'm going to have to find a happy medium between what I'd and what she demands! Lol. And they are rats in a completely different league to fancy rats. At 4 weeks, she climbed up a 7ft wardrobe using only a wall for help! Needless to say, I was searching for almost an hour only to look UP and see her cheeky face smiling down at me! The little git!
 
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