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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! I am a new rat owner, but have owned small pets before.

I have had my two males for about a month and I was gone for 10 days out of that time and they were in my husband's care. I got them when they were about 6 weeks old.

They are very sweet and have not bitten. When I put my hand inside their cage, they rush to it and inspect and they also let me pet them. Picking them up is a different story. They struggle (of course) to go back in their cage. I have them in their own special room that is rat proofed. I shut the room door and open their cage wanting to interact with playtime, but they refuse to come out, even when bribing with treats.

Is this pretty normal?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My problem had a way of working itself out (Of course shortly after I wrote the previous post)! Things cannot be rushed!

I took my most bold rat on a tour of the house. He was scared at first but later was too intrigued to let that bother him. I put him back in his cage and opened the doors and both he AND his shy brother explored the room! They seemed happy. I was just worried about them being in the cage so much because they are so fearful but they are slowly becoming more confident.
 

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Imo one month is still quite a short time. It will take longer than that to form a trust enough for them to venture out of the cage. It would be good if they trust you first, and then you are very close when they leave cage. That was my experience at least. And being away does not help. :) In the last 8 weeks my gf was away for about 3 weeks, and rats have become visibly more comfortable with me then her. But that they are scared of her - they recognize her easily - but they cling to me more it seems.
 

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When I first got them, took my rats out of the cage and popped them inside a hoody or travel carrier and then took them into the bathroom for a bit of safe one on one time. No furniture to hide under in there meant that they were one focused on exploring me. Sometimes ratties need a wee push to build their confidence. I had one rat who used to be scared to go to the other side of the living room far from the safety of the cage on his own, but if I picked him up and placed him there he had a great time and was running around playing with his brothers. Give them lots of pets and cuddles and pick them up, soon they will learn to love being out of the cage.
 

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Most rats come from pet shops or rat mills or even from private breeders that never let them out of a cage. The world beyond the bars is a very strange place. Anything strange or new stresses rats.... but don't panic! Rats are designed for stress. Unlike humans they aren't damaged by it. Stress is simply a survival behavior. Once they experience your house they will quickly get over the stress and become more intrepid.

I understand that you don't want to stress other humans or even goldfish, but stress is just part of rat training. About everything new you do with your rats will stress them and you're going to think it's bad and you should stop, which is far from true. If you never stress your rats, you will never get a competent rat... The more your rat gets used to stressful situations the faster it will overcome them.

Very few rats ever get this adapted to stress....

Tree Jungle Plant Branch Wildlife

Water Fun Beach Play Summer


But Fuzzy Rat actually destroyed the house when she got bored. She was a risk taker and an adrenaline junky. And yes, she jumped into the lake on her own and swam around with the kids. Which was a very long way from the feeder bin we found her in. This is just and example of how your rats can overcome their fear of coming out of their cage.

Best luck... and don't try this at home....
(Fuzzy Rat was a highly trained true shoulder rat, the best I ever worked with. Untrained normal rats are going to get lost or killed.)
 

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For my part, you are most welcome... Fuzzy Rat, the rat in the pics pretty much pioneered immersion with me, mostly by teaching me that rats can and want to communicate and bond with us. And she insisted until I got the message. She actually lead a quite remarkable life.

When I first mentioned her online, someone cynically remarked that "shoulder rats are only a myth and Fuzzy Rat couldn't possibly exist... now she is only legend, but she's left us with a legacy, I'm only too happy to share.

I wish you the same love and friendship with your rats that we shared with our Fuzzy Rat. There may be very few true shoulder rats in the world, but every rat is special and deserves a the same great relationship with a human that loves them back.
 
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