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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!

For background info: I just brought home two girls about a week ago. It has since become clear to me that I trusted the wrong pet store (or maybe I shouldn't have gotten them from a pet store at all). The younger one, Sammi (about six weeks old), came down with a respiratory infection within a few days. I took her to the vet, and now she's on antibiotics, but I had to separate her from my other rat, Nova (10 weeks old) until she gets better.

I've been working on trust training them over the past week. Sammi is making good progress. She always approaches my hands in the cage, and will take treats from me. Nova is having a lot more problems. Whenever I approach the cage, she freezes and/or runs into a corner to hide. She'll stay in her hiding spot pretty much indefinitely until I leave. I think that if Sammi was in the cage with her, she might be able to help guide Nova in the right direction, but I don't want to risk Nova catching the respiratory infection.

I'm not sure how to proceed with her. I'm afraid that anything I do will just make the situation worse. Should I just be patient and give her more time? Or should I try a different method?
 

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You saved them from a pet store, and snake food,,good for you,,yes, do keep them apart. as to Nova, I would suggest, because it worked with my guy Mouse(he came from a pet store, and probably had no inter-action with other rats) Take the top off Nova's cage, give her an open space, maybe in the bath tub, open space , she can not hide, then let her settle a bit, scoop her up, saying her name,,,( say up, up,up,) snuggle her in your hands,,, give chin rubs,,,rub her head,( the up, up, up) is to let her know you are there and not to be afraid. From what my vet says the respiratory infection is very common in rats, they are born prone to it, and is not contagious,,,but, give some time and space, for peace of mind.After,give, Nova give a special treat,,,something she does not get,,,,a cheerio,,a piece of fruit,,,,some thing that she will remember as good, you are the right path,,,just take small steps , it is worth the time,,,give the girls a great home ,, repeat as much as you can, do not forget Sammi,,al the best
 

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I recently went through what you are going through with a rat that was supposed to be snake food. He wasn't eaten, and had never been handled. He was about 5-6 months old when I got him. He is now a best friend. It took me about 10 days for him go from scared, biting boy to trusting me more and more. The details can be seen here: http://www.ratforum.com/showthread.php?267114-I-m-not-sure-I-can-do-this.
 

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Wait, why did you have to separate them? If they were born together and had Myco (which is most likely what it is, like 99.99999% of the time) then they are both already infected. There's no need to separate them. Actually, they will do better together. Rats are very social and get depressed by themselves. Nova is afraid and she doesn't have a friend to help her feel safe anymore. She will be a lot easier to train to trust you if she has Sammi again.

Have you read up on trust training? Nova needs baby steps to help her come out of her shell. She has to know that you're safe. Give her treats every time you say hello to her. If she won't take it, just set it down and let her get it when she feels like it. Sit with your hand laying inside the cage for 20-30 minutes and don't move. She will be able to smell you and eventually realize you aren't going to hurt her. Once she starts to make a little progress, say, sniffing your hand or walking up to you, make sure you give her lots of treats. Try feeding her some yogurt or applesauce on your fingertip, once she feels OK enough to take it from you.

Then, when she's getting a little better, sit in the bathtub with her. This is a classic trust-training exercise. Sit in the bathtub with her on your lap, or inside your shirt or hoodie if you have one, or possibly under a blanket (some rats, like my own, get very scared if they aren't underneath something like a blanket). Just sit with her for an hour or two. Do this every day and she'll improve faster than you think! You just have to keep it up, sometimes it takes a while, but they learn eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks to all of you for your suggestions! I was advised by my vet to separate Sammi at least until her symptoms improve. They actually came from different litters, and I suspect probably different breeders as well, so I don't want to risk infecting Nova in case Sammi has something that Nova does not already have.

I have been working on trust training with both of them since I got them, but I was concerned that Nova seems to be progressing a lot slower than Sammi. But today, I did get Nova to take a treat from my hand for the first time, which is really exciting! She still hides in the corner a lot, but she seems to be freezing less. So I think it's just going to take a little bit longer with her, but it seems like she's improving.
 
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