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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I recently became a proud owner of two lovely little ratties, Rin and Luna. They both have very different personalities, Rin is outgoing and started exploring straight away whereas Luna is more cautious. I’m at the stage with them now where they recognise me as someone not to be feared and someone who will bring them food, but don’t necessarily like me that much. They both come over and climb on me during playtime and Luna will climb up my arm and take an interested in my hands and fingers if I interact with her in the cage. Rin, on the other hand, is not afraid of me and will happily run all over me, but she does not like being touched by my hands, possibly because she associates it with being picked up and put places where she doesn’t want to go (like back in her cage after playtime!).

I have read the thread on immersion and thought I would give it a go to get them to interact with me more and recognise me as a friend. I did it separately in my downstairs bathroom and have now done it twice with both. The first time they both pooed and peed (scary new place!) but the second time they both seemed more comfortable. Luna even sat on my shoulder and in my hoodie for a while, which she doesn’t usually do if we are in the playtime room as there’s lots of other interesting things to do – and since then she seems slightly fonder of me (I even sang to her, lucky thing :p).

My real question is about Rin’s behaviour – when she is in the bathroom with me, she’ll run and have a look around like normal but when I try to pet and stroke her she sits very still and tense as far away from me as she can get and will slither her body away from my hand, making a strange chattering noise. She is not scared or aggressive but it is obvious that she simply does not like being touched by me. Both times I have taken her back to her play room as I hate the thought of stressing her out unnecessarily – both her and I can have a lovely life together just as she is without strokes and cuddles. I can see how immersion works for an aggressive or timid rat, but she is neither, so should I just leave her alone to be the way she is? If she doesn’t like to be stroked then I suppose it isn’t really something to be fixed as it is not impeding her life. It’s just sad for me as I find myself bonding with Luna more as she takes more of an interest in me as a living creature, where as to Rin I am a playground and sometimes a big annoying hand which tries to stroke her!! Any advice would be helpful, thank you! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
After she has finished playing in the rat play room, Rin will always go up to the same place of my bookcase and settle herself down for a nap. I then have to go to her to put her back in her cage eventually and usually give her a bit of a stroke - she then makes the same chattering noise (and does a weird sort of "tick" with her mouth) as she does when we're in the bathroom together. At first, I wondered if she was happy but now I'm reading it as a bad sign as she doesn't look happy. I have made a small video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l80-OSrFQ58&feature=youtu.be) if anybody would be kind enough to watch it and tell me what they think (only 9 seconds). Thank you!
 

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Immersion is not just a way to "fix" aggressive or biting rats. It is a way of establishing communication with your rats. I love immersion.
 

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The chattering noise she's making might be bruxing, which rats do when they're HAPPY, and if so you're definitely doing something right. Find Toutube videos of it and make your own mind up about that.
 

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Not all rats become touchy feely with their humans. Even some immersed rats prefer exploring and running around to being picked up and held. This occurs mostly with girls... Right now our girl Misty will flee and hide around midnight because she knows it's time to go back to the cage. But when she wants food or play she'll jump all over me or even right up on hand.

The issue isn't that she's afraid of us or that she doesn't understand us. It's that she's a spoiled brat that wants to get her way all of the time. Likewise, Cloud endures skritches and hugs, but prefers to be carried around to places she wants to go and then be put down... she's lazy and sees her humans as transportation first, playmates secondary.... Even though she's older she will still come out and play sometimes when we get on the floor in the kitchen...

The point I'm making is that you are correct that each rat will have a different relationship with you, but it has to be based on a realistic communication model. In other words your rat has to understand who and what you are and become a friend.... then some will become snugly and other's will become playful while still others will use you for mobility assistance. Most will find many ways to interact with you over the course of their lives.

I don't think you are there yet with Rin. I think she might be bruxing which may be a good thing, but I don't think she really knows what you are all about yet. Bring some tasty treats along and try and be playful with her. Girls are active and inquisitive so try and feed into that aspect of her personality... do some scoop and jump off exercises, just give her a little scoop and let her jump off your hand, try and get her to chase some toilet paper and play a little tug of war... plunk her into your lap or play elevator.... keep using her name... and sing to her if you have the voice for it... You really can't go too far wrong in immersion, just be real and be yourself. Don't be overly aggressive, but be engaging. Rats really don't understand passive humans.... passive humans look like predatory cats to them... Why are you sitting there like you want to pounce?

When we bring rats home, my daughter is all over them, even in the car ride home... she's a kid and she is interactive, she doesn't hold back or have patience... she just engages and the rats just understand. I put in most of the work feeding and cleaning and taking care of the rats, but in the end they love her most. When my daughter comes in, the rats forget I even exist. I'm the dad, they come to me when they want something and they go to my daughter to play and chase around and be manhandled...

Don't be afraid to be playful and interactive, once both your rats understand you take it out of the immersion area into the normal play room... there's nothing magical about the immersion area once your rats begin to interact with you, it's just a place to get started without you having to chase them all around.

It sounds like you are on the right track... remember engage them, let them reply to you and then respond to their reply... try to make it a dialogue. And sure it's fine to give them a little space and time, but nothing happens if you do nothing.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi,

Thank you to everyone who replied!

Rat Daddy, thank you for your brilliant advice. It makes much more sense to me now to engage her in a playful way rather than just sitting with her trying to pet her (which she obviously doesn't like). I will try your suggestions in the immersion area and try to get her to see me as a playful friend! I like your comparison of a sitting human to a predatory cat - she won't know that I'm somebody fun to play with unless I show her. Thanks again!! :)
 

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Eureka! I think you have got it! Get down on floor and be engaging, be friendly and playful... get her to react to you as another sentient being... a great big friendly rat... do different things and see how she responds, then reply... Don't be overwhelming but assertive is better than passive.

You're welcome and best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I had a great moment with Rin last night. I wasn't able to do immersion with her as I finished work late and had to clean out their cage - I tried playing with Rin with a long bit of tissue, which she was mildly interested in (Luna, on the other hand, chased it and played tug of war!) and I also played scoop and jump where I lifted her high in the air as she likes that. When she was back in her cage just before I was going to bed, she was dozing on her platform and I thought I'd risk a little stroke as she's such a sweetie...I scratched her behind the ear and she closed her eyes slightly and looked relaxed. I kept doing it and she started bruxing and boggling like crazy!! This is the first time I'd seen a rat boggle (checked youtube to make sure that's what it was!) and it looked very strange but nice to know that she was enjoying it! Bless her! Avoided my hand when I went to see her in her cage just now, so I think perhaps she likes being stroked when she's sleepy but not so much when she wants to be running around! Thanks again for your help :)
 

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The immersion session is evolved out of the immersion theory... it's all about understanding through communication. Your rat's bruxing to tell you she's happy and she likes it, and you got the message.

You played a bit of tug of war and your rat realizes you are playing with her and is playing back... You are starting to understand what your rats like and do it with them, and they are trying to please you... I realize it's very basic, but it's communication and understanding... and this is what you build your bond on. Once you and your rats see each other as intelligent and emotional beings anything is possible.

Immersion is based to a large degree on my interactions with a very brilliant rat. Over her lifetime she did many remarkable things and made hundreds of friends and acquaintances. But most of all she understood people and was able to make people understand her... This lead me to the theory of understanding through communication and building a bond based on this principle... The long immersion session is just one way to build that relationship... but if you bring immersion theory into your every day play and free range sessions the same result will eventually happen.

It's easy to mistake a rat for a small unintelligent animal. But rats are actually metacognative, and smarter than many animals many times their size, moreover their brains are wired very much like ours... They, just like us are social beings. Once a human understands what is possible, and engages his or her rat accordingly, amazing relationships just seem to happen naturally...

I'm glad to hear about your progress... keep up the good work.
 
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