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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

I'm so excited to be a part of the community! Reading through this forum has been a LIFE SAVER this past week to get my new babies back to safety after an escape, but now I definitely need some additional guidance on what to do from here. Here's the full story with ALL details (so we don't miss any potential mistakes I could be making):

My girlfriend and I very recently adopted a couple of about 3 month old babies, Peanut Butter (PB) and Jelly, last Saturday from PetSmart (My girlfriend surprised me with them after months of me talking about it without knowing it's frowned upon to adopt from a pet store). We got the girls a nice big cage with 3 levels, plenty of toys, and plenty of climbing space. Once we got them into their new home, we gave them some time to explore and settle into their enclosure. I read that the general rule here is to allow 2-3 days for settling in before beginning any type of bonding, trust- or hand-training, but we noticed that the girls never came out of their hutch to explore the cage except to eat and drink (at least when we were anywhere near the vicinity). I read that one solution to get timid, hiding rats to explore and become acclimated it to remove their hiding place for a bit, se we removed the hutch and replaced it with a felt curtain in a corner so that they still had a place to hide, but could at least get used to seeing us around so they felt safer to explore their cage. This seemed to work after giving them an additional day to acclimate.

Here's where I got too excited and the HUGE mistake that I don't know how to recover from. Since they seemed to be comfortable with their new environment and seeing us, it seemed like it was appropriate to begin with bonding and trust training. I tried to begin by offering treats to them in their cage, but they wouldn't accept them at all. So back to research I go, and I find a forum that says it can be helpful to allow them to free roam in a safe and enclosed space, such as a bathroom, and offer them treats their so that they learn their owner is a safe place to go when in an unfamiliar environment.

I removed everything from the floor, blocked the door with a towel, and double checked everywhere for any holes or cracks they could get into, and found nothing, so I took them out. They began exploring. PB was brave and inquisitive, while Jelly was terrified just looking for a hiding place. Well, I missed a tiny, hidden hole, and the girls found it and climbed right in. After hours trying to coax them out with treats and them only poking their noses out to sniff but never coming out, I left their cage in the bathroom overnight in hopes they'd come back home on their own. This worked with PB, who we quickly enclosed in the cage to avoid a second escape, but Jelly WOULD NOT BUDGE.

We tried everything to get Jelly out, but she wouldn't budge, so we resorted to catch and release traps, which she outsmarted about 7 times before we finally caught her 5 days later (yesterday). We quickly got her out and reintroduced her to the cage with PB, who was very happy to see her sister. Jelly on the other hand, freaked out and just seems overall traumatized. She later calmed down, but as can be expected is staying in hiding anywhere she can and staying very close to PB, and gets frightened everytime she sees me pass by unless she's cuddled up with PB.

I'm so relieved to have her home safe, but here's where I need help. I have NO IDEA when or how to even begin trying to trust train Jelly after this, not only because the poor girl just went through so much, but also because she's an extremely smart escape artist and I worry that she'll outsmart me and find a way to escape again. Even if I begin the process of bonding inside of the cage, I'm so terrified that she'll dart out and find another hiding spot. I've since filled the hole in the bathroom and ensured that there weren't any others, so maybe I could begin in their, but who knows if there's another spot I missed. There's no other place in my apartment that I deem to be rat-proof enough to contain her, and I bought a play pen, but I have a feeling she'll jump right out.

PB seems ready to bond at least just within the cage, as she will now take treats from my girlfriend and I out of our hands. But obviously Jelly and her moms are both terrified after this ordeal and need to build up some trust.

WHERE AND HOW DO I START????
 

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Oliver Bean, Phyllis, Waffle, Taco, Atlas, Cirrus, Orion
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Okay, deep breath. They are safe and you can relax. Give them a week minimum to recover, calm down and forget the scary incident. If my girls get spooked, for any reason, it takes at least a day or two before they are normal again. When you are ready, when YOU are relaxed and confident, try them on a bed with an old sheet and lots of boxes and hidey places. They will usually respect the edges of the bed, and not jump off, but you'll have to watch them the first couple of times. If they are cool with that, then you can sit with them with an old robe or loose clothing, and just listen to a podcast or read and ignore them. They will figure out you are the Safe Giant and start to trust you. Ignoring them is the key...they are like little horses, and the more you don't interact, the more curious they become 馃槉 Good luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Okay, deep breath. They are safe and you can relax. Give them a week minimum to recover, calm down and forget the scary incident. If my girls get spooked, for any reason, it takes at least a day or two before they are normal again. When you are ready, when YOU are relaxed and confident, try them on a bed with an old sheet and lots of boxes and hidey places. They will usually respect the edges of the bed, and not jump off, but you'll have to watch them the first couple of times. If they are cool with that, then you can sit with them with an old robe or loose clothing, and just listen to a podcast or read and ignore them. They will figure out you are the Safe Giant and start to trust you. Ignoring them is the key...they are like little horses, and the more you don't interact, the more curious they become 馃槉 Good luck!!
Thank you so much! It's only been a few days since we caught Jelly and got her home safe, and I want to give her time to settle back in, but I also know that rats definitely need play time outside of their cage and I didn't want to leave them locked up too long out of fear that they'd get bored or depressed. I'll definitely give it a week and try again when I feel confident enough to do so, but do you know of any signs from the girls I can look out for that show that they might be ready? Both girls did start taking treats right from our hands (though this might have been because they were super hungry because they also lightly chomped my finger and then rushed to eat when I offered pellets), but Jelly still runs and hides when she sees us. Should we maybe wait until both girls are comfortable enough around us when we walk by or maintain their cage?
 

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Oliver Bean, Phyllis, Waffle, Taco, Atlas, Cirrus, Orion
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That's a good plan. They will be fine without going out of the cage for a week. When you do, they'll be excited but also cautious to come out again. Sitting quietly next to the cage and talking is the best method, as quick movements will startle them. Even if they have heard or seen it a hundred times lol.

I think the hardest part is getting them to come out without scaring them. It's hard to get both hands in the cage and pick them up properly. If your brave girl will come out, you can take her without Jelly. When Jelly sees PB going to free roam, she will want it too!
 
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