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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My two female rats will willingly crawl all over me but they are terrified of being touched. I think it is because they were handled badly at the pet shop and they were fully grown (around 24 week) when I got them. I Love them to bits but it breaks my heart that I can't stroke them and cuddle them properly. I make sure I treat them lots and give them time to get used to me but I was wondering if anyone could offer me any advice in getting them used to being touched. I do not regret buying them, I think I did them a favour getting them out of there. They are both incredibly nervous of sudden movements and loud, unfamiliar noises which at first is understandable but by now they should be getting used to it. I've had them a few weeks now. If any one can offer any advice I will be most grateful
 

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Sit them and yourself in a small room and close the door. You can have a large comforter as well for them to crawl around in with you in it. Then play with them, give them the odd treaat. Try and spend at least an hour a day doing this and over time they should come around.
 

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I'm no expert, but my ratties are much more relaxed about being touched while they are crawling all over me. If that's true for yours, that seems like a good chance to work on desensitizing them.

My 11-week-old, who will spend multiple hours (with potty breaks) snoozing on me while I'm at my computer all day, often resists being picked up when she is in her cage. When she resists, I withdraw my hand. She quickly realizes resisting the hand means no trip to the outside-the-cage world, and a couple seconds later she goes as limp as a rag doll when I go to pick her up (no clinging to the cage). She is by far my most docile, handle-able rat, so I'm sure there's no *direct* parallel with your skittish little ones, but I have found it an interesting lesson...
 

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Ever since I've had them they spend every evening out with me on my bed running around. They have improved since I first got them but are still scared of my hand. I play and use treats, they love sunflower seeds! I suppose I will just have to keep going as normal and hope this will, in time, get them to come around to the idea of being picked up. My last rat didn't like being handled much but that was ok as she would let me stroke her. That all I want to do really! :(
 

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Females can be iffy about things like petting holding etc just because they're so energetic.
 

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That can be common with pet store rats, especially yours being so old. Mine were 4 months when I got them. They also have opposite personalities. I worked with them slowly, picking them up occasionally but mostly just letting them run around and feeding them treats and letting them come to me in their own time and it took Daisy about 3 weeks or so for him to start crawling on my shoulder and stuff and from there it was a quick transition to him being super cuddly. He needs his love and cuddles and attention constantly. He will groom me all the time but he doesn't sleep on me because he's very energetic like a female. My other boy though, has an opposite personality where he is very independent and he actually hates being pet or picked up. He's very sweet and loving and laid back but he just doesn't need love in that way. He just didn't come around like daisy did and it made it difficult to catch him when it was time to go back in the cage. I would chase him all over cuz he didn't want me to pick him up. He's very well behaved and now months later has actually learned that when I start to try to catch him he will go back into the cage on his own so I don't have to pick him up. It's pretty impressive actually.

You could possibly have a rat that is independent like this in personality and will never want to be loved on and cuddled on and that is hard. I know how you feel to just want to cuddle them but eventually you realize how they like their love given and give it to them in that way. You probably don't have a rat like that though and i highly doubt both your rats would be like that. This is probably just a case of the pet store situation and their age. What I did to help Lily and make things easier on me for catching him and hopefully warming him up to me at least a little bit is you can take them out of the cage one at a time a a few times a day to start (this is separate from playtime). What i did was held him in my hands and pet him and loved on him and held him for a while. He struggled a lot at first and you continue doing this even while they struggle. I did not put him down until he gave in to me and then I held on to him for at least a few seconds after that and then I praise him a bunch and put him back. You could give a treat after that if you want but I didn't because I already had set treat times and I couldn't have him getting fat lol. I saw great improvement after only doing this for a day or two. I decreased doing this whenever I felt comfortable. this was a very mild form of immersion training that I did with him. It helped a lot so at least doing that will help. It seems like forcing the touch and handling stresses them out but what it really does is shows them that they have nothing to be afraid of from your touch. they learn not to fear your hand. When dustyrat said to put yourself in a small room with them under a blanket that is immersion training and you would play with them and touch them and handle them until you feel like you have made some sort of breakthrough. This could even take a few hours the first time. So be prepared if you really want to get in there. You could do more sessions of this if you want or just continue during playtime. Don't be too worried if a few weeks have gone by so far. It seems like you are doing pretty well with them crawling on you and everything and once the breakthroughs happen it just suddenly happens one day and things get so much better. so be optimistic. It will definitely get better soon. Sometimes it can take a few months for them to reach their maximum potential so you really have to have patience. Even Lily who i thought was just really independent got better with going back in the cage after playtime and I force all my rats (I now have a 3rd baby girl who I'm working with on bonding) to be picked up and pet for a minute when coming out of the cage, but Lily would hide and sleep in a quiet place during the whole playtime and never interact with me. Suddenly after a few months he just came around and started hanging out with me more and more on my bed and comes to interact with me everyday now alot and even lets me pet him and pick him up sometimes. so it could even take a few months to reach their potential and I was told that by ratdaddy. Hopefully this helps but if you are still feeling nervous or have a lot of questions you might seek advice from him because he is the one who make the immersion theory I believe or at least put up that thread. I have seeked much advice from him on Lily.
 
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