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I got 2 rats, about a week ago.
I got them from my local shelter, and they're super super shy. They havent really been handled before.
I feed them treats through the cage bars every day and every time I open the cage door to clean it, i give them treats so they associate me with food. I also try to pet them so they get used to me.

What else can i do? They absolutely will not let me hold them or even pick them up.
I'm less concerned with actually holding them and more concerned with the fact that i'm eventually going to have to wash the blanket in their cage.
 

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I started handling my rats the day I got them, and they have showed a lot of improvement in the weeks I've had them. They were feeder rats with no socialization once so ever. They were scared when I picked them up but they've gotten used to it and are noo her scared. It happened faster than I was expecting.

I let them burrow in my jacket while I sit in the recliner to read and do homework. It doesn't frighten them because they're not being picked up and they're free to do as they please. But it gets them used to your scent and with you as their playground they will get used to you quickly
 

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Check out the Immersion Sticky-- is that still up? It's super useful.
http://www.ratforum.com/showthread.php?67442-Immersion-Training-The-Guide

I know the way that sounds nicer is trust-training, but I personally dive right in. I closed my bathroom door, let them run around, let them run on me and gave them lots of treats. I did this for hours every day. My girls all have a solid bond with me.

Edit:
Oh! Also-- do not feed through the bars. Babes will think anything that goes near the bars is food and will bite more. At least, this is what I have read.
 

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This may sound nuts but what kind of cage do you have? When I had a cage with just a small door and a rat that was a little standoff ish to my hand reaching in and meddling around even though she loved me when she was out...now I have a cage where the entire front can open up and I open it all up and even she is welcoming...I like to think that with the whole cage open they feel more like I'm IN the cage and it's my cage too.....but I could be completely bananas
 

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I tried to be more forward today and just pick em up and hold em. Every time i try to pick one of them up they jump right out my hands!! I dunno what i'm doing wrong here D: I feel like they hate me!

They'll barely let me pet them!!!
 

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I tried to be more forward today and just pick em up and hold em. Every time i try to pick one of them up they jump right out my hands!! I dunno what i'm doing wrong here D: I feel like they hate me!

They'll barely let me pet them!!!
Okay, take a deep breath.

If you are kind, calm, and consistent, they will come around.

One thing you may want to re-think is feeding them treats thru the cage bars--that is thought to possibly set up a bad habit of them nipping when fingers come thru the cage bars--as they're expecting a tasty treat, not just a finger--and may startle or injure other humans at some point.

Opening the cage and feeding treats is a great thing to do.

I would most certainly continue with the "sounds nicer" (LOL) method of trust training.

It takes more thought and patience, and goes more at the rats' speed than the human's, but your rat won't experience the levels of flooding (a scientific term for extreme stress and can result in behavior shut-downs and learned helplessness), that can occur in this "immersion" scenario.

If you take classical conditioning (pairing something good with a following event) seriously, and are consistent, the rats will come to associate your presence, and being handled, and having interaction with you, as A Good Thing.

They will come to associate you with food, treats, and play/fun.

You can also use operant conditioning to your advantage--any time the rat makes a move even slightly towards you, or even just does not retreat, you can quietly and calmly offer them a treat.

Speak matter-of-factly and behave matter-of-factly around them, and they will read that calm energy and be in more of a "learning" frame of mind, as you continue to build trust with them.

Good luck, and don't set any artificial goals or timelines, just celebrate progress and continue working daily with them.

Edit to add: I forgot to address your question about picking them up--the answer is they aren't ready for that yet. Just continue to take it in steps--at some point they are going to be leaping all over you and you will kind of giggle at back-when-you-couldn't-even-pick-them-up.
 

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Rats that haven't bonded with you really don't understand what and who you are, in fact you can seem pretty frightening to them, there's a point in the immersion process where rats just seem to get it... you aren't the big bad bear in the room, you are intelligent and responsive and they can understand and communicate with you... and all of a sudden everything changes... the connection is made and you can communicate and understand each other and you will have a basis for a lifelong relationship.

As to treats, they can be useful tools in the process of getting your rats attention during immersion or any other socialization process, but for the more part reserve them for training. During bonding and socialization you don't want to communicate that you are a vending machine, you want to be playful and interactive and communicate that getting to know each other is the goal and your more than the snack machine.

Rats have some of their deepest relationships with other rats and rats don't give each other food treats. They share affection. Once you build your initial bond, then you move on to treats to encourage certain behaviors and teach tricks and commands...

It's immersion first and then training... build the relationship then work on commands and encourage correct behaviors and tricks afterwards. It's a whole lot more rewarding to get a gift from someone you love than candy from a stranger.

Best luck.
 

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I'm wondering how old your new rats are. If they're just a few months old, their behavior is very normal. People say that baby rats are like popcorn popping. They don't like to stay still or be restrained. They will grow out of this, though. Sounds like you're making progress and doing a great job!
 
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