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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had my girls 2 days now and they are so scared they won't even let me pick them up. I put my hand in to stroke them when ever I go into the bedroom so they can get used to me. how long until they won't mind being picked up? because obviously they can't come out yet because they won't let me pick them up. It was easyish with my boys but the girls are really fast and would jump out your hands.
 

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I personally wouldn't wait until they "won't mind being picked up" to pick them up. Pick them up. Show them it's not a big deal. It's not easy with flighty females, but the longer you wait for them to come to you, the less likely they will. I made the mistake of never picking up my first girls, and they HATED being picked up as a result. So much that one would even squeak, despite the fact that she was used to me. It made life difficult.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
they all practically jump out my hands. and because I have no way of rat proofing my bedroom I will free range with my males on my bed bit I tried this with one of the girls yesterday and she jumped off the bed and I was trying to get her back for 1 hour. They are so so fast and they're too quick for me to handle& Iseriously don't know what to do
 

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What I did with my girls is I picked them up, held them for 2 seconds against my chest, put them back in the cage, and gave them a treat. Then I lengthened how long I held them/they were with me. Works fine... They still don't like being picked up, but they don't cause such a fuss now..
 

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Can you just hold them within the cage?
Like, scoop them up, hold them an inch above the ground, then put them back. Just get them used to your hands holding them. Even if they slip out of your hands, it's progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I don't think so because it opens at the top so if I put my arm in they can crawl onto the top of the cage and run off :-/ I just have no idea what to do lol
 

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Just grab them. I used to have this problem until I realized that they're not as fragile as they make themselves out to be with the squirming and the squealing. Just be firm. They'll eventually get used to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just grab them. I used to have this problem until I realized that they're not as fragile as they make themselves out to be with the squirming and the squealing. Just be firm. They'll eventually get used to it.
haha! I will try it. I will start to pick them up on for a few minutes until they can trust and get used to me
 

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I'm not sure how much stock I put into this theory, but do some research on it and see if it's something you want to try to do. I've read about forced socialization. Maybe it works better for wild rats and not so much yours. I'm just repeating what I've read, and there may be dispute regarding the validity of it.

The idea I read is that a rat can only hold onto fear for 20 minutes. With that theory, you can hold onto a rat and keep her in your hands for 20+ minutes. After that time, she'll realize that she's not really in danger. Then you can release her back into the cage. This may need to happen multiple times, but each time she remembers that nothing bad happened to her the last time she was picked up. You may want a towel for this as there likely would be some fear poo.

The important points I picked up on is that maintain hand contact with the rat and keep reassuring her that she's safe. Not sure how helpful the last part is, but it's bound to make you feel better. And she may respond to your voice.

Like I said, research forced socialization before trying this out. People have sworn that it works, though it makes me wonder if there a risk of mental trauma.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well one of my new girls has given birth this morning and I occasionally put my hand in the tank to say hello and say how well she is doing. then rosie (my adopted one) she already knows who I am and jumps on me while I'm standing up the cage (obviously trying to jump off onto the floor lol) but Aimee (my black one) she is really terrified because the first time I got her out and out her on the bed she jumped off and it was quite traumatic lol.
I do keep trying with them all though.
but I will look into that. Thank you
 

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Aimleigh,

As to your girl that just gave birth.... your best off giving her space to nurse and raise her pups for now... This needs to be her first priority and everything else can wait.

As to socialization of anyone else... immersion will work for you because in a smaller area you can get on the ground and work one on one with your rats.... The walls provide the overall control so you don't need to use physical force. You are there to engage with your rats and build a bond through communication and understanding... Rats like to explore and make friends and they will do it with you naturally given you will be together on the same level.

Before immersion and operand conditioning, there were certain people that were actually very expert at socializing new rats and bonding with them.... the so called 'rat whisperers'. Pretty much they could read their new rats and with natural animal handling skills or experience they knew what to do and when. Trust training and forced socialization are pretty much a way to describe something that worked for certain special rat owners. The problem is that the people that were really good with trust training and forced socialization didn't really use either method in it's text book variant. I've known people that were really good with socializing rats that claimed to be using trust training or forced socialization... And you can bet their methods were actually way more than either. They may have used "force" but they used it appropriately and tempered with experience and they may have worked to build trust, but they didn't ***** foot around with rats for months until they came around through osmosis.

So yes, there are old school "experts" in both trust training and forced socialization that have some excellent propitiatory methods, and if you are lucky enough to know one you can get them to teach you how to do it properly. Just keep in mind the short hand text book versions lack all of the nuances of the techniques and for the most part don't work with many rats.

My aunt was a great cook... I got one or two recipe's from her before she died... they were an ingredient list with the instruction to "start out with more or less equal parts of everything and mix to taste"... Mix 20 ingredients to taste? Imagine how that can go wrong! If you can't find someone with years of experience with trust training or forced socialization, I'd be pretty cautious about using either method. They can do as much harm as good in inexperienced hands.

The bonding pouch which originated from forced socialization really can help you to explore your home with your shy rats after basic immersion but a hoodie can work just as well. Some of the individual techniques from the old methods weren't all bad and may be worth recycling.

Lastly, I would add that girl rats are active and like to explore, this is normal. I train mine to come when called so I don't worry too much when they are off exploring. This is part of building indoor competence with your rats and something to do once your rats are bonded with you. Cloud has been completely free range for over a week now since I kicked her out of her cage... she comes by to see what I'm doing a few times a day, steals my food and gets herself some hugs and skritches, but otherwise she's been keeping to herself and doing her own thing... which is normal for free range girl rats.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Rat daddy,
thanks for your reply, I ain't too worried about my mommy girl atm, she did try to escape today whilst I was putting fresh water and food down for her. I would love to try it on my bed (as that's the only place I've really got:-( ) but they jump off my bed. They are super fast and I can never catch them. I would try the goodie one but they try and jump off me too. I stand up the cage and one will jump onto me but find her way down my top and try and climb down. I can't put them on the floor, else I would love to but there's so many places that they could get lost& there's no way of rat proofing them.
I think I compare them to my males because when I first had them I got them on the bed but they always came to me, where as my females are way more exploring (are dare devilish) because if I was a rat there's no way I'd jump off my bed.
its frustrating because I would love a beautiful bond with all my females, but I'm always too scared to get them out because I don't want them running off.
Thanks
 

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Working with females can be difficult, because they have so much energy and they love to explore. Which leads you into one of two loops...

They have too much energy so you have to keep them in their cage or you train them and then you can let them explore because they come back to you when you recall them. But before you can let the free range you need to train them to come back which is hard to do when they run away when you are trying to train them... It becomes a catch 22.

Unfortunately if you can't get your females out for play time and exploration they become more skittish and more intent on escape so you wind up handling them even less and giving them even less free range time.

It's a very difficult problem without a safe play area. We train our rats to be true shoulder rats, and we tend to work with girls. As running away and exploring is part of being a girl rat we use a 40 acre safe site for training. The girls have plenty of room to explore and run amok while we work on their commands and recall training. By the time they live free range in our house they are well over trying to escape and know the better they behave the more freedom they will get.



Fuzzy Rat had an amazing sense of direction and smell, apparently she found something familiar under the benches at the beach... my shoes. I just happened to chance by and saw her hiking back towards the car... she loved to go off and explore on her own. She always came back to us or turned up on top of the driver's side front wheel of the car. As she didn't run away or get lost she had more freedom than any other rat we've ever lived with. Her only weakness was wild boy rats... if she got onto a scent trail she would start sniffing around, hopping about and preening herself like a teen going on a first date... then all bets were off. I'm sure she would have come back, but a litter of half wild rat pups was something we thought best avoiding... So we always had to go to places where there were no wild rats. Even the best true shoulder rat had her limits.

Best luck.
 

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I use the bathtub for practice handling. Easy to clean, no places to go.
 

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I didn't mean to imply you need 40 acres of safe space to train your rat in, it helps, but it's not necessary. But you can't teach your rats to be indoor or outdoor competent in a cage. Basically you can't train your rats to come back to you until they run away... hows that for a dilemma?
 

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Living in 720 square feet of hi-tech wonders, I thought that I would pretty much interact with my rats in their cage or cuddling on the couch. I've looked into some ways to provide more movement for them. It's amazing how creative you can get when you are worried about your rats' happiness.

One solution I worked on was to pick up a 4'x8' sheet of tempered hardboard from Home Depot. I had them cut them into 2'x3' and 2'x5' panels. They're 3/16 of an inch thick, so when I put the boards up, they take up less than an inch behind my fridge. I have slots cut into them so they make a pen a little smaller than 3'x5'. I can assemble this next to the couch so I can lie there and watch them while putting my hand down to stroke and skritch them.

Well, that's all nice, but then I decided to put those hardboards to better use. My bathroom is fairly roomy. I erected the 5' hardboard at the end of the counter to block off the toilet (I didn't want to crawl around behind the toilet if a rat didn't want to leave). I shut the door, but I erected the 3' hardboard just outside the door so that I could open the door and step over the boundary if I needed to. I used heavy weights to prop up the boards. Now my bathroom in front of the sink provides a play area of about 6'x4'. It's large enough that I can sit in it. Technically, I could sit in the 3'x5' playpen, but it would kill my back as I can't lean against the playpen. I can lean against a wall or the door.

Basically, I used the immersion method. One rat is still a little shy. She investigated me for a bit and then proceeded to nap in a corner. Perhaps I'll do one-on-one with her tonight. The youngest—who whimpers and poops every time she's taken out of the cage—eventually felt comfortable enough to hop up on me and get skritched several times. When my wife came home, she picked up the youngest, and I noticed she wasn't whimpering. Sounds like progress so far. It was too late to test the theory that she could be cuddled on the couch like we can with the oldest.

I have some free time tonight, so I think I'll set up the bathroom the same way. Our middle rat is still a little shy, so I'll spend some time with her. She's the glutton, so I'll keep a couple of Yogi treats on hand.

I say I'll do one-on-one with her, but I will probably take all three with me. They're just so cute.
 

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I pick up my new girls in their cage and over a bed. Get one out at a time and use both hands. As for them trying to escape you will have to get used to that as personally I have never had a female that didn't try to escape the second I opened their cage... Once you get them out play with them, letting them run over your hands or chase you or a feathered cat toy.... Girls are very squirmy, especially at first but they usually are fine after a few days of being picked up. =) To keep them from causing chaos I use cheerio's and either have them out in the open supervised or have one at a time out. I also have to block off evrey little space they could crawl into, usually to no prevail. Creating blocks such as boxes is very amusing because they always find a way around them. This is a good way to entertain them- create puzzles. Sometimes I take them outside on my shoulder to get better socialised with my neighbours. Just remember girls WILL run off, but as long as safety precautions are taken you will get them back eventually! I have lost one of my first rats for 20 minuets before convincing her out of her hidey spot. Girls love having shelters to hide in, so have places they can feel safe in. Good luck =)
 

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Working with rats always seems so easy when you make up your initial game plan. Then your rats get involved and you discover Plan B or Plan C or even Plan G... A little play in the cage or on the sofa suddenly evolved into a 40 acre training site for us. In our case, I really wanted to see how far we could go and how competent a rat could get... Jogging together without a leash at the park and swimming at the beach was way beyond my wildest expectations. But one truly amazing rat made just that a reality. Yes, she also sliced and diced every wire in my house when she got bored... but lets focus on the positive.

You are doing the right thing to take the first steps towards working with your girl rats, in the play area you built for them they can become more competent and you can be more confident in handling and recalling them... Girl rats will always love to explore and get into all sorts of tight places, but once they are well trained they will also come to you when you call them and as they become more trustworthy you can give them more and more freedom as they earn and deserve it.

Immersion theory and the technique itself was derived from working with a very special rat, but also it was also an experiment to see just how competent a rat can get. Luckily I had the perfect rat to work with, one that had very few limits. But working with your rats to develop their intellect and competence is both challenging and rewarding. It all starts with building a bond and establishing basic communication, then trust... then you see how far you can take your relationship. You adapt and they adapt... it's great fun and given the opportunity your rats will amaze you.
 

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Hi, aimleigh. When my daughter first got her two rats, they were VERY skittish, so I can relate to your situation! It was frustrating for her because she was impatient about it, LOL.

We held them at around the same time each day, several times a day. We forced the issue, so if they ran, we went after them to hold them. We were very careful to not make a lot of noise when we held them. We spoke softly, but even the sound of our voices freaked them out! After we put them back, they ALWAYS got a treat, and we still do that. Anytime they go back in the cage we give a special treat; now they don't run off when it's time to go back home! We just kept at it for several months.

One thing we did was, during free play, my daughter set them loose in the play room and kept a small plate of treats on the floor next to her. They would sniff it out, but not go near it for about two weeks. After the constant holdings, one day, one of them FINALLY went to the plate. My daughter got so excited, and then the rat grabbed the food and ran, of course. My daughter was so frustrated! We wised up and started using small puddles of applesauce and peanut butter. I can't remember when it happened, but within two months time, they were crawling all over her. She allowed them to crawl on her without her picking them up at first. They got used to exploring her lap; after all, it was warm and soft! Now they crawl up her shirt and lick her face and nibble her earlobes! It just took time and persistence. Just keep at it. We just enjoyed watching them play when they were really little!
 
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