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I bought two dumbos who were going to be sold as feeders from a local pet store. They are "small" rats and I wish I could have bought younger but there are no rat breeders in this state. I am trying to start trust training after leaving them be in their cage. I took Lucy out and she seemed skittish but was content to hide under my hair. She was also curious about the treats in my hand but would not actually take it from me. Well when my boyfriend took Ethel out she jumped and ran from him. We then had to chase her down and I had to grab her by the tail (I KNOW what a bad mom I was to do this) but I did not want her to disappear in our old house. It took five attempts and we finally got her into the cage (after she bit me twice). I plan on building a huge playpen where I can sit inside with the cage and let them come out on their own. I have never dealt with TERRIFIED rats. Out of the 6 I have owned all were like Lucy and skittish but never as bad as this poor little thing...Please did I ruin my chances? What should I do to make it easier for her to trust me? Thanks- Kristin :confused:
 

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I'm only 9 so I don't know if this will be good advice but try leaving her alone. My rat will only eat treats if I poke them through the bars of the cage, you could try that too.
You don't need to leave her alone too much, rats like human company anyway. Try gently asking if she wants to come out and if she does do something like read a book or watch a movie without moving too much so she can relax. She might build more trust overtime and then you can take her out for more different things.
With the treats I thought it might help because well they're treats. If she can expect nice things from you, you can expect nice things from her.

Thanks I hope I could help
Skycloud
 

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I don't know how much experience you have with rats so these may be things you already know, but hopefully some of it is helpful! Although you haven't scarred her for life, trust training with terrified rats will of course require a lot of time and patience on your end. Making an area where you can sit with your rats is a great first step. Try to set aside time each day to sit with them, but let them come to you like you mentioned. Maybe sit/lay down and bring a book with you and read it for 20 minutes to half an hour each day. Let them get used to your presence and smell each day by doing this but don't try to grab at them too much right away, just kinda let them do their thing and don't make a lot of sudden movements. If they start crawling around on you, let them, and congratulations because it means their curiosity is starting to outweigh their fear! It might help to wear a light perfume (very light!) and wear the same perfume each time, and even spray an old shirt with the perfume (again, very light) and leave it in their cage. This will get them used to your smell a lot quicker. Also, try to give them a treat after each session and use a key word like "Treat!" In a high voice so they'll start associating everything together...your voice and your smell will eventually equate to them getting treats and time outside of the cage.Inbetween sessions of letting them out of the cage, try to treat them while they're in the cage too using your keyword and yogurt on a spoon. That way they're forced to be near you while they eat. Over time you can gradually force them closer to you until they have to sit on your arm to eat the yogurt.Talk around them a lot, too, even if you're not trying to take them out of the cage.This could all take a considerable amount of time, anywhere from several weeks to months depending on how scared they are. Try not to let it wear your patience though. Just try to treat your interactions with them like any other daily habit like brushing your teeth and don't think too much of it at first, just make sure you do it every day and don't take it to heart if it seems like they're not warming up to you right away. If they seem especially scared, unfortunately you may have to deprive them of stimulus in the beginning to make them more curious about you. For example if they're too scared to leave the cage and hide from you a lot, you may have to take all "fun" things out of the cage except for food and water and make it especially boring. That way they'll WANT to be taken out.When they get less "skittish" and begin to associate you with good things, you can start handling them with less risk that they'll jump and run. When you feel like they're more curious and less scared, sit on a chair and set them on you. Keep them on you for at least 20 minutes straight, maybe read a book again while they do their thing. They'll probably hide under your hair or inside your shirt, let them so they'll feel safe. The idea is if nothing "bad" happens to them for long leriods of time even when theyre forced to be close to you, they'll slowly start to realize they can be on you and still be safe. If they want to explore your hands, stop what you're doing and let them. Once they get used to your hands it will make it a lot easier to pick them up and interact with them. If they bite you, squeak as high pitched as you can to mimick a rat in pain. I realize it's no fun being bitten by teeth so small and sharp, but chances are they will bite a few times until they realize your hands A) Aren't food or B) Aren't a threat.Keep in mind that trust training doesn't always work if a rat was abused, or simply bred from a line of aggressive or overly skittish rats. I once did trust training with four males I got from a rescue, and although three probably would have responded well, one of the rats was overtly aggressive for reasons unknown and it made it virtually impossible to train. I spent 7 months with them before ultimately returning them to the rescue. I feel ashamed admitting that even now but there are certainly plenty of rats that are loving in nature waiting to be given homes. It sounds to me like your new rats aren't outwardly aggressive, just scared. I think as long as you keep spending time with them every day, they will eventually overcome their fear.Oh one more thing, when your rats seem less apt to bite or squirm out of your hands, try picking them up and giving them a small treat each time. Hold them for longer periods of time and If they don't squirm, set them down and give them a treat. It's probably better to break the treat into smaller bits for this so they don't get fat.Hopefully at least some of this is helpful, good luck with your rats and keep us updated on your progress.
 
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