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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone! I'm a new rat owner and have already made a post a while ago about having trouble training my rats. Trying to follow the advice on my last post, I've been trying to hand tame my boys, and my more confident rat Nimbus has been climbing all over my hand and seemed really comfortable with it, while my other boy Storm, who is really skittish has been coming up to my hand and will put his front two paws on my hand and very rarely fully climb onto my hand. I thought things were going really well, so I wanted to try and free range my rats. Their cage however was really high up off the ground and there was no platform for them to walk onto, so I decided to move their cage onto the floor so I could open up the doors and have them walk into the play area. But ever since I've moved their cage, they haven't been coming up to interact with me like they normally do, and if they do, they're extremely skittish, and anytime I reach my hand in to give them a treat, they'll grab it and climb up into their hammock and not come down. With liquid treats they'll eat them off my hand, but the slightest disturbance or noise will scare them away. In addition, whenever I'm in my room they're seemingly always in the hammock and won't come down until I turn off the lights and go to bed, or leave the room. I want to try interacting with them during the day so that they're active and have a chance to bond, but I'm scared that bothering them while in the hammock or while their asleep will cause them to be even more scared of me. I also really want to try the hoodie method, but I'm worried about that for the same reasoning. I honestly thought things were progressing really well, but now it seems like they don't want anything to do with me. Are they just scared because I moved the cage? Is it ok to bother them while in the hammock to have them engage in play time or just have sleep in my hoodie? I really want to bond with them, but I also don't want to screw things up, which has led to a very hands off approach in which I haven't really interacted with them unless they come up to me. For context, I've had them for a little over a month, and moved the cage about 6 days ago. Thank you for any and all advice!
 

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Hey there it sounds like you are making great progress with your rats! A couple of my questions would be, is your room busy or loud usually? I would assume being closer to the floor might be causing them to hear or smell things more intensely than before- this is of course just a guess. Ive never heard of moving a cage leading to a distrust in the owner before, but loud sounds or smells can definitely cause rats to run and hide. A few things that I would consider is, how much noise is in your room? Does noise from outside your door filter in? Have you been wearing perfume or deodorant that is strongly scented? Maybe a new soap? Remember rats have a MUCH stronger sense of smell and hearing than us.


I didn't catch your other post but this link I have found this link, very helpful in the past.
As for bothering them in their hammock when sleeping, so long as you aren’t picking them up or doing anything too rough it should be okay to wake them up with some yummy treats. Especially if your rats take liquid treats well, waking them up with a little baby food one your fingers can be a great way for them to associate you and your smell positively! I'd also recommend setting up a playpen around the cage, big enough for you to just sit in and chill.

This way you can let them get used to you at their own speed. A few things that come to mind are trying to work with Nimbus when Storm can see. Rats learn behavior from each other, so if one rat sees another rat comfortable they might be more willing to give it a go.


When picking up rats the “scooping” method is best for skittish rats. Using both hands scoop them up and quickly move them from one spot to another, dont hold them high up however in case they jump. Usually a hand reaching down and grabbing them can cause them to feel frightened like prey, so this is just another way to help them stay calm when handled.


And my last idea is gerber puffs (or an equivalent) always have some on you and whenever you pass by their cage offer some. It's ok if they run and hide after the take it, the more you give them treats when you are nearby the more likely they are to associate you near their cage, the sounds you make etc with yummy treats.


Sorry for the ramble, you honestly are doing very well. Dont let this little setback be discouraging, the one thing that works best with rats is TLC, I hope any of this helps, best of luck with your stinky babies!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My room is actually very quiet, I’m at work from 7 am-4 pm M-F so when I’m gone the only noise I would assume they’re exposed to is sounds from outside or my roommates walking past my room. I’ve been doing the hand feeding thing with liquid treats and the slightest noise, twitch, or movement from me will send them running for cover. Surprisingly in the last couple of days, Storm has been the one to approach me when I lay my hand out in the cage while Nimbus will either be in the hammock or watching from above. I went to my parents house the weekend before last, and before I did that they were both pretty good about noises and being skittish in general, so I’m worried that my roommate might have scared them or something when I asked her to watch them. I may be just grasping at straws here, and the only solution is time and patience, but I just get a little disheartened when I see that people that have only had their rats for 3 days already have them free ranging and climbing all over them. Thank you for the advice though, I’ll definitely try letting them come out at their own pace, I just think I need to have a little more patience!
 

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Thanks for the response! I rescued a few boys a year ago who's previous owner was dealing with similar issues. I still dont know what caused her rats to be so skittish of her, especially since they didnt used to be. It seemed like a personality change out of no where.

My guess is someone other than their owner had been stressing them out when she was gone. However we had no proof that was what happened. The good news is, both boys calmed down and came around eventually. If you think your boys wont jump, you can always try scooping them up and putting them on your bed or couch as well. Once they get used to "your smell = positive" they will warm up again.

Im very glad storm is being braver! I honestly think you have nothing to worry about. I think you are doing everything right. Im not sure where you got your babies from but breeding / socialization at young age makes all the difference in how quickly it takes to bond with rats. People that have only had their rats for 3 days already have them free ranging and climbing all over them might have gotten then from a source where the babies already had those positive experience or are too young to have negative ones. 💛 Regardless you are doing everything right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the response! I rescued a few boys a year ago who's previous owner was dealing with similar issues. I still dont know what caused her rats to be so skittish of her, especially since they didnt used to be. It seemed like a personality change out of no where.

My guess is someone other than their owner had been stressing them out when she was gone. However we had no proof that was what happened. The good news is, both boys calmed down and came around eventually. If you think your boys wont jump, you can always try scooping them up and putting them on your bed or couch as well. Once they get used to "your smell = positive" they will warm up again.

Im very glad storm is being braver! I honestly think you have nothing to worry about. I think you are doing everything right. Im not sure where you got your babies from but breeding / socialization at young age makes all the difference in how quickly it takes to bond with rats. People that have only had their rats for 3 days already have them free ranging and climbing all over them might have gotten then from a source where the babies already had those positive experience or are too young to have negative ones. 💛 Regardless you are doing everything right.
Thanks for the response! I rescued a few boys a year ago who's previous owner was dealing with similar issues. I still dont know what caused her rats to be so skittish of her, especially since they didnt used to be. It seemed like a personality change out of no where.

My guess is someone other than their owner had been stressing them out when she was gone. However we had no proof that was what happened. The good news is, both boys calmed down and came around eventually. If you think your boys wont jump, you can always try scooping them up and putting them on your bed or couch as well. Once they get used to "your smell = positive" they will warm up again.

Im very glad storm is being braver! I honestly think you have nothing to worry about. I think you are doing everything right. Im not sure where you got your babies from but breeding / socialization at young age makes all the difference in how quickly it takes to bond with rats. People that have only had their rats for 3 days already have them free ranging and climbing all over them might have gotten then from a source where the babies already had those positive experience or are too young to have negative ones. 💛 Regardless you are doing everything right.
Things have been going better in the past couple of days, and I even got them to walk out of the cage and explore a little bit, though I want them to get used to being held and near me, would you recommend a bonding bag?
 
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