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Discussion Starter #1
I have been trying to figure out a way to take my training a bit further with the one guy i have left after his cagemate died. I have him realizing i am a source of treats (cheerios seems to be his favorite). He will come to the cage when i open it and sniff my hands, even learned to crawl out the open door and onto my leg to snag a treat and run back into the cage to eat it.

However i have hit a snag. Once i even more the slightest bit other than my hand, he runs back into the cage without the treat. I dont know how to get him to stay still and eat it much less let me touch him or hold him. I dont want to push him too much, but he has made good progress up till now and i want to see it continue.
 

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Look at the immersion thread if you havnt already. Sometimes you have to sort of force them to interact with you. How young is he? If he is young and recently lost a cage mate he could be a bit tramatized, for lack of a better word, and depressed. A new friend, especially if they are more friendly towards you, will help him a lot. Rats learn from their peers to and if he sees another rat making friends with you he may be more inclined to try it himself. Our shyest girl learned to trust us this way. We havn't done any major immersion with her as we just dont feel she had to be super friendly since she has 4 other cagemates to keep her company, but she comes and will sit with us after watching the others and seeing how they interact with us.
 

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Is he a relatively new rat? Is it that you bought 2 of them recently and one died? Or have you had this one for a long time? If he is new then it is not that unusual what is happening right now. I took that approach with my boys rather than doing the forceful immersion sessions. I sat with them with the cage door open for hours every day and fed them treats. I didn't force them to come out but tried to encourage them to come further for the treat like what you are doing. It is normal for him to be jumpy at your movement because he is still wary of what you are going to do. I know that it can vary for how much time rats take to warm up to people but in my opinion do this: Feed him treats like it seems you are doing and sit with him with the door open so he has the option of coming out onto your lap. Every once and a while pick him up and pet him but u don't have to do it as often as what they say during an immersion session. Mostly focus on the treats. Within a couple weeks he should be completely comfortable accepting treats from your hand, he should be able to come out and get a treat from your lap (it's ok if he goes inside to eat it), hopefully he will also be comfortable exploring the room a little bit, at this point you will see him not be spooked by slow movements, also he will go on your shoulder occasionally. Once I got to that point it pretty much just went really quickly after that and then I could do whatever I wanted to my boys. If it has been more than a couple weeks and you haven't seen the progress of the things i said to watch out for then you may want to go ahead and try the immersion method. some rats need that method and some don't, one of my boys warmed up easily with the trust method and i never had to do an immersion session but my other boy is independent and doesn't like being handled so in order to get him to the point where he doesn't make a fuss about being picked up i had to do a little immersion with him. But that doesn't mean he didn't learn trust and respect from doing the trust training cuz he is very well behaved. It all depends on owner preference for which method you want to go with. They are both very effective but although you may spend a long period time at once dong an immersion session, you seem to get faster results. I hope his helps you decide what method is best for you.
 

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Sorry, i left out some details. Happens late at night when i try to post things. I have only had them about 2 weeks or so. They were both labeled as small when I bought them from Petco, so i am not exactly sure how old they were, and the person there wasnt exactly sure either, but said something like a month to a month and a half. I lost one to a rapid onset of URI. By the time i got him to the vet it was too late. I have been talking to some breeders trying to get another cage mate for him so the one left by himself is not lonely.

The real break through with the one i have left seems to be since the other passed. He has been coming out of the cage and snagging cheerios from me, then running back into the cage. He hides in the corner most of the time and as long as i dont try to pick him up, he'll sit there frozen in the corner. I want him to know its ok to trust me and be ok eating on my lap rather than running and hiding to eat the treats. I know they have that hoarding instinct, but still. Hes really jumpy, and i didnt know how to progress was all. if i should be slowly touching him or what not when he dose come out. This is really my first time with a pet that isnt instantly in love with everyone, i.e. dogs and cats. So this is a new experience for me and dont want to mess it up anymore than whats already happened to the first guy.
 

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Don't worry, both methods are proven to work and won't mess up your rat either way. Some people feel bad about really getting in there and holding and petting your rat constantly because they feel it stresses them out a lot. That is one reason some people like to go with the gradual method because it is a little less stressful at the time but takes longer. your rat is completely normal with how he is presenting at this point. It's a good sign that he comes out for the treats even if he runs back in afterwards. it's also good that he doesn't seem aggressive. it is up to you but at this point what I would do if i were in your position is do a round of immersion training with him. Bring his cage in a small room like a bathroom where he can come out and won't be at risk and is small enough that you guys have to interact. Give him treats like you do now but also continuously pick him up and cuddle him. I don't put them down until they stop struggling because otherwise they don't really learn much if you let them go while they are panicking. Once he stops struggling you can love on him a little more and then let him go and give him a treat. With immersion you are supposed to do this over and over until you make some sort of break through. Maybe they will fall asleep on your lap eventually or not struggle when you pick him up or something like that. You are supposed to stay with him for as long as it takes for you to make this progress. Eventually your rat will realize that bad things aren't happening when you pick him up and you are a friend to him. It just takes a while to realize this but he will get the idea. Yes, it seems like you are stressing your rat out by doing this but you know that it's in his best interest and soon he will understand you are his best friend. This method won't traumatize him because it's proven to work thousands of times, even on the most extreme cases of rats. But if you aren't comfortable doing that or don't have the time to do immersion with him then eventually he will probably come around using the method you are using and just touching him every once and a while but it may take much longer than you'd like.
 
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