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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've owned Dela and Neera for a few months now and I'm really worried that they still aren't very comfortable around me... They are both absolutely terrified if I move while they're free-ranging when they hadn't seen me before or I hadn't moved. I've tried making noises before I come near them but they still jump and run away. If I'm laying on my bed and Dela climbs up, she'll wander around near me or on me but as soon as I move she jumps and runs away. They really don't come near me during free ranging and they definitely don't run to me when they're frightened. In the bathroom they come to me when they get scared but that's only because there's no hiding places in there...

I did get them from a pet store and I know that might have something to do with it. Neera especially seems to have had a rough time there and she is very hand-shy. Neera does not like to be held or pet, to the point she scampers off if you try to pet her and holding her results in some increased breathing rates. However, she is very friendly. She will run up and lick your hand, eat food off of you, and sometimes climb up on my arm on her own. If I move my arm while she's on it, she'll jump off and run away.

I used the immersion method to "tame" them originally. They took to it fairly well and I was finished a bit after an hour for each. However, I have never gotten that whole "challenged" step? They've never attacked me or shown any signs of trying to dominate me. They really don't play games with me either. I've tried wrestling with them, playing the "toss" game (Where you gently toss them a little bit away from you on something soft), I've tried training them, and they just don't seem interested... They love to run on me and Dela especially loves to run around my friend's arms when they come over.

I just don't know if I've done something wrong... I really want them to come and play with me during free-range and not run away from me whenever I go near them. They come to the front of the cage when I come over, but they never jump on me like I've heard other rats do. They respond very well to treats and Dela doesn't mind being pet, but she doesn't seem to enjoy it. What can I do to make them happier around me and want to play? How can I make our bond better?

Sorry this was a bit long ._.
 

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I would do some more immersion, and not set a time limit on it but a goal of feeling close with your rats. Since they're already pretty social, I would provide hides and such so you can see if "you" are safe or scary and remove them if it gets to be them hiding.

Loud noises will scatter my rats under the nearest object, but normal moving around, talking, singing, whatever I may do during free range doesn't scare them. In fact, they'll often "inspect" whatever I'm doing. I wouldn't consider them socialized unless they interact with you more than for food, unfortunately. It took over a year for my previously aggressive rescue rat, but the others came around with a couple of hours of immersion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
They do come for me more than for food, they just don't seem all that interested in being pet. Dela will climb me, but only in the bathroom with nothing else to really play with... I'll try doing a longer sort of immersion session tonight and seeing if I can make them feel better around me. Thank you very much. I hope Dela and Neera will come around and feel like playing with me more soon! :3
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Alright, so I spent two hours with them in the bathroom last night. They both like the space and after checking it out for about an hour they became very confident in it. Dela was running around with her tail high and wasn't really worried abou anything. Neera wasn't quite so confident. Her tail wasn't low but it definitely wasn't as high as Dela's.

The session seemed to go pretty well though. I engaged Neera and pet her repeatedly, picked her up, snuggled her, and basically played with her the way I do Dela. I found out that lifting her with a hand enclosing her is what she doesn't like. After about an hour she started running up and getting on my hand on her own and I could lift her in the air. She was nervous about it, but she did learn to climb up on my shoulders. Her balance is very bad on my arm because of a lasting head tilt from an ear infection and because she's never really run on my arm so much. Eventually, she laid down in the bonding pouch I made and I was able to sit and pet her for a while. She's still wary of being pet in the cage and she still doesn't seem to know what to think of me.

Dela has always been a bit better than Neera. She climbs me in the bathroom and gets on my shoulders and asks to be put up on the counter. She'll run to me and jump on me or climb me whenever she feels like it. She lets me skritch behind her ears and along her body, but she never really bruxes when I do it... Near the two hour mark she climbed up and laid down on the back of my neck. She laid there for at least 20 minutes.

So both of them have made progress, but I still feel like I'm not doing something right... Dela might engage me in the bathroom but she never climbs up onto my shoulders in my room. It's been weeks and they still seem nervous in my room. Is it my dog? She stays in my room with them and they have seen her but they've never really "met" her. Should I introduce them? Would that make them more comfortable? And is there anything else I can do to make them play with me more in my room, or should I do a sort of immersion session in my room?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I thought I'd post again to add their progress so far. I've been playing with them a bit more during free-range time (Originally I had sort of let them do their own thing because they didn't seem interested in playing with me...). It's done quite a lot! I've had Dela climb up to my shoulders when I offer her my arm and they'll come to me when I start calling them and offering a treat. Neera's even letting me pet her now! She still gets nervous about a hand being above her, but I can pet her now and she doesn't act as nervous. She also comes up and climbs on my hand on her own, which is definitely an improvement! I'm so proud of my little babies and I'm so excited that they're responding so well!
 
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