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*sigh* here we go. i am very frustrated.

about 2 months ago i got two rats from a locally owned pet store. i havent had good luck with finding breeders so after a few friends (and friends of friends) recommended this place to me (mainly because they have a great reputation of having very socialized rats), i decided to go because my last rat had passed away and i wanted a new friend.

i ended up bringing home two girls, who, in the pet store were absolutely delightful.

but now they hate me. i cannot get them to like me. i put my hand in the cage and they run. i try to pick them up and they literally scream and cling to the cage for dear life when i try to take them out. if i try hand feeding treats they lunge at me. during free range they wont come near me. i try soft foods on a spoon and they grab a glob in their hands and run.

during free rage sometimes they'll both run up to me and bite either my hand, arm, fingers, toes, whatever. i put them on my shoulder and they chomp my ear.

when i first got them, they were really coming around to me. Rosie came when i called her name and Bouncer snuggled in my hoodies during movie time. they gently took treats and they were eager for play time. i spent as much time as possible with them. very recently they just began to hate me out of nowhere. im extremely upset because ive owned rats for 9 years and ive had success with some of the most aggressive and skittish rats ive seen so far.

i miss my other rats so much because they just loved me to death. i was their whole world and I knew it. my new girls' behavior towards me just makes me miss my old girls so much more. i dont feel connected to these new girls. i dont understand but i was getting teary eyed during free range cus all they wanted to do was run up to me and bite. they only associate me with food now and if i dont have it they want nothing to do with me.

and the biting... i say NO!, i eeeek loudly, nothing works. they just dont learn, nor do they care to, it seems. they won't use the litter box either. they haven't drawn blood when they bite but it HURTS. especially when one of them got me on the ear. if theyre out of the cage and i pet them, they jump loudly and squeak and turn around fast with their ears back as if theyre going to lunge.

and another thing, i had to remove the wheel out of my cage because the one girl of mine literally runs on it for HOURS. i mean she has ran on her wheel for 10 hours straight. hours at a time. what the heck is causing this weird behavior? im so disappointed because i get rats with the intention of having a loving companion and these two girls are just awful. ..as bad as i feel saying it. i dont wanna give up on them but im starting to not really want them anymore. and ive never felt this way about a rat. somebody please help me. :(
 

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The only thing I can really suggest is to take them out individually for play time and do things one on one for them to gain your trust. Hopefully that will work? Also, when my rats nip me hard, I squeak (like you said you do) and I gently hold them on their back to show dominance (my girls are constantly doing this to each other lol) and it has worked so far.

I hope this helps!
 

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So... your describing a pretty dysfunctional relationship. It's not likely your rats fault and perhaps not entirely your fault either.

First your relationship with every rat is different as rats all have their own personalities and as you experience life your own situation changes. When we raised the amazing Fuzzy Rat my daughter was 5 years old and played with Fuzzy Rat from the moment she got up to the time she went to bed, I took my daughter and rat to the playground every evening and we were together there for hours every day... Last night I asked my daughter if she had seen Cloud at all yesterday, she answered no, ran upstairs opened the cabinet door called inside... "Hi Cloud! Goodnight Cloud!" and went to bed... The answer was that no one had seen Cloud yesterday as I was otherwise out... Compare that to 18 hours of daily play and togetherness with Fuzzy Rat. Naturally there's a difference in the relationship dynamic. Fuzzy Rat napped on my desk, next to me, she expected to be constantly engaged while Cloud hangs out in her dark cabinet and does more exploring on her own... that's her "normal". And it's not my daughter's fault, she's 9 years old and into her digital devices and she's too old for the playground and chasing around with a rat. That's not to say Cloud isn't a great rat, but she's a product of a different time. So you really can't compare your former rats to your current rats.

That said, something has gone terribly wrong with your current relationship. It seems to me that your current rats want your attention, but they are biting you to get it and that's just bad communication.

So first, I'd start by getting some thick gloves or oven mitts and then I'd bring them into the immersion area and start over. Bring treats and schedule a few hours for getting to know each other again. Yes, continue to discourage the biting as it exceeds play fighting... don't eep, be firm if you detect serious aggression, but actually put your focus on engaging your girls in more playful activities. Mock fighting is fine, a bit of chase is fun for your rats as is just about anything you can agree on doing. As they sound like young rats play fighting you is very normal and isn't quite biting and with gloves you should be ok with it. It's also normal for them to have lots of energy to burn off, so try and encourage them to be active participants... don't push too hard for the affectionate activities right off, kind of work your way there.

It's unfair for you to expect your new girls to be your old girls, as chances are you've changed too. Like I said, I don't know where communication broke down or where things went dysfunctional, but that's not the issue, it's all about building a new relationship with new rats now... so basically start over. Do the immersion and build a better foundation and then reinforce it every day with a long play session so your rats learn you are part of the family, or rather they are part of yours... And for better or worse, your relationship will be different, but that doesn't mean it will be less rewarding than the ones you have had before.

Best luck.
 

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I just got 2 rats from a petstore around Christmas time. Two females as well. One of them was okay with running on me and stuff because she was much younger, however, the older one, Mazie, was just terrified. She would run like crazy if I tried to pick her up and It was almost impossible to get her off the ground for more than 3 seconds. She was sooo wriggly. She never bit so I can't help there but Eventually when i could quickly get her into her travel carrier, I took her to the bathroom and played with the two rats in the tub (no water of course). Mazie started to get alot more used to me in there every day. It's a small space so they can't avoid you. Just offer your hand at the bottom of the tub, but not near the rats. Let them find you out on their own.

That's all I can say, good luck friend!
 

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In first reading and responding to the original post, I kind of read it to say that the relationship started out good and went down hill from there.... In re-reading it, I'm thinking that maybe it really never got started in the first place... and there never was a bond in the first place.

If the latter is true, I'd still recommend gloves if your rats are biting hard just in case, but basic immersion should get your relationship started on the right foot.

Best luck
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Rad Daddy, im not sure if it went downhill or never got started. theyve definitely gotten more comfortable with biting me and more withdrawn. when i first got them, they only gave me licks! they also seemed more comfortable with me. im not sure if thats because they were more timid and now that theyre "settled in" they just do as they please; aka ignore me.

i understand its wrong to compare my new girls to my old. mischief. let me clarify that that isnt quite what im doing. every rat ive owned had a different relationship with me (because they're all different, things change as you said) much in the way my relationships with people differentiate from person to person. im just missing the common thing i shared with them which was love.

also i tried to do the whole thing with the gardening gloves but they seem to disassociate the gloves with my hands because they listen when i instruct them to not bite the gloves but no matter what they don't listen when i instruct them to not bite my hands. im just very frustrated.

i read the immersion thread but im afraid the basic idea i got out of it was to just have your rat out of their cage with you all day every day until they know and trust you? im not sure if thats exactly what im supposed to do/how it works? i guess ill have to reread.

I just got 2 rats from a petstore around Christmas time. Two females as well. One of them was okay with running on me and stuff because she was much younger, however, the older one, Mazie, was just terrified. She would run like crazy if I tried to pick her up and It was almost impossible to get her off the ground for more than 3 seconds. She was sooo wriggly. She never bit so I can't help there but Eventually when i could quickly get her into her travel carrier, I took her to the bathroom and played with the two rats in the tub (no water of course). Mazie started to get alot more used to me in there every day. It's a small space so they can't avoid you. Just offer your hand at the bottom of the tub, but not near the rats. Let them find you out on their own.

That's all I can say, good luck friend!
I free range my rats in the bathroom but unfortunately i only have a stand up shower (no tub) that isnt big enough for us to spend time in. However my bathroom is a fairly decent size so they couldn't care less about me. they just wanna run around and explore and keeping them near me is hard. :(
 

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In a larger space your rats will free range more and play with you less, that's kind of normal. You can lure them with treats or you can be more proactive in following them around. My daughter is fast and agile and can master a whole lot more space than I can. But the goal is to interact not just co-occupy space. With active girl rats this can be a bit hit and run or on the fly. Play fighting or chasing or rat rolling or my daughter's toss and squish methods all serve the purpose to get interaction happening. It's a matter of engaging the rat, seeing how it responds and forming the appropriate reply.

My daughter is 9 years old and has had rats since 5, the girl rats love her because she's playful. Sure they come by me for treats, food and an occasional snuggle, but I'm not much of a playmate for them.

When you do immersion, first you need your rats to get that you are responding to them, then you work it from there until they get that you are communicating to them too. Then you work out the rules of engagement, like no biting. It's a bit of an elaborate dance where sometimes you lead and sometimes your rats do. You are trying to figure out what your rats are telling you and they are trying to get your message. Once your rats realize that you are capable of meaningful communication they will start listening.


Your former rats understood you, they knew what you wanted and how to communicate with you, your current rats may not even know you are sentient. Worse yet due to a communication breakdown they may be trying to reach out to you with some seriously maladaptive behavior or just trying to avoid you entirely... like my rats when it's time to go to their cage... no tasty late night treat and they won't come out for bedtime. I suddenly become the enemy until I produce a tasty pastry, then it's bedtime.

I once knew a huge German shepherd dog that was kept in a cage behind a gas station, everyone thought it was vicious. It snarled and barked and bit, which was fine as it was a watch dog, but as it got older the owner brought it into the gas station during the day and it became quite friendly... It only ever wanted attention. Nights when I would walk past the gas station it still barked and snarled, but all I had to do was stop and say a few kind words through the doors and it would quiet right down. Anyone with a kind voice and a gentle touch could have looted the place but you wouldn't know from the way that dog greeted you. Barking snarling and biting was just it's way to get attention, which I suppose really made it a very superior watch dog. It took real courage to face down a big dog and offer it a kind word and a treat.

Sometimes that's what you have to do when your rats are communicating in a maladaptive way...

Of course some rats also learn to push their humans around. This happens when the humans have a particularly submissive personality or aren't around much, in this case you have to stand your ground and be firm to earn their respect and re-take your leadership role. But figuring the precise nature of your problem requires sitting down and working with your rats. If your rats are biting for attention or avoiding you because they don't realize you are capable of understanding them, you have one problem; if your rats are pushing you around to get their way, meaning you are subordinate to them, you have a different issue entirely. This is where engage, reply and respond comes into play. It's a diagnostic tool as much as a relationship repair method.

Best luck.
 

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I'm a first time rat mommy of two girls. One of them is very out-going, and the other is more shy. I've only had them for about a week and they haven't done any free-ranging yet, except on the table where their cage is on and on the couch as well. I tried bringing them to the bath tub but they didn't like it and just clung on to me.:p I've never had rats as pets, but I've had dogs so, not knowing how to introduce myself, I pretty much just let them sniff my knuckles and talk to them like they were dogs.:rolleyes: They also "blitz" like dogs! There's a game that we play - they'd peep out the open cage door. I'd ruffle their fur saying, "Gooch Gooch Gooch!!!" and they'd blitz around their cage then quickly return to the peeping position at the cage door. We'd do this over and over until they felt it was time to clean out the human stink from their coats. Cracks me up every time! ;D It might not be the right way of doing things, but it seems to be working - they're both becoming much more comfortable with me and the less shy one would climb on me of her own accord. They'd also climb out of their hammock when I get close to their cage, as if they were happy to see me and come over to greet me. My computer, which I spend a lot of time on, is in the same room as their cage so they can see me at all times. Not sure if that does anything. Anyway, I'm taking it veeeeeerrrry slooooow with the girls. Remember, they are "girls", they need to be "wooed". ;D Perhaps you can try using a table first? Oh, and regarding biting, they have started to try to nibble on my finger and I'd tap on their noses and say, "no". I read recently that it's not good to start out by handing them food cause they would associate your fingers to food and think it's food every time you stick your finger in their face. That's one mistake I've been making and so whenever I stick my finger through the bars, they would try to grab and bite my fingers. So....I won't be feeding them by hand for some time. :p Well, I wish I could offer more insights, but like I said, I'm a first time owner. What I've been doing so far seems to be working, but then again, these rats came from a breeder who handled them very often from birth. Good luck to you!
 
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