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I just brought a rat into my care (yesterday) who was very neglected. His name is Egor. I don't have alot of experience with behavior issues, so here it goes. I took him out of the cage and he got totally scared. :( He started squirming and squealing so I quickly put him back. Perhaps I shouldn't have put him back? He is just this ball of sadness, everyone who see's him says he looks depressed. I don't blame him, the poor guy has never recieved affection, not even from his own kind.

So what steps should I take? What things should or shouldn't I do?
 

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I have never heard of one squeling, but my Henry was deathly afraid of me holding him when I first got him...but I just kept at it and held him a little longer each time...a only a few seconds in the begining. He still only uses me for transport, he doesnt like to be held and will only ride on my arm if I go too far...As long as he isnt biting you and you can stand him squeling I say give him a little more time each handling session.
 

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I would just take it slow while he gets settled into his new surroundings. Once he's settled in, you can try things like forced socialisation, where you hold them for have them on you for 20 mins or more at a time.

Rewarding is a good way to go. If he comes to you, reward him. If he lets you hold him, reward him some more. Encourage him to come to you with treats, etc. Pet him while he's in his cage (but be careful not to make him feel cornered).

I'm sure he'll come around, you just need to be patient and consistent.
 

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You shouldn't force socialization on him if you've just got him. :( Besides being afraid of people in general, he's in this brand new place, surrounded by strange and unfamiliar things. Give him a day or two, then begin by just letting him get used to you. Sit by his cage, talk to him, offer him treats, but don't force yourself on him. He has to learn that you won't hurt him and build trust with you. The primary cause of any rat bite is fear, so you want to scare him as little as possible.

You can even put your hand in his cage, and just let it sit there. Give him an old shirt with your smell on it. Anything to get him used to you without force or trauma. Little steps are the most important part.
 

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i went through this with nezumi. she had quite the hard luck story but she became one of the best rats i ever had after much patience and work.

what i did was start off with getting her used to the new place. i set her beside my rats and every night and every afternoon when i put my son down for his nap i would read aloud to them. normally it was from whatever book i was reading at the time and whereever i had left off the night before. it doesn't really matter. its the drone of the voice and the nearness of you and your smell (i would also sit directly beside the cage). when i noticed that she wasn't hiding nearly as much in the cage i started intros with the residents (took me all of an afternoon--i had very accepting residents at the time). once she got used to them (with me still reading once or twice a day) i found she really started turning around. i would interact with my residents like normal, talk to them when i came in the room, shared whatever i was eating, gave them the left overs from supper by hand for a bit before setting in the dish. when i took the residents out i would take out nezumi too. she learned in leaps and bounds from the residents that i was actually something great and having been there and unthreatening she got used to my voice and smell and so never assosiated me with scary things that grab either. not to say i didn't use forced socialization either. once she was a bit more confident and would come to the cage door on her own i would take her out and sit with her in a chair that she couldn't jump off of, have a snack and watch tv with just the two of us for a few hours at a time too. i did this when she was out with the residents as well but once she did this just her and me a few times she came nearly completely out of her shell. the rest was just time. and you have to remember patience. she did fall back to her terrified self after pocket died but i kept at her and she made a wonderful comeback.

you'll notice something in that story though. i almost always had a yummy food with me for some part of the interaction. the quickest way to a rat's heart is through their stomach. i also used the ratty language to connect with her. she can't see well so i used my voice and smell to get her used to me first. then i used the other rats to teach her what was ok. this is how mother rats will teach their babies how to be rats and what to eat or not eat.

you'll also probably notice that there was no quarantine. while quarantine is important in my case there was no way for me to make proper quarantine and being with the other rats and learning from them is really where nezumi made her most progress. you don't want to force them to get along , cause that won't work but if they seem to be doing ok after a meeting or two then try them right in the cage.

it went really fast for me because there was no quarantine and my residents took to the new one just fine. this is where time may vary for you. if you're doing a QT then by all means continue it, just read more. maybe try leaving your hand in the cage with bits of food on it while you read after a bit. if the intro's don't go swimmingly then take your time but don't wait for him to be comfortable with before the intros. trust me, once he's with the others his shell is really going to crack. in fact i wouldn't be surprised if you get to a point that you can overcome without the help of the other rats.

anyway, this is what worked for me with nezumi. i have also tried other methods of forced socailization with great success but hopefully this one will work out fine. at my rate and with the set-back of pocket's death it took me about 2 months with this method to get to come fully around. it may take a bit longer, you may find that he really responds to the reading and it could take less. but whatever it is let us know how he's doing along the way.
 

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twilight said:
Shockingly enough, he doesn't like treats. Maybe he is just being shy.
Like I said, he still may be in transition, or, you may just not have found what really wets his whistle yet. ;) Finicky little bugger!
 

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He might not trust the treats yet, as they are new to him and he doesn't trust much. Give him time, he will try them eventually.
 
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