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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We bought my daughter (6 years old) 2 female rats for her birthday because she loves animals and we thought a pet would be a good idea. My husband did a lot of research and felt that rats would be the best pets due to their intelligence, their hygiene and more. We bought our rats at a large pet store and the were probably about 4 months old. They had most likely never been handled before. We started off by taking them out in the bathroom and letting them run around with my daughter and my husband there. They hardly ventured One of the rats, Golden (my daughter named the rats after cereal, the other one is Trixie) nipped my daughter within a few days and then she was scared to touch them. Golden often nipped at whoever was reaching for her to pet her. When we open the cage, if she is anywhere around the door, she will nip at our fingers even thought we NEVER feed them through the bars. We tried to get the rats to get used to us but they hardly wanted to come out of their cage. We resorted to putting them on the table when their cage was being clean. They still don't like to come out of their cage. They would rather hide from us. The squeak and squawk when we try to pick them up to get them out of their cage so it can be cleaned. When they are on the table my daughter talks to them, tries to pet them, gives them treats when they come over to her and I do the same. They will come over and sniff us for a second or two but then run away. Golden in particular will hide in a shelter that we put on the table. Trixie is more adventurous. They seem to have no desire to be around us. I know my daughter would love to hold her rats, pet them, cuddle them and have them want to be around her. At this point we've had them for almost 6 months. Is there any hope to get them to like us? If so, what do we do? Is there a way to stop Golden from nipping at us?
 

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There is still hope! One of my rats had not been handled when we got her and would hide, squeak, run away and bite us. She was terrified to be picked up and would squeak like you were hurting her. It just takes time. I would put her on my shoulder and just let her sit there for hours until she got more comfortable around me. I picked her up and down from my lap repeatedly. If she bit me I would immediately grab her and make her sit on my shoulder because you can't let them get out of being handled like that. They'll keep biting if they know it means they don't have to be with you, so you have to be confident and not let them get their way. Soon they will enjoy time with you. Treats are a big help like peices of banana or yogurt, although they might not trust you to eat with you at first. Patience is important. Even though my rat is now cuddly, sweet and runs to the bars to see me, she is still nervous when cornered and territorial in her cage. I can't clean the cage without taking her out first and she's still nervous to be picked up, but she doesn't squeak and run and calms down outside her cage. It just takes lots of time and work. You can't leave them alone because they'll never get used to you that way. :)
 

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A few things:
1. It takes 20-30 minutes for a rat's fear response to calm down, so sessions should be longer than this.
2. Please read some of the Immersion thread which is stickied at the top of this forum.
3. I have tamed all of my not cat/dog pets by taking them into the bathroom for sessions. This gives them room to run from you if they are frightened, but not so much room you have to chase them down to interact with them.
4. I recently dealt with a bitey rat that had been slated to be snake food and hadn't been handled for the first 4 months or so of his life. That experience is chronicled here: http://www.ratforum.com/showthread.php?267114-I-m-not-sure-I-can-do-this.
5. You know that your pets will be happier as part of your family. That you and they will be happier when they learn to play with your family. Right now, they don't know this. You may have to drag them to the fun and games kicking and screaming at first til they get the idea. I liken this to a time when I bought circus tickets for myself, my son, and his best friend: my son thought he was too grown up for a circus, so I dragged him there and he actually to his surprise had a good time.
6. Some rats are very "mouthy" they taste, test, or just lead with their mouths. Petey still mouths my fingers once or twice every time I have him out of the cage. He isn't biting. He is just touching me with his teeth. I was unable to break him of this, so I turned it into a game. He mouths my finger, I grab him and give him belly kisses. Now, when he mouths me I watch him either duck and look up to see what I am going to do about it, or try halfheartedly to run from me. At first he was drawing blood. When he bit hard enough to hurt or draw blood, I loudly said "NO" or bopped his nose. He no longer bites me hard.
7. Your rats don't know yet and it can sometimes take months to get them comfy with you, using immersion is much faster and it is a method I heartily recommend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
One of the problems we have with trying to get them out more often is that it takes us 30 minutes or more to get Golden out of the cage. She hates to be picked up so we try to get her to come out on her own with treats but she is so stubborn. It is hard for us to grab her out of her cage because the cage is wire so she grabs on tight and does't let go. How would you recommend getting her out of her cage so that the time we have to work with them is productive? We would like to get them out more often but when it takes 30+ minutes for one rat to come out of the cage, that doesn't leave us a lot of time after work/school/dinner/activities/homework and then bedtime to get them used to us. If we could get her out sooner and spend that 30+ minutes on trying to get her used to us, that would be so much better!

Thank you for your advice, I will read the immersion thread and the one about biting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Another question...When we have had the rats out in the bathroom, they like to try to chew on our clothes which we do NOT want them to do. How do you discourage the rats from chewing on your clothes while trying to do immersion with them?
 

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I have had a tough time getting some rats out of the cage, but not that tough. You really have to get them out to work with them, though. You might put some kind of hide in the cage (a tissue box??) if she were in a box, you could take the box out of the cage with her in it. Other than that, I really don't know cause I was always able to get them out even when it was tough. Of course it's a lot easier with a Critter Nation than most other cages.

Whenever they do something you want them not to do, tell them no and tap or bop them on the nose. Rats are intelligent and learn the meaning of "No".
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for your advice. I think we are going to start with the one who is much more willing to come out of the cage and maybe the other one will figure out that if she wants to get more attention, she has to be willing to come out of the cage.
 

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I have found a cool and fun way to get my rats out of the cage. I put in a paper towel roll and both my girls can't resist running into it. While they are in there, I pick it up and surprise, they are transported somewhere else! Now they see it as a fun way to get around.
 

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I have found a cool and fun way to get my rats out of the cage. I put in a paper towel roll and both my girls can't resist running into it. While they are in there, I pick it up and surprise, they are transported somewhere else! Now they see it as a fun way to get around.
I completly agree. tubes must be a rat magnet or something
 
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