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Hello! I've got my very first pair of rats a few days ago, Chandler and Burrito and I'm concerned I'm not doing trust training properly, Burrito was eating out of my hand so I allowed him some floor time, Chandler was more nervous but I wanted them to get used to being on or near me and he relaxed to the point he was nearly on my lap but when it came to putting them away, they were terrified and never want to be picked up, I managed to get Chandler into their box but Burrito kept squeaking and running away when I tried to pick him up. I got him into the box but , when I put it up to the cage, he climbed out the other way and into my bedroom! I had to try picking him up by the tail which he wasnt best pleased about but I got him around the waist in the end and back in the cage. I'm worried they will have forgone all the progress we made but, having never owned rats before I couldn;t say. What do you guys think? Thanks for reading my rat saga!
 

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Best method to pick up rats is using the side scoop as it provides the most support to the animal. I do not think you have undone any progress with the rats. They will be terrified for a while but will eventually come around with gentle coaxing and lots of patience. Food is a good way to get into their hearts so I would use treats whenever possible (low sugar preferable) and no picking up by the tail unless its an emergency. It sometimes takes a while for a rat to understand you are not a threat, but a friend. You should be aiming to take them out of the cage and handle them daily, consistently.
 

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Plain cheerios work great as they are lower in sugars. We also use baby gerber puffs - the ones shaped like stars (in apple and banana). Rats aren't picky, anything will work. Even little bits of veggies would go down well.
 

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Can I add a question to this..? Also a new rat owner. Is trust training basically just.. letting the new ratties get used to you and be familiar with you? I have not done specific "trust training", but I've been pairing myself with good reinforcers (I practice ABA training in my workplace with kids so our terms are a bit different). Is this the same kind of thing? Letting them associate me with positive things (like yummy food) and then rewarding good behaviors? Ihave not been able to do floor time with them as they escaped twice and it was a ridiculous ordeal, and the second time I too, had to resort to grabbing their tails :( What do you think?
 

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Can I add a question to this..? Also a new rat owner. Is trust training basically just.. letting the new ratties get used to you and be familiar with you? I have not done specific "trust training", but I've been pairing myself with good reinforcers (I practice ABA training in my workplace with kids so our terms are a bit different). Is this the same kind of thing? Letting them associate me with positive things (like yummy food) and then rewarding good behaviors? Ihave not been able to do floor time with them as they escaped twice and it was a ridiculous ordeal, and the second time I too, had to resort to grabbing their tails :( What do you think?
Yes, it is the same sort of thing. Nobody is going to fault you for grabbing for their tails in an emergency but the general idea is that the rats should always be set up for success when trust training. This is why myself and others recommend starting trust training inside the cage or in a rat proofed area such as: on a bed, in a bathtub or on the bathroom floor. This leaves them little room to run in terror towards potential danger and makes you an object of interest once the fear subsides. Being associated with food is a must as is rewarding good behaviours with something delicious. Rats are very intelligent and highly food motivated. They respond well to clicker training so trust training with yummy goodies is a great idea. If you aren't quite comfortable with floor time yet, I would suggest investing or fashioning a bonding pouch out of a hooded sweatshirt and carrying the fearful rat around with you while you do chores or sit on a computer. Not every rat takes to a bonding pouch however since you can create one for free, it is worth a shot. The dark, enclosed space makes them feel comforted and they stay close to you - absorbing your smells and sounds in the environment. Yoghurt or baby food on a spoon is another great bonding thing you can do with newcomers.
 

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Hi, I've had my boys for 6 weeks now and Cheerios worked great for me. Every morning I put a handful in a bowl and throughout the day I stop by their cage several times take them out for a cuddle and give them a Cheerio. At first I used them as a bribe to trust me but now they've learned that they get an 'o for coming out of the cage and an 'o for going back in when recess is over. I also try to make sure every time I'm around them I acknowledge them and never just walk by. Always some cute talk, a good pet, or a treat. Usually all of the above. That way they seem to get used to being a family member. Now, when they hear me coming they wait at the cage door for loving. It's adorable.
 

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Thanks, this is super helpful. Now... when it comes to floor time, I dont think mine are ready, what are your thoughts? They are about 2 months old now, still somewhat skittish at weird noises but slowly getting more comfortable with me (they climb on me when we play but are still reluctant for me to just pick them up and hold). They love being in my hoodie for a few minutes at a time, but they both escaped once (on separate occasions) and trying to get them back again took hours!!! How would I know when they're ready to be let loose for a bit??
 
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