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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got two new rats from Lita today, and they're absolutely darling. They're very skittish, though, but that's not unexpected. They were only messing around in the top part of their cage, and refused to climb down the bird rope to the second part of the cage. I tried to lure them down with Cheerios, but they just leaned over to the point of almost falling to grab the cheerios, then climbed back up to eat them.

After like, fifteen cheerios worth of attempts, I gave up on that for the time being and decided to let them explore me a bit. I opened the top door of the cage and stood in front of it. My fingers were curled under me just because I'm used to anxious hamsters biting me and it's a natural pose for me in front of new rodents. They climbed all over my hands and forearms, sniffing me a lot. The brown one (yet to be named) actually GRABBED my fist and tried with all of his tiny might to flip it over. I flipped my hand over and wondered what he was doing. Then I realized- he was looking for cheerios!

How is that they jump practically whenever I move, but they're not too afraid to grab me to look for cheerios? How can I get them to explore the rest of their cage? Their water is on the top level, but I had to put their food on the bottom (they wouldn't move away from the door when we got home, I was afraid they'd jump out) so if they get hungry they'll have to go down and eat it.
 

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Spend some time getting to know your new rats, let the climb on you and play with them, knowing you are a friend and that you are around will give your rats more confidence to explore their cage.
 

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They probably are not really afraid of you. Most rats are skittish to unknown noises or unexpected movement. Once they get used to it they will settle down. They just need to learn your natural movements and the noises that you make. Some are more skittish than others as well. My Goose is our most nervous rat. If I even change my shampoo she is leary of me for a little while. The rest of them all come to investigate what the new smell is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I took them out into the bathroom early yesterday morning. One of them, which I've named Bruce, was very shy at first and just kind of sat on top of the travel cage (we have cats and I didn't want to risk a jumpy rat) and looked at me. The other one pretty much jumped on me immediately and walked around. Even when I'd accidentally make a loud noise, he'd run to me. Though I know if their travel cage was open he'd run to it.

Then he started exploring, so I picked up Bruce. Bruce ran to my shoulders, climbed in my hood and would not come out. He sniffed my ears and neck a bit, but other than that he just buried himself into the hood. They're both very curious and seem eager to investigate my hands, but not much else.
 

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Don't be afraid to engage them a bit, skritch, cuddle and play chase them a little, be like another rat and let them know you are interested in them too... Don't be overly aggressive, but rats aren't passive and they don't expect you to be either. Sure your rats are going to be a little scared now and then, but then they will learn you aren't going to hurt them... if you don't do anything they won't get scared, but they won't learn that you are friendly either.


best luck.
 
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