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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We got two male rats last October for my 6 year old daughter's birthday.

We gradually got them used to us, and now they're happy to be handled, and come out of their cage to explore the room usually twice a day for at least 30 minutes at a time.

Once out of the cage, one of them will come back to me if I shake the treat jar, and is happy to be picked up and put back in. The other however is not so easy. When it's time to go back in the cage he hides - under the cage usually, or behind a cupboard - and has so far given my partner one and me two nasty full depth bites trying to get him back in, the last of which was when I just waved my hand near him; I wasn't even thinking about trying to pick him up.

If we leave the cage open long enough they will both eventually go back of their own accord, but I don't especially want them running around in there unattended all day whilst everyone is at work and school. I don't think it's anything we've done, as we treat them both the same and the other one is lovely. They haven't bitten the children yet.

Any advice?
 

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Coffee, Bagel, Piper, Sprout, Sonya, And 2 new rats coming soon!
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Maybe try picking them up with a towel and squeaking when they bite?
 
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Hi Ben, you're back!!

I already replied to this, but will add because I can't help myself lol.

First, block off anywhere they can hide, because that's avoidance. And a hiding rat is a defensive rat, so having to go after them and drag them out never ends well (this from my own personal experience). Create an area that is more confined so you don't have to chase your difficult boy.

Second, try to train both of them to use a carrier or transport box. They're more confident when they're together. Use a special treat to reward when they come out of the carrier. It's also useful if you need to take them to the vet, or need full access to the cage for cleaning or rearranging. Trying to drag a fearful or reluctant rat out of his cozy hammock is stressful for both you and the rattie. Training them to come out on their own and hop in a carrier makes for a great experience! Again, this from my own experience.

Third, remember that rats are prey animals and always on guard. A big human hand coming down from above is similar to a hawk coming to make a meal out of them. Your boy will gain confidence and learn that being scooped up with both hands quickly, then set back down and rewarded with a treat is not such a bad thing. I start with picking them up while they are busy eating a treat, that way they are relaxed and don't see you coming.

Hope this helps! I've been fostering rats of all ages and situations, and learned soooo much. Even with constant positive experiences, sometimes mine think I'm going to eat them and act like fools for a day lol
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks!

Squeaking back at them in an "I don't like that" way when they bite at a glove or towel makes sense, though I might have to rely on artificial aids. Do you think a squeaky bath toy might have the right pitch?

The trouble with trying to use treats to coax him out is that the confident rat just eats them all...

Today we spent some time with them in the morning, and the confident one came out of the cage and had an explore and a cuddle, and the bitey one stayed in the cage and didn't want to come out and I fed him some treats and stroked him a bit in his nest. In the past I would have tried to extract him from the cage, but I think what I'm learning is that if I try and make him do something he doesn't want to he's only going to get stressed out. Better that he stay in the cage and be happy than be forced out of the cage and have to find some other place to hide miserably. He can come out in his own time.
 

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I find that squeaking at them doesn't do much, if the reason for the biting is not in curiosity or play. If it's on purpose then its probably defensive, so hurting you is the goal anyway.

Wet treats on a metal spoon works good. They don't like the feel of the metal in their mouths and won't bite. Don't give him treats he can run off with. Avoidance again, don't want to encourage it. You are now in a battle of wits. A rat who doesn't want to be told what to do, and a human who is trying to convince said rat that interaction is a good thing ;)

It takes time. Relish little victories, be prepared for set backs. Rats are more complicated than any dog or cat I've ever owned!!!
 
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