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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
If you have a rat who is too afraid of you to even take a treat from your hand, I have a way to help them.



The secret? Coconut oil.

It doesn't have to be "organic" (...think: there are no GMO coconuts [and GMO is good for the planet and its inhavitents, but we won't debate that now,] and coconuts can't have those "pesticides" people think are bad on the inside of the nut) so for a few dollars you can get generic brand general coconut oil.

Smear some on your hands: if it is solid at first, scoop some up and it will melt in your hands. Rub it around your hands like a lotion. After your hands are covered, towel off the extras lightly. The more afraid your rat is, the more you leave on.

This will block your scents and smell inviting to your rat. For those even more afraid (such as those who freeze like a rock in a corner,) they may even lick at your fingers. Even the most fearful rat will lick a glob off of your hands.

Continue this :)

After a few times with just oil to lick off your fingers, offer them a treat with your oiled hands.


With in no time, I have been able to get rats to take treats from me without oil -- just by this positive reinforcement first with the yummy oil, then oil + treats, and then... without threats after the behavior is established.


Coconut oil can also be "petted" onto new rats to help introduce them: the welcoming treat in their fur will mask their stranger scent and give rats a reason to lick the new rat (which helps with bonding. :) ) Of course: a clean, new environment is always best for introducing rats... but I thought this was worth mentioning.



Admins: Please move this thread to the behavior section to help others. I am new to the forum, but I'm a rat-lover. I only joined to share my findings in this :)
 

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Be careful with this, a nervous rat or one unused to humans may well bite first and sniff later if something smells tasty. The same goes for putting it onto rats in an introduction, it can also drive the wrong behaviours and instigate fights if one rat objects to being forceably cleaned of its tasty decoration.

Also ingesting too much oil in one sitting can cause diahorria. WHilst coconut oil is useful in its own right and good for the skin and fur, too much isn't good
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
This was never meant to help with aggressive rats - just scardy rats. Rats who run and freeze even when you go to pet them. Ones who will stay frozen even when you hand them a treat. The rats this trick is to help are those who just freeze still no matter what is going on around them.

Aggressive rats: those who bite with intent to draw blood from fear and or defending themselves. They're not afraid in the sense I mean with this topic. :rolleyes:

As for how much coconut oil to use: it only takes one finger dipped into it. If it is solid, scrape a bit up with one finger nail. I didn't specify the amount before, simply saying "scoop some up" but of course rats don't need a whole handful. They're tiny and cute. It should be about one eighth of a teaspoon: this you can smear over your hands. And again, after toweling off most of it, you will have less of it on your hands than most lotions. It will barely be noticeable to yourself if you towel your hands for more than three seconds, but one second worth will remove most of the residue leaving just a mask on your hands that will help scardy rats not notice your "scary" unfamiliar human scents.

This thin layer is safe to pet onto rats for introductions: and while it isn't enough to introduce them with just that in a previous rat's cage, with other measures mentioned in my previous post that can be researched more on this forum, it is an added help to rats who need a bit more: especially when introducing two adult males together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
There are plenty of "scardy/shy/afraid all the time/poops itself afraid when I even walk by/too afraid to eat food/screams in fright at me putting food in the cage/runs and hides and freezes in fear at anything/freezes still and poops itself when offered treats" rat posts on this forum who this trick could help.
 
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