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It's me again... And still not making any progress with my boys. I get them out for free range time nearly every day and try to do immersion and the like. They will climb all over me when I'm sat still but as soon as I move they freak and run. They sometimes take treats from me. They also flinch when I go to stroke them as if they're not very happy about it. I've had them for not far off 2 months now and I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere with them. :(

I'm currently sat with them now in the bathroom hoping for an improvement so any advice asap would be appreciated. Thanks x
 

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I don't know how others do this, but when I got my new babies, I kinda did a petting overload. I would hold them, stroke behind their ears, down their back... I get the feeling that rats have to get used to human contact. I play in a safe spot (away from my curious cat, lol) and make sure that they know that they are safe with me. When they get scared and run to me to hide (usually behind my hair), I talk to them, use their names, let them know it's okay, and then slowly coax them back out into the open. With Remy it's worked great, Templeton is half way there, and Vincent is slowly coming around. I know it takes a long time, but the more hours a day you can spend doing this, the better. They will get used to your scent and your voice. Keep in mind, rats are highly intelligent. The more they interact with you and nothing bad happens, the more they will understand that playtime is a good thing.

I just started giving the boys baby cereal treats every morning when I go to their cage. Now when they hear me get up and I say good morning, I have three happy boys anxious for me to open the cage, cause they get rewarded for telling me good morning. Little baby steps like this will start to have your rats associate you with all good things. Hope that helps...
 

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Take it slow, it's not a race. :) Be consistent. Once they are comfy in the bathroom and they start looking around and showing signs of being good in that environment add something. Like get up and brush your teeth. (I use that cause that is what I'm doing with my babies) They get used to me moving and the water running. Then I sit back down and offer a treat. Once this becomes an ok experience, just keep adding to it. Bring something new into the bathroom-a stuffed animal-a plastic box-something they haven't seen and set it down near where they are. I do things like this and I just don't add till everyone is cool with the new thing. Same with the cage-leave something familiar they love-but when you clean it add new things each time. Keep a handful of small toys and chews so you can add one a day in between. I'm off the opinion, that rats that become accustomed to new things regularly become a lot more brave, curious and adaptable to change.

Have a routine check up that you do daily. Where you pick each one up and look into their ears, do a once over for lumps and bumps, ect. I am never hesitant about this. I'm pretty matter of fact about picking everyone up individually doing their check up and putting them back into the cage. I don't show any signs that this is something to be worried about. I want everyone to know this is going to happen daily, it's nothing to worry about, and it's just a good habit for me as well so we know everyone is doing well.

Some rats are nervous when you come at them from above to pet them. With their relatively poor eyesight it may seem like a predator is swooping down for them. Scooping from below can be more reassuring.

Lastly, while you are sitting in there with em, read through the immersion thread if you haven't already. There is a lot of good information and there are many folks like yourself that have asked questions that were answered very in depth there.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I do pick them up and try to stroke them but they wriggle free. I just want them to know that I'm not going to hurt them! They're both sat having a preening session in the corner. Then when they finished they're back to exploring me again.

They both brux like mad during free range and I can't tell if it's out of happiness or if they're scared.
 

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Just like Mimsy said it's not a race. I was anxious like that too. I used to think: Well I've had you guys for a month, why are you so scared? It took time for them to feel comfortable and safe outside the cage. It also took lots of petting and hand feeding to get them to trust me. And I noticed that it helps of you smell the same when you handle rats. I washed hands each time I played with them, and each time with the same soap. When I used a different soap, they seemed hesitant to approach me.
Keep us updated. I'm sure with time your babies will get more courageous.
 

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It took me a good few months to feel like I really had a proper relationship with my boys. They are almost 6 months now.

One in particular hated being touched, and would flinch and run away. The other two had got more confident with time but he needed a little more work. I just kept cuddling him, giving him treats, and loving on him whether he liked it or not.
Teaching him a few tricks really helped bond us and give him confidence too. Now he jumps on my lap for attention and lets me give him ratty massages when he is snoozing in his cage - even boggles his eyes at me. It just took time, consistency, confident handling and a lot of petting and holding. If they won't sit still for pets, give them quick head scratches and rubs while they are walking about and build it up to longer rubs. My boys still won't sit for long to be petted unless they are all sleepy.

Hang in there!
 

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Don't be afraid to force yourself on them. Pick them up, hold them and pet them even if they try to get away the whole time. The more you can show them you're not going to hurt them the more comfortable they're going to get with you. I have one, Tempy, who has been terrified of us from day one. So much so that when we first got him he'd just freeze whenever we came near the cage or tried to pet him and when we picked him up he'd poop all over and struggle endlessly to get away. These days (4 months) he's still not the most friendly rat but he's no longer afraid of me. He'll jump up in my lap and snuggle with my hand when I pet him. But he's still not a fan of being picked up but he's 10x better then where he started. I also have two younger ones that were a bit skittish when we got them and now they jump up on me and let me pet them and even groom my hands, and I've only had them a month. It's all about putting in the time and really making them understand that you're not a threat to them.
 
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