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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We adopted Olallie along with a cagemate in December. She has always been very skittish and a little nippy. She's a lot better now and much more friendly, but still very very nervous. She nips only when she's "hiding" and I put my hand in. Like if she's in a box, or under a blanket or in a hammock. I don't want her to feel invaded, so I don't just stick my hand in to antagonize her, but I will hold my hand outside and talk to her and let her come to me from her hiding place. Many times when she comes out of her hiding to check out my hand, she'll then firmly nip me in a way that I know she's telling me to go away.

As the "boss rat" I'm thinking I shouldn't allow this kind of behavior. When possible, like a few minutes ago, when I'm nipped I will grab her and hold her on her back. She of course squeaks and squeals and struggles unhappily, but I keep her on her back and quickly scratch into her fur with my finger around her chest/face/neck area to mimic how other rats will dominantly power groom each other by nibbling. She isn't allowed to leave until I let her up, and I try to keep her down for at least 30 seconds. After I let her go, I left for a couple minutes and then came back and gave her a treat to try to let her know I don't hate her and I was just trying to teach her a lesson, but she is still a member of the rat family and appreciated. She likes to be talked to, so I talked to her a little bit and told her she was a good girl but just a little sassy. She always comes over to me when I talk to her and she sniffed at my hand without any nips.

She isn't aggressive at all, just fearful. When she's out in the open and comes to me, she does occasionally give tiny exploration nibbles, and I squeak at her as if it hurts. She will still nibble, but every time I squeak, she goes softer and softer with her pressure, so I think she is smart and capable of learning quickly.

I don't think immersion is needed because she comes to me easily and isn't too afraid. Just very skittish. She comes to me whenever I talk to her and takes treats easily from my hand. She tenses when I pet her, but she doesn't run off terrified when I reach my hand out.

Is what I'm doing something that can be translated into rat language for her to understand? Or am I just confusing her and being a bully?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Does anyone think what I'm doing is a good process? It doesn't happen too often, but I'd like to make sure I'm at least not doing it totally wrong and damaging our relationship.
 
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