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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is my issue with my two rats: Gandalf, the older one, had become quite sociable. He did not enjoy getting away from his cage that much, but he would gladly get on my arm and let me walk him around the apartment if I gave him food. At first he'd always want to go eat his food back in the cage, which I let him do. But the more time past, he would eat more and more on me. At a time he would even eat a whole food block on my arm without even trying to get back to his cage with it. I only needed to show him my arm and he would get right on it, not even the need to lure him with food.

As for Dumbo, the younger one, we've come to understand he doesn't have such a good sight. He either blind or partially blind. So naturally, we never got him to get on our arms because he feels to vulnerable with poor view. But still, after a few weeks he got enough confidence to go down his cage onto the desk which the cage stands on and walk around.

But since a few days, Gandalf will not get on our arms even if we lure him with food. The rare times we managed to get him on us (mostly by scooping him off the desk when he got down the cage) he would through away any food we gave him, from blocks to fruits and even his favorite treat: dried yogurt. He's not afraid of us, he still eats from our hands as long as he has two paws locked onto his cage door but will never let us grab him.

As for Dumbo, well he's still not afraid of us (he never was in fact, what he's afraid of is getting out of the cage), but he stopped getting down the cage into the desk. Even if we try luring him with food, he won't get off his cage anymore.

It's like we went backwards, we were really starting to get excited about the rats getting better and better with socialization, but it seems like all we did was in vain since they seem to have lost most of the progress they had made in the past weeks since we got them. Does anymore have an idea why they're doing this? Or even some tips to give us that might help?
 

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I have a daughter, she was 5 years old when she got her first rat and that animal didn't ever see it's cage, from only 3 weeks old it was dragged around like a rag doll. Now you might think that would be traumatic, but rather it was the exact opposite. My daughter's hands on, play like a maniac approach really makes the rats love her and bond with her and chase her around the house.

Her first rat turned out to be part wild and went native and lived outdoors for 5 months on her own.... talk about a super competent and confident rat, she chased the stray cats out of our yard. Her second rat was Fuzzy Rat...

Who liked to hang out in tree tops...

Tree Jungle Plant Branch Wildlife

Swim at the beach and introduce herself to strangers...
Water Fun Beach Play Summer


Explore on her own...



And even at over 2 years old, overgrown in tumors... hang out in the grass on a warm spring day....
Grass Green Lawn Pasture Grassland


Sometimes, you have to encourage or lead your rats to be a little more outgoing and adventurous.

And by the way... Fuzzy Rat was a very special rat. She was highly trained and competent and had a gift for staying out of trouble and not getting killed. Sh was the finest true shoulder rat we ever worked with... for the most part if you let your rats explore outdoors on their own very bad things can and will happen to them.

I'm not suggesting that anyone try the things we do with our rats at home, but that a little bit of leadership and encouragement goes a long way to making their rats more confident and competent... it's a matter of stretching their comfort zone and leading them...

Best luck.
 

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I take my more shy fellas out of the cage gently and just hold them for half an hour at a time, petting and playing, letting them have food if they want to. They all eventually warmed up to me personally, (with one exception, and we found out he had a brain tumor that made him aggressive) and then became braver with coming to me or getting out of the cage on their own when they saw me coming, since they knew I was "safe" territory.
 

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I also let them be handled by lots of kids during a day, since they're class pets. Boy, did THAT socialize them fast. Kids attentiveness lets them bond very quickly with rats. In fact, the pic in the profile is one of mine being held by a student.

Have any responsible youngsters who would like to spend an afternoon with a fuzzy critter?
 

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Mojojuju...

Kids and rats are magical together... there's something playful about kids rats just instinctively get. And there's something about rats kids can relate to best...

I know I tell folks to be playful when socializing their rats, but it's just harder with adults somehow. You might notice with a beach full of adults Fuzzy Rat is introducing herself to a little girl... In fact that was common, she liked kids, especially little girls best.


I
 

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There is something amazing about them, isn't there? And the wonderful thing about kids and rats is that the kids teach their parents to see rats with new eyes. I have had so many ratty converts in my school from ambassadors Jack, Moose, and Silas (RIP).
 

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I hope to someday bring my boys in to check out my fourth-graders (and vice-versa!) :)

I guess I just want to make sure they're comfortable around me first? Perhaps that's the wrong mentality to have?
 

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I kinda agree in a way with rat daddy. When I first got my rats, I didn't know about immersion or trust training. It was like a kid with a puppy, they didn't really get to settle, heck my most recent one went from a pet store, on a long drive (couple hours) in my lap, into a hotel in a hamster cage while i went to a concert, and then to my big cage at the house within the first 24 of owning her She is now my sweetest but thats also partly persona. I haven't tried letting my rats just get to know their environment much, and 4/5 are snugglers, 1/5 has mental issues and hates leaving her cage so I pardon her.

IMO/IME the best way to get them comfortable is make them comfortable, and not really give them a choice. Mine knew me just as well as their cage within their first week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks guys! It's been going better now! Gandalf is back to his normal behaviour, he gets on me with no hesitation. I rarely force them to get on me because everytime I do I feel them become all stressed out. In the beginning they often started pooping everywhere when I did. Now they're getting better though.

As for Dumbo, well he left his cage up onto my girlfriend's arm by himself for the first time yesterday, and then he couldn't stop running from her hand up to her shoulder to grab the food I held. We were pretty happy about it!

Although I'm gonna consider what I've read in here and try to force them onto me a little more and for longer periods of time. I had read somewhere the idea of building them a mansion with carton boxes with some sort of playground for them to go around when we take them out to play. We liked the idea and we're gonna get to it soon.

What's the best way at first to not let them freak out when you take them out? I know they're not afraid of me or my girlfriend at all, they just feel vulnerable outside they're cage.
 

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What's the best way at first to not let them freak out when you take them out? I know they're not afraid of me or my girlfriend at all, they just feel vulnerable outside they're cage.
They seem less afraid when allowed to move on their own. When I hold a nervous rat, she is limited in her movement. She can climb on my shoulder and look around, but she's effectively trapped. Even when I create a little pocket with my hands, it's just not comforting enough. On the other hand, when I take the nervous rat to the bathroom and let her wander, she seems to feel better. She goes into investigative mode and seeks out possible cover.

So allow for some sort of cover so a rat can hide a little bit. They don't seem too fond to wide-open spaces that they're not familiar with. I don't think they need a deep cave. I'll take a cardboard box and cut off the front and bottom so it looks like a carport. That way it's easy to get at the rat if need be, but rats will hopefully seek refuge there shortly and then come explore you and your room.
 

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To be very clear.... having trained 3 true shoulder rats and having worked with others that didn't make the grade, I can tell you that rats naturally don't like wide open spaces.

To an extent it depends on their vision. Fuzzy Rat could recognize individuals from over 50 feet away and she was pretty comfortable outdoors in open spaces, rats I've worked with, with worse eyesight won't come out of cover to save their lives.

Getting comfortable in open spaces is a prerequisite for a true shoulder rat, most rats can't handle it. Max was as skilled as Fuzzy Rat but preferred to stay under cover or in small trees. One day she found a birds nest in a small juniper tree... a little boy came by and asked what a rat was doing in a bird's net... Naturally, I explained that she was hatching her eggs.. (I couldn't resist)

And one fine day some biology teacher will hear..."NO teacher I actually once saw a rat in a tree sitting on her eggs."
 

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One of my rats follows you around outside, as long as you don't get too far away and she can see/follow your foot. If you are farther away than a place she thinks she can hide (like a wheelbarrow) though, its a 50/50 shot as to what she'll do. I'd love to have a shoulder rat but right now, none of mine would make it.
 

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Vegn,

You can work with a rat that will take cover if left alone... Working with Max and Cloud outdoors, Max would often sneak off and make a run for the car, so I sometimes had to leave Cloud behind and pursue Max... Cloud just sauntered into the nearest big dark place she could find, hung out there and came out when called. Unlike Fuzzy Rat who would have used the opportunity to go exploring, or followed us Cloud just stayed put and waited for us to come back.

No two TSR's are created equal, but they are predictable. When Max got older she went to the car or the house, she didn't get lost and if we couldn't find her, all we had to do was wait at the house door or open the hood of the car.... Fuzzy Rat always came back to the precise place she took off from, or went to the car or the house door if she knew where they were. So far Cloud just parks herself somewhere safe and waits. Each behavior is perfectly manageable.

Rats that washed out of the program panic, run off and hide and won't come back out on their own... They are unpredictable and therefore will get lost or killed. They need to be washed out of the program at the safe site, for their own safety. With experience, you can work around several limitations certain rats have, but you can't overcome panic... Once you know your rat panics and acts irrationally when stressed, you still have a perfectly wonderful indoor rat, but the great outdoors is pretty much off limits.

Which brings me to the safe site... This is a very safe place you use to train your rats outdoors. This is where you want to learn what your rat can and can't handle and a place for you to learn how to manage your rats without getting them lost or killed... It's often disappointing when you find out your rat can't make the grade, but at least you didn't lose her. And by the way too clingy at the safe site is not a great sign either... your rat should want to explore a little and come back which shows she's relaxed and confident.

The following photo is Max passing her final true shoulder rat test...


Sky Tree Wilderness Cloud Sunlight

Yes it's a fireworks show, at night at a fair surrounded by hundreds of people... If a rat can keep it together and not panic when the fireworks are going off overhead, she won't panic in PetSmart.

Fuzzy Rat loved fireworks, she would snuggle into my arms and look up at the light show, the bombs didn't bother her at all.... Max got tweeky, and stressed after about 10 minutes, but didn't lose self control and Cloud cheated by diving under my jacket when it got too loud, but she didn't panic... This is a super hard test for a rat to pass and only after they pass safe site training and basic and advanced public situations... but you have to know you can trust your rat before you can relax for even a moment.

And by the way there are lots of rats that can do very well at the proper safe site, that can't become true shoulder rats... so there's plenty of safe outdoor fun to be hand with lots of rats if you find the right safe site. As long as you know you can't go any farther, they will be fine.

Tree Land lot Woody plant Property White pine

This was Fuzzy Rat's last visit to the safe site, she was nearly 50% tumors... Notice she's on the ground dragging herself around and coming to us... Amelia on the other hand is hiding in the tree. Open spaces terrified her and she was prone to panic when she hit the ground. She eventually did walk around on the ground at the safe site, but never went more than a few feet from cover.

Tree Branch Woody plant Plant Trunk Grass Green Lawn Pasture Grassland

Best Luck
 
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