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Discussion Starter #1
I got a 3–3 1/2 week old baby rat from the pet store on may 4th and when I brought her into her new cage she climbed to the top of the bars, then she found the litter box with woods shavings and she stayed in the corner the whole day except to get water. When I petted her she didn't move for a long time like she was in a trance, then she started moving but then went back to the corner.

Yesterday morning when I checked on her she was still in the corner awake (I think she was sleeping and i woke her up ).

Later in the day I took her out to free roam in the bathroom. She didn't like being picked up though.
She roamed around the bathroom and sometimes took rice crispies I gave her. But she tried to run away when I tried to pick her up. Once I picked her up she tried to get out of my arms but eventually calmed down in my cupped palm and just stayed perfectly still occasionally looking up. I held her like that and petted her a bit for about 25 minutes and she was bruxing too, but she wouldn't take treats. Then when I went to put her down on the floor she freaked out because she didn't like being picked up by my hands I guess. Then she ran back into the corner.
Am I going about this wrong ? How do I make her not mind being picked up if she won't take treats when she's held ? She sometimes won't take them when she's on the floor or in her cage too.
 

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First of all, how adorable!

Girls are generally more active than boys..
However, maybe because she's so little if you have a recliner or love seat..
Set her on there and let her explore all over you.

That's how I bond with my little ones, I allow them to crawl all over me and I will pick them up from time to time, with treats.
 

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With very young rats, immersion can be done in an easy chair, you really don't need a large space, but it can help if they are already active to get on the ground with them... By four weeks old we already lost Fuzzy Rat outdoors for the first time, thankfully she came back on her own almost an hour later... She was already pretty quick and agile and beat me to the bushes, even though she was still small. You don't want your first bonding sessions to end with a chase scene under your furniture or by you having to disassemble your couch to recover her... so do think it through when you decide to work with your rat in an area she can escape into.

My daughter loves to drag her new rat pups around the house... and I suppose there's nothing unusual in our home about seeing her laying on the floor in front of the stove or fridge waiting for a rat pup to pop out... Half the time we don't have a clue where our free range rats are, and so far we've never lost one... but most people don't share our comfort level with rats free ranging on their own for hours or even days at a time...

Congrats on your new best furry friend and best luck.
 

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One strategy I employ is the use of my rat hoodie. I tuck my rats into it and let them climb around inside. This way I can move about the apartment and they go with me and become accustomed to me. It frees you up from being stuck in the can for half an hour. Very effective as your rats will get to know your scent and the sounds you make.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
First of all, how adorable!

Girls are generally more active than boys..
However, maybe because she's so little if you have a recliner or love seat..
Set her on there and let her explore all over you.

That's how I bond with my little ones, I allow them to crawl all over me and I will pick them up from time to time, with treats.
I don't think I should use a chair cause last time I did with my other shy rat she just kept trying to escape and I thought she might fall off.
 

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I don't think I should use a chair cause last time I did with my other shy rat she just kept trying to escape and I thought she might fall off.
There is something to be said about the mobility of the human. If you're on the floor with the rat, then you can head them off when they decide to skedaddle. If you are in a chair and the rat launches off you, then you need to take the time to get back on your feet, which gives the rat a head-start.

Depends on the rat, of course. I suspect that most rats would stay on you because you're safety, but I can envision a particularly nervous-about-humans rat choosing the great unknown of the floor instead.

My oldest rat is very cuddly, but she didn't start off that way. She stayed on us when cuddling because the couch was a scary place (now good luck getting her to not investigate the couch). Even the cage was uncertain for her. When she became more comfortable with her DCN, she preferred being in there. Twice she's leapt from my hands toward her cage (and missed once). Now she's happy being held but really wants to check out the world outside her cage. She normally won't go back into her cage until I shake the Cheerios container. She knows that she gets food back in the cage.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Should I just force her to let me hold her for about 15-30mins every day until she realizes nothing bad happens ? Or would that make it worse ?
 

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Should I just force her to let me hold her for about 15-30mins every day until she realizes nothing bad happens ? Or would that make it worse ?
I've read about the theory that rats can only hold fear for 20 minutes. After that, they forget what they were afraid of. And it's interesting; I think I can actually see a rat forget. I've held onto a shy rat (wrapped up in a small blanket to catch poop) for several minutes. The rat will struggle at first and then just sit rock still. After at least 10 minutes have passed, the rat suddenly looks around and makes an attempt to climb out of the blanket, but it's not the same freaked-out attempt to squirm out of the blanket. So it kind of works.

I don't know how effective it is. I try it sometimes with my shy rat, but she's not completely shy. That may be why I seem to make no progress with her. She's friendly enough to come lick my hands and take food off me. In a rare mood, she's willing to climb on our shoulder to explore. I think the fear-breaking might be more appropriate for really scared-y rats. Mine just doesn't like being out of her cage.

But we've held onto our other rats for long periods of time, and they're super friendly right now.

The immersion thread is interesting. If you're in a small area with the rat, then she has to interact with you at some point. You can have a couple of treats, but as Rat Daddy says, don't turn yourself into a vending machine. Let the rat crawl over you in the immersion space. You can cup your hands upward so she gets on your hands. My shy rat actually can do fine getting on people, but it has to be on her terms. If she initiates it, she'll hang out for a while. If I pick her up, she writhes and tries to get back to the cage ASAP. Sometimes a rat just doesn't have the personality that fits what you expect.

But your rat is only a month old. Plenty of time to learn that you're great. I got my rats at 5 weeks old. It took a few weeks to get them where they are now. Two of them are very loving. Even my shy one is loving in the way that she gives kisses…just from within the cage with all four paws solidly inside. But sometimes she'll use her front paws to grab my thumb and pull it inside the cage so she can lick it some more. It's very sweet; it's just not what I expected when getting rats (my oldest one easily fills that niche).
 

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Petey was offered to a snake that didn't eat him. I got him April 28. At that time he was a very skittish rattie somewhat older and bigger than yours.

Day 1 - Petey was in a tank and I sat on the toilet next to the tank. When he came to the side closer to me I very gently touched him. Perhaps once or twice every 5-10 minutes over 1 1/2 hours. Petey bit me twice and I was a bit afraid of him. Had a second session of 2 hours just like the first.
Day 2 - Got him out of the tank and sat on the floor of the bathroom with him. Again I petted him when he was close enough and if he ran and stayed in the corner, I would wait until the "freeze" relaxed and bend closer and stroke him. Spent 3 hours with him and put him in a single level cage.
Day 3 - Set the cage on the bathroom floor and took the top off. With him in the bottom of his cage, over about 3 hours I pet him when he was close or if he had stayed in the far corner for 5 minutes or more. He took a nap with me petting him. He woke for a while and when he settled down to go to sleep again I put the cage over him and put him back.
Day 4 - Petey in the bottom of the cage. Continued petting, he was running away a bit less and I was able to scritch him once.
Day 5 - Petey still in the bottom of the cage. Petey discovered that he could get under the fleece on the bottom of the cage and I petted and stroked him through the fleece. He was running away less and less. At this point Rat Daddy suggested getting him completely out of the cage. Up to this point I had avoided picking Petey up due to his early bites.
Day 6 - Took Petey out of his cage. He kicked but didn't bite. This time I was picking him up when he was close enough and trying to pet him in my lap. Things were going well until he decided he had to explore the part of the bathroom that was on my other side - where the toilet is. I thought I had the toiled fairly well blocked so he couldn't get behind it, but I still didn't want him over there. He managed to squirm away from me and get over there and much more quickly than I would have expected found his way behind the toilet. So several minutes of chasing elusive rat ensued.
Day 7 - I set up a wall using corrugated plastic to block off the area of the toilet. During our morning session all Petey wanted to do was get behind that wall. He seemed very frantic, and didn't calm down during the hour.
Day 8 - In the morning Petey crawled across my lap to get to the other side of me in the bathroom. Prior to this he got to the other side of my lap after I picked him up and he ran away from me in that direction, so I was thrilled when he willingly jumped on me to run to the other side. Then, that night he was being very busy, not holding still for long enough for me to pet him twice. He was running under my leg and humping his back to let me know I needed to lift it up and make room for him. I was sitting there wondering if I pick him up 150-200-1000 times and pet, cuddle, belly kiss and snuggle him, he will eventually come to the conclusion that being picked up isn't all that bad. Then I wondered, "What if he thinks pets, cuddles, belly kisses and snuggles are fates worse than death?". When suddenly he settled down on my lap and allowed me to pet him for about 5 minutes. Breakthrough!!
Day 9 (yesterday) - In the morning we had our first session in a chair. He generally stayed in my lap or on the chair til he saw a shelf he could reach. I let him sit on it for about 10 minutes before I took him back. In the evening we pretty much repeated the morning session.

We are not best buds, but each day he likes me more. I try not to stress him too much, but some stress does come with the territory. Don't force her to stay in your hands for long periods. Give her time to get over her stress each time you pick her up. Try to go somewhat at her pace, but don't let her stop progress. Every day will be better than the day before. Soon, neither of you will remember how scared she once was. Longer sessions are better than shorter ones. Try to make them at least an hour, and having 2 or more sessions a day is a good idea, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Interesting theory indeed. Her fear came back when I go to put her back down though, then she ran away. I will try again tonight with yogurt or something .
 

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I developed immersion and immersion theory after observing wild rats engaging my 6 year old daughter and working with the very brilliant Fuzzy Rat. For me it was a natural evolution or rather a pretty unnatural one coming from a background of behavior modification psychology. I knew it worked, but I first posted the method and later the theory to fix a few really screwed up and biting rats. I really have to admit that those first few people that tried it must have been pretty desperate to try something as radical and new as sitting down on the floor in a small space with an aggressive biting rat and engage it in order to build a bond through communication... But it worked when nothing else did and by popular demand, I finally got off my lazy arse and wrote the immersion thread outlining the practice and theory.

Yes, in part immersion or rather it's extreme variant is still likely the best if not only method with a high success rate for fixing really screwed up rats but my emphasis is more on socializing normal rats these days. To that end, I believe that bonding sessions should be playful and interactive... Yes, engagement is critical but you should use as little force as possible. Your rat needs to be able to run away from you in order to come back to you and this requires some running room... rats communicate with their feet. And moreover they understand your movements better than they understand your words.

As humans we tend to rely on words a lot, but if you think about it we are keen observers of behavior too. If I ask you to come with me and I'm offering you a candy bar, it might mean one thing and another thing entirely if I'm pointing a gun at your head. Words matter to us, but physical actions are critical to us understanding each other more clearly. With rats it's less about the words and more about what they see you do or not do and if the bonding session turns into a struggle to escape against a battle for control, there isn't a lot of meaningful communication happening. Thus the immersion area was born. Here your rat can tell you when she wants to explore and when she wants to engage you and you can be reassuring and comforting and maintain just enough control without overpowering a small animal. In short, your rat can talk with her feet and you can communicate with your body and hands as well as your voice.

Rats are very much like humans in their thinking. We either don't get it or we do, there isn't a lot in between. You either understand that 2+2=4 or you don't. If you've ever taught children math, you know what I mean. Your kid has no grasp of what you are talking about and then suddenly she does. Something just clicks into place, her brain makes the association and from there on addition just comes naturally. You see a stranger in the dark and you're afraid, when he comes closer you recognize he's an old friend and you instantly relax. Likewise in immersion, your rat either gets you or she doesn't. It's really frustrating to make that first connection, it feels like you aren't making any progress at all. One step forwards and two steps back... then everything suddenly changes. Your rat gets it and communication is born and a bond is established.

When I started out I didn't get it, but Fuzzy Rat kept engaging me... changing up her behavior and trying all kinds of different things until I finally realized that she wanted to have a real relationship with me. She wasn't just trying to snatch a treat, she wanted to play and to picked up and to be taken someplace or even go outside. Sometimes she would sit up and signal 'no' with her paws if she didn't want something. Over time she developed a very elaborate vocabulary, which included, yes, no, open the door, go that way, pick me up, put me down, my water bottle is empty, I want that and feed me. And she learned a lot of human words or phrases... like come, up on hand, shoulder rat, treat, and there's food in your cage. It took a long time for her to get 'stay', but she eventually even got that. Our rat Cloud responds to hand signals, more than verbal commands. Which is rather funny when we're outdoors and I recall her by hand gestures. She also understand when I point to someplace and tell her there's food or something she might want there. In my case, I'm the one who didn't get it first, but once I did everything fell into place for me and I'll bet it was frustrating for Fuzzy Rat. Most of the time now, it's the other way around now and we are reaching out to our rats and waiting for them to get us. And sometimes it's a little frustrating, but we change up our tactics, and try some different things and we keep engaging and then all of a sudden your rat gets it and you have a breakthrough. From there on, it's like teaching a child to add one number builds on the next.

Young girl rats love to explore and they have short attention spans. They have high energy levels and can be very active, sometimes it looks like they would split apart and go three different ways at the same time, but they are really very bright. When I woke Fuzzy Rat up to go outside and asked her to come, come was the last thing she did, literally... First she would stretch, then she would drink some water, then she would go potty, then she would eat breakfast and then she would preen for a few minutes... the process took about 10 minutes then she would pop up out of her cage and be ready to go outside. It took a bit of patience to understand her process, because with a dog, you call it to come and it comes on command, but with Fuzzy rat everything was a matter of ritual and process and no matter how much of a hurry I was in she wasn't going to rush for anyone. She had to do things in her way in correct order for her... And all rats have a similar OCD like behavior pattern which you will learn over time.

So don't worry, you are doing fine, try to get yourself a little running room and try to understand your new rat's thinking processes while she gets to know yours. Interact with your hands and body and observe how she communicates with hers, try to give her some time and space to respond to you and try to reply to her response appropriately... don't worry about being a little confused at first, that's normal, imagine how confusing you are to her. And don't be discouraged, learning isn't a gradual process with regularly scheduled mile markers, it's a light bulb event.... it's lights out until it's lights on.

Relax an enjoy the process, you are building a very special relationship that will last for the rest of your new furry friends entire life... the real adventure is about to begin. When you look back, you will remember this as a wonderful time, making a new best friend.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I developed immersion and immersion theory after observing wild rats engaging my 6 year old daughter and working with the very brilliant Fuzzy Rat. For me it was a natural evolution or rather a pretty unnatural one coming from a background of behavior modification psychology. I knew it worked, but I first posted the method and later the theory to fix a few really screwed up and biting rats. I really have to admit that those first few people that tried it must have been pretty desperate to try something as radical and new as sitting down on the floor in a small space with an aggressive biting rat and engage it in order to build a bond through communication... But it worked when nothing else did and by popular demand, I finally got off my lazy arse and wrote the immersion thread outlining the practice and theory.

Yes, in part immersion or rather it's extreme variant is still likely the best if not only method with a high success rate for fixing really screwed up rats but my emphasis is more on socializing normal rats these days. To that end, I believe that bonding sessions should be playful and interactive... Yes, engagement is critical but you should use as little force as possible.
Thank you for replying :)
What do you mean exactly by engagement ? Petting the rat when it comes near you ? Picking it up ? Giving treats ?
 

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Engagement varies from rat to rat, from human to human and from situation to situation. If you are dealing with a friendly inquisitive rat it can certainly include petting and picking up, if you are dealing with an aggressive and biting rat it might be more like martial arts self defense tactics and with a terrified and fearful rat, it might be very softly tempting it with goodies or trying to establish any kind of gentle physical contact while coaxing it with the softest whisper you can muster.

I suppose it's easiest to explain in the negative... if you do nothing and your rat does nothing, nothing happens. So every morning you ride up to your office in the same elevator with a very pleasant looking person, you never speak, and they never speak and after a few years you are still perfect strangers... but then the elevator gets stuck and you wind up talking, you find out you are both afraid of dying in an elevator accident and perhaps you even have other things in common... After that you say hi every morning, ask how the other person is doing and eventually do lunch and dinner and in no time you are friends. Engagement is the equivalent of saying hello, breaking the ice, getting noticed or offering your friendship. No two immersions are exactly alike. When writing a relatively comprehensive thread... kind of a one size fits all theory I had to leave some things just a little bit vague. Remember at the time I started the thread the big problem people were having was with fixing screwed up biting rats and establishing the proper social order was critical for them. With a fearful or even a normal rat, being large and in charge isn't the priority, basically your priority is just play and having fun together.

In retrospect, perhaps I should have split up immersion into multiple threads for different types of rats, but in my mind it was one theory, based on communication that adapted itself to different situations. As the reader, you sort of pick and choose what applies to you and modify your approach to fit your own personality, situation and rat. One person did an immersion spin off that included bonding her new rat to her old dog at the same time as she introduced herself... I really never would have considered that possibility an likely would have advised against it... but with her particular personality and her particular dog and one particular rat it worked a treat. I do immersion with my daughter, she's more playful and I'm more laid back so the rat chases around with her and chills on me, some folks do multiple rats at a time... and there are some immersion spin offs that get even more unusual. But if the person gets the theory of communication, long sessions and engage, respond and reply things pretty much always work out in the end.

If you do nothing, nothing will happen, that's pretty much for sure, other than that, if you keep your goals in mind almost everything else you do will help you make progress. Just use your best judgment and common sense, pretend you are on a first date or meeting a new puppy or making a new friend and adapt to what's happening. After you've done a few immersions and you know what to expect, it becomes natural and you will be surprised how fast the process can get for you and your new rats, but the first time through it can feel a little awkward, just a little bit silly and slightly frustrating until your rat gets you. There's nothing to worry about, everybody's had a first time. If your rat isn't responding, just tweak your approach until she starts to respond.

Remember a new rat that just came from a rat farm, for example, doesn't know what a human is, that she can communicate with you, that you can understand her or that you are even alive... and you certainly don't look or smell like another rat... it's going to take just a little bit of convincing to get over those hurdles. I never figured out whether Fuzzy Rat thought she was human or if she thought we were all rats, I've pondered the point many times, but one thing is certain she interacted with us exactly the same way she did her rat roommates. And to be honest she actually seemed to understand us better and was better understood by us than her rat friends... to the degree that, sometimes with her last roommate Amelia, it looked like Fuzzy Rat had a pet rat of her own... and at some point, I have to admit, we thought of her as a family member too.

Rats are metacognative, their brains function very much like ours, although we don't a whole lot alike, on an emotional level and to some degree on an intellectual level we have a real basis to bond... something like a windows tablet docking to a windows PC. The machines may have different capabilities and functions, but overall they are compatible. If it helps and your a tech person, think of the challenges you face getting two computers to talk to each other for the first time. Once you get the protocols and IP addresses configured and passwords established the rest is a piece of cake.

Again best luck
 

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Depends on the rat, of course. I suspect that most rats would stay on you because you're safety, but I can envision a particularly nervous-about-humans rat choosing the great unknown of the floor instead.
x) It certainly does depend on the rat. Lool.
I got lucky and have 8 extremely lazy/needy men.

When I first got Gandalf he decided to crawl off my recliner and wander around.
I picked him up and said NO. Don't do that. Never did he wander again.

I'm surprised how I got so lucky... I know Boys are naturally lazier than females, but even the little ones have followed the older boys' lead.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So I did another immersion session ( or attempt) and she mostly wanted to hide in a corner the whole time and moved away when I tried to pet her. She took rice krispies from me once. Then she started sleeping in a corner and didn't move if I petted her. Any suggestions ?
 

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All I can say is take it one day at a time. Each day, each session will be better than the day before. How long was your session? Longer than an hour is good, several hours is better.
 

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Yup, move towards the corner and try to scoop her into your lap when she starts snooaing... gently.

But your on the right track.
 
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