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Discussion Starter #1
My little Bijou is a 6 week old female, who is suffering from some extreme timidity. She's non-aggressive, let's me pick her up and stroke her ( though she doesn't like it much), but when I do she stays very, very still, and isn't the wiggly girl I'd expect her to be, even after long amounts of time.

I've been working with her for days and days using various training methods, but nothing seems to crack her shell. In her cage, she hangs out in her hammock 98% of the time, and I'm concerned that she isn't even coming down to eat or drink enough. I've caught her running and climbing with her sister (who behaves like I would expect for their age) during the remaining 2% of the time, so she doesn't seem particularly ill, but the difference in the two girl's activity level is so striking, that I have no idea what is going on with Bijou for the vast majority of the day.

She isn't very food motivated, so I can't lure her willingly. I've taken her from the cage and stroked her for a several minutes to over an hour, depending on what method I was trying, but she simply isn't interested in exploring, or even moving around. Her body doesn't feel tense when I'm petting her, so I am having a hard time understanding her needs.

She won't play at all, and forced socialization doesn't seem to be effective so far. The most I get is a sniff of the fingers in terms of interaction. This session I've been sitting with her in my hoodie, waiting for her to come out on her own. We've been here almost 5 hours now, and she hasn't had the courage to climb out of the hood once. I'm at a loss.

Any ideas folks?
 

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Rex, Penny, Sugar, Latte
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She might still feel frightened by the cat which would be understandable since from her perspective the predator's smell is everywhere and she can't run away or hide from it. You might want to eventually counter condition her to the cat's smell but first you should have her become confident again.

What kind of foods have you used to lure her?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
She might still feel frightened by the cat which would be understandable since from her perspective the predator's smell is everywhere and she can't run away or hide from it. You might want to eventually counter condition her to the cat's smell but first you should have her become confident again.

What kind of foods have you used to lure her?
So far I've tempted her with dried banana chips, vanilla or banana Gerber puffs, vanilla or chicken baby food, and Cheerios. (Because I am a new owner, please please correct me if any of these treats are ill advisable! Thanks much.)
 

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So far I've tempted her with dried banana chips, vanilla or banana Gerber puffs, vanilla or chicken baby food, and Cheerios. (Because I am a new owner, please please correct me if any of these treats are ill advisable! Thanks much.)
All those treats are safe :)

I don't think she's suffering from extreme timidity, she probably just needs to adjust.
How long have you had your rat? Some rats are just naturally more skittish than others. One way you can socialize her is by taking her to your bed and letting her go under the covers with you. The darkness and warmth is more natural to rats and helps calm them. You can also get a bonding pouch and just walk around, doing whatever you need to do, with her in there :)
It's also always nice to have some treats out, just in case she warms up a bit and will accept a treat. My rats like yobaby baby yogurt and watered-down peanut butter.
 

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If she's only 6 weeks old, you can't have had her very long.
Give her some more time. If you got her at 4 weeks, she's gone from being with others, to a different human; different cage; different routine .... & a cat. That's a lot of change for a critter who two weeks earlier was just being weaned (presumably) from its mother.
And yes, some rats are simply more timid. My Gigi is like that. I originally figured I could draw her out - but, she is who she is.
I have a very shy, timid girl with a very social, rambunctious girl. And they're both happy with it.

Good luck. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks! I appreciate the replies.

I have only had her for about a week and a half now, so I recognize that she's still very new to both me and her surroundings, and I will continue to work with her until she feels comfortable. I've been using a hoodie, worn backwards so that the hood is in the front, as a bonding pouch with her.

Her sister, Pashmina, even coming from the same litter, seems extremely well adjusted. She's eating and playing, and being a good girl, while Bijou just sits in her hammock, which is why I was so concerned about making sure Bijou was getting enough food and water.

I got some advice from another owner that said I should only spend maybe an hour a day trying to cuddle her, so that she has enough space to eat and drink when she feels ready, but this is the opposite of what I understand about immersion methods, so what would your opinion be on those two approaches with a girl who seems very sedentary like this?

I'm inclined to be more gentle with her, so as not to traumatize her in the process of trying to socialize.

Thanks!
 

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Rex, Penny, Sugar, Latte
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but this is the opposite of what I understand about immersion methods, so what would your opinion be on those two approaches with a girl who seems very sedentary like this?
I personally prefer giving the rats the choice to come to you and desensitizing them to what they are afraid of rather then flooding them, however I can see how this would be a challenge if she isn't food motivated. Have you tried plain yogurt?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I personally prefer giving the rats the choice to come to you and desensitizing them to what they are afraid of rather then flooding them, however I can see how this would be a challenge if she isn't food motivated. Have you tried plain yogurt?
Not yet, but I'll grab some from the market tomorrow and give it a go. :)
 
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