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I have two boys I got a week ago. They're 8-9 months old and they've been in a rescue for their entire lives. The shelter people did their best to socialize them but it's clear that they're a little afraid of people. Thor is pretty good with everything that doesn't involve leaving the cage. He takes food from my hands and enjoys the occasional petting (only on his terms). Loki, the dominant one, however, is a lot more jumpy and barely tolerates me touching and petting him. He'll take food, but that's about it.
Anyway, what is the proper way to socialize my rats? Ideally, I want them to enjoy being carried and taken out of the cage. I've tried a couple times with Thor, who's the less dominant one, and all he does is squeak and wriggle and make a break for it. Then he runs away from me and we always end up playing cat and mouse (rat?) in the corner of my closet.
I don't want to traumatize them but at some point they've got to learn to come out of the cage.
Thank you for any input!
 

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Have you tried sitting with them in the bathtub? That's worked wonders for all the rats (and mice!) I've had. My previous boys had this issue too where they weren't fans of being bothered in the cage, they didn't like being petted or picked up, but if I managed to take them out they were fine and happy. You've only had them for a week, right? It takes much longer than that to trust-train rats if they weren't socialized at birth. Usually a couple weeks to a few months is normal, but I've known people who had rescues that never really came around. Just take it slow. You might have to push them to go outside their comfort zone a little bit, if you can take them out and put them in the tub with you (or just sit on the bathroom floor with the door shut) and spend a few hours with them every day. They'll get better eventually if you keep working at it.
 

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You do have to get them out of the cage, even if they don't like that part. Then you want to take them somewhere where they can run around a bit without getting away from you. The bathtub, the bathroom, a chair or a sofa are all good places for this. If you use a sofa or chair cover it with a blanket or something to prevent them getting inside it. Read a few pages of the immersion thread. You want to try to establish communication with them. It took me about 10 days to get my Petey to go from frightened biter to loving friend, so I am sure you can succeed with your boys.
 

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A start may be to sit outside the cage, with the door open, where the door sets on your lap. Since they are willing to take food from you, hold a favored treat just outside the cage, where they will have to come out to take it. Hold it futher away, so in effect they have to be on your lap to get it. Use a lot of verbal praise. They may end up running back inside to eat the treat, but soon they will realize what they need to do to get the prize
 
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