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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-24-2004, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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HELP!! Looking for support and advice

Hi again... I'm sorta feeling a bit insecure with myrat tactics and I would love to have your advice.

My two new little ratties seem to be addapting well to their new enviroment. The one that I was worried about because he seemed lethargic now seems totally alert. They are both eating and drinking very well.

**(Pleas keep in mind that these rats where being sold as food. There are NO breeders where I live)

I'm concerned about the trust issue. It's gotten slighly better in the past two days, but they still get very scared when I put my hand inside the cage (to place food or what not). Often I will just let my hand rest inside the cage so they can smell me. I am allowed to pet them and they no longer run and hide when I sit in front of the cage and talk to them.

Now I read (somewhere on the internet) that one good way of dealing with trust is to never put my hands in the cage and to bribe (with treats) their way out of the cage and onto my hands. So far, that has not even caught their attention. Most of they time they will smell the treat in the air, get curious... but then they will just fall right asleep in a corner. I can sit with my hands holding a treat in front of the cage door for 20 minutes and for 20 minutes they will sorta smell arround, get curious and then give up. I think they are to scared.

The problem with this is that I need to put my hand in the cage to place the food bowl and not to mention maintaining the cage clean. The web page also suggested never picking up rats from above (specially pet shop rats), since they have bad asociations with this. But trying to scoop them from underneath is no easy task, specially if they are scared. So how am I supposed to clean the cage??? So far I've just resorted to pulling the dirty rags from the cage door.. cleaning up as much as I can and then placing the new rags inside. The ratties will be allert and get scared.

I've managed to get them unto my hands a couple of times... one of them seems to have found a bit more trust after this... but the other one I question if it really had any positive effects.

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO? How do I gain trust with this little creatures???

HEEEEEEEELP!!!

p.s. just for info purposes.

Food: During the day I'm feeding them a mixture of puffed milled, raw oats, raw wheat, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and raw tri-colored pasta. During the night I'm giving them a mixture of lettuce, cucumber, radishes, red bell peppers, and a bit of flax seed oil. As treets I'm using organic dehidrated fruits such as papaya, raisins, cranberries, pineapple, and oranges. Also fresh apples, coconut "meat" and bannanas (since I can't find any dehidrated bannanas). I also mix a bit of the coconut water to their regular drinking water. I figure this is an ok diet until I find new things to add and change so they don't get bored.

bedding: I'm using old cut up pieces of white t-shirts. They seem to like it very much and (so far) it's been easy to maintain, clean and switch arround for clean rags.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-24-2004, 02:54 PM
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i havent heard of the hand thing before! thats how i always used to handtame my birds and rodents! its supposed to get them used to your smell and your hand i think....... its way easier to tame them like that, no offence but i think that website was wrong! i have never had a rat before but i have had tons of rodents and birdies and the first thing i do once they are used to their cage is take out the food bowl and put my hand with (food in it ) in the cage for about 5 mins at least once a day to let them know that i am the one feeding them and that im not gonna hurt nobody! they usually get the message within a week or so..... try this^

well good luck......... hope i could help


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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-24-2004, 03:37 PM
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Have they had the treats before? How about leaving one or two of those tasty treats in their food bowl, so they get a liking to them, and then try to bribe them with them. Maybe they have never eaten those yummy things before and think that the risk is not worth it. Also, use a smellier treat. Rats, like us, are omnivorous, so they can it about everything we eat (as long as it's healthy). Maybe a small piece of ham or chicken can help (try not to give them in huge quantities, as they are high in fat, but as an occational treat they are OK). You can also add to the diet dog bisquits and dog food... There is a good rat diet around... LittleSouthPaw can give you the webpage, as I don't have it in my favorites (I should put it..).
Good luck with the little guys. Rats aer very intelligent, and I'm sure they'll come around once they calm down, just be patient. 8)

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-24-2004, 03:50 PM Thread Starter
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You read my mind!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Padfoot
Have they had the treats before? How about leaving one or two of those tasty treats in their food bowl, so they get a liking to them, and then try to bribe them with them.
That's funny, I had the same thought this morning and decided to leave a few of those treats. They have nibbled on all of them... so maybe now that might help.

I think patience is the key. I keep wanting "presto" love.. and that's just not the way it works... and I know it. They have gotten much more comfortable in the past two days.... I'm sure it'll work out in time.

~folknn
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-24-2004, 04:37 PM
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you could try making your hand smell strongly of a favourite food or treat and try to get them to investigate. i put my hand in my gerbils' food tin so that they climb into my hand but i don't know much about the trust issue cos i handled my gerbils before they even saw their cage.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-24-2004, 07:46 PM
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The rat diet Padfoot mentioned: www.ratsrule.com/diet.html
It's a bit like the stuff you are feeding them already, and really healthy for them.

I agree with everything Padfoot said. My rats would not take treats from me when I was trying to get them to trust me. They would sniff them, and then walk away. I do think it's probably because it's something they have never had. They will eventually realize that it is okay to take the treats...my rats now come running to me when they hear me opening the treat container.

The best thing I did was to *not* pick them up unexpectedly. I would open the cage, and just sit on the floor petting them while they were still in it, and talk to them. After a few minutes, they would start calming down and allow me to pick them up. I would then put them on my bed, so they could explore things and at the same time, they were getting used to me. If you just have them on your bed with you (or in a bathtub) they will become curious and come to you.

However, if they are still young don't expect them to want to be held. Mine were about 1 month old when I got them, and VERY hyper and squirmy. They are about 4 months old now and more calm, but I don't think they will be true lap rats until they are close to 1 year old. Just take it slow...some are more difficult than others.


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-25-2004, 01:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 100%gerbil
you could try making your hand smell strongly of a favourite food or treat and try to get them to investigate. i put my hand in my gerbils' food tin so that they climb into my hand but i don't know much about the trust issue cos i handled my gerbils before they even saw their cage.
That could lead to biting with some animals, so be careful! If you want to disguise your smell a bit so they trust your hand, it's best to rub your hands in their bedding, you your hands smell like them. I used to do that at first when Martina and Deb (gerbils) had babies for the first time, to handle the babies, in case they didn't liked my smell on them, but after a couple of litters, they are used to me handling the babies and ok with it even if I don't rub my hands on their bedding.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-25-2004, 07:09 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LilSouthPaw
The rat diet Padfoot mentioned: www.ratsrule.com/diet.html The best thing I did was to *not* pick them up unexpectedly. I would open the cage, and just sit on the floor petting them while they were still in it, and talk to them. After a few minutes, they would start calming down and allow me to pick them up. I would then put them on my bed, so they could explore things and at the same time, they were getting used to me. If you just have them on your bed with you (or in a bathtub) they will become curious and come to you.
It's funny that you mention this. Last night I had a realization... that or I'm thinking more and more like a rat... I decided to usethe shower as a bonding area. I covered the floor with old bathroom plastic courtains to keep us all dry and then I used an old bed sheet to keep us all cool and comfortable. I took the cage into the bathroom (where I was shielded from our other 2 "very curious about the rats" dogs). I brought in some raw organic pop corned I had just made for myself... I sat on the floor of the bathroom, took the cover off of the cage and left them to their own devices while I just sat there softly talking to them with a few treats spread over me. They were ver curious and with the cage botton they felt safe...

They never actually crawlled on me... but they got really close and smelled me from a safe distance. At one point I put my hands down and they willingly crawlled quickly on top of my hand but did not stay.

I fee like we have bonded... they seem much more comfortable with me and their space (all tough not entirely) at least they do come running towards the cage walls to smell me whenever I pass by the cage (and they are awake).

I think that if I keep doing this at least once a day (I'm sure I'll have time to do more)... things will keep getting better.

Thank you all for your support!!!!!!!!!!!!
~folknn
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-25-2004, 03:21 PM
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My "tactics" for trust training is handling the little buggers the minute I get them home. As soon as the cage is up and they have found everything, get them out, Handle them used to being on you with you handled by you. Rats are nocturnal creatures so they will sleep lots when you are up. My babies are up in the morning when I get up and in the evening when I am up. We have some pretty quality time then.

Get them out and feed them treats when they are with you.
If you find a need to give them meds, start early by giving them yummy treats (like maple syrup) in the syringe that you will be administering the meds. That way they will think the med is a treat.

When you open the cage door with treats, always do the same thing. I guess what I mean is say the same word: Goodies, treats, come get it. Something allong that line. My cage is so huge that they have to come from quite a distance. I say "Goodies" and tap my ring on the cage opening (which is wood) (http://www.scrubcaps4u.com/cage/cageprogress.htm). The treats are always put in the same place, in the same dish and thay all come running to partake of whatever it is. Sometimes they like it lots and will eat it all right away. Other times, it is not exactly what they "had in mind", and they will nibble on it through the evening and through the night while they are up. By morning the dish is empty. My dish of choice is a 4" square glass ash trah. It is deep enough to hold food for 5 rats and heavy enough that they can't move it and hard enough that they can't chew it to pieces.

Whew, sorry about the book. I will get off my soapbox now.

Enjoy your babies.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-25-2004, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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Wow! Thank you Rosies_Mom!! These are potentially great suggestions... except that my ratties’ were destined to be reptile food (until I came along). From they day they were born (probably) they were moved around and mishandled… they don’t exactly find human hands appealing.

They were very scared when they arrived. One of them didn’t actually move until the next day (I actually thought he was sick). Taking them out of their cage at that point would have been a traumatic experience.

I think I actually found a system that seems to be working GREAT. I already mentioned this before on a previous reply, but for some reason (a day later) it still hasn’t shown up on this page… so I’ll go ahead and mention it again (just in case the other one never posts): Basically I just rat proofed my shower, covered the floor with plastic curtains and a sheet over that to keep us cool and comfortable. I sit on the floor of the shower with the cage… I take off the upper cage part leaving just the bottom dish with the ratties in them. After a while (and some bribery) they began to get curious, smelling me and then running away.

Today I tried it again. This time they actually got on my lap and legs.

They certainly don’t run and hide anymore when I pass by their cage. They seem to trust me just slightly more after each of these sessions. The first session lasted about 30 minutes… today I extended it to almost an hour (by accident). I also take up this time to clean their cage and change their bedding. Since I use rags for bedding, it pretty easy to switch dirty for clean and wipe the cage down as best I can (until next washing which should happen every week or as necessary).

Right after we are done with our session… they seem to be much more confident in their surroundings and much more secure about my presence.

I think that if I keep these sessions up as often as possible, soon enough we are going to find amazing reliability in each other.

Non the less a lot of those treat suggestions you made will certainly come in handy… Thank you!!!!!!
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-26-2004, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by folknn
My ratties’ were destined to be reptile food (until I came along). From they day they were born (probably) they were moved around and mishandled… they don’t exactly find human hands appealing.
Boo, Smokie and Skooter were reptile food and never handled in their entire short lives until I cam along. When they came home, I actually had to chase them around the cage to catch them. Once they were in my hands and on my shoulder, they calmed down. Sometimes they need some "help" getting to your hands and your shoulder. They need to know right from the start who the alpha rat is -- YOU!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by folknn
They were very scared when they arrived. One of them didn’t actually move until the next day (I actually thought he was sick). Taking them out of their cage at that point would have been a traumatic experience.
You can turn that traumatic experience in to a warm fuzzy experience for them. They are traumatized because everything that WAS familiar is gone. The new familiarity should focus on YOU. Get them out. Pet them, rub them, Cuddle them, scratch them on the back of the neck like other ratties would do to them. Let them smell you. Let them smell your breath. They WILL calm down. They will learn that you are their comfort zone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by folknn
I think I actually found a system that seems to be working GREAT. I already mentioned this before on a previous reply, but for some reason (a day later) it still hasn’t shown up on this page… so I’ll go ahead and mention it again (just in case the other one never posts): Basically I just rat proofed my shower, covered the floor with plastic curtains and a sheet over that to keep us cool and comfortable. I sit on the floor of the shower with the cage… I take off the upper cage part leaving just the bottom dish with the ratties in them. After a while (and some bribery) they began to get curious, smelling me and then running away.
Sounds like a good system. Next try putting them on your bed and lying with them. That way they have better access to your head and face without climbing up. We have found that putting down a sheet or blanket that is only for the bed when they are on it works well. That way if they have a little "accident" it won't soil your bedding.

Good luck with your babies. Have fun and lots of snuggles.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-26-2004, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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hmm... ok... you've convinced me so... I'm gonna take your suggestion to heart. The bed thing worries me a little though. I sleep on a futon which is very close to the floor... I think it might be easy access for them to jump off... specially if they're a bit scared... and right now with my two dogs it's gonna be very hard for me to rat proof my bedroom.

I WILL try to lay down in the shower... there's enough space for me to do so ... and if by any chance they jump out of the shower area (which seems hard since it's got a tall outside wall - or whatever you call those things)... at least I can rat proof the bathroom and since it's a small space it would be easier for me to catch them.

Once again, thanks for your suggestions and support!!!!!

I'll be around often and post updates on how everything seems to be going.

Kindly,
~folknn
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