Need help with taming new male rats
The title of this thread is kind of a lie. I've had my two male rats for about a month now, so I guess they're not TECHNICALLY new to my home.
These two boys are my very first rats. I did loads of researching before I got these two rats, and I feel as if I'm doing everything right so far in regards to housing, diet, bedding, stuff like that. However, my main problem has been trying to play and socialize with these brothers. I'll list some of the things that they do and how I've tried to socialize with them.
I bought a nice sized folding table and draped a towel over it along with putting the cage on top of the towel. I leave the cage door open often when I'm trying to play with them and touch them so that they can explore the table surface and I can get more opportunities for interaction.
I leave their food dish OUTSIDE of the cage on the table so that they will come out for their food and I can attempt petting them and such while they're picking at their food.
I also will pick them up occasionally and plop them on my shoulder and walk about my apartment.
Now, let me explain some of the issues I'm having while I do some of these things. First off, whenever I try handling either of them, I immediately feel protest, and that usually ends with my hands/arms turning into a bloody mess (I'm not kidding, they really fight it), so I try not to do that unless I really need to. Whenever I try stroking them, they usually run to another part of the cage, or in the case of the oldest brother... I'll be bitten. Though there were times when I tried petting him and he just kind of winced lightly and slowly started hiding his back from me (So that he'd end up on his side with some of his belly showing), almost as if he's playing dead.
Another thing I should note is that neither of these guys will accept any kind of treat while I am handling them, nor if they are on my body.
The youngest rat is very curious and likes to come out of the cage often and will usually lick my fingers if I get them close to him (as if I'm made of ice cream or something O_o... he really gives me a licking!), and he's generally less flinchy and dodgy than his older brother.
I don't really know how old they are unfortunately... but I just consider the smaller boy the younger rat. A friend of mine came over and told me that they're still pretty young (apparently because they're pretty small. They measure about 7-8 inches from nose to the start of their tail). I've heard that younger rats can be tough to get to hold still and will be harder to handle since they tend to be very wiggly.
So, what can I start doing to get these guys to relax and start liking me more? It's already been a month and I haven't really noticed any kind of "adjustment" to my home... and I'm starting to worry that I'll never get to experience the love and affection that you guys get with your rats. :[
I also apologize that this post was so long... and I probably included a whole lot more info than was necessary. Any help will be greatly appreciated!
(P.S.: These rats were bought from a Pet Smart)