I had the Ghost Girls out playing in their kitchen play pen. Some neighbor children came in, one of which had never held a rat and had been begging to meet mine. He was an animal loving little boy who had the sensitivity to learn about more intuitive aspects of animal 'whispering'. So I used his visit as a teachable moment for all in the room to explain about how xenophobic rats go through a ritualized process of trust testing a new thing/person/food before they finally commit and include said strange object into their circle of friendship.
It progressed something like this:
"Don't try to pet her or pick her up Bobby. She doesn't know you yet. Give her a chance to come to you instead and she'll actually become your friend so you won't have to chase or grab her."
"Rats are small and are always chased by big scary animals, so it takes them a while to decide to trust."
"It takes several times before she'll relax. First she'll walk by you. If you don't grab, she'll decide you're not scary, then she'll walk by again a little closer....see...look, she's walking by now."
"Ah, there, see how she touched you with her nose before running off? Bet she touches you with her paw next pass..."
"Ooh, see how she's climbing onto my son? He's already her friend, so she's using him to give her courage to get closer to your face. Watch how she sniffs you again before walking off..."
"When she gets in your lap, don't pet her the first time, just lay your hand where she can climb onto it if she chooses. No! Don't move, just wait..."
"There, see her settling down? Now gently scratch her by her cheek there..."
I was snapping pictures as I talked and managed to get a pretty good play by play of the process.
My son is Mr. Curly Top here. Devon is totally comfortable crawling all over him. But she makes sure she stays away from the other strange kid in the room.
Next comes suspicious yet curious Aggie. She popped up on Son's shoulder to eyeball the new kid Bobby while she had Devon for back up. Bobby looks a bit unsure but like he is chomping at the bit for a little AggieLove doesn't he? LOL
Checkin' him out oh so carefully.
A little closer now. Tentative contact is made. Briefly.
After a lot of testing passes disguised as indifferent walkabouts by Aggie, she'd finally settled down for a good little scritch. While I missed those shots, soon Aggie was satisfied with her new friend and hopped off of him to explore for treats. Meanwhile, the rest of the horde were as far from our new little visitor as possible, intently watching to see if Take-One-for-the-Team Aggie got eaten by the new Kidmonster. As soon as Aggie vacated his lap, having proven he was Okay By Her, look what happens: