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Another quick question....

3849 Views 37 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Vladina
Sooo I just set up this rat play area in my room and I think its okay for now..I used cardboard boxes to make like a high fence and then put some smaller boxes and blankies inside so they can play! My ratties' cage door opens up into the play area so its easy to acces for them..however when I sit down in the play area they get so frightened of me that they wont even consider going out of their cage..I mean I know I have only had the play area there for half a day..but its not just now its also in general..whenever Im near the cage door they will come close but then the smalles sound or movement will send them running for cover..they have been doing this since I got them which is 2.5 weeks ago and I spend at least 1.5 hours every day focusing just on them..should I just start taking them out of the cage and putting them in my sweater and let them run back in the cage if they want? Or should I wait until eventually they will not freak out as easily? I know I should be patient but its difficult when they are SO CUTE!!!!:p Thanks for any advice!
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Yay, new playpen!

Rats are first and foremost xenophobes. If you got them from a pet store, they are also traumatized xenophobes who've never been handled in their lives.

My rats were bred for friendliness and handled their entire lives from birth. They /still/ approach things cautiously the first 12 or more times. It will likely take your fearful kids weeks of regular exposure or more to learn trust.

Here's a link to one of my threads where my sweet girls met a new human for the first time just to give you some idea of how they approach new situations. These are well socialized girls, and it still took them 20 minutes to decide the new kid wouldn't eat them.

You could put them in your sweater and spend time doing 'forced socialization'...which to be successful requires a sensitivity to their needs and knowing exactly when to back off and when to push things. Depending on their personality, it may even speed things along and get them to bond with you more quickly. Also depending on their personality, it could cause them to be more distrustful and take much longer to bond with you.

However, patience will always yield better results. If you can set their play area up in such a way that you can stretch out and hang out reading a book or studying, you'll be much more comfortable, and they can explore you at their leisure.

Something you can do also, is close their cage while they are out to prevent them from using it as a hide away. Then provide a safe alternate bolt hole for them outside their cage. Even better, setting up the bolt hole/hiding place for them incorporating your body. For example, cover yourself in a blanket while you study, leaving lots of caves and hidey hole folds in it. If the blanket is the only real option they have for finding safe cover, they'll use it and then gradually come to associate your scent and warmth with their new 'safe zone'.

You aren't forcing them to come to you, you're just making yourself more attractive option and blackmailing them with their own natural instincts. Hiding fragments of favorite treats in and around your person as part of the process works too.

If you're totally ignoring them during each exploration process...doing your homework or reading while they do this is a good way for you to not be over excited or stressed with them ignoring you...your body language and scent will be more relaxed, and they will be too.

Never move fast towards them, and never grab for them. If you need to put them away, just open the cage door and put food in there. They'll run for it soon enough as that is their home.

There's tons of socialization stuff out there. Some of it conflicting and none of it meant to be a one size fits every rat or rat owner. I'll be happy to share with you some of what I've found.

But it will all basically be variations of 'take your time, use their natural instincts to your advantage, pay attention to their body language, and let them come to you if possible, but sometimes you will need to take them outside their comfort zone in gentle stages too'.
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Thank you so much! I'll set up a pillow and some blankets inside their little area and will do my homework there tonight and see if they will come to me! I'll post here somewhere when there is succes :D !
What I did this morning is that I put my hand in their cage while they were walking around..of course they freaked out right away and shot behind their little hous and into their hammock..I sat completely still for about 20 minutes but they dont move to investigate at all..they'd rather just ignore me..I have done this on and of for the last 2 weeks or you think they just need more time or should I try something different? I know patience is the key but its very frustrating if you basicly see no change! Thanks for the help:)
The trick to rats is to tire out their fear response. You outlast it and exhaust it. 20 minutes is only long enough time to get them to start to barely relax if they're fearful.

I did intros with a little rat girl who had never been around other rats in her entire life and my big sweet neutered boy, she sat in frozen terrified high alert for at the very least 20 minutes. Just a total freaked out statue. My boy, bless him, just laid down next to her in physical contact and 'ignored' her the entire time.

The trick is consistency, so they get you in their faces all the time.
Duration: Let your minimum be 30 minutes, but if you can go for an hour even more...then even better.
Multi-sensory: Put yummy baby food on your fingers, move steadily and naturally when needed (completely still might even be considered a predatory lay-in-wait-to-eat-them action); Talk to them constantly so they hear your voice. Let your body movements educate them on how to react. Basically, treat your hand like another rat. Do other rats sit frozen in terror if they're relaxed? No, they'll waddle about in their little rat business. If another rat comes up, they may pause for a minute, but their not too concerned about things.
Do as much as you can as often as you can near their cage so they get used to the natural rhythms of humans in their midst. Talk to them often.

I think doing 'study time' while they're forced to remain outside their cage with you will help the quickest. Remove all options for other hidey holes while you're in there: You are their hidey hole. :)
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Thanks for the advice!
I just sat by my cage for an hour and there was some progress! They actually came out to the door and sniffed my arm and hand..they ate some baby food off my fingers so it was good! I decided to leave them in their cage for now and see if they want to come out at some point they can do it by themselves..Im still looking for a good way to make like a little ladder from their cage door to the floor xD Anyway after I think 30 minutes of me sitting in front of their cage and huming random tunes (I felt silly talking to them randomly) they came out to check it out..they were around me for probably 10 minutes in total before they went back to hiding and ignoring you think it is best to do this every day? And then eventually they will feel more comfortable and want to be around me more?
Thanks again for all the help!
I think you are doing great! I am sure they very much enjoyed licking baby food off your fingers and it also helped to show them that you are safe and your hands are not scary. And you are a source of yummies, which is always great with rats! :)

Don't feel silly talking to them. Talking to your ratties, humming a tune to them, all of those things help them along with getting familiar with your voice and it can become a great comfort to them.

I "baby talk" to my boys every time I am around them. My husband too!! Just can't help it, and they love it. Ratties love hearing their people talk, coo, whisper or hum little songs to them, seriously. :)
Aww thanks for the encouraging words!! I really appreciate it:) I'll try to spend as much time as possible with them and hopefully within a few weeks they will be awesome play buddies!:D I never expected it to take up so much of my time! Not in a bad way..I love spending time with them but Im amazed at how soon you get attached to them O.O even though I havent been able to really play with them, I already love them :D Im not too happy with the breeder tho..he told me that when the rats are about 10 days old he would handle them daily and let them run around and on him and stuff..but that clearly never happened..Dobby almost jumped through the bars when my I moved my finger a little too fast :( HOWEVER!!!!:D:D:D Dobby did come to the door today for the first time to eat some babyfood so thats awesome :D
Thanks again guys for the awesome advice and I'll keep yall posted on any progress!
P.S This is my 20th post so I can finally put a picture up!! lemme see how this works now xD

Thats Dobby hiding behind his little house :)

Thats Panda:)

Also Panda!

This is their cage set up right now..I know the play area isnt much but I dont have more room for them right now!
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Why dont the pictures work :(?
Awww, I saw a picture of one rat, the hooded one with the dark head and cow spots on his that Dobby or Panda? I did not see another rat in the pictures though? Whichever one the hooded rat is, he is a cutie pie!! So adorable!!

Congrats on the step forward with Dobby taking some baby food from you! That is great! Every day they will get more used to you and more attached to you. Promise!

Yes, it is very very easy to fall in love with your rats very quickly. I am not surprised you are already so attached to them. They are little charmers! :wavey:
Oh haha sorry i copied the wrong link :(
The hooded one is panda :)
This is Dobby
Oh my goodness, Dobby is just BEAUTIFUL! What a sweetheart! Panda also! You have two very sweetfaced girls, they are just precious!! I would be in love with them too! Well, when they get more comfy with you, you can give them cuddles and kisses from me. Just little cuties!! :heart:
Haha thanks! But they are boys O.O hahaha:) Do you maybe have some advice? Cause I wanted to try to take them out and put them in my sweater while I sit in their play area..however they are always hiding in their house and I know I shouldnt move their house or 'safeplace' but how will I ever be able to take them out of the cage?:(
Thank you so much!! They are boys though O.O haha Could you give me some advice? I have been trying to get my rats out of their cage but they always hide behind their house! I just wanted to put them in my sweater so they can explore and stuff but I cant do that now :S
Im still looking for a good way to make like a little ladder from their cage door to the floor
I've got a critter nation. This is what I got:

Or use that idea to come up with a home made something.
OH, I forgot they were boys!!! Ha ha. But the same compliments apply... they are beautiful!! Sweet faces! I have actually never had girl rats before so my only experience is with boys.

Hmm, good question about getting them into your sweater for some bonding. Breyer had mentioned having them sit inside the hood part of a hoody sweatshirt that she had, so they could feel safe and be up against her chest and she mentioned always using the same sweatshirt each time, so her smell and the rats' scent would always be there...extra reasurring of course. But as for getting them into the sweater or sweatshirt and not wanting to stress them out...hmmm. Maybe Breyer will read this post and give you some good advice? I am not sure how people handle trying to get to that holding stage. Storyseeker, do you have some tips?
If they're not coming out at all, then there's still a lot of cage bonding to be done.

I did just have another thought triggered by the 'scent bonding' thing. Why not get some raggedy old clothing-shirts or boxers or something, and do some exercise in it to get it all sweaty. Then put that into their cage in their hut. They will be surrounded by your scent in their safe place. Pick out extra clothes to do this in so you can replace it every couple of days for a few days.

Likewise, before you sit by their cage and work with them, get a dirty cloth from their cage and rub it all over you hands and forearms so you smell well marinated in their lovely stench. You'll smell just like them. And rats only pee on things and people they own so...

I bet this will help integrate you into their circle of 'safe things that are good'.
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