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My rats don't like me touching them.

6450 Views 9 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Rom1993
I have 2 rats! Dobby and Panda both boys! I've had them for about 4 weeks now and they are getting more and more used to me..Today they walked out of their cage for the first time so that was awesome because they walked all over me and they explored their little play area and seemed super excited about all the new stuff! Buuutt I have one question. Whenever I try to touch them they flinch away and run..They havent been handled at all when they were babies so I understand that they are scared but do you guys have any tips on how to get them to allow you to pet them?
They kinda know their names already which is really awesome by the way!!!! :D so yeah thanks in advance!
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It sounds like you are doing great with Dobby and Panda and they are getting more interactive and comfortable around you, super!!

As for the do you approach them with your hands? One thing to remember is that when your babies are getting used to you, if you bring your hand down over them directly from above, rather then sort of bringing your hand toward them from a lower, palm up or a side palming position, rats (and other small critters) have that instinct of "Augggh! A big hawk/owl, etc. is swooping down to grab me!!" type thing.

It is in their nature to shy away or be threatened by the big swooping down motion of an overhead bird of prey. But you may not be bringing your hands down toward them that way.

Can you give some details on exactly what your hand positioning or body language is when you are trying to pet them?
I know I shouldnt try to touch them from above because they might freak then..but I always put my hand flat on my leg or floor(depends on where they are walking of course) and then move it towards them..they will sniff my fingers but when I try to move my hand closer they will back up and flinch and run away :(
Hmmm...well, unless there is some factor in this I don't know about, I would think that they just need to keep getting used to you. How long have you had them now? Has it been maybe a couple of weeks, or less?
I've had a mini breakthrough with Rogan and Rebel Rom :) i started off by holding a rice krispie out infront of their noses when they poked their heads out of their home, when they were comfortable taking those from me i moved on to putting my hand just inside the cage and making them come to me to get one.

Next i put i couple in my palm and let them sniff me hand etc til they found them and got used to taking them from my palm. Next i started putting my whole arm up to my elbow through the small cage door so it only just fit with a few rice krispies at the top of my arm on the inside of my elbow and letting them work out that if they walked up my arm at the top was a reward. They've started sitting at the top of my arm whilst enjoying their treat so i keep my face close to the cage and talk to them softly while they eat.

At first they started trying to bite me fingers and i kept freaking out and pulling my hand back when they did, but i've started not flinching and letting them nibble, it doesnt hurt and just feels like they are investigating me and working me out. I'm hoping once they've size up my hand and worked out that it isnt anything tasty or that they can eat they will stop nibbling me :)

Had them about 8 days now so hopefully before long they will become very confident around me and i can start giving them some more freedom outside of the cage and start training them a little more.

Have you had any more tips/tricks that have helped dobby and panda bond with you more? :)
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Great to hear such a wonderful update! I think your technique is working out very well! Your furry kids are definitely associating you with good things and learning that you are their trusted person. Super!

The nibbling thing is actually quite a compliment. Your babies are "nibble grooming" you. When a rat gives little nibbles, usually on the fingertips, in between your fingers or other places around your fingers and palms, (and also little bits of skin or hangnails on the sides of your nails!) it means they are thinking of you as part of their pack and they are attempting to "groom" you as they would another rat.

Nibble grooming involves little nibbles with their teeth. Sometimes when rats are very young, they do not know yet how much pressure with their teeth is too much and it can get slightly uncomfortable, but they soon learn how much pressure is okay to use when they groom you. Believe me, if a rat wanted to seriously bite you, you would know it, as it would be very painful! :D But nibble grooming...ahh, that is a great sign of affection. :dream:

So, you can enjoy knowing that they are becoming very bonded to you! Wonderful!
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Hey everyone :) I didnt have internet for a long time so I couldnt reply to any of the things you said! but Im back! Its going well with Dobby and Panda although it is still an issue for them to be touched..I try every time I give them a treat to touch their body at least a little so they realise im not gonna kill them :p I love them dearly but I am upset with the breeder I got them from..he told me that from the age of 4 weeks he would pick them up and play with them so they would get used to humans holding them but that quite obviously didnt happen..they are still very scared but they have their little play area now and they love to walk around and on top of me:) Dobby even sat on my head last week! I have had them for about 5 weeks now and I really do love them :) The only thing that worries me is that Panda's hair is standing up but I cant seem to find anything wrong with him..he is eating normally, drinking too and he doesnt seem to be bored or like really mellow or something..he is just the way he has always been so Im not really sure what to think of his fur at the moment..also I think my rats may be allergic to fruits or something because everytime I give them a small piece of fruit(cucumber, tomatoe) they get diarrhea :S any idea why that is?
Good for you Tom! its great that your rats are already starting to trust you! :)
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Your boys sound like they are coming along and getting more used to you, so that is great! I know their skittishness with your touching them is probably very frustrating for you because you love them so much and want to cuddle them. I hope things keep progressing though. Each day will just reinforce to them that you are their safe person. They obviously are very fond of you and getting more and more comfortable, based on some of the things you told me that they ARE doing, so that is always good!

Hmm, about the hair standing on end...that could be a sign that something is not right.

I remember Lilspaz or Storyseeker discussing that recently, but I can't remember what the issue was, concerning what the hair standing on end is indicitive of. Something could be amiss with Panda..a sign of illness. Do you have a good small animal vet that is experienced with rats?

I am not sure about cucumber, but the tomato could be too acidic for your boys. I know that citrus fruits are a no-no for male rats and tomato could fall into that category, veggie wise. Also, the cucumber has a lot of water content and too much water content in veggies can cause diarrhea.

Definitely stop the tomato and cucumber and try going a couple of days without the veggies or fruits to see if the diarrhea clears up. That is the first thing people should do when they see diarrhea...lay off the fruit and veggies for a few days. Fruits and vegetables are a wonderful supplement to their lab blocks, but too much can easily cause diarrhea.

I am not sure if Panda's fur issue goes hand in hand with the diarrhea (am I spelling that right?) but the fur problem is usually a sign that something is not quite right with your baby.
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There is a vet nearby that specializes in small animals and rodents! I checked before I got them just to be sure. The reason I havent taken him to the vet yet is because in the evening his hair goes down and he looks normal but during the day it stand up :S I thought maybe its too light for them because I do have a window in my room..they arent necesarily close to it but its still there..So I now decided that I will change my room around a bit and move them away from the light..also I gave them more extra fleece and during the day they are always under it..Also they are super active and run around all the time!! And they eat a lot! Like its insane how much they started eating recently xD
Also Im gonna buy one of those C&C cages they usually use for guinea pigs and Im gonna build them their outside play area because now its made out of cardboard and its very difficult for me to get in and out! Also I will make it bigger so they have more room to explore! I just need to get a job so I will have more money but thats alright!
TOM! Hows it going with your ratties? Im very curious to hear about the process!
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Hey guyss.. I just wanted to let you know that Panda is doing fine! I spent more time with them the last couple of days and his hair is now almost all th way down! they eat like crazy and run around during the day and night:) they have so much energy its crazy!! The touching is going better and better..Every time I called them to me to get a treat I would touch them before giving them the treat and they are now more confident than ever! They arent scared of me anymore or so it seems..I could even pick Panda up and replace him cause he was nibbling on my shirt! Im super happy that things are going well :)
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