News girls on the block

Dena

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Joined
Nov 13, 2018
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333
Location
Texas
So we got three new girls about a week ago, that were being rehomed. Their exact age is still up in the air, but we're told the bigger two are 9 months old (or 7. Can't remember), and the baby is 3 months old. One of the older two, who is a Dumbo, is super sweet. We named her squid. The tiny baby is also super sweet (but much younger than 3 months, since she still has her baby fur), and we named her moose. The other big girl was a bitter. I've been working with her for a week now, and got her from lunging at my hand and biting (hard), to now putting one paw on my hand to gently take a treat. She seems SUPER hand shy, and her go to, was lunging and biting, or chasing you with her mouth open. She did a pretty good chomp on my finger Friday, but I had really pushed her boundaries. But I've been watching her body language, and she has really warmed up to me petting her now (I started by giving her a treat, holding it in my fingers a little longer than for her to grab and run, and I'd softly pet her with one finger), and now she will let me cup my hand on her back, and stroke her nose WHILE SHE'S EATING A TREAT! Which, if some of you know is a big deal, since most rats will take their treats, and run, or move away if touched. But she really comes running if I open her cage and make kissing noises at her (which used to scare her), and will tolerate a quick pet without a treat. I'm so happy for her, that she won't be locked in an unhappy, biting, scared place in her life. Her name is now sugar plum, or plum for short. I'll try to get better pics as soon as I can.

The gray girl with wheelie tail is plum.
The Dumbo girl is squid.
The precious little diamond head girl is moose!
 

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Dena

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333
Location
Texas
I now have 8. 3 separate colonies in two double critter nation cages.

So I think I'm making HUGE progress. She was crawling on my arms, while they were in the cage. I sit on the floor (they are in the blocked off bottom section of a double critter nation, so basically a single critter nation) and I'll fold my arms up, and put them on the shelves. I'll talk to her in high pitched baby talk, telling her how good and sweet she is, and let her sniff me and play with my bracelets. They have a ton of charms on them, so they are very jingly and loud. She was pretty afraid of the noise when I got her. I've been counter conditioning her, well all of the new girls, where I jingle my bracelets and make lots of noise when I move my hands, then, if they sniff, or act curious, I reward with treats. It's working like, well, a charm! She isn't as jumpy with the noises. So I'm now making faster movement around her, and when she doesn't flinch back, I reward her. She's really coming running to her name, and kissy noises now. She knows that means treats. She still is SUPER hand shy, but instead of just lunging and biting, she freezes. Sort of progress. I also allowed her to sniff my face, and groom my eyebrows. Big leap, since she could really do some damage if she wanted to. But I squint my eyes shut, so they are a little protected. I'm letting her take it at her pace, and watching her cues. I reward all good behavior or teeth using, with a super tiny piece of treat (that way she comes right back for more, or resets). My goal is to get her to trust me to get on my shoulder, or in a box near my hands, so I can transport her to play, and build more trust. Once I build enough trust, I'll intro her to my other young girls, who are around 3 months now. The other two girls have been introed to my two 3 month old girls, and to my 1.5 year old girl, and one of her neutered cagemates, whom I hope to integrate all together. My older 1 year old male, Gobblin, for some reason just doesn't want to play nice with anyone but his cagemates..... Hence the 3 colonies right now. I'll keep this thread updated, to say how and what I did, in case anyone else needs help with "vicious, or aggressive" rats.
 

Dena

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Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
333
Location
Texas
So today I went in and said good morning to all the ratties. I give them each scratches and pets. Today plum didn't dodge my loves. And she got super excited and ran out to get her treats! She was doing the excited front foot bar climb that they do while waiting for her treats. Oh, and I've noticed she does the tongue roll, or as I call it, chews bubblegum, like Figgy does! 😍😍
 

Dena

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
333
Location
Texas
**FULL DISCLOSURE ** I am no expert on rat training, or rehabilitation. The methods I have used lately, may not be the best for all rats. As always, go at their pace, and watch their body language. For further information on socializing rats, or working with "aggressive" rats, go to Www.joinrats.com and read their methods.


So, quick update on the girls. Moose has stayed super tiny. Either she's a slow grower, or dwarf. Super social, and loving.
Squid is a mommy's girl. She adores anyone she knows, and is a total mush and sweetheart.
Plum....well, we will just say it's still sort of slow going with her. I'm getting to see her personality more and more each day. She will (mostly) let other people touch or pet her for a couple of minutes before she darts off. She kinda did a little regression, where she was weary of being touched. But I picked her up one day, to her displeasure. She squealed, and stiffened up her body, then immediately tried to claw her way back to the safety of her cage. She still hasn't been out for playtime (if I can't catch her, and she's terrified of movement, I can't safely remove her for any reason), and when I clean her cage, I have to block off the portion she's in, or clean around her. But I make sure to grab her, pick her up, and pet her at least a couple of times a day. Then I immediately give a treat, so she associates that with good stuff. I have noticed the more I pick her up, the more relaxed she is. We had sort of an aha moment a couple of days ago. She was trying to bolt out of my arms (I always stay in arms reach of her open cage), and I thought maybe if I held a cagemate at the same time, she could sense their comfort and ease. Big aha for both of us! She relaxed immediately, and when she did, I put her back in her cage and gave a treat. That triggers a brain response of shoulder, and relaxing, gets a high value treat, and she gets what she wants, to be put down. Tonight, when I held her (several times in a row), no squeaks, and barely any tensing. She even tried to climb back on me when I put her back! She didn't quite do it, but it's MAJOR progress!

I did however, find out, that she doesn't want to be touched by people she doesn't know. At least not right away. She has to really warm up to you first. For like a couple of days!

I even had her on my chest, and stepped away from her safe zone, and she was OK. A few more days of this kind of progress, and I'll modify the play area, and introduce her to that (with the safety of her travel cage, of course). The more social she has become, the happier she seems to be! She closes her eyes when I give her morning face scratches, and even kind of rolls or stands for belly rubs. I do keep a realistic mind about this. Sometimes, it's two steps forward and one step back. It takes lots of patience and understanding, to help a fearful/aggressive rat. I just love her and refuse to give up on her.

She also responds to her name, and will come RUNNING with the other 4 girls, when I open the cage! I'll keep updating with further progress. I just want this out there to help those who have an "aggressive" or unsocialized rat, and give them hope. In most cases, progress can be made.
 

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