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rat suddenly very nervous?

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Caitlin

Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2019
Messages
8
Location
England
Hi everyone! my 3 rats will be 3 months old next week and all of a sudden one of them seems like he’s scared of me? yesterday i had them out during free run time and he was completely fine and nothing happened. I went to get them out again today and he was very reluctant to come to me which confused me as he’s normally the first one climbing the bars waiting to come out. eventually I just picked him up which I realise was the wrong decision but he’s normally so confident and i’ve had them since they were 5 weeks old with no earlier signs of anxiety? now in the free run enclosure he’s just hiding in the hut and every time I put my hand near him he runs away. I’m feeling very guilty and just wondering if this is at all normal? they’ve been handled since birth and his brothers are still so confident so i’m just a bit confused
 

Camelidae4

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2020
Messages
14
Location
United States
How interesting! Definitely look into medical causes first. If he's in pain then being handled could elicit that response. If there is no apparent reason for anything medically wrong, then can you think of any moments that could have created a negative association for him? Think very carefully, even him accidentally scratching himself on the bars of the cage or something very loud happened while you reached for him at the same time could cause a negative association. Also, keep in mind how rats see the world! Rats are super keen on scents and sounds. But it's less likely to be a scent if the others still approach you. For now, I wouldn't recommend pushing him at all and don't keep reaching for him unless in an emergency. I'd recommend working on a recall with him/classically condition a soft sound. Also, use the other confident rats to your advantage! Rats are super social and rely a lot on observational learning, so let him see that the other rats still enjoy approaching you and just kind of ignore him. As always, make sure he associates you with lots of positive things like treats.
 

Caitlin

Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2019
Messages
8
Location
England
thanks for your replies :) it was just a strange one off luckily but i’m still not too sure why haha. I got them out the next day and he was completely back to his normal self which I’m so happy about. I think he might’ve just been a bit tired maybe
 

Dena

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
215
Location
Texas
Being that rats can't really rely on their eyesight, he may have actually smelled something on you that didn't even bother the others. Did you change soaps, deodorant, laundry soap, perfume? Some are more effected than others. I find my pink eyed, seem to be way more cautious than the ruby, or black eyed. They sometimes stop, and sway, or run under cover to try to get a better scent or sight of what scared them.
 

Caitlin

Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2019
Messages
8
Location
England
I don’t think i’d changed anything but who knows haha. that actually makes sense though because Patrick, the one who acted nervous, is very light in colour and sometimes I think his eyes look slightly red in a certain light although they are very dark and he does sway side to side sometimes
 

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