Struggling to Bond with Unsocialized Rats

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Angelrattie, Mar 13, 2019.

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  1. Mar 13, 2019 #1

    Angelrattie

    Angelrattie

    Angelrattie

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    I have three young rats, about 12 weeks old I believe, and it's about to be our two month anniversary together. Even though I've been making the effort to interact with them everyday for a while now, it seems we aren't making any progress. I feel like I'm doing everything wrong.

    The other day I had to clean the cage so I was forced to pick up one of my girls (the one that is terrified of me). It did not go well at all. She ended up jumping out of my arms onto the floor(but only a few inches off the ground) that forced me to have to "grab" her because my room is not yet rat proofed and if she were to get away I probably couldn't get her back.

    I think I tainted our progress and I feel awful. She's been more timid since and I don't know how to show her it's okay because she hates being touched. I don't know how to move forward from these big oops moments. I feel like I get so close and then I make a mistake that takes us five steps backward from where we were. I feel hopeless.

    I have heard of the "bathtub/bed/couch" socialization method but I'm not sure how I'm supposed to go about doing this. I have a very specific situation.

    1. For one, I can't use my bed or couch. My couch is a futon so it's too low, and my bed doesn't have any extra old sheets to cover it.

    2. Second, my two shy girls aren't really comfortable with being touched/held yet and I don't know how to transport them.

    3. Three, I want to have my confident girl in the tub with us because she makes the two more curious. But the problem is, she is an escape artist. She always finds ways out of things (she escaped the playpen many times and escapes our CN overtime I open the doors)

      I wasn't really prepared to deal with this shy of rats. I am only a beginner so I don't really know what I'm doing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Mar 13, 2019 #2

    Dena

    Dena

    Dena

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    Shadow the rat has some good videos she just put up on taming. Also rat guru has great videos. Both on YouTube. Also check out www.joinrats.com and see if you find helpful stuff there as well. But don't give up. It'll be like flipping a switch. It will happen eventually. :)
     
  3. Mar 13, 2019 #3

    ViciousCurse

    ViciousCurse

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    I know it's not very helpful now, but they will warm up! Babies are a little more jumpy than adults.
    For example, I'm a loud sneezer. I sneeze, and my adults barely notice, while the babies are dashing for cover. It's just a desensitization issue.

    Rats are also very observant and perceptive. They watch your facial features, body language, and your movements all at once. Generally, I let them see me put down high-value treats and then I back off. In time, they scamper up to me to beg.
    Lots of bribery and gentle movements and tones are a great way to build a relationship
     
  4. Mar 13, 2019 #4

    Fidget

    Fidget

    Fidget

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    Can you go to a 2nd hand store or buck store and find something cheap to lay over your bed? I use cheap buck store fleece blankets, the pee sits on top long enough for me to kleenex it up before it sinks in.. Then you could lie down and read a book or watch tv and just let them run around and gradually get used to you (broken up cheerios or froot loops in your fingers are incentive to come near). To bring them to the bed you can fill a box with shredded paper, place it by their door and move the box when they get in it.. *note - watch that nobody climbs off the bed, block or grab them before they do (they'll forgive you), because if they do it once they'll keep trying to perfect it!
     
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  5. Mar 13, 2019 #5

    Angelrattie

    Angelrattie

    Angelrattie

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    Thank you for the advice! If I can find a reasonable blanket/sheet I'll try this. Just wondering, since rats can jump pretty high (my girl can cover 2-3 ft) does that also mean they can and will jump down from high heights? My bed is quite far off the ground and I don't want them to hurt themselves.
     
  6. Mar 13, 2019 #6

    Fidget

    Fidget

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    Some will, some won't. Some will look for any way off the bed, some won't try at all. But you're there to keep any eye on things, if someone goes off they bed they usually warn they're going to by looking for a way to climb down rather than just jumping (so you can be prepared), and barring a fluke landing they should be ok even if they jumped off. Some kids will let you relax, some might keep you on full alert, but as I say - once they do it, they'll keep trying. Once they learn you Won't let them off they usually quit trying (at least in earnest), they're very curious but they also learn habits.
    and Like ViciousCurse says, they're smart, and they DO watch you, they even watch where your eyes are, I've had kids climbing off the bed stop it when my eyes turn to them if I've been training them not to do it for a while, lol.

    Great advice here, start at Earning Trust https://www.joinrats.com/ Your girls will come around :)
    and even in Canada, my buck store has throw blankets for $4.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  7. Mar 13, 2019 #7

    SQ

    SQ

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    What Fidget said!
    add a box, tubes and interesting things on the bed ….. and at least one place where they can hide so they feel safe and will venture out
    and there is good info at joinrats.com

    Later when they are more comfortable, put on a loose shirt over a tight shirt, then lay down on you bed with the rats on you between the two shirts - this will help them to get used to you and to feel safe

    When you get them out, get them all out at the same time as being with each other will help them to feel more safe

    the "bathtub method" is one step in the established gradual intro steps that are used to introduce unfamiliar rats to one another
    This is not a method to help the ratties learn to trust you

    BTW, the reference thread has good info for rat owners on different topics https://www.ratshackforum.com/threads/reference-thread-read-only.35894/
     
  8. Mar 14, 2019 #8

    Dena

    Dena

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    My big boy, brother, tried to go up the stairs at play time the other day (which is a no no) and as soon as I turned towards him, he stopped, turned around looking guilty, and booked it back to his play area! So funny!
     
  9. Mar 26, 2019 #9

    CottonCandyRats

    CottonCandyRats

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    Hello! I seem to be having the same problem as you, did your rats warm up? If so, what methods did you use?
     
  10. Mar 26, 2019 #10

    Angelrattie

    Angelrattie

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    The progress hasn't been monumental (mostly my fault) but it is definitely there. I haven't really gotten the free range thing down yet so they aren't progressing as fast as I'd like, but I have noticed lots of improvement in the time I do spend with them outside of the cage. They seem much more curious outside of the cage than inside, which makes sense.

    One method I used for initial "warming up" was to remove my hands from the equation. I noticed they have a thing against hands during our treat training. If I went to touch them even gently they would whip around or back away. They would gladly sniff my hand and lick me on their own terms, but if I where to try anything they wouldn't have it. So, one day I tried putting my shoulder up against the side (sometimes I just rest my arm in the cage) and let them examine me. Surprisingly one of the girls went onto my shoulder and started grooming the hair on my head. Maybe if your rats aren't taking to hand handling just yet try this. It has helped my girls feel more comfortable around me.
    Another thing is LIQUID FOOD, a lifesaver. Definitely try using some liquid food like sugar free apple sauce or meat baby food. I noticed they will go to further lengths in taming with this motivating them than they will with solid treats. It also forces them to stay near you when eating instead of running away. (Idk why but whenever they run away to the back corner with food it kind of brings me down) So in short, liquid food is really good. Don't overdo it though, use it sparingly only for hardwork. Too much can make them lose interest in it and in turn you as well. It also can cause diarrhea and that is no fun for the rat or the owner.

    Repetition is key! I haven't done a great job at this part but I promise if you do you will witness lots of progress. (Also Shadow the Rat's taming videos on Youtube are really good, you should check them out they have really helped me. I hope you find them useful too) Good luck!
     

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