Taming tips?

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Jess5

Active Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Messages
31
Location
Reno Nevada
Hello!
I think this is probably my first post with more positive news! Ive now been able to consistently take my rats out of the cage in their cardboard box hides and onto my bed every night and they seem to be making good progress. Today was the longest session I’ve ever done, they were able to roam around for about 30 minutes! (I didn’t want to overwhelm them but the goal is to give them at least 1-2 hours of time out of the cage once they can handle it).
I have a few questions though.
Do you have any tips on how I could get them used to being picked up inside the cage? I ordered them a critter nation add on last Friday that they’ll hopefully get on Christmas but I don’t want to expand the cage until I can pick them up from inside the cage. I can pick up 2 out of 3 of them very easily when they’re outside of the cage but they still freak out when they’re inside.
Secondly, one of my rats (Twister) is making a lot less progress than the other two. She’s the most confident inside of the cage and will hop onto my hand quickly as long as I don’t move it but outside of the cage she gets super scared. I can pet Jenga and Scrabble easily when they’re on the bed but Twister will always run :( She does seem to be getting less stressed overall when I take her out when compared to the beginning. Is there anything I can do to help this?
Finally, is it possible to completely tame them if I work with them just on the bed and in the cage or do I need to do anything else?
Any other tips are appreciated! Like I said I’d like to have them tamed by the end of the month but please let me know if that’s too ambitious.
*also, I haven’t noticed Jenga barbering too much now that I’ve started taking them out. The bald spots are still there but I don’t think they’ve grown! :) *
 

Coffee Babies

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Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
44
Location
PA, United States
Do you have any tips on how I could get them used to being picked up inside the cage?
Have them associate petting/handling with excitement and goodness by giving treats whenever handling them. Use some kind of licking treat or tiny bits of treats to give an automatic and quick reward then start with the basics, meanwhile making sure they are completely comfortable with each level of touch before moving onto the next:
- Touch and treat
- Stroke and treat
- Pick up slightly, treat, then put down
- I think you get the picture...

She’s the most confident inside of the cage and will hop onto my hand quickly as long as I don’t move it but outside of the cage she gets super scared.
Is she scared or just exploring? Either way, you can have love staying next to you by having a licking treat on your hand or by giving her tiny bits of treats which will cause her to keep coming back for more.

Finally, is it possible to completely tame them if I work with them just on the bed and in the cage or do I need to do anything else?
Here are a few extras:
- Throw some treats into their cage as you pass to show them owner = treats and owner's presence doesn't always mean they will be handled
- Put some kind of fabric that smells like you and your willing to get chewed up into their cage
- Spend some time near the cage just talking to them and getting them used to your voice
 

Jess5

Active Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Messages
31
Location
Reno Nevada
Have them associate petting/handling with excitement and goodness by giving treats whenever handling them. Use some kind of licking treat or tiny bits of treats to give an automatic and quick reward then start with the basics, meanwhile making sure they are completely comfortable with each level of touch before moving onto the next:
- Touch and treat
- Stroke and treat
- Pick up slightly, treat, then put down
- I think you get the picture...


Is she scared or just exploring? Either way, you can have love staying next to you by having a licking treat on your hand or by giving her tiny bits of treats which will cause her to keep coming back for more.


Here are a few extras:
- Throw some treats into their cage as you pass to show them owner = treats and owner's presence doesn't always mean they will be handled
- Put some kind of fabric that smells like you and your willing to get chewed up into their cage
- Spend some time near the cage just talking to them and getting them used to your voice
Thanks so much for the advice!!
I’m not exactly sure if she’s stressed or exploring but she usually won’t take her favorite baby food when she’s on the bed, I think she gets too overwhelmed. The other 2 will try the baby food sometimes and I definitely always have it on hand when they’re out. I tried the pet/treat method you suggested earlier tonight and wow it’s already working! By the time the food was gone Twister would let me lightly stroke her head without flinching when I had food in front of her :)
I’ll definitely try those extra tips too, I’m home most of the time now so I can spend lots of time by their cage, I’ll probably make some healthy treats for them if I get the time!
Thank you so much!
 

Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
438
Location
British Columbia
Thanks so much for the advice!!
I’m not exactly sure if she’s stressed or exploring but she usually won’t take her favorite baby food when she’s on the bed, I think she gets too overwhelmed. The other 2 will try the baby food sometimes and I definitely always have it on hand when they’re out. I tried the pet/treat method you suggested earlier tonight and wow it’s already working! By the time the food was gone Twister would let me lightly stroke her head without flinching when I had food in front of her :)
I’ll definitely try those extra tips too, I’m home most of the time now so I can spend lots of time by their cage, I’ll probably make some healthy treats for them if I get the time!
Thank you so much!
I think she just wants to explore and map her territory. That's instinct for them. The fact you can handle her at other times just tells me it's more of 'leave me alone I want to explore.' LOL. It's a long process to make a firm trusting bond but you're doing really well. Rats want comfort and safety and the more you give to them, the more they give back to you. I love reading success stories! Oh, and the way to a rats heart is through their stomach. LOL.

You sound like you're almost ready to give shoulder rides. They won't stay put in the beginning but their curiosity as you take them to smell new places will make them incredibly happy. Just get them to trust handling first and allow them to map their current territory and then you can start taking them to other places. Some people use a bonding pouch or whatever and that's fine, or a sweatshirt with a hood or a front pocket is good too. When they go out they need to have a place they can hide in if they spook that's warm aka next to your body. I just allow my girls to be in my coat sleeves as I walk like a mummy with 3 rats in my coat. LOL Everyone on the street looks at me strangely but once they see 3 curious faces sticking out they smile. LOL.

It's gotten to the point where all my rats know what 'walk' means and they climb all over me while I get dressed to take them for a walk.
 

Rattdad

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Mar 9, 2019
Messages
21
Location
Rhode Island
If one hesitate to come out of the cage, you can always figure out what her favorite food is, then lure her near the door. Also, much like dogs, I think shy rats tend to pick up cues from their buds and so if the others are more friendly and trusting and starting to bond, the shy one will pick up on that before long...
 

Jess5

Active Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Messages
31
Location
Reno Nevada
Thanks for the replies!!
Twister has started eating baby food when she’s on the bed and I’ve been able to get them all out at the same time now which I think helps with all of their confidence.
I tried to do some more research on taming and some people said it was a good idea to keep them in the bed until they were completely comfortable every day, is it fine if I let them go to sleep hidden under the covers? They’re starting to get super comfy with the bed which is great but I think they might be ignoring me a bit lol!
Other than that I’ve been working on getting them used to me touching them inside the cage. I’m able to stroke their heads before giving them food but not for long periods of time yet. I’m not sure exactly how to word this but is it easier to get them used to being picked up in the cage through touch (getting them used to you touching them) or having them walk onto/stay on your hand themselves? I was really trying to get them used to walking onto my hand themselves at the beginning but I didn’t see much progress.
Thanks!
 

Coffee Babies

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Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
44
Location
PA, United States
They’re starting to get super comfy with the bed which is great but I think they might be ignoring me a bit lol!
This is a good sign! If they feel like they can get comfy near you, then it means they feel safe in your presence.
I’m not sure exactly how to word this but is it easier to get them used to being picked up in the cage through touch (getting them used to you touching them) or having them walk onto/stay on your hand themselves? I was really trying to get them used to walking onto my hand themselves at the beginning but I didn’t see much progress.
Whichever they find easier, if they will accept touch more then coming onto your hand then that's fine.
 

Jess5

Active Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Messages
31
Location
Reno Nevada
I’m so sorry to keep adding to this thread, but I’m becoming even more lost.
I talked to some more rat owners on other platforms and they suggested that I stop taking them out onto the bed until they’re used to being picked up inside the cage since Scrabble was becoming aggressive and the others didn’t seem to be making much progress. I added all their fun hammocks and hides back in and they seem a lot less stressed overall now, Scrabble especially seems to be more calm (she was the one biting me).
Is it a good idea to take them back to square one? I feel like I might’ve been rushing them with the bed. I found a stool that’s the right height so I can get them to crawl into my lap for food from the cage and most of them will but Twister is a big food hog, they seem to be doing better with touch as well already. Do you think if I work really hard on taming then inside the cage they’ll allow me to pick them up soon?
I think once I’m able to manually get them out of the cage then I should start the bed process again/carry them around in a bonding pouch, I just think it might’ve been too much for them.
Thanks!
 

Coffee Babies

Active Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
44
Location
PA, United States
Is it a good idea to take them back to square one? I feel like I might’ve been rushing them with the bed. I found a stool that’s the right height so I can get them to crawl into my lap for food from the cage and most of them will but Twister is a big food hog, they seem to be doing better with touch as well already. Do you think if I work really hard on taming then inside the cage they’ll allow me to pick them up soon?
It seems like you are doing great, a stool is a great idea!

I think once I’m able to manually get them out of the cage then I should start the bed process again/carry them around in a bonding pouch, I just think it might’ve been too much for them.
If they find the bonding pouch scary, I think you can skip it altogether. Once they are comfortable being held, you can bring them somewhere to run around and bond with them there.
 

Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
438
Location
British Columbia
Thanks for the replies!!
Twister has started eating baby food when she’s on the bed and I’ve been able to get them all out at the same time now which I think helps with all of their confidence.
I tried to do some more research on taming and some people said it was a good idea to keep them in the bed until they were completely comfortable every day, is it fine if I let them go to sleep hidden under the covers? They’re starting to get super comfy with the bed which is great but I think they might be ignoring me a bit lol!
Other than that I’ve been working on getting them used to me touching them inside the cage. I’m able to stroke their heads before giving them food but not for long periods of time yet. I’m not sure exactly how to word this but is it easier to get them used to being picked up in the cage through touch (getting them used to you touching them) or having them walk onto/stay on your hand themselves? I was really trying to get them used to walking onto my hand themselves at the beginning but I didn’t see much progress.
Thanks!
Yes, the more they feel safe under there with your scent, the better. This is truly important because a rats sense of smell tells them everything about the world. Your scent is now associated with safety enough to sleep. Good job! Are you petting them under the covers and giving them lickable treats so you can handle them in a place they feel safe? Have you tried the scoop method of picking them up? A good strategy is to put the lickable treat up your arm a bit and let them smell it and start coming up and scooping them from underneath to pick them up.
 

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