Hi, my name is Julia. As of 3 days ago I am the proud rat mom of two beautiful 6 week old pups, Barry and Oliver. They are my first every rat pair. My two boys are very small, and both very skittish. Barry is a little more adventurous, he comes up to the cage when I am feeding and cleaning, when I walk into the room he peaks his head out, and he takes treats from me eagerly. My boy Oliver does none of those things. He is extremely wary of me and isnt giving me much opportunity to develop trust. Both of my boys are skittish to being touched. They do not let me handle them. If I manage to pick either of them up, they do not sit still at all and try to run back into the cage or leap out of my hands. I know picking them up and holding them close is an essential part of bonding but they do get genuinely terrified. And I dont want to persist and stress them out, but I also dont want to teach them that running avoids interacting with me. My breeder has given fairly questionable advice saying I should persist and that I should handle them as often as I can.But I know stress can make them sick, so I dont know what to do? I have a two story cage but because they are so small I closed them off to just the top floor they seemed to like more. There's plenty of clutter and 3 hides in there so they shouldnt feel stressed in the cage. The breeder said they are used to being handled and have been handled since about 3 weeks old. But I think it's not entirely accurate since she breeds so many. I'd like to trust her word for it but I can tell when an animal is unfamiliar with behaviors. Rats are smart, if they had been handled as often as she said, they would know being picked up isnt inherently bad and wouldnt flip out when I touched them. Does anyone know any tips and trick that can help me get them used to not just my presence in the room, but also being handled, without constantly spooking them? Or am i stuck persisting and picking them up against their will until they stop being scared?