Trust-Training New Babies After a Recent Escape?

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peanutandjel

New Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2022
Messages
4
Location
Boston, MA
Hi All,

I'm so excited to be a part of the community! Reading through this forum has been a LIFE SAVER this past week to get my new babies back to safety after an escape, but now I definitely need some additional guidance on what to do from here. Here's the full story with ALL details (so we don't miss any potential mistakes I could be making):

My girlfriend and I very recently adopted a couple of about 3 month old babies, Peanut Butter (PB) and Jelly, last Saturday from PetSmart (My girlfriend surprised me with them after months of me talking about it without knowing it's frowned upon to adopt from a pet store). We got the girls a nice big cage with 3 levels, plenty of toys, and plenty of climbing space. Once we got them into their new home, we gave them some time to explore and settle into their enclosure. I read that the general rule here is to allow 2-3 days for settling in before beginning any type of bonding, trust- or hand-training, but we noticed that the girls never came out of their hutch to explore the cage except to eat and drink (at least when we were anywhere near the vicinity). I read that one solution to get timid, hiding rats to explore and become acclimated it to remove their hiding place for a bit, se we removed the hutch and replaced it with a felt curtain in a corner so that they still had a place to hide, but could at least get used to seeing us around so they felt safer to explore their cage. This seemed to work after giving them an additional day to acclimate.

Here's where I got too excited and the HUGE mistake that I don't know how to recover from. Since they seemed to be comfortable with their new environment and seeing us, it seemed like it was appropriate to begin with bonding and trust training. I tried to begin by offering treats to them in their cage, but they wouldn't accept them at all. So back to research I go, and I find a forum that says it can be helpful to allow them to free roam in a safe and enclosed space, such as a bathroom, and offer them treats their so that they learn their owner is a safe place to go when in an unfamiliar environment.

I removed everything from the floor, blocked the door with a towel, and double checked everywhere for any holes or cracks they could get into, and found nothing, so I took them out. They began exploring. PB was brave and inquisitive, while Jelly was terrified just looking for a hiding place. Well, I missed a tiny, hidden hole, and the girls found it and climbed right in. After hours trying to coax them out with treats and them only poking their noses out to sniff but never coming out, I left their cage in the bathroom overnight in hopes they'd come back home on their own. This worked with PB, who we quickly enclosed in the cage to avoid a second escape, but Jelly WOULD NOT BUDGE.

We tried everything to get Jelly out, but she wouldn't budge, so we resorted to catch and release traps, which she outsmarted about 7 times before we finally caught her 5 days later (yesterday). We quickly got her out and reintroduced her to the cage with PB, who was very happy to see her sister. Jelly on the other hand, freaked out and just seems overall traumatized. She later calmed down, but as can be expected is staying in hiding anywhere she can and staying very close to PB, and gets frightened everytime she sees me pass by unless she's cuddled up with PB.

I'm so relieved to have her home safe, but here's where I need help. I have NO IDEA when or how to even begin trying to trust train Jelly after this, not only because the poor girl just went through so much, but also because she's an extremely smart escape artist and I worry that she'll outsmart me and find a way to escape again. Even if I begin the process of bonding inside of the cage, I'm so terrified that she'll dart out and find another hiding spot. I've since filled the hole in the bathroom and ensured that there weren't any others, so maybe I could begin in their, but who knows if there's another spot I missed. There's no other place in my apartment that I deem to be rat-proof enough to contain her, and I bought a play pen, but I have a feeling she'll jump right out.

PB seems ready to bond at least just within the cage, as she will now take treats from my girlfriend and I out of our hands. But obviously Jelly and her moms are both terrified after this ordeal and need to build up some trust.

WHERE AND HOW DO I START????
 

Tnoz

Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
Lancashire
Hello, you’ve had a scary experience, I got my two 12 week olds two weeks ago, I’ve had one escape through the bars as she’s slimmer than the other. I’ve since rat proofed the whole cage. Bubble is the one I’m having progress with but it’s taking more than a few days! Rodents get skittish and scared and may bite if feeling cornered. I began with leaving treats in their cage and leaving the room for them to enjoy, I’ve given them yoghurt on a t spoon to teach them not to bite as I’ve been bitten by the more timid one. It takes time and patience and they sleep in the day and come around about 9,30pm mine do anyway, I’ve still not been able to hold them or stroke them even with all the treats and talking, I got mine from a pet centre via a breeder and not sure how much Hooman interaction they’ve had. I’ve 9 Guinea pigs so know it takes more than 2-3 days as people suggest. If their very young then maybe. Hopefully in time you will get there like I will. Good luck 🤞
 

peanutandjel

New Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2022
Messages
4
Location
Boston, MA
Hello, you’ve had a scary experience, I got my two 12 week olds two weeks ago, I’ve had one escape through the bars as she’s slimmer than the other. I’ve since rat proofed the whole cage. Bubble is the one I’m having progress with but it’s taking more than a few days! Rodents get skittish and scared and may bite if feeling cornered. I began with leaving treats in their cage and leaving the room for them to enjoy, I’ve given them yoghurt on a t spoon to teach them not to bite as I’ve been bitten by the more timid one. It takes time and patience and they sleep in the day and come around about 9,30pm mine do anyway, I’ve still not been able to hold them or stroke them even with all the treats and talking, I got mine from a pet centre via a breeder and not sure how much Hooman interaction they’ve had. I’ve 9 Guinea pigs so know it takes more than 2-3 days as people suggest. If their very young then maybe. Hopefully in time you will get there like I will. Good luck 🤞
Thanks for the reply! Do you happen to have any rat proofing tips specific to a room or cage with the door open? Mine can't slip out of the bars, but they're obviously super fast and after this whole experience I fear another quick escape whenever I open their door. Also, in terms of biting, niether of them had bit me before, but yesterday when I put my hand to the cage for them to sniff me they both "bit" me, and by that I mean they sort of gave me a nibble that didn't break skin and then went back about their rattie business. Does that mean they're scared of me or maybe they just smelled food from my hand?
 

Tnoz

Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
Lancashire
Thanks for the reply! Do you happen to have any rat proofing tips specific to a room or cage with the door open? Mine can't slip out of the bars, but they're obviously super fast and after this whole experience I fear another quick escape whenever I open their door. Also, in terms of biting, niether of them had bit me before, but yesterday when I put my hand to the cage for them to sniff me they both "bit" me, and by that I mean they sort of gave me a nibble that didn't break skin and then went back about their rattie business. Does that mean they're scared of me or maybe they just smelled food from my hand?
They will nibble you to make sure your safe, I always wash hands before putting hands near just in case, my partner bought a roll of garden mesh but it’s not the flexible type, the squares are 12mm x 12mm, have to cut it with wire cutters, I’ve wrapped the whole cage. As for room they say put cardboard at bottom of settee or bed to stop them getting underneath cuz it’s a nightmare getting them out, my escapee has stayed under settee twice now. Just make sure Room as empty as possible put things on a table, leave cage door open with something for them to access the cage like a ramp or towel sat on something, stay as calm as you can with no sudden movement and talk gently/quietly to not alarm them, no bright lights, a lamp behind a curtain works for me. They enjoy cucumber, cheerio’s, tomato, scrambled egg, nuts, sunflower seeds, mealworms, blueberries, bit of kale,
I get the supreme Johnson mix that’s what they are when I got them. Sugar free yogurt on a t spoon and baby food meat types ie spaghetti bolognaise, I gave mine slices of apple to they enjoyed, so experiment. Check YouTube out for ideas and it will show you how to proof the cage. Good luck 🤞
 

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