VERY timid rats.. can someone help me?

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Aliciagraceex

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Hey!

If anyone can give me some advice i would appreciate it so much! I adopted 3 ex-lab rat babies who needed a home & they were 8 weeks old when i got them🥰 they're 3 girls and i've had them for about a month... the only problem is that i'm finding it pretty difficult to tame them. I try and talk to them, i open the cage and hold my hand out every day to them, and as much as they will come up to me and sniff & will also take treats from me, i have got nowhere with being able to pick them up or even take them out of the cage... they seem so timid and i don't want to stress them out!

but im torn because i've read getting them out onto your bed or in a bath is a good way to tame them, but then you're always advised NOT to force them out & pick them up as it's too stressful for them! so i really don't know what to do.. how can i tame them if i can't get them out? ive tried encouraging them out onto my hand with treats but they just take them from me and run away! i've never had rats before and i'm trying to do everything right for them but i'm just worried they won't become tame :(( is there anything you could suggest? (i understand too that they are not typical pet rats and it may be harder but nothing seems to be working)

i forgot to note - if they do come out it's whenever i open the cage door & they will hop straight out and climb all on the top and down the back and it's near impossible to get them back into the cage!! They're full of energy but so timid around me :( i don't know what to do...

Attached is a pic of my babies 💜
 

Morrigan

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The original thing I used to do was stick my hand in their cage to have them get used to it, and just sit there. Just have your hand as part of the cage atmosphere and they usually eventually get curious, even if you don't have treats.

Are they scared of being picked up? Do they run or dart around? Or do they just refuse to go onto your hand by themself?

I have some rats right now who don't mind being picked up, but refuse to go out onto my hands because they feel like they're going to fall.
 

jorats

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Lab rats are especially timid and can take an even longer time to come around. The way I had my set up, my rats could come out of their cage and walk into a corralled area, rat proof. The lab rats sometimes needed coaxing with treats but their curiosity would get the best of them and they would come out after thinking about for sometime. Just sit with them, talk to them and offer treats. Also, you will find great tips on socializing at joinrats.com
 

Aliciagraceex

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The original thing I used to do was stick my hand in their cage to have them get used to it, and just sit there. Just have your hand as part of the cage atmosphere and they usually eventually get curious, even if you don't have treats.

Are they scared of being picked up? Do they run or dart around? Or do they just refuse to go onto your hand by themself?

I have some rats right now who don't mind being picked up, but refuse to go out onto my hands because they feel like they're going to fall.
Hey!

i try and stick my hand in the cage whenever possible and they can be really curious & will take treats from me and will kind of half climb onto me but then run off pretty quickly (they're also quite skittish with me moving around my room) they do, however prefer to wait by the cage door until the moment i open the cage and then dart straight out of it and run along the top and around the back of it... which makes it impossible to get them back in after they've had some time out as they are scared of being picked up (which i have to do as they won't go back in themselves)
They also constantly want to come out and do that... as soon as i put them back to go to bed etc.. they sit and wait for me to let them out again :(( it's hard to put my hand in for them to just explore it and get used to me when soon as i open the door to do that, they are straight out the door and running away from me 🤦🏽‍♀️ soooo.. i'm a bit stuck.

they have a large cage (a double critter nation & lots of toys) it's obvious they want to, and enjoy exploring... they're just scared of me? sorry if that's a bit confusing but i'm just a bit stuck :((

ive also noticed one of my girls has started bar chewing... i have a feeling it's to do with wanting to come out of the cage but i can't exactly free roam them in my room and have their cage door open... so... i got them a wheel! but they've had it for nearly a week and won't touch it.. and she's still bar chewing. Have you got any tips on that?

thankyou!!!
 

Aliciagraceex

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Lab rats are especially timid and can take an even longer time to come around. The way I had my set up, my rats could come out of their cage and walk into a corralled area, rat proof. The lab rats sometimes needed coaxing with treats but their curiosity would get the best of them and they would come out after thinking about for sometime. Just sit with them, talk to them and offer treats. Also, you will find great tips on socializing at joinrats.com

Thankyou!!

I think because their cage is quite large and tall i might have a bit of trouble getting them out into a rat proof area as right now, the moment i open their cage door they are jumping out onto the top of it and down the back... is there anything i can do to help this? they seem to be very shy around me but do love to explore! they have a lot of energy and so as soon as they are out it's hard to keep them in one area for any period of time... i know it's going to take a while, i just want to do everything right for them :))
 

Ratmomma2016

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For taming: you could put yogurt or baby food on your fingertips and put your hand in the cage. It forces them to be near you while they eat and helps them get accustomed to your hands. Since they are albino, they will rely more on sound than sight but shadows can freak them out. Talk to them whenever you pass their cage so they get used to your voice.
I would also suggest putting some of your old clothes in their cage (after you've worn them for a while) so they can get accustomed to accepting your sent. It could help if you put dry treats on the clothes (rice krispies or such).
Whenever you approach them, make sure to gently announce your presence with your voice before reaching your hand in.

For the cage: you can get project cardboard from a dollar store and wrap it around the sides and back of the cage (they're pretty tall so your rats shouldn't be able to jump over them to the bars). And maybe cut 1 or 2 down so they fit from the floor to the bottom of their cage door, so you can open and close their cage without it getting in the way. I used this trick with my critter nation because my 2 boys, when I first got them would hide under there whenever there was a loud noise.

Rat safe area: you can also make a play pin out of the project boards (just tape them together on the outsides). That way you can line it up around the cage and they can have access to go in or out of the cage but still remain in the play pin:)

I hope that at least some of that was helpful. I've had a few skittish rescues that I've been able to calm down this way.
 
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