Training food shy rat

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Feolthanos
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Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:49 pm
Location: South Yorkshire

Training food shy rat

Post by Feolthanos » Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:45 pm

Hiya, had my rats for almost 3 months now. They're still pretty skatty and not keen on being handled, but making some slow progress.

What I really need from them however if to come back when called. One of my rats did beautifully this morning, I made a soft clapping sound, called his name and within 15 seconds he jumped into my lap, got the treat and I was able then to scoop him up and put him in the cage. The other rat. . . hid, refused to come out, an after a few minutes I had to be like, sorry kid, mamas gotta go to work and had to just pick him out.

He really isn't food focused at all and loves being out of the cage. I can't always wait for him to naturally go back of his own occord and I'm concerned he's just associating me now as the mean lady who spoils his fun :roll: What can I tempt him with if food isn't an incentive to him?

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[cub]
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Re: Training food shy rat

Post by [cub] » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:17 am

It might just be that food taken directly from you while outside the cage isn't an incentive. A lot of rats find eating outside of the cage unacceptable, and particularly nervous rats may not be keen on taking food from a human. However food inside the cage may still be an incentive. A lot of people feed their rats after playtime, so you could try feeding them in the morning if you don't already, and make sure that happens only after they go back in the cage. If they're not keen on handling, then they're more likely to return to the cage if there's a way for them to do so without having to go via you, particularly if it's not too exposed. If it's too tricky to set up a ladder/ramp system, you could try training them to hop into a carrier and then get lifted in that into the cage.
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn (NLA32); Zephyr Nyahir; Zephyr Zymandis; Zephyr Blasto.
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Mick Jagger "Edgeworth"; Din (NLA28); Zephyr Donovan "Phoenix"; Xeltan; Lita (NLA32); Lia (NLA28); Zephyr Delanynder (NLA28); Falere (NLA36); Mirala (NLA36); Zephyr Opold; Rila.

Feolthanos
Posts: 136
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:49 pm
Location: South Yorkshire

Re: Training food shy rat

Post by Feolthanos » Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:15 pm

[cub] wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:17 am
It might just be that food taken directly from you while outside the cage isn't an incentive. A lot of rats find eating outside of the cage unacceptable, and particularly nervous rats may not be keen on taking food from a human. However food inside the cage may still be an incentive. A lot of people feed their rats after playtime, so you could try feeding them in the morning if you don't already, and make sure that happens only after they go back in the cage. If they're not keen on handling, then they're more likely to return to the cage if there's a way for them to do so without having to go via you, particularly if it's not too exposed. If it's too tricky to set up a ladder/ramp system, you could try training them to hop into a carrier and then get lifted in that into the cage.
He rarely takes food from within the cage too though. He used to, but now he just wants to be out (not in a rushing out sorta way, just he knows if the doors open the 'world' is out there).

They have free access to come and go from the cage as it's a venturer so nice and low.

They rarely get a morning run, it's usually only weekends with an evening the usual. I feed a small amount of food in the morning and then the main food after free ranging as an incentive to come back which works for my bigger food orientated guy (typical buck) but not so much for the zippy speedy I just want to run free one.

Even when he did eat a load as a kitten he'd take a bite outs something, go to something else, bite, repeat. He'd eventually go back and finish but it's like his brain is as zoomy as his little pattering feet lol. I think he just knows that I'll feed him regardless and I've tried delaying the meal til later but it doesn't work for him and annoys my other boy.

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[cub]
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Re: Training food shy rat

Post by [cub] » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:49 pm

Feolthanos wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:15 pm
Even when he did eat a load as a kitten he'd take a bite outs something, go to something else, bite, repeat. He'd eventually go back and finish but it's like his brain is as zoomy as his little pattering feet lol. I think he just knows that I'll feed him regardless and I've tried delaying the meal til later but it doesn't work for him and annoys my other boy.
Oh so he's one of those rats. :roll: :lol: In that case I think your only option really is to make sure the room is set up so that retrieving him is easy (if you having to dig him out from under furniture etc. that can make things a lot more traumatic for all concerned) and then just scoop him up and plonk him back in the cage when it's time.

I can't unfortunately think of anything other than food that would motivate a wary rat that a human can provide. With dogs you can potentially motivate them with things like access to a favourite toy, or attention and praise, but a shy rat that doesn't like handling is unlikely to be interested in either of those things.

So I think the best way forward is to make sure that the unpleasantness of being recaptured and returned to the cage is as quick and fuss-free as possible, and hope that he gets used to that over time.
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn (NLA32); Zephyr Nyahir; Zephyr Zymandis; Zephyr Blasto.
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Mick Jagger "Edgeworth"; Din (NLA28); Zephyr Donovan "Phoenix"; Xeltan; Lita (NLA32); Lia (NLA28); Zephyr Delanynder (NLA28); Falere (NLA36); Mirala (NLA36); Zephyr Opold; Rila.

Feolthanos
Posts: 136
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:49 pm
Location: South Yorkshire

Re: Training food shy rat

Post by Feolthanos » Sat Mar 14, 2020 10:48 am

[cub] wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:49 pm
Feolthanos wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:15 pm
Even when he did eat a load as a kitten he'd take a bite outs something, go to something else, bite, repeat. He'd eventually go back and finish but it's like his brain is as zoomy as his little pattering feet lol. I think he just knows that I'll feed him regardless and I've tried delaying the meal til later but it doesn't work for him and annoys my other boy.
Oh so he's one of those rats. :roll: :lol:
Yep :lol:

The little bleep knows now when it's time to go back and will run off. It used to be his brother that was difficult to retrieve as he's the shyer of the two, but he'll just stay still where as zippy has figured out where I can't easily bend down to and will zip from place to place.
The cardboard barrier is going back up temporarily so he'll have less space to run to and we can hopefully work on his retrieval from there.

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