Help needed trust training rats

Discussions relating to all aspects of rat behaviour, training, companionship, and introductions.
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lammy12345
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Help needed trust training rats

Post by lammy12345 » Sat Dec 26, 2015 2:41 am

Hey, so i've started m rat journey completely wrong from the very beginning. first off i received them for Christmas from a pet store (they are x2 females, around15weeks old now) and i've had them for a week exactly.

so i want to start trust training my rats but so far i have been making huuge rookie mistakes. here's the list:

1. i am a timid owner so, i tend to run away or flinch when the rats come near me when cleaning their cage

2. i have been feeding them through the cage bars, (i have also tried to put my hand near the cage and everytime they try to bite it), also because of this they have started biting the water bottle through the cage. (yes i know terrible idea)

3. i have had to do some emergency works on my home so they have been moved around alot(in their cage) and didn't really get a chance to settle down, but have been in the same place for the past 2 days.

4. i have to move them to my bathroom for trust training or cleaning the cage because my house is not yet rat proof.

so those are the issues so far
about my rats:
one of them is more active than the other, she often starts all the fights aswell (they fight alot) and is the most likely to bite or run up to my hand when i try to clean the cage.
i don't think they are really scared of me,they always come up to the front of the cage where i usually am to climb and all sorts, they like when i sing to them, they come to the front of the cage and relax or they fall asleep. they have also moved their house (i placed it facing away from me at the front of the cage and they moved it to the front of the cage right where they can see me- not sure if this is cute or creepy lol). they have also rearranged the toys in their cage like the wooden blocks with holes in them they moved it facing the front of the cage too. also where they are they can see me when i'm changing their water and adding food to the food bowl, they can also see me when i'm eating or relaxing. when i give them treats they jump around like kangaroos, they fight each other for it if one of them has it. oh and they like to make sure they can see me when theyre eating, so they're more likely to stand right at the door of the cage and stare at me, go all the way back for more food and come back and stare.

let me not go on but yes, any help will do on trust training and also how to become less timid around them, iknow they can sense fear.

lammy12345
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Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2015 2:21 am

Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by lammy12345 » Sat Dec 26, 2015 3:18 am

oh i also spend alot of time (pretty much the whole day) near their cage, talking to them, singing to them, randomly coming up to their cage, and most of the time the don't run or anything.

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Caza66
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by Caza66 » Sat Dec 26, 2015 10:02 am

Hi and welcome. The first thing I do with newbies is to get them in my dressing gown and sit on the sofa watching tv. If you are unsure about handling them you could use a short piece of carpet inner tube for them to climb out of the cage. Once they are on you and using you like a climbing frame you will soon get more confident. The main thing is to not be frightened as they can pick up on this.

Also, I wouldn't feed through the bars as this can encourage snatching and biting.

Also, be patient, this is where I fall down as I want things to happen quickly. So be strong and be patient and good luck :luck:
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Naturenut
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by Naturenut » Sat Dec 26, 2015 7:28 pm

Hello!

You are doing something right...you are on this forum, looking for help!

I totally agree with Caza66's advice. And we all start somewhere and make mistakes along the way! We free range in our bathroom now anyway instead of my daughter's bedroom - it's so much easier to keep clean and smell free.

Have confidence with them and take things a step at a time x :luck:
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lammy12345
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by lammy12345 » Sun Dec 27, 2015 4:39 am

thank you guys!

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squeakrat
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by squeakrat » Sun Dec 27, 2015 6:12 pm

Some good advice already, and it doesn't sound like they are particularly nervous of you, so you should be able to make some quick progress with them :luck:
lammy12345 wrote: 1. i am a timid owner so, i tend to run away or flinch when the rats come near me when cleaning their cage

2. i have been feeding them through the cage bars, (i have also tried to put my hand near the cage and everytime they try to bite it), also because of this they have started biting the water bottle through the cage. (yes i know terrible idea)

3. i have had to do some emergency works on my home so they have been moved around alot(in their cage) and didn't really get a chance to settle down, but have been in the same place for the past 2 days.

4. i have to move them to my bathroom for trust training or cleaning the cage because my house is not yet rat proof.
1. Yes, you're right that you being nervous of them is likely to make them more scared of you! I know it can be difficult to try and train yourself out of reacting, but you'll have to try. Are you afraid of being bitten, or is it a more general nervousness because rats are new to you?

2. Stop feeding them through the bars. You can offer them something yummy on a spoon (like yoghurt) to get them used to coming up to you to be fed, and then if they end up biting (normally just through over enthusiasm!), they'll bite the spoon and not you. Once you get a bit braver, you can just hand them things to eat.

Rats don't have great eyesight, so often their reaction to something new is to test bite it (not a proper bite, more just feeling with their teeth). This can worry new owners, who think the rats are trying to properly bite them. So don't panic if they come up to your hand in the cage. However feeding them through the cage bars can lead to bites because they're more likely to try and make a grab for things.

3. Not much you can do about this now, but actually, having them in a place where they get lots of interaction with people can help make them a bit braver, so this is not necessarily a bad thing.

4. If you've only had them a week, I wouldn't have expected you would have needed to clean the cage yet. Too much cleaning can encourage them to scent mark and make them more smelly. You can spot clean the litter tray or if they're using a particular corner for toilet, but I would only clean the actual substrate out of the bottom of the cage every 1-2 weeks, depending on how deep it is.
lammy12345 wrote:oh i also spend alot of time (pretty much the whole day) near their cage, talking to them, singing to them, randomly coming up to their cage, and most of the time the don't run or anything.
This is a really good way to get them used to you, so sounds like you've made a good start :)
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Naturenut
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by Naturenut » Sun Dec 27, 2015 10:22 pm

Just remembering the early days when hubbie moaned that the boyz were stinky. I cleaned that cage within an inch of it's life and the more I slaved , the more they peeeeeeeed in protest. It was a vicious circle and not one I was winning either! Now I do a litter change twice a week and as squeakrat suggested a more in depth clean 1-2 weeks.

I can't bear housework, they hate it squeaky clean, so everyone's a winner! :lol:
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lammy12345
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by lammy12345 » Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:59 pm

thanks, think i'm more scared of being bitten than scared of the rats themselves, there's that or wondering if they'll make a run fr it and i won't be able to find them.

lammy12345
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by lammy12345 » Mon Dec 28, 2015 12:03 am

i don't know why but i think my rats prefer it clean, like if i leave their poo in there for 2or more days they hide up in their hammocks and don't come down, and when they want food they only climb on the bars to reach it they don't touch the ground until theyre where the food is (this also means they don't fight and always sleep together lol) and once i take the poo out or clean it they run back down again to sleep in their little house.

Feline
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by Feline » Mon Dec 28, 2015 12:22 am

I've tamed a few rats in my time- and they key is always to not be nervous as if they might bite me. For this I get into a kind of a 'zone' where I am mentally prepared to get a nip but ready not to react to it other than a loud squeak kind of noise. If you mentally prepare to never flinch and relax into a kind of fatalistic if they bite me, they bite me mentality .... then they seem to not bite me :lol:

With the nervous ones I just stick them up my jumper or in my hood or kangaroo pouch of my sweatshirt and walk around wearing them for a few hours. They get used to my smell and enjoy the warmth and come to look forward to their snuggle times.

My new baby buck 'Jar Jar' is probably the friendliest outgoing rat I've never met in my life which is partly why I picked him- and will come to my call, hop out of his cage onto my hand and lick me already. I've had him for 3 weeks. Initially when he licked my fingers he would give them a little test nip which I never flinched from and just verbalised as not good- and he learned and stopped. I am basically acting like a giant rat :girly:

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cyber ratty
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by cyber ratty » Mon Dec 28, 2015 11:27 am

lammy12345 wrote:i don't know why but i think my rats prefer it clean, like if i leave their poo in there for 2or more days they hide up in their hammocks and don't come down, and when they want food they only climb on the bars to reach it they don't touch the ground until theyre where the food is (this also means they don't fight and always sleep together lol) and once i take the poo out or clean it they run back down again to sleep in their little house.
This sounds to me as though they have fairly strong 'wild type' instincts - not wanting to be too close to their toilet which would advertise their presence to predators, not wanting to spend time on the ground where they would be more vulnerable, etc.

I would therefore remove all hiding places (i.e. their house and anything else that is enclosed), and force them to face the open and thus come to realise that they are safe.

btw, it is important not to change their toilet more than 3 times a week (preferably only twice) because they need access to some of their poos in order to re-ingest them and absorb some necessary nutrients (coprophagy).

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[cub]
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by [cub] » Mon Dec 28, 2015 2:49 pm

Regarding the biting, rats (and rodents in general) use their teeth in a variety of ways. As squeakrat says, often it's just exploratory nibbling – "What is this? Is it food?" – which usually doesn't break the skin and doesn't hurt. I find that as they get to know you, they start to recognise your scent and nibble less often. If you're lucky enough to have a rat that grooms you, they may use their teeth on you while grooming, particularly if they come across a rough patch of skin that they'll helpfully exfoliate for you. :lol: If they're lunging at you through the bars, it might just be because they think you're food – especially if they're used to getting fed through the bars – and they want to grab their tasty treat quickly before anyone else does. That can break the skin, but only because they're being hasty, not because they're being aggressive. Actual aggressive teeth-use I divide into nipping and biting. Nipping also usually doesn't break the skin or hurt, but is an expression of annoyance – basically a "stop that, go away, don't bother me". Actual biting is a step up from nipping, breaks the skin, draws blood, and is properly aggressive (though usually ultimately driven by fear).

So if one of them is using their teeth on you, it may not actually be biting – they may just be curious, or annoyed. Though even if it is biting, my advice would remain the same: try to stay calm and confident, because as others have said, they will pick up on your nervousness and become more nervous themselves as a result. I've been bitten a fair bit and, unless my rodents have been especially weak-jawed, it genuinely isn't that bad. If you go in with the mentality that Feline recommended, not only will you be more confident and therefore less likely to get bitten in the first place, but if you do get bitten you'll be prepared for it and less likely to flinch, which teaches the rats that biting doesn't get a reaction. :luck:
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bazu
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by bazu » Mon Dec 28, 2015 4:58 pm

One trick I use for potentially bitey rats is to put my hand near them in a fist first, with my knuckles toward them. They can sniff at it all they like until they're satisfied, and if they do bite, the knuckles hurt a LOT less, bleed a lot less and are easier to retrieve if the rat doesn't let go for some reason (I should emphasise that "doesn't let go" has never happened to me or anyone I know, but I added it just for peace of mind if you're nervous about that!)
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lammy12345
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Re: Help needed trust training rats

Post by lammy12345 » Mon Dec 28, 2015 5:42 pm

thanks alot guys! so i tried some trust training today first them taking food from my hand then just my hand in there, there was alot of nipping it didn't hurt however one of them did draw blood but like i said it didn't hurt so i never noticed it, but i think it was only because of where they nipped (just under the nail bed sorta-plus i have short nails) so yeah it didn't actually hurt,and the cut is more or less invisible, i couldn't see it to putt a plaster on or anything and it stopped bleeding as soon as i washed it. but they seemed to come out of their cage abit more once they nipped a few times, one came out to sniff my hand again a couple times, but that's about it so far.

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