training shy orbiting rats

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    CRITTER CITY

    BY SANDRA CONTI- TODD OF ALLEXPERTS.COM

    Artist unknown

    My rat is scared of me! Now what?

    There are a few things to always remember when it comes to handling scaredrats despite what some very reputable rat care sites suggest. One website inparticuar suggests you FORCE the rat to be held. Oh this makes sense doesntit? Here you are with an animal that is ster

    Page 1 of 6Training shy or biting rats - Critter City

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    Rats should be handled very soon in life! As soon as they are born, you shouldbegin to pick them up and by the time their eyes are open, if they were notsocialized, they will be terrified of humans. Its in their DNA. Its harder theolder they get and often if you bring home a pet store rat that was not proberlysocialized, chances are you will have a scared rat hiding in the corner freaking

    when you try to pick her up.

    Rats dont trust us (and for good reason! We have been trying to eradicatetheir entire species and have for hundreds of years!!!!!!!) But, they are clever,

    yes they sure are...and that is why hundreds of years later any decentexterminator company will tell you they are always trying to better their waysof eliminating rats from someones home or business since the rats pick up ontraps or poisonious bait and learn to avoid them really fast. Why? Repetition.

    Where do I start?Lets go over briefly, what the rats "problem" is, which its pretty easy toguess...she or he is scared and doesnt trust humans in general. The goal here isto let her know you are there for comfort and your safe. She wants to beallowed to make her own rules and decisions and resents people messing withher cage and her, especially. If you simply put your freshly washed hands inthe cage and lay them down flat will she run up and bite them or hide?One way to tell how aggressive she is, unfortunately, is to try this and see if she

    bites a hand that is laying flat, palms down, not moving. She will either comeand smell your hand, try to nibble your nails or even nibble you, althoughsometimes they do this and dont mean to hurt but other times CHOMP! Mostof the time these aggressive rats do not know your intentions and think yourthere to hurt them. After all, that is what man originally does to rodents, spendmillions a year killing them. They fear humans by natural instinct which is whythe breeder should handle the pups from birth. Socialization of these pups arethe ONLY way to avoid skittish rats or biters.

    A prime example of a rat regressing back to her natural instincts comes to mindnow....a lady wrote to me once and she owned a Cafe up north. A petstoreadjacent to her cafe was closing down and the last feeder rat they had escaped

    behind the walls. She was presumed dead. A few days later, Lindas little dogthat they bring to the cafe with them, smelled out the rat and heard the ratsscratching. Only after an employees horrified screams were heard by the cafeowners did they know they had company. A little white feeder rat was seenroaming the kitchen, running off with an empty ice cream cone. Linda wasdetermined to rescue this rat and finally after several months, they caught her

    by using a glue trap. They waited for her to come out of the wall where she hadlived for many months and once she got stuck to the trap the dumped vegetableoil on her feet to free her and put her in a cage.This was acted exactly like a wild rat. She was stunned and terrified. Having noconact with humans since she was a baby and having to fend for herself,sneaking out of her safety zone in between the walls to find food and water

    Page 2 of 6Training shy or biting rats - Critter City

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    (Once they knew she lived there, they started leaving her food and water) andon top of it all, this rat was PREGNANT by a wild rat that also probably lived inthe wall. She had the babies a few days later. I told her all I could about atleast trying to get the pups social since they were part wild rat...and happyending and long story short, the little white rat learned to trust and love andhappily let her owner handle her after a few weeks of trust training and thepups were given to good homes with experienced rat owners and they too werealso being trust trained and it was working. The key is simply early interaction

    with these critters and they bond for life, but it can be done later in life as well,as it was proven with this lucky little feeder rat!!

    Setting up a safe zone!

    SO, where to start? You need to have a place to play with her and to set up herplay area for starters. Depending on her age and size, you can buy a play penfence made for small animals. Its tall and it extends pretty far (I paid about $40for mine) and I spread mine around in a huge circle, about 12 feet in diameter.Small rats will fit through the holes, however, so in that case, or just simply tosave money, you can construct your own play pen corral out of cardboard. All

    you need is some large flat cardboard boxes and you can tape them with heavyduty tape or if your creative, cut notches so they fit together like a puzzle. Makesure its high enough, at least 3 feet.

    Shy little Scrappy! With plenty of sweet talking, he started to warm up to hisowner in no time!

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    Next, you will need some toys for her to play with and they are reserved ONLYfor playtime. Again, homemade toys are fine, from empty boxes turned upsidedown with holes for doors cut in them are a hit with rats and also a box withold clothes, socks, rags etc...for them to burrow and hide in. A solid ball like aping pong ball is a big hit too as is paper bags!!!!!! Huge hit!

    You will need a treat for rewarding her, which is how you will train her not tobite. Cheerios, rice chex cereal(unsweetened) etc...are good to use. Again, thetreat is reserved ONLY for training and should not be given to her any othertime until of course training is over and after that she can have them as a snackin her cage.

    Click here for ideas for toys: TOY IDEAS(http://www.freewebs.com/crittercity/gettingstarted.htm)

    SO, now you have the barricade to keep the rat in for play time, some toys anda treat for rewards, now all you need to to is put the cage with the rat inside theplay area and of course, yourself, with freshly washed hands and clothes thatare free of animal scent including the family dog or cat or another rat.Next,what you will do is get inside the play area with the cage door open. Lether see the door is open and she is free to come out. Be sure she has a safe wayout of the cage door is high, such as putting a box for her to use as a step to getout. She may not come out at first, but eventually she will poke her head outthe door and look around. One wrong sound and she may run back in to her

    hiding spot. I assume you have some type of hidey house or for her in the cagelike an igloo or plastic house etc...since this makes rats feel secure and theyneed to be able to hide from the outside world.

    Safe play area ready! Now what?

    Anyhow, whatever you do, DO NOT pick her up to bring her out of the cage orforce her out. She may not choose to come out for a few days, or she may comeout the same day but it may take an hour, maybe less.The second she comes out, offer her a cheerio or whatever snack you have for areward. Make your moves slowly so she is not startled but the entire time she isdebating on coming out, you can talk softly to her. If the room is totally quietand all of a sudden you talk or sneeze she may run for cover!!

    Anyhow, once she is out of the cage, let her explore the play area. Talk to her,use her name often, use short words such as "its ok" or "come here" and showher the toys you have for her, you can even lay down and see if she climbs on

    you. My rats climb on my back and love my HAIR! LOL However, if she runup and bites you, back in the cage she goes with no treat.

    She will learn very fast that her beloved playtime and treat will be taken fromher by biting you and she WILL catch on eventually. She will stop biting

    because she will prefer to be out of her cage playing and exploring.

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    ou may need to work with her for a few days, maybe a week, maybe a fewweeks....but eventually she will get used to you and trust you, your voice, yourscent, the play area and the sounds she hears around her. Its all a matter oftrust. Again, no matter what, do not pick her up and take her out of the cageduring this time until she stops biting you and YOU learn to trust HER too. It

    works both ways too. Your fear of being bitten is noticed by her just by thenegative energy your giving off which may make her more nervous. This is whyshe keeps biting you and doesn't trust you yet. Once she sees your hand as thefriend and not the enemy and she relates you to treats, play time and all goodthings, she will stop biting and she will pick up on your positive energy. Just trynot to show fear as much as possible during the first few days of training. Also

    when its time to put her back in the cage, if you can lure her back in to the cagewithout picking her up this is a good idea. You can put your hands flat on theground and tap them gently and call her nam