Author Topic: How can I help my girls enjoy floor time?  (Read 745 times)

Offline WEAVER

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How can I help my girls enjoy floor time?
« on: March 07, 2009, 10:28:34 PM »
I adopted my girls about five months ago.  At that time, all three where pretty afriad of everything, including me.  Since that time, all three have come around and let me pet them and come to me for food.  They will also allow me to pick them up.  We have floor time out of the cage and in a large bathroom every day for about a half hour.  During that time I have to sit in there with them otherwise they will just hide or line up at the bathroom door sniffing under it for me to come back.  I usually just stay with them.  For the most part during floor time, the girls just want to sit on me and don't enjoy running around.  Delilah on the other hand really enjoys her time out and while she comes to visit as me as well, she runs off to go and play again. 

My question is how can I get the other two girls to run around and play without being so afriad?  I have a fleece blanket that I lay on the floor so their feet don't get cold, and they have several toys to play with and hide in.  I have the elephant and a flower hidey bed, they also have two tunnels.  I even use their bonding pouch to lay on the floor so they can retreat to that if they want to.  I just don't know what else to do...?

I have also tried bringing their cage into the bathroom so they can go back in there if they want to.  Instead both of the two leary girls will just stay in the cage and peak out the door.  They don't want to come out.  I really want them to feel confident.  Any ideas on how to help them with this?  Do they just need more time? 

I also want to add that I know floor time should be at least an hour, but honestly if I leave the girls out for that long they get really upset and almost act frantic.  It is almost like they have cage anxiety.  Do rats get that?

Offline RugRat

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Re: How can I help my girls enjoy floor time?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2009, 10:40:50 PM »
I think the 2 shy girls will get more and more comfortabl with time, they just have to gradually get used to it. Try to have as many fun toys/activities/food (fruits, veggies) as possible to entice the girlies.

Good luck!  :thumbsup2:

Offline javakittie

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Re: How can I help my girls enjoy floor time?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2009, 08:14:00 AM »
The way to a rat's heart is through their stomach.. This works for just about anything. For newbs I usually put down a plate of their favorite food, which is normally some baby food or baby cereal. That usually gets them out from hiding. I used to stick Gerber puffs or even yogies around the play area for them to find when they got better about trying to check things out.

Do they use the hiding spots at all, or do they just sit on you? Atleast that's a good sign that they trust you more than the Big Bad Bathroom. I'm a very mean mommy and I'll go so far as to place my guys in certain spots. My late Penn would just hide if her sister abandoned her to go play, so I'd pull her out of the fleece blanket and put her in or on something. ie: I used PVC tunnels when they were teeny and I'd just pop Penn in there. Eventually her sister would zoom by and she'd go exploring with her. Penn really blossomed into an explorer when I folded a blanket and put it half on my lap. She'd start under it hiding with me, then she would play under it with Mac, then she would use it to get to her next hiding spot. So if their hiding toys are spaced far enough apart that your's feel too exposed, they may not be willing to try it.

I also found that the lighting was just a bit too bright for their preferences. If you've got a window in the bathroom and can get them out during daylight hours, you can just nix the lights all together. If you can't do that, then trying a lower watt bulb or unscrewing some if you have several, may help. I've got 3 bright lights, so I unscrewed one or two of them during playtime.

When all else failed, though, I just ignored them. I'd read my book or play a game, and for some reason they usually went off around then. As soon as I started paying attention, they would go back to 'OMG! I is scared!' and huddle under the blanket. I am fully willing to accept I had weird rats, though.

Offline WEAVER

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Re: How can I help my girls enjoy floor time?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2009, 10:27:37 AM »
I also had wondered about the the brightness of the bathroom and have only started running the shower light, not the vanity, but it did not seem to make much of a difference.  As far as food, Delilah is very food motivated, but the other two refuse to eat anything out of their cage.  They won't even take a yoggie if I offer it to them while they sit on me.  They are weird like that and I just don't understand it.

Offline javakittie

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Re: How can I help my girls enjoy floor time?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2009, 03:35:52 PM »
Penn was like that, too. It took her some time before she'd eat outside of the cage, and she'd only nibble a bit before going off. She did get better as she got older, though. I don't know if it's just that she had more rats to depend on or what, though.

Offline Christy(myscratchcat)

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Re: How can I help my girls enjoy floor time?
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2009, 11:58:22 AM »
I know you said they won't eat when they are out of the cage.. but you can try pea fishing! I just use a glass 9x13 baking dish with shallow water and frozen/thawed peas.
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Offline synelovator

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Re: How can I help my girls enjoy floor time?
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2009, 12:41:03 PM »
You could try bringing some of their favourite toys from inside the cage outside for playtime, so they are more used to those toys.  You could also try using "dirty" liners on cage cleaning day (I know you clean every three days!! How dirty can they really be?) and put them on the floor, so that they can run and play on those surfaces instead of the big scary bathroom floor. 

Offline TnM

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Re: How can I help my girls enjoy floor time?
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2009, 10:51:03 PM »
With the new girls it's been touch and go, but across the board all rats love to hide under the bed and when they're under there it's a free-for-all. So maybe get two-4 cardboard boxes, cut holes, line with fleece that smells like them, then shredded newspaper tossed in with treats and set the cardboard boxes so you can make a sort of 'fort' with a blanket over top maybe to the toilet and edge of the tub, maybe use some clips or safe things that can't be pulled off it someone gets adventurous so the 'ceiling' is only about a foot above them, low enough they can touch it with their wiskers if they try and cover as much room as you can, the idea is to get them to dart from box to box. Then put the cage or whatever they won't come out of with the opening about 4 inches outside the 'overhang' of fleece... they should contemplate things and then decide to dart under eventually.

Another thing that's always happened around here is the longer they're out, the more riled up they get so try a 3 hour free range time, leave food and water out for them and pretty much just ignore em'. They're rats, they live for trouble, they've just gotta figure that out.
3 Girls in QT: Shady and Misha(the old ladies), and Blue Fairy
4 Boys: Spaz, Brother, Buddy, Valentino

RIP: Memory and Rattie Girl, Tinsel(amazing monkey rat), Ruby(The Gentle Giant), Holly(lil' tilty holly jolly rattie) - Gone from sight but never forgotten.