Forced Socialization - Jane Adamo's Original Method
This is Jane Adamo's original presentation of her method of Forced Socialization.
JoinRats does not recommend this method as it can cause significant problems.
In fact many people report that when tried with their rat, the rat became terrified. This material is offered here because it has a significant history and influence in the pet rat world. Over time there have been many iterations of it reproduced, and one can find variations on many sites that talk about trust training pet rats. This version is the original from which all other versions evolved and is offered more as an historical reference.
My sense is that the influence of this method in the pet rat world has been the result of:
(1) Reports from some people who had good experience with the technique - except that would be accidental. Accidental in the sense of, sometimes what the person does and the predisposition of the rat are a good match. But there is nothing in this description as written that would help a person know what exactly to do (right) and which kind of rat to do it with.
(2) The absence of other, better material as an alternative. JoinRats is on a mission to offer better methods.
by Jane Adamo, Reprinted with Permission
(Email Jane Adamo)
Every day, take the problem rat out of the cage and spend one continuous 20-minute period handling him/her. NO SHORTCUTS! TIME IT! Mix it up: let them sit on your lap/shoulder, let them walk on you, pet them, don’t pet them, hold them, scratch them, massage them, put them in your shirt. You can walk around, you can watch TV - just don’t let the rat get away from you for 20 minutes. Talk to him/her: "Relaaaaax. Good girl! No, no - stay here." etc. Just make sure you HANDLE them: 20 minutes of the rat sitting on your shoulder won't accomplish anything.
This method gets fast results: the rat's fear can't sustain itself for 20 minutes and it just burns itself out. The whole process will probably take only a few sessions.
If you're afraid of getting nipped, wear a pair of cotton gardening gloves: the ones with the rubber dots.
During the few days of the socialization period, keep the cage clear enough that you can always easily and quickly get to the rat. The rat should never think that they can GET AWAY from you. They should be under the impression that no matter where they go, YOU can get to them. Again, if the rat seems frightened enough to bite when you reach in to get him, wear the gloves. But please try to see things from the rat's point of view: in the wild, rats are very wary of "danger from above" - an owl or hawk swooping down to grab them. And that's what your hand looks like! So be a kind, gentle, loving and reassuring giant.
This method works great with domesticated Norways but it will also work with wild Ship Rats.
EVEN FASTER if you promise to take them to McDonalds afterward.
**Additional helpful comment:
"Forced Socialization involves simply holding the rat for 20 minutes, even against his will. Don't squeeze, of course. If the rat wants to move, let him run through your hands. Just keep your hands on him for 20 minutes. At first they'll be afraid, and they might struggle or squeak. But after a time they'll lose their fear - they just can't keep it up after that long. This exercise works because of rat psychology - rats trust rats who can dominate them yet not hurt them, and that's exactly what you're doing when you restrain them. This technique REALLY WORKS, and it works almost immediately. Do it for a week or so on your rats and see what happens."