By: Diana Davidson

Now...have you just got a new baby rat? Is your rattie an adopted rat? Were they either a mistreated lab rat, or picked up from the Rat Shelter? Is your rat an older rat who has been traumatized and is terrified of people? Is your rat an anti-social rat? Then we'll apply a little Trust Training. With patience and time - you can teach most any rat to trust you with this training method.

Trust training is essential for many reasons. With time and patience, trust training can turn the most anti-social rat into a loving companion - great news for the rat, because it will live out its years knowing it's loved!

Trust training can also ensure your safety, since an anti-social rat can do considerably more damage to you, or even worse small children. Thankfully, the horror stories are rare - but there is evidence of rat bites that cause considerable bleeding, and even permanent damage to fingers or forearms. Why is that? Most of the time, the rat is older or has been seriously mistreated. Remember that trust training takes a lot of time - some people who have used this method say it's taken them upwards of four hours per day over a number of weeks and months, but the rewards can be priceless.

- Begin with soft food.
Your best assets to begin trust training an anti-social rat are a spoon, and low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese or even baby foods (try feeding your rat a few options in their dish first, to figure out which of the soft foods they love the best).

- Reward good behaviour.
Because you can't yet trust feeding the rat from your fingers, the spoon and soft food comes in handy to draw your rat out of the cage and hopefully onto your hand, arm or lap. This can take days, even weeks, depending on what the rat has gone through (i.e. a lab rat, or even a young rat that's just scared and shy). Don't just thrust the spoon at the rat and expect them to come running.

Talk softly, move with care and be patient. It's often best to reward bit by bit, and break the trust training into 20-minute spurts over the day, giving your rat time, space and encouragement between sessions for maximum effect. Given time, they should learn to identify you with all the good stuff - and leave their bad past or poor behaviour behind.

- Rats "learn by doing".
Keeping a pair of rats is not only preferred, with trust training it's practically the only way to go. Like most other smart animals, rats learn by watching each other, and a well-socialized rat will help teach its more skittish cage companion to trust you much more quickly and more easily than you can.

Just follow these tips and you will be truly amazed at how your little buddy responds. Lots of people who have had exactly the same issue of having a nervous rat have applied these tips, with the added ingredients of love and patience, and now have a happy and relaxed rat. Hope these tips help you too!

About the Author

Diana Davidson is author of a new neat book on pet rat care which is a great resource that contains information you wouldn't find at your local library. For lots more pet rat care information, tips, quirky and interesting facts, and answers to your questions visit Diana's site at Article from EzineArticles.