Pet rats are very social and curious creatures that love to play and explore. They play with each other, with toys, and of course with you. A strong bond between you and your pet rats is necessary for them to trust you, but once you gained their trust, you will have so much fun with your pet. Playing with them and training them will not only entertain you and your rats, but it will also enhance the rat’s intelligence and make the bond between you even stronger.
As a whole, playing with pet rats is important to create a strong bond. Rats are curious animals that enjoy exploring new territories and playing with other rats and with the owner. Ideas for games are training the rats, giving the rats new toys, creating mazes, and carrying the rats around.
Be gentle when you play with your rats. Even though they are rather sturdy animals, you should never grab a rat with force or squeeze it.
Never hold back a limb and don’t pick up the rat by the tail, especially not the tip of the tail. You can hurt and injure your rats and they will have trouble trusting you again.
Here are some ideas on how to play with your rats.
Bonding With the Rat
Before you can start to train your rat, or go on adventures together, you will have to create a strong bond between you and your pet rat.
As a whole, bonding is the most important part of a pet rat-owner relationship. Only if a rat trusts its owner, it is willing to bond. Depending on the character of the rat and other circumstances, this process can take a few days or up to several weeks or even months.
A rat only bonds with you, if it trusts you. You can start by teaching the rat, that it’s fun to be on your hand. Put some treats on your hand and let your pet get used to your skin first, once your rat is not afraid of your hand anymore, you can let your rat climb up on your arm and not your shoulder.
Give your rats some treats, spend time with them, talk to them, and walk around your flat with your rats on your shoulder or on your pockets. All these things will help you to connect with your rat.
Most rats like to be petted. Once your rats completely trust you, you can even gently stroke their faces and pet their backs, necks, and even bellies. Some rats love to be gently scratched behind their ears.
Don’t force it. Every rat is different and while some rats are very brave and extremely interested in getting to know you, others need more time to trust you.
Rats love to explore. They are super curious and eager to see new places and go on adventures.
You can create tunnels and hiding places in your room, or hide treats in different places in your room. When you let your rat run free in your room, it will have so much fun exploring all these new things.
You can also create mazes and obstacle courses with treats in the end. These can be made out of cardboard boxes or paper tubes.
Rats are really smart and will always find the shortest way. If the obstacle course has no ceiling, it will rather climb on top of the maze, instead of looking for the way inside of the maze.
You can use different things from your home such as newspapers, cardboard, boxes, or other stuff to entertain your rats. You can also buy rat toys in the pet store. They appreciate most toys and items you offer them and love hammocks and places to chill, like this hammock basket for rats:
You can also get second-hand toddler toys. Many of these toys are great for rats to play with.
If you have many different toys, rotate them regularly.
If you are up for some dirt, you can offer your rats a container half full of soil. You can hide some seeds and treats in the soil.
If you want to, you can even water the soil and let some grass grow in the container, before letting the rats play in the dirt. This game might be a bit messy, therefore you should put the container somewhere, where some soil on the ground does not matter.
Create some wonderful, exciting homes for your rats and enjoy watching them, while they explore everything. Your rats will appreciate your effort.
Training pet rats is a lot of fun. Rats are incredibly smart and learn quickly. And they can do fun stunts if trained properly. The easiest trick is to teach them their names.
Start the training by regularly calling the rat by its name. Once the rat starts to react or even come to you, offer your rat a treat. Learning the name won’t take long. And it’s so much fun to watch a single rat run to you when you call out the name.
You can also teach your rat to pick up certain things, run in a circle, stand up on its back limbs or crawl up somewhere. As long as you always reward the rat after a trick, it will quickly learn the tricks.
Playing With Water
Not all rats like water games, but some just love to hop around in the water, especially on warm days. You can offer your rats a small pool in a shallow container, such as a bowl. Add some rocks or similar things to give your rats the option to climb in and out whenever they want if the container is big. Otherwise, they might get scared.
If you want to, you can add some treats, or frozen peas into the water and watch your rats swim, play, and eat in the pool.
Some rats won’t go into the water. Not every rat loves swimming.
Why Does My Rat Bite me Softly?
Some rats start to nibble on your finger or lick you. These are signs of affection. Some rats are not very gentle when it comes to nibbling off crumbs or sauce from your hand. Therefore you might want to wash your hands after eating or cooking to make sure that your rat does not mistake you for food.
As a whole, if a rat softly bites the owner, and it does not hurt, it is a sign of affection. The rat tries to groom the owner and nibbling is one of the ways to do so.
If the soft bites hurt you, or even break the skin, it is not a sign of affection or grooming anymore. It could mean that the rat is scared, or it is playing with you, but a little too rough. In that case, you can push away the rat a bit to signal that this was too much for you.
Can My Rat Sleep With Me?
Pet rat owners have a strong connection with their rats. When you sit on the couch, you can always have your rats with you and let them sleep by your side. But keep in mind that rats are still small rodents and should be handled with care.
As a whole, a pet rat should never sleep in the bed with the owner. Even though the rat would love to sleep close to the owner, the risk of accidentally squishing the rat is too high.
If you fall asleep, your rat should be in its cage. This is the safest place for your rat. Even if you feel like have a super-strong connection with your rat and you can trust your pet, it will wake up at night and start walking around and exploring your room.
A rat should only be outside of the cage under your supervision.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂