Ratty Corner


Confident handling

You can't expect your rats to be confident with you unless you're confident with them. You need to be able to scoop them up with a firm and confident grip, but not holding too tight. Don't try to restrain them or lift them by their tails, as you risk giving a painful injury to the tail, especially to an adult rat. Once you have them, let them climb on you. Most rats are very capable of holding onto you, and may come to enjoy riding on your shoulder as you walk around.

Where to play

Your rats will enjoy being allowed out of their cage each day to interact with you and explore their environment. The area needs to be made safe, with no cables to chew and places to injure themselves. They also have a taste for remote/phone buttons.

On the table

A table can be a handy place to let your rats play without giving them the run of a room. Rats are much more sensible about not jumping down than some other small rodents. Cover the table with a waterproof sheet or cut some old cushion flooring to size, and then add toys and rats.

In the hallway

If your household isn't constantly in and out of the hallway, this can give you a room without wires and tempting hidey holes.

In the bathroom

Again, the bathroom gives you a place without wires and usually with an easily wipeable floor. Make sure there are no holes next to pipes that they can disappear into, and remember to keep the toilet lid down.

In the living room

You can just put up with the mess they make and let them loose in your living room. Move any wires out of the way or use trunking to protect them and make sure there are no holes in the base of your furniture they can disappear into. Beware of holes in your sofa - if there are none to start with, they may appear spontaneously.

In their own rat room

This is the ideal, if you have the space. Giving the rats their own room means you can just open the cage and let them out to play. From experience they are still safer with supervision, but if there is space to set your toys out too it can become your own refuge as well.

In a playpen

An alternative to the table is to build a playpen for the rats - basically a wall to keep them in. Keep in mind that they can jump very well, so the height needs to be at least 75cm. If you want to be able to get in there with them, which is the ideal, then it also needs to be short enough for you to step over. Cardboard won't hold ratties for long, so the simplest way is to use hardboard or corrugated plastic, hinged with strong tape, and with an overlap that you can wedge or clip together.

Games to play

Pounce and tickle

Some rats just love playing games with your hand, so you can creep up behind them, pounce on them, tickle them and generally behave like a fellow rat. Be careful this doesn't wind them up to the point where they go and begin a fight with a cagemate.

Pea fishing

Pea fishing is an excellent game for cooling rats in hot weather. There are so many ways to set this up that I can't describe them all, but my preference is to use a reasonably deep but small storage box on top of plastic sheeting and an old towel to protect the floor. Add a rock or upturned bowl for the rats to stand on, put some pebbles and shells in the bottom and fill with water, then add frozen peas. Some rats will take to the game instantly, others will be hesitant. Some will sit on the rock and fish with their paws, others will snorkel around the bottom, eyes open, looking for the peas. But every single one will peel the peas and leave the shells.

Feather toys

For some reason, rats are fascinated by feathers (a good reason to keep them away from any pet birds). Cat chase toys with feathers are a fantastic way to interact with your rats, although as usual some rats will enjoy this more than others. You never know, it may be your lazy boys who surprise you with their enthusiasm for the game.

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Last modified: Saturday, 18-Oct-2014 19:01:18 BST

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