How To Train Your Pet Rat

Once you’ve got a good relationship with your rat why not train him? It will add to his day immensely and it’s fun for you too. Hey you could even show him off as a bit of a party trick. The more people that love rats the better right?

Remember when you train your pet that even though you are spending quality time with them they still need a stimulating environment. You’re not there all the time. It is also important to try not to be too demanding and results orientated. Give your rat a break! This is meant to be fun and when it stops being fun your ratty won’t want to do it anymore. It is also important to keep it up. If you neglect a certain trick for a while your ratty may forget it. After all he’s got more important things to think about – like food!

Litter Training

Ok so this isn’t the most impressive party trick, but it will make things a lot easier for you. You will have to spend less time cleaning out the cage and less money on bedding and the rats can live in a cleaner environment. Everybody wins!

The first step is to make a litter tray out of something such as the bottom of a tissue box or a shoe box. Put some bedding in it, so it looks a bit inviting and then place it in your ratties cage. If there is already one area your rat likes to go to the toilet put it there.

Place your ratty into his new litter tray. Move the poops your rats have done into the box, so that they can smell it there. This will encourage them to go there again.

When you find that they have pooped outside the litter tray simply move the poops inside the box again.

It may take time, but persevere and they will learn. Rats like to be clean too you know.

Learning Their Name

This is an excellent place to start with your training. It will make your party tricks a lot easier to learn and it is easy to teach.

Every time you say your rats name pick it up and give it a cuddle or even a little treat (it’s favourite food). After a while you can drum you hand on the floor and call it’s name and again, when it comes to you give it a little treat.

It won’t be long before you can call your rat by name and it will come to you. Continue to reward it with tickles, kisses and of course the occasional treat.

Jumping

Place your ratty on your lap and make a little gap between your legs. In one hand hold a delicious treat. Your ratty will have to jump the gap to get to the treat. Wave the treat and say “jump Wombat” (insert your rats name here) When your pet has done it give them the treat and lots of praise. Get them to do it a few times. Soon they will do it even without a treat, but don’t forget plenty of praise.

Clapping

This is a cute one. Hold a delicious treat above your ratties head (a thin piece of carrot dipped in hommous is ideal). Say “clap Wombat” and he will reach up for the treat, lift it up a little so his hands meet. Each time he “claps” say “good boy Wombat” and after say three times give him the treat and let him enjoy it, as well as lots of praise from his favourite person (you I hope).

Bad Behaviour

If your rat keeps trying to chew the wires or do other naughty ratty things, don’t get mad, just spray a little water from the plant mister in his direction and say no. But never be mean to your ratty. They can’t help being so inquisitive after all.

Clicker Training

Can you really clicker train a rat? Of course you can. If you have a trusting and fun relationship with your ratty anything is possible.

How do you clicker train?

First get a clicker from a pet shop or online. Have your ratties favourite food at the ready (give yourself a quota of treats for the day so as not to overfeed) Give your rat the irresistable treat and at the exact time he takes the treat click the clicker.

After a while of doing this, wait for ratty to do something. It can be anything from simply moving, raising a leg, turning around, yawning, whatever he may do. When he does it click the clicker and give a treat at the exact same time. Repeat this. It won’t be long until your ratty realises that he is controlling the game. He can decide when he gets the treat. You will find that he starts to repeat behaviours to get a click and a treat and will really start to enjoy the game.

Why the clicker?

You can train your rat without a clicker and simply use treats on their own, but if you do choose to use a clicker this will give your rat the definite message that “yes that is what I want you to do”. There will be no need to scold, which can be very detrimental to the learning process. The rat will work out what he needs to do after you have clicked the same action a few times.

Treats are a good way to train, but a clicker gives that definite yes that your pet craves. It will definitely make training easier for you.

If your ratty is intolerant of the clicking sound (they have sensitive ears) you can use the lid from a jar, which has a security button. You can simply pop this little button in the lid, instead of a clicker.

It is up to you. You should judge how your ratty reacts to the click sound.

Word Commands with the clicker

After a while you can add word commands to your clicker training. For example if you have trained your rat to clap, and he has started to clap to get a click and a treat, say “clap Wombat” when he is doing it and then say “stop Wombat” when he stops give him a click and a treat. He will eventually associate the word “clap” with the action of clapping and with the click and the treat. You can choose to only reward your rat with a click and a treat when he claps on command, so as to avoid begging behaviour.

To teach your rat a new behaviour, for example pushing a ball along, you need to click and praise it at every step of the way. When he looks at the ball, click and treat, when he walks towards the ball, click and treat, when he touches the ball, click and treat, when he pushes the ball, click and treat. He will soon get the idea.

After a while you will not need to give a click and a treat every time. You may simply be able to praise. Remember keep it fun. This is playtime after all.

You can teach plenty of things with a clicker. The limit is your imagination. You can teach your rat to come to you, to sit on your shoulder as well as party tricks, such as rolling over or even dancing.

It is important to keep it short. Remember rats have a lot to do. There’s exploring everything in sight for a start. Five minutes is plenty to start with. You may wish to do your first training sessions in a room where there are less distractions.

Not all rats are as trainable as others. If your rat isn’t into school, enjoy playing other games instead like chasing with your hand, tickling, massaging and just watching them have lots of fun.

Keep your rats healthy. A healthy, happy ratty is the most trainable and keep them well fed too, or they’ll be in no mood to do anything for you.

Oh by the way…don’t scold your ratty during training. If he’s not getting a trick straight away give him time. It will pay off in the end. You don’t want to damage the trust you’ve built up.

CATHERINE SMITH


2 Comments

  • maria says:

    I just got a baby rat that i had to hand feed cause it was to young to eat on its own when my son came home with him,he has snakes and as we all know snakes eat rats, but on this day his snake did not eat and (mom) me felt sorry for it i keep it as a pe., The love i have for him (ben) growned so much that now all i do is look up things that are the best for him..going as far as getting him a buddy cause i read that they need a buddy.!!..I am writing you because i was woundering if i can take them out one at a time with out the other getting upset..,i found that taking them out together makes it hard for me to teach them and hard to keep a eye on them,..Thanks so much for having such a great websit for people like me that do not know everything about ratties..maria

    • Rainbow Whiskers says:

      Ben, cute reminds me of the movie,but any way, yes you can take them out one at a time, but be fair play with Ben for a lttle then play whith his companion for a little.EQUAL AMOUNT OF TIME! cannot stress that enough.

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