Toys and Games
Rats require mental challenges as well as physical challenges to keep them in good mental and physical health. We try to provide the rats at PRRR with a variety of toys and challenges to help maintain their mental health as well as providing them with fun physical games.
Some of the things we have found work well have actually been tried by others and their rats have also enjoyed them. Some rats prefer food rewards while others just love running through tunnels and tubes. Below we have listed some of the fun things we offer our rats on a regular basis to keep them happy.
Hidden Rewards -On cage cleaning day remove all the rats while cleaning and when putting everything back in hide some treats in the bedding, next to the food bowl, behind the litter tray etc. The treats can be wood chews, special food items like cheerios or something else that your rats like. Once the rats get placed back into their clean home they will find the food or toy rewards and that will encourage them to search for more even if there are no more left.
Furrat tubes –We understand that not everyone can afford this set however you can make something similar with large PVC pipe. Make tunnels and exits all over and watch the rats run and play through them all, finding all the entry and exit points. The benefit of the Ferrat Tubes is that they are almost see through so you can see where everyone is in the tubes. Unfortunately the Furrat tubes are no longer available new but you may be able to find them offer on our forum or other second hand site.
Vegetable fishing –We use to use a small bowl with a small amount of water for this “game” however the summer just gone we have trialed a small litter tray half filled with water with the vegetables in and everyone has loved it.
What you need is a small kitten litter tray, water and your choice of vegetables that you would like the rats to fish for. If you are using frozen vegetables please defrost them slightly before adding them to the water.
Place the vegetables in the empty, clean litter tray and then fill to about half way with water and place in the rats cage. Some rats take a while to warm to the idea of getting wet but normally once they have worked out that it involves food then they love it. If you rats are small (babies) or scared of the water try using just a little bit of water for the first couple of times and then slowly add more water. You do not want so much water that the rats have to literally swim in it, up to the tops of their legs is high enough. You can also add some smooth round pebbles to add to the tray for the rats to find. Others have used ping pong balls in the tray as they float on top of the water and are tricky to grab.
Sand Box- Rats love digging!!
Grab a small litter tray or garden pot and half fill with clean sandpit sand. Add some sunflower seeds to the sand and let the rats go. Warning though, this gets messy as sand goes flying everywhere so it is best done on a cleaning day. You can also use the Kitty’s Crumble litter for this instead of white clean sand.
Hanging Wood Chews- Another one that works well for a mental challenge as the rats cannot hold it as they normally would and it moves. Most rats that love chewing love these type of toys. Wood chews provide entertainment for rats and do very little to help with wearing down the animals teeth which is a common belief. We offer a range of wood type chews to all of our rats as it does slow the destruction on non-edible items to a degree. A fruit stick is also ideal for this activity. Pop some fresh fruit and vegetables on the fruit stick and hang it in the cage and watch the rats try to get the fruit off.
Boxes -You can build just about anything with boxes. Have fun and cut holes and stack the boxes around. Make the rats their own kind of castles which they will add their own homey touches to (like additional doors and windows). The best part about boxes are they are easy to get and can be thrown out once they are demolished. Worst part is they normally do not last long when you have super rats that love destroying things. Postage tubes are great to add to the boxes to create tunnels to run through.
Free Ranging -Free ranging provides you and your rats with hundreds of opportunities to interact and have fun making things together. Some people have a free range room. Other people use their bed or lounge, it really doesn’t matter where you do it as long as it is a safe place for the rats. You are your rats biggest motivator and rats love being with the ones they own so have fun with this time and interact with your pets. This is a great opportunity to do your checks for lumps and bumps as well as trick training. Have special treats in reach and teach your rats to come back to their names.
Hand Wrestling -This can be done during free range or as you spend some time with your rats in their cage. Basically you use your had to wrestle gently with them and they wrestle back. Most rats love this type of play, they will popcorn, sprint around and then return for more. If your rats show signs of being scared of this game, take it slow and just use one finger to start with until they are familiar with you and your hands. This game must be done gently, if you hurt your rat they will no longer associate this with play but will instead become afraid of your hands. This game should only be played with rats that trust you, not new rats that are still bonding with you and getting use to their environment.
Wheels -Some rats absolutely love their wheel while others do not. The difference between these rats tends to be the age at which they were given a wheel. The older the rats are the less likely they are to use it. For those rats that do like their wheel it is great exercise for them and burns off some of that extra energy they have. Generally speaking rats tend to only use a wheel until they are around 1 year old and then for some reason they just don’t use it anymore. We currently have 2 males here that are about 15 months old and are still using their wheel but everyone else over 1 has stopped. Please invest in a solid plastic wheel that is the right size for your rats. Wire wheels are NOT suitable as they can catch your rats tail or does and cause serious injury. Solid plastic wheels are available at City Farmers. They are called Silent Spinners, a large one (recommended as it will suit an adult) will be approx $50 but well worth the money.
For some ideas for toys that you can purchase have a look at what The Water Bowl has for offer on their site. The Water Bowl is one of PRRR sponsors and offers affordable prices on everything in store.