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Monthly Archives: October 2011

My rattie girl Tiga licks my finger with her tiny tongue. Pet rats are very affectionate and can be easily trained.

My rattie girl Tiga licks my finger with her tiny tongue. Pet rats are very affectionate and can be easily trained.

 

Rats are very clever and can be trained just like any other pet.

Rats have their own mind, but they can get used to a routine. So it’s all about establishing a familiar pattern and following it through in a consequent manner:

 

1.  Their house is their house and your house is your house

Rats love to roam through their territory. Beware though if that includes your home. You will then quickly need to make your living area ratproof. There are ways though to establish the ratties’ house as their primary dwelling:

–  Keep the cage clean.

Rats are very clean animals and quite particular about their dwelling. I had pet rats who reorganised the cage every single time I had cleaned it.

Rats are only as dirty as their surroundings. Help them stay clean by keeping their home clean.

–  Provide food only in the cage.

In order to make the cage the focus point of your rats’ lives in terms of establishing it as their home, food is only to be eaten in their cage.

Of course rats like a treat and of course it’s super cute to watch them nibble their food away. But food outside their cage needs to be understood as a very special exception.

Otherwise you run the risk of your rats stealing food and storing it somewhere else in your house besides their cage. And as rats are very good in hiding things and accessing inaccessible corners you might just end up with something smelly beneath your washing machine.

So it is in your best interest that your rats behave. If they come to the table and are interested in your food, give it to them – in their cage.

If you want to give them a treat, do so in their cage. At least in the beginning, long enough that they understand their cage is a good place to be if they want nice food.

If you give them a treat outside of their cage, make them carry it back to their cage. Even if they hold it and you carry them back to their cage where they can then eat it will teach them the message: Food is only to be eaten in the cage.

–  Sleeping is only allowed in the cage.

Rats are really cuddly and snugly, they nestle comfortably by your feet. – It’s easy to fall asleep with them nestling by your side. However bed linen riddled with holes from the ratties’ instinct to gnaw is not so nice to look at.

Especially in the beginning make sure your pet rats always sleep in the cage. When they fall asleep elsewhere, pick them up and put them in their rattie bed.

When your pet rat feels sleepy you rather want them to go back to their cage instead of curling up behind your fridge: Once they settle down they can sleep for the day and you’ll have to move furniture to get to them.

 

2.  Ratties can use their own toilet

It is very easy to housetrain rats as they naturally don’t like to soil their habitat.

I use small plastic trays with cat litter for the rattie toilet. It absorbs any smell and is easy to clean.

I also discovered egg packaging as a good material for a rattie toilet:  The ratties will sit on the peaks, their poop falls down into the carton cups where it dries out and can easily be discarded. The rats never sit amongst their droppings like it can happen in a litter tray and it’s easy to clean / replace.

–  All poo goes into the rattie toilet.

Rats like to sit with their back to a corner so they can watch their surroundings while doing their business. So place the rat litter in a corner of the cage.

Place every rat poo raisin you find around the cage into the litter box.

Don’t clean the litter tray at first. Unfortunately it is the smell that establishes it as the toilet.

When you clean the litter, but some rat droppings back into the tray to remind them that this is where the poop goes.

Once the litter tray is established as the rattie toilet, you can clean out the raisins regularly so the rats don’t have to sit in their own poo.

–  All pee goes into the rattie toilet.

This can be a bit more tricky, I’ve seen pet rats simply being too lazy to walk down to the toilet and do a quick pee in the corner upstairs.

While rat droppings are relatively easy to clean up as they dry out and can be swept up like raisins, rat pee is really not. It is smelly and can go to places difficult to clean. Better to have disciplined rats that go to the toilet even for the small business.

Place any material your rats happen to have peed on in the litter box. Again it is important to associate the smell of pee with the rattie toilet.

When you see them getting ready to pee where they shouldn’t, pick them up and place them in the rattie toilet.

If rats persistently pee where they shouldn’t, place a litter box right there, so by habit they will use it.

When you carry them on you, they would not pee on you. They actually hold it until you let them down. If they cannot hold it any longer, they will try to get to the ground by all means. So it’s your turn to be aware when your rat needs to go to the toilet.

When out and about you can simply place them on the ground. Just make sure it’s safe and gives no opportunity for the ratties to run away in case they get frightened.

–  The rattie toilet has to be used, always.

If you let your ratties run free in a large area, make sure there are enough litter trays around for them to go to the toilet. Keep these litter trays always clean and establish the litter box in the cage as the main rattie toilet.

It is very annoying to find your rats have set up an alternative toilet as it’s usually in a place well hidden and once it’s done it’s difficult to untrain. Immediately clean up the area and put down a litter tray in its place.

When you put your rats back in the cage, always place them first in the rattie toilet, so they can go right away if they need to.

As rats roam about they mark their territory with little drops of urine. Male ratties mark more than females, but neutering can eliminate this behaviour in males. Fortunately those little amounts of pee don’t smell to our noses. Hard surfaces can easily be cleaned, but in order to protect fabrics you can use a rattie blanket. Always wash your hands after handling your rat.

 

Rats enjoy to play and can be taught amazing tricks. Don’t underestimate your pet rats, they might surprise you with their cleverness. Keep them entertained by giving them lots of attention and always an opportunity to learn something new.

 

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