Are your pet rats bored? If so, it can be hard to get them interested and active. In this article, we’ll share some easy ways to engage your pet rats and make sure they have fun.
First, ensure they have easy access to food, water, and a litter box. You also want to ensure your pet rats have plenty of toys and things to climb on.
Now that you’ve covered all those basics let’s talk about how to keep your pets entertained!
Can Pet Rats Get Bored?
Rats, just like humans, can get bored if there is an absence of companionship or entertainment in their daily lives.
Since they are known for being easily bored, if they probably are they seem too idle. However, there are a few telltale signs that your rat is bored, such as:
- Do they chew on their cage, food, water, or other items?
- Do they seem to be grooming themselves excessively to the point of developing bald spots? Stress is one of the leading causes of why rats start cutting hair, and a bored rat can quickly develop severe stress.
- Are they eating or drinking less than usual?
- Do they seem lethargic or depressed?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your rat might be bored.
How Much Playtime Do Pet Rats Need?
Rats are social and curious creatures, so they’ll appreciate spending time with you. However, as pets, they need more than just attention.
Rats need mental and physical stimulation to keep them healthy and happy.
The amount of time you spend with your pet rat will depend on the age and needs of the animal. Younger rats need more stimulation than adult rats, for example.
Adult pet rats can be kept in cages for most of the day and remain healthy and happy.
However, they do need regular playtime outside of their cage.
This is a good time for your pet rats to play with each other in different scenery and interact with you!
Pet rats generally need a minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise out of their cage daily.
When their eyes have opened at around two weeks old, baby rats start engaging in active play.
10 Ways to Entertain Pet Rats
Now that you probably know whether your rats are bored or not let’s find some ways to entertain them!
From toys to activities, there are many ways to entertain pet rats.
You can even get some extra companionship for them! So let’s go over some options.
1. Create A Dig Box For Your Pet Rats
Like other rodent animals, rats have an instinct to dig through substances. They have this strong instinct even after becoming a household pet.
That is why a dig box can satisfy their natural urge while simultaneously entertaining them.
It helps them to build a healthy digging behavior that doesn’t create a mess in your home.
Without it, the rat may feel drawn to digging into soft materials like your mattress, sofa, and carpet.
Engaging in this activity will relieve them from any stress, boredom, or loneliness they may be going through.
It also works as an exercise to prevent the rats from obesity and diabetes.
To improve their health and quality of life, you can invest in a readymade dig box or make one yourself! These boxes are neither expensive nor difficult to build.
Before making it, measure your pet’s size to determine the correct dimensions. Make the box as high as possible, so its fillings are not splattered everywhere.
Firstly, the box’s size has to be big enough for the rat to fit easily but not too big that it struggles to get out.
Then cut four wood or cardboard pieces according to your pet’s size. Join them on the box’s sides and carve a doorway for the rat to enter or exit.
Fill it with soft substances like soil, shredded paper, and coco fiber. Usually, this is about 15-18 inches deep. Add a lid on top and place it in your pet’s cage.
2. Let Your Pet Rats Roam Free
Rats are always looking for something to engage with. So you can let them find their own entertainment by giving them an adequate space to explore outside their cage.
You may have to keep your eyes on them to ensure their safety and protect your belongings.
Letting them roam free while ensuring safety can provide entertainment and physical exercise at the same time.
Such free roaming of pet rats must be done within a space of 3x3x3 feet or more.
If it is tall enough, it can prevent your pet from jumping outside the specified area.
You may consider bringing in a pet playpen to draw the boundaries clearly.
Figure out where you want to install it and where the rat’s cage will be free roaming. Choosing a spot where you usually spend a lot of time is good.
With that done, it’s time to adorn that place with toys, puzzles, and other entertaining items to keep them occupied.
That way, you don’t have to make an extra effort to ensure supervision.
Rats are very good at hiding, chewing, and digging. So ensure there is no cable, electric socket, or sharp objects in this area.
It should also be free of plants and furniture that you want to protect.
Finally, keep it as clean as possible since rats are sensitive to dusty environments.
While letting your pet rats free to roam, it’s also an excellent opportunity to teach them some new skills. Here’s a list of 9 Fun Trick You Can Teach Your Pet Rat!
3. Explore Tunnels
Running through tunnels or tubular structures is another natural inclination of rodent species.
Be sure to give them a toy of this shape.
You can make it or purchase one from the market. For the latter option, the tube’s width is large enough for the rat to fit.
Due to the coloring and disposition, we like to recommend the HOMEYA Hideout on Amazon!
A premade tunnel is usually the better choice since it’s built with durable materials and a user-friendly design.
No matter how frequently the pet runs through it, the structure will not crumble.
Its substance is typically not chewable or digestible by the rat. Thus it stays safe from getting consumed or damaged!
If you are skilled in sewing or sewing machines, you can always make collapsible tubes with sturdy fabric like fleece.
You can also make one with PVC pipes and several connectors to extend the tube network.
To keep the tunnel open, place a ring cut from cardboard or plastic bottle into its ends.
4. Make A DIY Obstacle Course
We all love adventures, and rats are no different. Since they cannot visit adventure parks with obstacle courses, you can make one for them!
Surely your pet will appreciate a customized handmade maze or course prepared by their lovely owner.
To make an obstacle course, you will need cardboard tubes and boxes. These can be available from empty product packages and finished toilet paper rolls.
The tunnels described in the previous point may also be of help here.
You can make them large enough for the rat to fit if you want it to crawl through these structures.
Alternatively, they can be small and narrow so the rat can climb to overcome the obstacle and traverse the distance faster.
Either of these approaches will be fine and fun for your furry friend.
When building a maze, you can stack these boxes and tubes on top of each other or connect them by making holes in the boxes.
You can combine these two different patterns to make the game a little more complex.
Doing so will encourage the rat to use more of its intelligence to debunk the path and reach an opening at a greater distance.
5. Get Readymade or DIY Toys
There is no end to the toys you can get for your little friend.
If you don’t have time to prepare other entertainment measures, you can add more toys to your rat’s cage.
These toys can be store-bought or homemade. They can also help them to exercise, maintain dental health, take care of mental health, improve digestion, and boost intelligence.
If you want to buy chewing toys from a store, you can choose from chewing toys, hammocks, and soft balls.
For homemade options, you can build swinging toys, wands, a castle made of cardboard boxes, and more!
There is no end to the creativity you can explore in such projects.
Making these will neither be cheaper nor time-consuming. You will get to use items you already have at home to prepare them.
6. Scavenger Hunt of Treats
You can prepare a fun scavenger hunt for your rat indoors by hiding treats in different spots.
In addition to their digging and exploring tendencies, rats also possess high intelligence with which they can figure out where the treats are hidden.
They have a superior smelling ability to sniff out tasty treats.
You can stash small amounts of food in small pouches around a specified area dedicated to your pet.
Such food can include healthy fruits and vegetables like peas, potatoes, carrots, squash, grapes, apples, and strawberries. Some nuts and seeds can also make excellent treats.
You can make these items even more attractive for the pet by wrapping them up with shiny or colored paper.
7. Bring Another Rat of the Same Gender
Loneliness can cause boredom, as well as more severe conditions like depression.
Having someone to communicate with or play with can improve your rat’s mood.
When considering getting a pet rat, it’s essential to have the conditions for at least a pair of them!
This way, they can socialize with each other. It’s also crucial for both rats to have the same gender.
Your pet rats will start reproducing if they’re not neutered or of opposite genders! Especially if either of them is 5 weeks old or older.
Whether you’re planning on breeding pet rats, female and male rats shouldn’t be kept together for long periods of time.
Not only will your pet rats start reproducing excessively, but fights might also break out among your little companions.
Suppose their gender is something essential for you too. In that case, it’s good to know that male pet rats are generally more prone to naps and cuddles with their owners.
At the same time, females are more energetic and always ready to play and explore new places!
As with most animals, pet rats have different personalities, so it’s generally a good idea to meet them beforehand so you know if their nature fits yours.
8. Fishing for Peas or Corn
This is a game your rat would love to play in the summer.
Amid the gruesome heat, it can chill for a while, trying to find peas or corn in the water.
While the introverted rats try to fish for food with their hands, the extroverted ones may jump into the bowl and start eating it.
It may be surprising to many, but rats really like eating vegetables.
They often cherish the taste of broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, corn, peas, and other fresh vegetables.
These are filled with a wide variety of minerals which can prove crucial to your rat’s healthy diet.
A fun way to let them gain these nutrients is by allowing them to fish for peas or corn.
Make this reality by filling up a bowl with water. It should be large enough for rats to fit in and shallow enough to not drown them.
Pick one where they can munch on the food without causing harm.
Fill half of it with water and then place it in a waterproof area like your bathroom floor. Put several frozen corn or peas in it and let the rats enjoy.
9. Pass the Parcel
In addition to the regular treats and games, your rat would probably love unraveling mysterious delights.
To give them this unique entertainment that resets their mood and boosts their intelligence, you can arrange the game “pass the parcel.”
It’s a game where you can wrap different treats on paper and leave them in one place.
Your rat will then unwrap the parcel to get the treat inside. This simple game can keep your pet entertained for hours as it requires skill, patience, and determination.
For this, wraps yogurt drops, some oat flakes, or even some seeds inside small pieces of paper.
Make a few wraps and then you can either give them to your pet rats or spread them throughout their cage.
Chances are your pet rats won’t be sharing their parcel, so be sure to give each of them a wrap, so they can all join in the fun!
10. Pet Rat Wrestling
The bond between you and your rats can be formed and grow stronger by interacting with them on their level.
Playing wrestling and flipping games with your rat is a blast because you imitate their instinctive behavior.
You’ll be surprised at how much fun you can have with your rats, and it’s a great way to bond and strengthen your relationship.
To do so, give your rat a gentle tickle on the back, just above the tail’s base. Afterward, once it turns, tickle your pet rat’s head!
Go back and forth with the tickles as they turn to one side or the other.
After playing this game, your rat will eventually begin to “wrestle” with your hand.
When your rat is on his back, try tickling his stomach. He’ll make every effort to turn your hand over in exchange.
Be sure your pet rats already feel at ease with you and your hands. Otherwise, this kind of play might be too overwhelming for them.
If you notice your pet rats running away from your hands and not coming back curiously, they might not be ready for wrestling.
Instead, take some more time to bond with them. Here’s a convenient guide with some tips and tricks to quickly bond with your pet rat!
How to Know If Your Pet Rat Is Entertained?
Now that you have taken many commendable steps to entertain your little furry friend, how can you tell they actually worked?
These are some of the common signs to look for that assurance:
Rats don’t have a loud voice but can express their emotions.
They talk and make noise almost constantly. However, humans usually fail to hear them since their noises are in the high-frequency range.
As your awareness of the noises increases and your relationship with the rat deepens, your pet rat will talk to you more frequently.
If they wish you to hear them, they’ll make a noise loud enough for you to hear!
Most people aren’t aware that rats are just as affectionate as common pets like cats and dogs.
They will get close to you if they are emotionally fulfilled and happy. Some rats may even sit on your lap or climb onto your shoulders.
If you have a rat that is comfortable with you, try gently stroking its back.
You’ll likely notice that your rat will lean into your touch and make happy noises. This means that they want more of your affection.
Rats groom themselves by licking themselves when they are pleased and at ease.
There are many different reasons why your pet rats are grooming (click here to read more about it).
But in general, the amount of time your pet spends grooming shows how happy it is.
It’s also very common for them to groom each other.
This shows how comfortable they are in their homes. Since grooming leaves them vulnerable, they’ll do so only in a safe environment.
However, suppose you see your rat spending excessive time grooming enough that it starts showing bald spots.
In that case, this could indicate that they are bored or anxious.
For this reason, it’s good to be sure they have enough entertainment throughout their day.
If boredom does not seem to be the problem, then it’s crucial to contact a vet, so they can detect what’s wrong and advise you on what to do next!
Creating an engaging environment for your rats—and keeping it that way—takes time and imagination.
But the payoff is worth the effort since happy and curious rats make great pets!
The world of a pet rat can be a tiny one. This is why providing your rats with plenty of things to do and places to explore is essential.
You can make their environment as fancy or simple as you like—there are endless possibilities!