Pet rats love playing, puzzles, and games. They’re very active and actually need that kind of activity to stay happy! Different games are also a perfect opportunity to strengthen the bond with your pet rats.
In this article, we’re gonna go over some games and activities that you can teach or provide to your rodent friends such as:
- Hiding Treats
- Pea Fishing
- Digging Places
- Hide and Seek
- Shredded Paper
- Let Them Roam Freely
- Teaching Tricks
These are some of my favorite and very easy to arrange, so let’s go through each of them in more detail to get you ready to play with your pet rats!
Pet rats are very curious and smart and so, it’s more than natural that they love puzzly games. Hiding treats is a great way to keep them occupied. They have a puzzle to solve and as a reward, they get some delicious treats to eat!
Just choose a simple, dry treat. I usually recommend cutting those treats into smaller portions, so your rodent friend doesn’t get too much of these. Treats tend to be too fatty and should be given in moderation.
You can also mix some of their daily ration with these treats. This way it’s healthier! Now all you have to do is hide. There are some toys, like the Niteangel Treat Ball over on Amazon that is perfect for hiding treats.
These are usually for bunnies or other bigger rodents, but work perfectly for pet rats as well! The treats aren’t easy too reach, but not overly difficult either. Your pet rat will have to work its way around to get their prize!
You can also do your own containers though! Those toilet paper rolls we have at home are perfect to hide treats. The paper they’re made of is also safe for your pet rats to chew on while trying to get to the prize.
To do this, simply close one of the sides of the roll, by folding it. Now you can fill it with shredded paper (be sure it’s blank paper since the ink is toxic for your rodent friend!) or even the general bedding you use for the cage. Then throw some treats into it and close the other side of the roll by folding its extremities!
Now you have an interesting game ready for your pet rat to play with! Feel free to use other kinds of containers to hide treats. Cardboard boxes work amazingly as well and some people also use bottle caps hanging from a string. The treats are hidden in the caps. This way your pet rats need to climb up and down and move the caps to reach the prize!
Create Mazes For Your Pet Rat
Another game that will keep your rodent friend highly entertained. It’s no mystery that pet rats like to solve puzzles and mazes are perfect!
Do you have cardboard boxes at home and don’t know what to do with them? Now you do!
Instead of throwing them out, use them to build complex mazes for your pet rats to roam about. Toilet paper or paper towel rolls can also be used here, to create tunnels and such!
Remember to put some treats along the maze so that, again, your pet rat has a prize for playing and solving the puzzle.
It’s always important to reward your pet rat so that they feel even more compelled into finishing their tasks or games.
We also like to reward ourselves after completing a task, do we not? I sure know I do, so it’s natural that our little friends like a reward as well!
The mazes are always a good idea because there are so many different ways you can make them and can be used more than once. We always end up with cardboard boxes at home and it’s good to put them to good use.
It’s a good activity both for us and our pet rats!
Ok, this is one of my favorites. If your pet rats like water and are used to it already, pea fishing is perfect for those hot summer days.
Simply grab a bowl or a plastic container and fill it with water. Now grab some frozen peas and throw them inside the container. It’s ready to play!
This works very well with frozen blueberries as well, although these tend to be a bit messier.
I highly recommend putting your pet rats and the container in a clean and empty place, because they’re gonna make a mess. The water will go everywhere, so be sure that they’re playing in a place where it’s easy to clean after playtime is over.
Even if you haven’t introduced your pet rats with water, you can try and see if they’re interested in fishing some peas. Starting with a smaller and shallower container might be a better idea, so they don’t get wet as easily.
Add some peas as well, and let their curiosity do its job! Don’t force them to touch or get into the water, let them go by themselves.
Pea fishing is probably the best way to get your pet rats used and interested in playing with water.
Remember that pet rats have different personalities and some might never like to play in the water, if that’s the case, don’t force them. Always let your pet rats go to the water, instead of making them.
As I mentioned before, pet rats are very curious and will want to investigate, as long as they feel safe to do so. Plus they’ll have a nice and fresh reward for being so brave!
One of our girl’s favorites! We started noticing that they like to dig and decided to give them a digging box from time to time.
Just like all other games, this box shouldn’t be available to them at all times. Not only will it make a mess out of the cage but they’ll also get bored of the game quickly if it’s always there.
Now, to make a digging box, simply grab a plastic container or even a cardboard box. I usually prefer plastic containers, since they’re more sturdy and I can easily close them and put them aside somewhere for another day.
Be sure it’s big enough for your pet rats. I find that plastic storage boxes are perfect for the job!
For example, something like the IRIS Weathertight Storage Box works very well, it’s big enough for two pet rats or more, you can close it easily and save it for later as well as it’s easy to clean.
Now that you have a proper container, all you need is to add some dirt to it, some stones or even seashells! Be sure that the dirt has no chemicals added to it, so it’s safe for your pet rat.
If you want something a bit less messy, you can add shredded paper to the box, fill it with some toys and even treats.
Instead of paper, you can also use old clothes you might have at home, tear them into smaller pieces and fill the box!
There are many options that you can fill your box with and it all depends on your own preference and theirs. We usually go with dirt and stones, since they love to go scavenge my vases, so we decided to give them their own playground.
Again, I highly recommend having space where your pet rats are free to roam and play as they want since it will probably get dirty.
Having a big space where your pet rats can freely play is very important!
Hide And Seek
Great news, pet rats love playing hide and seek! This can be a bit harder to teach them, but the most important is to give them the necessary tools so they can hide.
In their playground, add opaque containers and boxes that they can use to hide. They’ll feel curious towards these new objects and might learn by themselves to play hide and seek.
If you want you can join in the play. Engage with them, then try to hide behind a sofa, a cardboard box or anything big enough to conceal you.
If your pet rats were having fun playing with you, they’ll want to find you!
Even though it might take them some time to learn this game, it’s always a good bonding exercise between you and your rodent friends!
Wrestle With Your Pet Rat
Another game that you can join! Pet rats constantly play wrestle with each other. It’s a normal activity between them and, since they see you as part of the family, they’ll have fun wrestling with you!
This is very simple to do. When it’s playtime, join them, and wrestle them with your hands. Turn them around and tickle them. They’ll wrestle back!
Of course be gentle, since we are stronger and bigger than they are.
If they’re not comfortable with it, don’t force them either. Some pet rats are shyer than others, so it might take longer to feel at ease with playing with us. It’s normal!
Pet rats have different personalities and some are more outgoing than others.
Let them get used to you and feel safe and comfortable around you, soon they’ll want to play with you as they do with each other!
Give Them Shredded Paper
Again, shredded paper is a good material for them to play with! Remember, it should be a normal, blank paper.
Avoid newspaper or other printed materials. Our rodent friends end up chewing on the paper and the ink used is toxic for them.
Tear old paper into small pieces, create a mountain with the paper and let them come to it. They’ll try to use the paper as a hiding place, they also might try to scavenge it onto their beds, or just play around it with each other.
Another option is to fill a box with the paper. They might find it a good place to sleep or just to dig! Add some treats to the box to make it more interesting!
Shredded paper is an amazing resource because it can be used as bedding, to create puzzles for them or just to play hide and seek with it.
I always recommend having a proper place where they have space to play and walk around. Even if the cage is big, it’s not big enough to play.
Plus if they have all these games outside of the cage, they understand that the cage is mostly to sleep and eat, and outside they can make all the mess they want and be free!
The paper, even if it’s easy to clean, will be everywhere after playtime, and it’s far easier to clean it off the floor than off the cage.
Let Them Roam Freely
Not an exact game, but you can let them roam freely while you’re doing something else.
I think it’s very important to let our pet rats leave their cage daily.
Even if they leave in a nice cage, our girls like to get out and have more space to play or even to sleep!
If they are in a safe room, then open their cage, set up a playground and let them be for a few hours. Of course, this all depends on your living space.
For example, we don’t have a whole room for them, they live in our office. Since it’s where our computers are, there are cables everywhere, so we try to limit their space.
We recently moved to another room to work and that room has a guest bed, we use that as their playground! The cage is right beside it and when I open the door of their cage, our girls are free to roam around.
They have hiding places to sleep, some card boxes that they can climb to and even some toys. From time to time, when they’re more active, we join in the fun and play with them!
This way our girls have a lot of space to explore and play and if they wish to return to their cage, to eat or even to go to the bathroom, they can easily do so!
So if you have that possibility, do try to create a playground area where they are free to roam about. Remember that they also like to spend time with you, so you can also bring them to your desk or the sofa, so they can keep you company.
And of course, always keep an eye on them once in a while so you’re sure they’re not up to any mischief (yes I’m looking at my vases being dug all the time!) and to give them some pets!
One of my favorites! Pet rats love learning new things and teaching them tricks is a very good way of bonding with your rodent friend.
You can teach them to come to you when called, jump into your hand, jump through hoops and many others. I actually wrote an article with my top 9 tricks to teach your pet rat, so be sure to take a look at it!
Just remember, pet rats even though very curious will get tired or frustrated by doing the same thing over and over. So have small sessions with them where you teach them tricks and always reward them when teaching.
Again, they learn by being rewarded. That’s how they understand they did something good.
So bring some of their favorite treats into these training sessions. Break these into smaller pieces since you’ll be giving it to them constantly and reward them as you teach them!
Start with something simple like coming to you when called. It’s very easy to teach and also very useful. Use a sound or their name and call for them.
It’s usually easier to use a sound, since teaching each pet rat their name takes a little bit more time (but possible!).
Now lure them with a treat, while making the sound you chose. Repeat a few times. As they learn, distance yourself from them and let them come when you call. Once your pet rats come to you, reward them!
As with any other trick, it might take some time, but pet rats are fast learners. Have fun teaching them tricks!
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