Teaching your pet rat tricks is easier than you think! Pet rats are highly intelligent creatures that love to learn and are very curious. So if you pair the teaching with some treats, they will learn tricks super quickly.
Here are 9 awesome pet rat tricks that you can start teaching your rodent friend, today!
- Coming To You When Called
- Teaching Your Pet Rat To Ride On Your Shoulder
- Training Your Pet Rat To Stand
- Playing Fetch With Your Pet Rat!
- Training Your Rat To Jump Through Hoops
- Shaking The Paw
- Teaching Your Pet Rat To Jump
- Teach Your Pet Rat To Weave The Poles!
- Teach Your Pet Rat To Be A Rat Burglar!
All pet rats respond to positive reinforcement, so keep those treats handy so the whole teaching process is easier!
Let’s now go over how you can teach all these tricks to your pet rat one by one.
1- Coming To You When Called
Teaching your pet rat to come when called is one of the simplest tricks that you can teach your pet rat, and it’s super useful to get their attention!
To teach them this, you’ll want to have their favorite treat handy.
Start by having your pet rat near you and calling their name. Once they investigate your hand (even if it’s just because it smells like their treat), give them the treat immediately. Repeat this a few times and take breaks.
Once they get used to this, start saying their name when your pet rat is further away from you. When they get to you, give them their treat again!
By doing this they will start associating their name with a tasty treat, and will come running to you whenever they are called!
Another option that you have is to use a Clicker or some other toy that makes a sound, instead of using a name. But I find using a name is better!
This applies to every trick, but keep in mind that some pet rats take longer to learn new tricks than others. So expect to take a few days to over a week of training!
2- Teaching Your Pet Rat To Ride On Your Shoulder
Pet rats really like to ride on their human’s shoulder! They are very curious and will want to see where they’re going. As well as play with your hair, in case you have long hair. Some pet rats might be afraid of doing it at first, so do take it slow.
This trick is better learned when your pet rat is more used to you and trusts you.
First, you’ll want to grab them carefully and speak to them softly while putting them on your shoulder. This is better done when you’re seated comfortably, especially at the start!
When you put your pet rat on your shoulder, immediately give them a treat. This is to reinforce that riding on your shoulder is a good thing! And they have no reason to be scared.
Now, some pet rats are a bit jumpier than others, so keep an eye out and a hand near your pet rat in case they want to jump out at any moment. This isn’t very usual, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
If your pet rat seems scared and starts making chittering noises or grinding their teeth too much, don’t take long sessions of shoulder riding. Simply let them up a few minutes and then put them down again. Repeat this process the next day until your pet rat gets more used to it.
Keep giving them treats! If your pet rat is just riding on your shoulder for a long time and has nothing to do up there, they will become bored and want to leave. So do keep giving them a treat now and then.
Tip: Either if your pet rat is already happy being in your shoulder or not, do not keep them there for long periods of time! They will want to pee and poo sooner or later. And if they have no other choice, they’ll do it on you.
3- Training Your Pet Rat To Stand
You can train your pet rat to stand quickly. It’s easier done with some tasty treats.
For this to work, you’ll want to have your treats handy and put your pet rat on a distraction-free surface. This means, no other animals, loud sounds and so on.
Start by showing your pet rat the treat (without giving it to them!) and then saying “stand” or “up” while making an upwards motion. This will make your pet rat stand on their back legs while trying to grab the treat.
Once they do this, give them the treat!
Keep doing so while getting the treat higher and higher, so that your pet rat looks like they’re standing.
Once you’ve done this enough (often takes around a week if you do it every day), telling them to “stand” or “up” or whatever word you’re using, will make them stand up!
4- Playing Fetch With Your Pet Rat
Dogs and Cats aren’t the only pets that like to fetch, your pet rat does too!
Now, before you starting teach your pet rat to fetch, think about what your pet rat likes. For example, some pet rats like simple paper balls with a string, others enjoy more complex and colorful store-bought toys. Others like to steal your hairbands and bouncy balls!
In my case, a tiny toy ball worked wonders.
Once you figure out what your pet rat prefers, let’s use it.
Start by throwing the chosen object while you’re sure that your pet rat is watching. If they are interested in it, they will go running and bite it or play with it. Encourage them while they do this but saying some encouraging words like “well done!” or “good boy/girl!”.
After you’ve done this a few times, do the same process but start saying “fetch!” after throwing the object and before they grab it. This way they’ll start memorizing the word “fetch” with the motion of grabbing the toy.
Finally, since you want your pet rat to fetch the object to you, you’ll want to have a treat handy and call them when they grab the object! You can say things like “come!” or say their name while they are grabbing the object to make them come to you.
Remember that once they fetch the object to you, you should give them a treat right away! Positive reinforcement is key here.
Overall, this is a more advanced pet rat trick, so don’t worry if it takes some extra time for this one. If you follow the steps, your pet rat eventually learn to fetch, even if it takes a few weeks!
5- Training Your Rat To Jump Through Hoops
Just like the hoops on a dog’s show (but much smaller), your pet rat can learn this trick!
First, you’ll want to get a hoop. You can find these small rings over at your local department store. Something around 8 inches should be perfect for your pet rat. Other options include a small embroidery hoop or even an old toy basketball hoop. Just make sure there are no sharp or pointy edges in it!
Then you simply hold the hoop near the floor in front of your pet rat and point to the other side of the hoop.
Some pet rats will just go through the hoop right away. If so, great! Give them a treat and say some encouraging words like “good job!” or “good rattie!”. If that’s not the case though, just give them a little nudge from behind or cup them with your hand while pushing them (very softly) through. Give them a treat right away as well.
Keep repeating the process while putting the hoop higher up and further away. Pet rats can jump great distances (about 4 feet horizontally) so push the limits of your pet rat and see how far they can go!
6- Shaking The Paw
This one is super simple. In the beginning, it won’t look exactly like your pet rat is shaking your hand, but it will improve over time.
To teach them this, you will want to grab a treat in your hand and touch their paw while saying “shake” or “hand”. Then immediately after give your pet rat the treat!
They will start associating the word you’ve chosen with that movement to receiving a treat. So they will do the movement whenever you say the command word!
As I said, in the beginning it will look more like a weak hand raise or a simple stand up. But if you start giving them the treat after they actually touch your hand, it will look more like a proper paw shake!
Keep repeating the process until your pet rat shakes your hand well enough. Remember to always use the same command word!
7- Teaching Your Pet Rat To Jump
Pet rats are AMAZING jumpers, they can really jump a long way with ease. Some of them (like my own) are a bit scared of doing so though. Nothing that a little practice and positive reinforcement can’t help!
This pet rat trick is a bit tougher to teach though! There are a few ways that you can teach them to jump, but I’ll talk about the easiest and most straightforward way that I could find.
Start by putting your pet rat in a comfortable area, like a big pillow, and then put another pillow right next to that one. Leave just a tiny gap between the pillows at first.
Then, put your hand on the pillow that your pet rat is not in, and while holding a treat, simply wave it to catch their attention. Once they notice you and try to get over to get the treat, say “jump!” a few times firmly. As soon as they pass and get to the treat, give it to them!
Repeat this a few times, and when you start noticing your pet rat passing through the gap too easily, start increasing the gap distance slowly over and over again.
As I said, pet rats are really good jumpers! So don’t be afraid to leave a wider gap if your pet rat is already feeling comfortable. Just don’t your pet rat in a high place, so in case they miss their jump they won’t get hurt.
8- Teach Your Pet Rat To Weave The Poles!
Again, weaving the poles is a fun pet rat trick, it’s not only for dogs!
First, you will want to get the actual poles. For this, you can just make them yourself with a wooden board and some wooden sticks hammered into the board. Other options include putting pencils through a styrofoam base while giving them a wide gap between each other.
Be creative! If you don’t want to buy materials you can just use what’s around the house. Even a simple cardboard box with a couple of pencils glued into it can work.
Then it’s time to get to training!
This is pretty simple to teach. Hold a treat in your fingers and guide your pet rat through each pole so they weave through the whole thing! Once they finish the course, give them the treat.
I recommend you to start with small courses (3 to 4 poles is enough) and pretty wide gaps. Once they get comfortable with those, start increasing your courses size.
You can also give a command word while doing so, like “weave” or “go through”. This way, later on, you can just tell them to weave without holding the treat for them to follow, and they will do it right away!
9- Teach Your Pet Rat To Be A Rat Burglar!
Okay, this isn’t as shady as the title seems to mean. You can teach your pet rat to “rob” a dollar bill from a wallet and bring it back to you. It’s a pretty fun little trick that you can teach your rattie.
This one is the most complex pet rat trick in this article, so only teach this one when your pet rat is comfortable with the others! (Or you’re just very confident in your training skills!)
So this comes into two parts:
- Grabbing the dollar bill and bringing it to you
- Opening the wallet
First, for grabbing the dollar bill, it’s pretty much the same as teaching your pet rat to fetch! So if your pet is already used to fetch, it will be much easier.
Start by throwing a folded dollar bill forward while your pet rat is seeing you doing it. Then once he grabs it and brings it to you (this will only happen if you’ve taught your pet rat to fetch before), give them a treat. Repeat this a few times so they get used to grabbing the dollar bill and bring it to you.
Then comes the wallet part. Instead of just throwing the dollar bill, show them while you put the dollar bill folded into the wallet. Let the dollar bill be somewhat visible and start with the wallet open!
They will grab the dollar bill like before and bring it to you. Give them a treat!
Once your pet rat gets comfortable with that, start closing the wallet a bit at a time to make it harder for them. This might take a few tries, but your pet rat will get there!
As always, you can include a command word with this action, so you can say “rob!” or “money!” when throwing the dollar bill and hiding it, so they associate the word with the command.
As I said, this is a more complex pet rat trick, so it might take some more time than the others. Be patient!
Tips On Training Your Pet Rats
Keep the training sessions short. Pet rats are very curious about everything, so they will lose focus pretty quickly if you try to train them for a long period of time. About 15 minutes at a time should be enough.
Do the training on a clean and distraction-free environment. This is related to the previous tip, by eliminating distractions (lots of objects around and noise for example) it will be much easier to train your pet rats.
Keep other pets away from the “training area”. Again, another distraction. This even includes other pet rats. Although if one of the rats already knows the trick, it might be worth it to keep them around! It might make the process somewhat quicker, so test things out.
It takes time and patience! Some pet rats are smarter than others, and some are lazier. So do take your time and keep up the training sessions. I’ve seen pet rats learning tricks in a couple of days, and others over a few weeks, so don’t expect anything from your pet rat!
Have fun. Not only this should be fun for you, but it will also be fun for your pet rat. They like getting attention and being around you, so don’t stress about the training and enjoy your time with them!
Can rats really learn their names? Yes! Some people prefer to use clickers to call them, but if you use a name instead, they will understand it and come to you if you teach them well enough.
Do rats love their owners? Yes, absolutely! They will miss you and look for you when you’re not around. They are very social, and by teaching them to fetch and other pet rat tricks, you will bond quicker and deeper with them.
Back to the Blog