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How to Train Your Pet Rat

Updated on October 8, 2009

Training Your Ratty Is Easier Than You Think...

 Rats are intelligent, fun, energetic, mischievous, naughty, cuddly and cute. They are also very smart and can pick up basic training very quickly. It's loads of fun to train your little fuzzball and your rat will love it too.

Training Your Rat

Here's the fun bit...

By the way I will be referring to our little rat friend as a 'he' throughout this lens. Basically I don't want to call these little cheeky characters 'it', so I had to pick a sex. Sorry to all you female rat fans out there. I love both boy and girl rats too.

Anyway...Once you've got a good relationship with your rat why not train him? It will add to his day immensely and it's fun for you too. Hey, you could even show him off as a bit of a party trick. The more people that love rats the better, right?

Remember when you train your pet, that even though you are spending quality time with him, he will still need a stimulating environment. You're not there all the time. It is also important to try not to be too demanding and results orientated. Give your rat a break! This is meant to be fun and when it stops being fun your ratty won't want to do it anymore. It is also important to keep it up. If you neglect a certain trick for a while your ratty may forget it. After all he's got more important things to think about - like food!

Litter Training - The simplest and probably most important thing to train.

So let's get started. You can train your ratty using treats or a clicker, or even better, both together.

At the website I go into it in more detail, but here I will outline the basics.

Ok, so it's not the most exciting trick, but litter training will make your life easier.

Simply get a litter box, made from a shoe box, cut open tissue box, or buy a plastic small animal litter tray. Next you should put some of your ratties bedding in it. Make sure you also place some of his poops into the box. This will make the litter tray smell familiar and your rat will pick up what he needs to do pretty quickly. At first he will probably still go to the toilet out of the box, so simply pick him up and put him and his poop in the box. You will see that he soon picks up on what he needs to do.

Rats love to be clean and your rat will be happier if he is litter trained, it will also save you money, that you would have spent on cleaning out more often and time.

Rat Books 'N' Stuff - Do your research and find out loads more about caring for and training your pet rats.

I like to read as much as I can about rats, especially when it comes to training them. They are such fascinating animals. Here are some great books to check out. You will be a rat expert in no time!

Coming When Called

You Gave Your Rat A Cute Name - Now Teach Him To Recognise It

This will make all of your "party tricks" a lot easier to teach. You need to build up trust with your rat, before you even attempt anything else and the best way to do this is by spending a lot of time with him, handling him, cuddling and tickling him and of course...Saying His Name.

Say his name when you pick him up, groom him, play with him and always say it in a loving tone. Call him by name and drum your fingers on the ground to get his attention (remember rats don't see as well as us, so don't be offended if he doesn't run up as soon as you enter the room}. Have a treat in your hand and give it to him when he comes. You may also use to use a clicker. If you do, just click it, as you give the treat. It is positive reinforcement.

Soon enough your rat will begin to recognize his name. Some rats seem to pick it up almost instantly. Then you can move onto more exciting things.

Jumping - Yes, you can teach your little friend to jump.

The most important thing is to keep training sessions short and fun. This is not some kind of circus act, just having fun with your rat and keeping him entertained.

To teach your rat to jump place your ratty on your lap and make a little gap between your legs. In one hand hold a delicious treat. Your ratty will have to jump the gap to get to the treat. Wave the treat and say "Jump Ratty" (insert your rats name here) When your pet has done it give them the treat and lots of praise. Get them to do it a few times. Soon they will do it even without a treat, but don't forget plenty of praise. Remember if you are clicker training you should click as you give the treat.


Now this is a cute little trick...

Hold a delicious treat above your ratties head (a thin piece of carrot dipped in hummus is ideal - do your rat's love hummus as much as mine do?). Say "clap Ratty" (for example) and he will reach up for the treat, lift it up a little so his hands meet. Each time he "claps" say "good boy Ratty" and after say three times give him the treat and let him enjoy it, as well as lots of praise from his favorite person (you I hope). Remember budding clicker trainers, click your clicker as you give the treat and lots of praise.

Clicker Training

This is the easiest way to train your ratty friend...

Now we all know you can clicker train a dog, but did you know the same principles can be applied to train your gorgeous pet rats? It really is quite simple. First of all you will need to buy a clicker. You can get these at most good pet shops and some supermarkets. Of course you can buy them online too.

Some rats have more sensitive ears than others, so for these little ones you can use the lid of a jar (say a baby food jar) which pops when you press it. This will have a quieter sound than your average clicker. My rats are fine with normal clickers, but just be aware.

Basically all you need to do is click whenever you want to praise your rat. At first you will need to praise your rat as well and of course give them a little treat. If you have a new rat you should experiment (don't mention that word in front of the rats!) to find some his favorite treats. Every rat is different after all!

After a while your rat will pick up that the click is praise in itself and will want to please you and get a click. This is when clicker training becomes really effective. Choose any action your rat performs naturally, such as standing on his hind legs and say a command (stand up) and use the click and treat technique when he does it. Soon he will stand on his back legs to command.

As you can imagine the clicker can be used to train your rat to do almost anything. Please always keep it fun, light and make sure you are thinking about your rat's entertainment, not your own.

Rat Training Tips - Some little extras to help you out...

1. Keep training sessions short (10 minutes is fine)- Rats have lots of exploring to do you know, so keep it short and sweet.

2. Never tell your rat off - Ok, so sometimes your rat doesn't want to play ball. Never get cross. This is meant to be fun remember and you could completely ruin the trust you have built up with your little friend.

3. Some rats like training, some prefer cuddles - Yes sometimes you just have to come to terms with the fact that your rat just isn't that into training. That is fine. Animals are not here for our entertainment after all. Enjoy watching your rat explore, or cuddling him.

4. Be patient - It may take some time to train your ratty. That is fine, just be patient and loving and you will get there.

5. Here are some treats my rats love - carob drops, hummus, carrot sticks, anything humans eat!, pasta, small piece of avocado (too much is bad for them).

Do You Love Rats Too? Leave Your Feedback - Show Us Some Love

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    • profile image

      Amy wucher 

      6 months ago

      My baby’s name is Henry and he was snake food he is the best little guy he does not have a cage, Henry is a free range rat and sleeps with us every night! I can’t believe what a wonderful little man he is! Only 1 problem with rats they just don’t live long enough!

    • profile image


      22 months ago

      I just got a new baby [10 weeks old] girl. I've tried all the tips on introducing her slowly to my older female but nothing has worked. My older one attacks the baby as soon as she knows she's near. Please help!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I love rats! There so clever, and charming

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      my hairless curly albino is very cute and very shy help!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I've had a lot of rats. I had a dumbo named snuggles who usta breakout of her cage at night and sleep on my pillow :'( I miss her.... I just got to sisters a couple months ago from a friend and these rats arnt at all like my old rats. My old rats usta sit on my shoulder everywhere I went an never tryd to leave. ... this new rats r runners lol thay don't like to stay in one place. I've had one try jumping off my shoulder (I'm 6ft) witch isn't good. Any suggestions on how to calm them down?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Look me up on youtube under Axil Emory for some tips on caring for rats!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      @Rat_gurl: My rats like Froot Loops. Don't give them cooked corn, it slows down they're metabolism. And for toys look me up on youtube as Axil Emory

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have owned rats since I was 5 years old. I will try the name thing and maybe more! I would love how to make hand-made toys. Maybe do something about that? Haha I I just got one 2 days ago (3 weeks old today!) and her name is Cookie! She's tan and white. Any suggestions on food, hand-made toys (maybe one my brother can make in woodshop? :D) , and any other things I need. I was with my aunt bringing them up but I have one at my house now and I would love some tips. :D thanks. Just contact me: put subject as: Rat Tips.

      Thanks :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've owned rats since I was about 7 years old. I recommend also getting your rat a toilet paper roll to use as a tunnel. They seem to have fun with it, in or out of the cage.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have recently come come to be a rat "mommy" and I really do enjoy him even though his story of how I came to have him is sad he has been pretty trusting for the most part no biting or aggressive behavior though I still have a few questions and concerns when it comes to him so please be patient with me as like I said I am still new to this. First of all let me start off by telling you how I came to acquire Roadkill yes I know his name is odd, My dad works at a car wash and while he was at work one day someone threw Roadkill in the trash outside the office window so seeing him on the cam I couldn't stop myself to think about it before I told him bring him home and I would bring him back to Texas with me. So here are a few or my questions and concerns.

      1) I bought him a cage which he seems very cozy with and also have a tote set up for him when I have play time but as well as bought him the best food,treats,and toys along with anything I eat I do the same as I do with my dog Maggie which is I share with them so is there anything I should not be feeding him?

      2) I bought him a ball to go in so he could roam around the room safely without Maggie causing any harm to him until they get used to one another but he does not roll around he seems almost scared of it so is there any trick to make him more comfortable with it?

      3)When I received Roadkill he has a scab that looked almost as though it was a bite mark on his throat but seems not to bother him should I be concerned more about it than cleaning it daily like I have been?

      4) He sleeps a lot is that pretty normal?

      Sorry to be such a worry wart sounding rat "mommy" but like I have said it's all still new to me so any advise would be greatly appreciated and very welcome either through here or my email would be great

      Thank you so much,


    • JessyGene profile image


      7 years ago

      Great tips! I am going to try some of these with one of my rats (the other is sick right now). My rat is a little older though, one and a half years. Is it any harder to train older rats? And I mean for the tricks, not the litter box training which they have already taught themselves.

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 

      8 years ago

      Great training tips! Lensrolled to Proof that Rats are Great Pets!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      If I ever had a rat as a pet, I'd be happy with this advice on rat training

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States


    • VladimirCat profile image


      10 years ago from Australia

      I have been trying to train the rat who lives near the compost bin to come when he's called but, so far, to no avail. Should I get a clicker do you think?

    • loverats profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      What a great group. I think I will feel at home there xxx

    • JMac4 profile image


      10 years ago

      I have been looking for people who love Rats as much as I do to Join My Group. I would love to add your lens!


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