Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Rat Games

By Shellyane Bryan
A rat owner from England shares tales of living with her first rat, Queen Dumbo Duncanson-Bryan, and a rat named Mouse.

I’ve been doing some more training with my rat Dumbo this week. It’s been a busy few weeks for me because my final deadline for university is April 28, so I haven’t had a lot of time to spend teaching my rats some new tricks. Dumbo appears to be better at walking on her hind legs, even though she hadn’t had any practice for at least three weeks. I think she was secretly practicing on her own. As she had suddenly picked it up, I decided to step things up a mark. However, being the clever little rat that she is, she has started reaching even higher to get to the treats, and on some occasions, she even jumps straight onto my hand!

In order to alleviate the pain she causes me when she claws the skin on my hand, I decided to teach her a new rat trick that doesn’t require her to stretch on her tiptoes for anything — the spin trick. She picked it up pretty much straightaway, figuring out that if she follows the path of my hand, she gets a chocolaty treat in return. When I showed my friend Jessica the video, she said she felt sorry for Dumbo, as if in her little rat head Dumbo was crying “Wait! Wait! I’ll get it in a second! Give me treats!” every time I moved my hand in a circle. To be honest, I’m not a very good trainer. Sometimes I give her treats even when she doesn’t do it quite right.

On the subject of tricks, my rat Mouse started doing something pretty peculiar and cute. She has always been a very bouncy, excitable rat, but lately when I let her run around in the front room, she wants to play her own game with me. She darts under the bookcase or behind the sofa, and then she sneaks back out — waiting for me to try and grab her. The second I do, she bounds away — and I mean bounds — only to come back a few moments later to do it all over again. It’s really cute! I’ve tried to get Dumbo involved in this rat game of tag, but she would rather attack my hand with her tongue or clamber all over me. She probably thinks she is too old for playing games. Saying that, she does have a fascination with Velcro, and if I trail that along the ground, she goes wild and chases it all over the place.

I think I need to work out some more games to play with the rats. Anyone have any suggestions on games that work with their rats? Please post a comment about it.

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