Monday, 23 June 2014

Rat Tails: Cheap & Easy Rat Toys

The boys have come along in leaps and bounds since we brought them home. We generally get them out in the bathroom where we are able to let them free-range around the floor. For those not in the know, ‘free-ranging’ is the term where you let your rats run around in a room or area outside of their cage.

Rats are smart cookies and they like to explore so this is probably one of the easiest ways to entertain them. Theoretically, it can also be the cheapest. You section off a safe area for your ratties to play in, toss them in, join them, and have fun. It can also be potentially expensive. One of our old rats had a thing for mice. Not the cute little furry things, the ones with a computer that allow you to work your computer! I got through about three, one of which was an awesome bright pink one (coolest thing in the world when you’re twelve).

Our bathroom is the ideal space for the boys to play in. Wicket’s able to jump up onto the side of the bath, though Yoda doesn’t quite have the strength to jump up that high. That hasn’t stopped him from trying either. Both have made it up on top of the toilet brush holder on multiple occasions as well as climbing up the side of the bathroom heater.

The expensive bit has come in the form of a nibbled bathmat. This week Wicket has figured out how to flip up the edge to tunnel under it. He’ll now run around the bathroom for a bit to stretch his legs, then snuggle up under the bathmat. At one point this week I heard a nibbling sound coming from the little lump under the mat. Sure enough, Wicket had decided to airate it. He’s not made it right through to the top side yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

It’s okay, we needed a new one anyway.

Another old favourite toy for my rats (both past and present) is empty toilet roll tubes.

When they’re ickle tiny babies you can just toss them in the cage for them to run through, climb on and tear apart. Once they start to get a little bit on the squishy side you can stuff them full of treats and let them try to get into them. In the past I just used to fold in the ends, scoop up some rat nuggets, pasta, cereal or some other scrummy treat, then fold in the top to make a little parcel (you can see one on the left below).

I recently found a new thing to try with the empty loo rolls. You can find out how to make them here. They only take a couple of minutes (providing you don’t leave them unattended so your labrador can run off with them) and I like to think they give them a little more of a challenge. I tended to make them for the boys before I went to work while they were in the baby cage (it didn’t have much height for hanging things like hammocks) so it could keep them entertained while I was out.

Wicket puzzle ball action shot!
Of course, probably the cheapest toy for ratties is people.

Sitting on the bathroom floor I can be a climbing frame, a ‘hand-rat’ which chases and tickles them, a personal grooming expert, a stepping stone to higher places, a treat dispenser… The list is endless.

The other day I was sitting on the bathroom floor with the boys when I felt a tugging on the drawstring of my pyjama bottoms. It was Wicket. He’d decided that the ribbon looked like a nice toy and was just letting me know. That evening I forgot to take in some string or ribbon for them, so I improvised with a bit of toilet paper. Yoda chased it all of the bathroom like a little maniac.

So sometimes they’ll give you an idea for a toy all by themselves!

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