Most people call Critter Removal Companies when they see rodents. Did you know that Mice and rats can be trained to do plenty of tricks and rats may also be toilet trained. Rats are faster learners than mice having an equal intelligence to puppies. They are very food orientated and will soon learn to do something if food is provided as a reward. Mice and rats can be trained to run through mini agility courses that you may make yourself from bits of wood.
I found a mouse circus business for sale on the internet once. It came with travelling van, all the equipment including mini Ferris wheels, tunnels, climbing equipment, lights, bells and whistles of course, 40 breeding mice! Can you imagine travelling from town to town just like a real circus only all your performers where the size of a walnut?
If you want to train your rat or mouse to run through a maze or an obstacle course teach it one piece of equipment at a time. Give it a treat when it completes it and then add another piece of gear and give it a treat when it completes the second one. Eventually you can put all the pieces together rather than treat after every one as the animal learns to finish the course. If you wish to introduce bells or sounds, introduce them to a rat or mouse from a couple of rooms away so that you don’t frighten them.
When I trained my rat I used yogurt drops broken into little pieces and a training clicker. I trained him to ride on a remote control car. It had been quite successful for a while until my border collie found the entire thing a little too ‘interesting’! Clickers cost between $6 and $10. They are predominantly used to train horses and dogs, but they work just as well on rats.
If you have a curious pet, you are able to reward its unusual behavior by giving it a treat each time it does it. The creature will soon learn to repeat the behaviour for a treat. Shy rats and mice can be tricky to train so it is best that you handle the animal for a little while before purchasing it.
Female rats are easier to toilet train than males because males have a tendency to mark new areas with their urine (this includes anyone who picks them up). It is impossible to toilet train mice so be prepared for accidents. I’ve old t shirts and jumpers that I wear when handling any of my animals just in case.
To toilet train your rat put a little tray in their cage with some bedding material. Place a few of their droppings inside. If you’re familiar with clicker training you might also use this or you could praise your rat every time it goes near the tray.
Persevere with this type of training as it might take your rat a while to work out what you need. Always reward and promote, never punish or reach your pet as it will learn how to mistrust you and make training difficult.