This article is from the Mar./Apr. 1996 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Nichole Royer
Supplies for one Critter Kabob:
This is your finished Kabob. By slightly opening up and unfastening the hook you can slide food on. The idea is for it to be difficult for the rats or mice to get the food off the Kabob, so choose food with that in mind. Hard pasta, cat food (the kind that is shaped with a hole in it), fruit, vegetables, and any somewhat hard food that you can get onto the wire will all work well. You can also use large nuts if you have a drill to put a hole in them.
Hang the Kabob in a difficult to reach location in your critters' cage (remember this is supposed to be a challenge). Make sure both the hanger and the hook are completely closed so that no one can get hurt by their sharp ends. Now sit back and enjoy the fun!
NOTE: For those of you with birds, they love this toy too. Just use a heavy enough gage wire that they cannot bend it.
Thrift shops are one of the best places to find great rat toys at very reasonable prices. Often they will have used kids' toys that are slightly damaged, and not really in good enough shape for kids to play with. Many of these toys are ideal for rats and mice. Over the last year I have found a number of great rat toys and a few real favorites.
The girls now have their own two-story house, complete with windows and a balcony. It's snug and warm to sleep in, and the windows are a great way to watch what's going on without being seen. It's even hinged so that I can open it up for easy cleaning. I paid 25 cents for it.
Another favorite is the Barbie car. My babies all get to grow up with it and they love to sleep under the dash board, hide under the rear bumper, and chew on the wheels. This is the most expensive toy I have found (50 cents) but worth every penny.
My mice have even gotten in on the fun. While in Chico picking up our Rat Health Care books from Debbie Ducommun, we stopped at a great big thrift shop and I found a miniature doll house, complete with stairs to the attic and furniture molded as part of the house. Needless to say, my mice are thrilled, and every time I look at their cage I have to think of the story The Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter.
When looking for toys in thrift shops, there are a few things to keep in mind. Watch out for houses or other toys in which your animals could get stuck. Also, some toys have moving parts which could cause injury. Stickers, decals, and pieces of cardboard must be removed before giving the toy to your animals, or else they will remove them for you, and eat them in the process. Rats and mice will chew on anything you put in their cage, so keep this in mind when choosing toys. Hard plastic is usually not a problem; however, soft plastic should be avoided as it can be chewed off in large pieces and swallowed. Just use a little common sense when choosing toys. If you think it might be dangerous, don't buy it.
There are other places which can be a treasure chest of toys as well. Garage sales and swap meets are great places to look. The hunt for that “perfect” toy is half the fun, so enjoy looking.