American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2013 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Kids Q & A

Training Rats Research

By Karen Robbins

Fiona Bates, WA, letter
QI am a sixth grade student at Sakai Intermediate School, and I’ve decided to research rat training (seeing as I own two rats). So, you are one of the people I have decided to ask for any tips or advice.

  1. Do you know of any particularly entertaining and/or easy to teach tricks?
  2. Do you have any tips to help someone train their rats particularly well?
  3. Is there any equipment to help someone train their rats better? And if so, what?
  4. Does a Skinner box really increase the intelligence of your rats?
  5. About what time did people start training their rats?

I will be displaying my research at an open house. Any posters, brochures, or other things that I can use in my display would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

AThe Whole Mouse Catalog online has a section on Science Fair Projects. There is a web site in the U.K. called Podels by Emily Butler that has lots of information on training rats and a page on the North of England Rat Society’s web site Training Your Rat. There are also three rat training books available in pet shops or online: Training Your Pet Rat by Gerry Buscis and Barbara Somerville, The Complete Guide to Rat Training by Debbie Ducommun, and Rat Training by Miriam Fields-Babineau. Our Caresheet has some basic training tips, and we have an article online Teach Your Rat To Fetch Things that is a fun thing to teach your rats to do. This should answer most of your questions.

When training rats, you need to keep the sessions short and use tiny bits of their favorite food as the reward. Some people use a clicker to train their pets. A Skinner box is used to study behavior conditioning by teaching an animal to perform certain actions (like pressing a lever) in response to specific stimuli.

Agility training is another form of training you can teach your rats. This is similar to dog agility with tunnels, weave poles, hoops, etc. If you are interested in teaching your rats agility, there are several web sites with good info to get you started: North of England Rat Society’s Agility Training, The Agile Rat web site, Eva Johansson in Sweden with some articles on Agility, and Estelle Sandford’s web site with a page on agility and obedience.

Good luck with your project! *

September 6, 2020