Mice and rats can be trained to do lots of tricks and rats may also be toilet trained. Rats are faster learners than mice using an equal intelligence to puppies. They are extremely 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 miniature agility courses which you can make yourself from pieces of wood.
I found a mouse circus business available on the internet once. It came with travelling van, all the equipment including miniature Ferris wheels, tunnels, climbing equipment, lights, bells and of course, 40 breeding mice! Can you imagine travelling from town to town just like a real circus just all your actors where the size of a walnut? My inner child was thrilled and I considered buying it for a spilt second but the grown up in me reminded me that my partner would have murdered me!
If you want to train your rat or mouse to run through a maze or an obstacle course teach it one piece of gear at one time. Give it a deal 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 and not treat after every one as the animal learns to complete the program. If you want to introduce bells or sounds, introduce them to your rat or mouse from one or two rooms away so that you don’t scare them.
It was quite successful for some time until my border collie found the entire thing a little too ‘interesting’! Clickers cost between $6 and $10. They are predominantly used to train dogs and horses, but they work equally well on rats.
For those who have an inquisitive pet, you can reward its unusual behaviour by giving it a treat each time it does it. The creature will soon learn to repeat the behavior for a treat. Shy rats and mice can be tricky to train so it’s advisable that you handle the animal for a while before purchasing it.
Female rats are easier to toilet train than males because men have a tendency to mark new areas with their urine (this includes anyone who picks them up). It’s 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 set a small tray in their cage with some bedding material. Place a few of their droppings inside. If you are familiar with clicker training you could also use this or you could praise your rat each time it goes close to the tray.
Persevere with this type of training as it may take your rat some time to work out what you want. Always reward and encourage, never punish or reach your pet as it will learn how to mistrust you and make training difficult.