My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?
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Thread: My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?

  1. #1

    Default My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?

    I have a male rat, a little over a year old. He's sweet, playful, and cuddly, but has been getting quite overweight. This is due to his extreme aversion to his wheel (I've bought him 4 different ones, and he's hated all of them) and his ball (I think he is scared of it-- I put him in it, and he defecates immediately, which he doesn't do outside of his cage unless he is upset). Though his chubbiness makes him all the cuter, it is obviously a health concern. I feed him moderate amounts of food and limit the treats I give him. I let him run around for a few hours a day, but clearly this isn't enough physical activity for him. How do I get him to take to his wheel and ball? And are there any other alternative exercise methods you'd recommend? (I've heard you can take rats for walks, but I live in the upper Midwest, and it's getting a bit cold and snowy for that). Any advice?

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  3. #2

    Default Re: My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?

    he poops from fear in that ball. Just let him use it in his cage to sleep in; the only good use of it. Rats need their senses to investigate, which is impossible in that ball; he is just locked up in a round fish tank.

  4. #3

    Default Re: My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?

    I suggest: free range time! =D Do you let him run around your (rat-proofed) room or a playpen at all? Maybe try rearranging all of his cage furniture/accessories? Also, if you get him a friend he will have someone to chase and wrestle with. Most rats do better in pairs anyway. =)

  5. #4

    Default Re: My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?

    Many rats don't like wheels and males even less often take to them. As others said, even though products are advertised as "rat balls" most rats don't enjoy them or even figure them out. So yes, he is fear pooping.

    What kind of food are you feeding him and how much? If you're free feeding him, that should stop. It's not very good for greedy little rats Does he get veggies daily?

    How often does he get out to run around? Rats need a minimum of an hour a day, but the more out time you can give him the better. You might also want to consider some healthy treats instead of store bought ones. A bite of banana or apple is sweet like treats, but a lot less calories.

    Do you know how much he weighs? Or can you post a picture of him next to something of a standard size (soda can or macaroni box) so we can see what you're talking about?

    Also, I strongly second the getting him a friend option. He could be lethargic and overweight because he's depressed. Rats don't just like company, they NEED it.

  6. #5

    Default Re: My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?

    Friends are a great way to get more exercise but also you should find games to play with him. My rats have all liked to chase things like ribbons and feathers. You could hide fruits and veggies for him to have to find. Give him new things all the time to investigate like boxes , tissue paper, etc...

  7. #6

    Default Re: My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?

    the actual diet he is receiving can also be part of the lethargy...can I ask what you are feeding him?

    Some rats are just built stockier than others, and especially boys

  8. #7

    Default Re: My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?

    He gets plenty of free-range time, at least 2 hours a day. He loves to explore. He doesn't seem to be particularly depressed or lethargic, but I have heard rats should be in pairs (though the lady at the pet store told me otherwise when I got him) and am planning to get him a friend. I'd like to adopt a rat closer to his age, I think he'd like that more than a baby. I feed him rat food every other day, and give him little treats like apples, grapes, and lettuce.

    I have tried to get him to play with string and things like that; he's usually been pretty uninterested. He prefers activities such as chewing the couch, but we're working on that. He does like to "wrestle" (I scratch him on the back and he flips over to wrestle with my hand), so i do that with him frequently. Any other game suggestions?

  9. #8

    Default Re: My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?

    Babies are easier to introduce to older males because they don't pose a threat... and babies have much more energy, which equals more exercise for your big squish.

    You can teach rats to fetch! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibMYIvmPCvw That should use lots of energy.

  10. #9

    Default Re: My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?

    Quote Originally Posted by NatGood
    He gets plenty of free-range time, at least 2 hours a day. He loves to explore. He doesn't seem to be particularly depressed or lethargic, but I have heard rats should be in pairs (though the lady at the pet store told me otherwise when I got him) and am planning to get him a friend. I'd like to adopt a rat closer to his age, I think he'd like that more than a baby. I feed him rat food every other day, and give him little treats like apples, grapes, and lettuce.

    I have tried to get him to play with string and things like that; he's usually been pretty uninterested. He prefers activities such as chewing the couch, but we're working on that. He does like to "wrestle" (I scratch him on the back and he flips over to wrestle with my hand), so i do that with him frequently. Any other game suggestions?
    What brand of rat food is he getting? Most store brands are extremely poor diets and can cause obesity. Also, how much does he weigh? Has he gone to the vet recently enough that you could call up and ask or has he gained a lot of weight since then? Is it possible that he's just a big boy? A picture would help a lot.

    The blanket game's a pretty big hit at my place. (Throw a blanket over them and watch as he rushes out.) And my boys love to climb up and down ladders. I got a big (probably about a foot and a half to two feet) ladder in the bird section of the pet store for like 5 bucks. They have a fabulous time chasing each other up and down as well as climbing up to take bites of veggies and dashing back down to store it in the playpen.

  11. #10

    Default Re: My rat hates the wheel and the ball... how do I get him exercise?

    I definitely agree that you should get him a pal. My girls get most of their exercise from wrestling with each other. I keep their food dish on the top level so that they have to go up there to get food. I also have ledges and hanging things to encourage them to climb.

    One of their favorite toys so far was a piece of red tape stuck to a string. I just drag it around and they chase it. It's like a cat chasing a mouse haha.

    My girls weren't a fan of the ball either when I first got it. When I'd pick them up and put them in it they'd poop their little ratty pants off, but one time when I was free-ranging them I left the ball in there for them to explore, and Amelia climbed right in. I closed it up, and she started figuring out how to use it... best part, when it's voluntary, no poops! It took her a few goes, and I never left her in it for more than 10 minutes. I like going on the kitchen tile with the ball because she can move faster and there's more space for her to explore under the table and between the chair legs. Ratty good times!

    I tried a wheel when I first got them, and it was fairly small, but so were they. They tried to use it, but I think it curled their spine to much to be functional. I tried a bigger wheel, but when they tried to use that one they couldn't turn it, there was too much resistance. I'm still looking for a nice metal mesh one that's big enough. My boyfriend told me it's a waste of time and that they won't like it. They used the wheel at the pet store we got them from though. I have faith. But yea, like everybody else has said, I've heard that not all rats are huge fans. My gerbils inherited the first 2 wheels we bought for the girls.
    cleared due to violation of the signature size rule.  please read your pm.  - jaguar

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