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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I'll soon be the daddy of a new rat (later this month).

I hear of stories of owners just sitting on the bed while their rats go exploring. Do rats know the concept of "height" and "edges"? I would be afraid that my rat would either a) fall or b) start climbing down the bedside before I can grab him! o_O

Or...if I'm at my computer... will my rat be content to go exploring around my desk while I'm typing away? I would be very afraid of him slipping off my desk (a glassy-marble top!)

I reckon I could get a small cage he could hang out in while I'm at my keyboard so he and I can chat with each other, but just loose...I'm a bit fearful.

Then I hear of stories (like from Rat Daddy) where he takes his buddies to the beach! So perhaps I'm underestimating the intelligence of rats?!

Please help me understand/be reassured. :)

Thanks!
Ted
 

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From my experience, rats seem to know better than to go diving off the edge of a tall surface. With my old rats, I cleared off three big shelves and had a ladder going up from one to the next but not down to the floor. I could let them play on the shelves for hours and everyone seemed to understand that they couldn't go any further down than the bottom shelf. With that said, I would recommend keeping an eye on your rat while he's up anywhere high. Exploring a desk while you're on the computer would be a great way to do this.
 

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Whle they know heihts and ledges, rats are fairly agile so don't rely on this to deter them. That said, rats do need at least an hour out a day so youll want to build a pen.
 

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I had rats on a table who looked over the edge and immediately went back to exploring the table. The one exception was when I had a rat so sick that she pivoted her body over to the edge of the table and actually fell off (I caught her thankfully).

Because they're so light, they can take a pretty good fall. One of my rats attempted a jump from my arms to the cage and missed. She fell just shy of 5 feet. She was fine. Force = Mass * Acceleration, and the mass is pretty small.

What surprises me is that when I have the Double Critter Nation cage doors open, the rats will gather at the lower level and gauge the distance to the floor. It's only 1 foot up, but they haven't taken the plunge yet. I suspect that they don't know if they can make it back into the cage once they leave it. Considering how high rats can jump, this really would not be a problem for them, but they aren't eager to leap down, and I'm fine with that. My living room isn't rat-proof anyway.

They're pretty good about not falling most of the time. If they fall, it's because of something being less stable than they thought. For example, I have a space pod near a cardboard box. The box shifted a little, which caused the rat inside to flail about when exiting.
 

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Hm, maybe it comes down to how the rats were raised. Mine jump off my bed, down from their CN, and a load of other ways. They can jump three foot well and fall up to six foot. They were raised in cages. My tank babies only learned to jump after watching the more adventurous ones.
 

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Hm, maybe it comes down to how the rats were raised. Mine jump off my bed, down from their CN, and a load of other ways. They can jump three foot well and fall up to six foot. They were raised in cages. My tank babies only learned to jump after watching the more adventurous ones.
Yeah, hoping my rats don't figure it out. I'm sure it's a matter of time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all for your valuable insights! :)

Nanashi, you mentioned building a pen. Any advice on that? I am intrigued. (Links are also appreciated. :) )
 

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I think it depends on the rat. Most of my rats know what they can climb, how to get back down again, and what can't be climbed. Of course, there is my special case, Lynn. What I just mentioned does not apply to her in any way. She's a bit of a special needs rat who has balance problems. Lynn's been known to climb to really high places only to jump off again. She'll then climb back up and repeat the process. It's a really good thing I have a really plush carpet for her to land on. >.<
 

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I had one little girl that wandered from my reclining chair to my computer desk, the shelves by the computer desk, the shelves behind the chair. She explored every inch of these surfaces, but never tried to get to the floor, though once she did explore inside the chair. After that, I covered the chair with a blanket to prevent it ever happening again. While my son would hose down my cage - at that time a two level Ferret Nation covered in hardware cloth to prevent the escape of smaller rats - I would put everyone in a baby's travel playpen with boxes, treats and toys scattered in it. I would sit beside it and watch for escape attempts. A couple of really adventurous types (I had 13 at the time) would try to reach any surface nearer than 1 foot from the pen, or walk all around the top bar, but most would stay in the pen or climb up the side to visit with me for a few minutes. Of course, if you use a playpen like this having someone chew through the side is a real possibility so constant surveillance would be required. I have seen several people who have a table with a 6" or so lip attached around it with boxes and toys on it for the rats to play on. Most won't try to jump off and the lip prevents falls while they are running around.
 

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Thank you all for your valuable insights! :)

Nanashi, you mentioned building a pen. Any advice on that? I am intrigued. (Links are also appreciated. :) )
I don't have any links, but it's fairly easy. I made mine out of corrogated cardboard - you can buy it or you can get poster boards. Then use binder clips to secure them together; duct tape doesn't work well on cardboard but would work with corroplastic. I tape mine to existing walls, but have also used them free standing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I don't have any links, but it's fairly easy. I made mine out of corrogated cardboard - you can buy it or you can get poster boards. Then use binder clips to secure them together; duct tape doesn't work well on cardboard but would work with corroplastic. I tape mine to existing walls, but have also used them free standing.
Ah! Okay, yes..thank you, Nanashi. I think I understand. I believe I've also heard of people using those "science fair" boards and binder clips. Seems simple enough. :) Appreciate your help!

I had one little girl that wandered from my reclining chair to my computer desk, the shelves by the computer desk, the shelves behind the chair. She explored every inch of these surfaces, but never tried to get to the floor, though once she did explore inside the chair. After that, I covered the chair with a blanket to prevent it ever happening again. While my son would hose down my cage - at that time a two level Ferret Nation covered in hardware cloth to prevent the escape of smaller rats - I would put everyone in a baby's travel playpen with boxes, treats and toys scattered in it. I would sit beside it and watch for escape attempts. A couple of really adventurous types (I had 13 at the time) would try to reach any surface nearer than 1 foot from the pen, or walk all around the top bar, but most would stay in the pen or climb up the side to visit with me for a few minutes. Of course, if you use a playpen like this having someone chew through the side is a real possibility so constant surveillance would be required. I have seen several people who have a table with a 6" or so lip attached around it with boxes and toys on it for the rats to play on. Most won't try to jump off and the lip prevents falls while they are running around.
Thank you for the story and explanation, Raindear! Gosh... 13! That must have kept you active! :)
 

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At the time I was active on a local rat rescue forum and I am a bit of a sucker for a sob story. When I would hear about a rat or 3 or 5 in dire circumstances I would think "well I think I can". I also offered to "foster" a couple of times, but once it was in my home it was my "baby". I wouldn't really recommend this number to anyone else, and don't ever intend to do it again, but it was fun, interesting, and overall a great experience.
 

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I've had my rats 5 days, they are only 5 and 1/2 weeks old. I was worried their cage was too tall for them they dart up the bars into their hammock at the top without blinking and they won't jump of edges unless they can climb down. I made a cardboard pen to keep them in they found a way around in about 30 seconds haha. They really are super clever I'm sure they'll be fine. My pair of rats could go where they wanted in my room, they jumped on and off of the bed onto the window sills etc with ease, they usually found something to climb to get up there. They can climb up just a piece of material that is hanging like a sheet. Also they used to come back to me when I called so I never lost them. Just make sure there are no holes for them to get through or anything that could fall on them. And they can definitely climb off the bed before you can grab them! If you want to keep them in a restricted area I'd get a pen, probably the best plan until you have bonded with your rat.
 
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