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Hi,

I'm looking for some ideas for rat enrichment. My boys need something to do!

I just started thinking about it after I attended a meeting where the manager of a primate lab was talking about all the different things she does for them, like having different boxes outside their cage where they can forage for treats by sticking their fingers through little slots in the box and trying to get their treats out. She also said she freezes fruit, etc into ice blocks that the monkeys chew on and try to pick stuff out of.

So far I have been pretty uncreative. I have been putting yogies into their plastic balls, but they are getting good at working them out. I also like hiding treats in cardboard boxes for them to have to chew through to get their food.

Any ideas? Any cheap ideas, LOL? What do you do to keep your rats stimulated while you are away for the day?
 

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I hang feather boas in the cage - they love that. Also i get organic sugar free 'cheerios or fruitloops' and string them wiht twine. I also add uncooked wheat pasta (like penne) and some of the chew blocks or bark with holes drilled in them. I string them into long strings and then tie it to the top of their cage so they have to climb to get the treat.

i keep every empty box, toilet paper tube, old clothes, oatmeal containers, you name it (and even have gotten some plastic bins for 99 cents from the dollar store) and attach it with zip ties all over the cage so they have something interesting to do and climb in. Also those big bags of shredded brown paper that is used to stuff on top of present bags - I get those on sale and throw them in the cage - god they LOVE that stuff. And feathers, lots of feathers!
 

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my rats go nuts for the bait bag. its a piece of scrap fabric with food folded in and tied up to the top of the cage so they have to work to get at it and shred it to get the treats out.

on a hot day the ice cube with frozen veggies and berries are a wonderful treat as well.

then there's pea fishing for hot days as well. you put a bunch of frozen peas in a shallow tub of water and they have to go fishing in it to get them. the larger the container the better as that encourages them to get right in the water too.

and dig boxes seem like fun. i haven't done one myself yet but have read up on them. you get a old aquarium, fill it with clean dirt and either grow some grass of bury some seeds or both for them to dig up and make a general mess with. i'm looking forward to being able to do one now that i have a larger cage with room for it.

and of course there's the staple hammocks and tubes and hidey holes with extra pieces of fabric for them to drag around. just change teh arrangement every so often.

oh, kitty jingly balls will sometimes be played with. when i had a bunch of baby boys they actually played football with it. the ones i have now will carry it around a bit but for the most ignore it...

the fuzzy or feathery toy mice for cats are always a favorite to kill as well.

for our time or interaction time you can get them to chase and kill string. that's always fun.

dyer hose makes a great disposable tunnel.

hamster balls tied to the cage seem to be favorite places for my rats to cuddle and and horde blankets.. and food so make sure to double check there after you give fresh foods.

and for some reason that i think may just be to irk their mom, they like eating the velcro i've been working days on to get o stick and stay.... *sighs* rats...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have also done cheerios on a string and pea fishing (and more recently I tried corn fishing), and I have to admit to keeping every box and toilet paper roll I use! Halloween was especially fun, because friends in class gave me their Dots and Nerds boxes-- great for treats.

And when drug companies come to our vet school to try to buy us off with free lunch, sometimes we get catering from Subway which comes in individual boxes -- they are the perfect size for rattie homes and I took every one I could find (I think I brought home about 40). But I digress.

Feather boa... that sounds like fun.

My boys have bark bites now, but they don't care for them. I tried coating them with peanut butter, but they lick it off and never chew it. They also started doing that with the paper towel and toilet paper rolls, so I started putting honey on the INSIDE of those so they had to work to get it.

I like that fabric idea... I'll have to try that one. So far, I have been using old napkins and tissue paper to do the same thing-- putting food inside and tie-ing it to the cage with a twist-tie. But those don't last long.

I wish I had room in my cage for a dig box, but the PVC piping takes up a lot of space.

I have hammocks, ropes, a bird ladder, tree branches, shower curtain rings, a mini plastic and fabric umbrella my mom got as a promo from an insurance company, a mirror with beads, a round and soft baby rattle, some plastic ball cat toys, and some apple branches I picked myself.

Mostly I put treats in boxes or tissue. Sometimes I make them mini PB&J sandwiches. Other times I hide pieces of lettuce or carrot in various places around their cage.

Sometimes my boys just aren't smart enough, though. I poked holes all over a cake mix box, and filled it with veggies and a few yogies. Then I tied it flat to the top of the cage, so they would have to either climb almost upside-down to get it or tear a hold in the bottom/side. They could smell that the treats were in there and were really intrigued, but couldn't figure it out and left them in there. I ended up having to move the box so it was flat to the side of the cage instead of the top, and then they could do it.


More suggestions! This is great!
 

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Little boys have commandeered a phonebook, its a small (~300 pages) one. I was using it to cover the space between cages. They wedged it out from 1/2 under the litterpan and not have more fun than I ever thought possible ripping it to shreds and stuffing paper into everything with a hole
 

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twitch said:
and dig boxes seem like fun. i haven't done one myself yet but have read up on them. you get a old aquarium, fill it with clean dirt and either grow some grass of bury some seeds or both for them to dig up and make a general mess with.
I am a HUGE fan of the digging box. It is, sincerely, the most hilarious thing EVER.

Most people to free range time inside, but I do mine outside unless the weather is nasty.

It is a rat play pen (had to build one, they could climb out of all the store bought ones that I found) that I place in the grass. It contains:

- The Sand Box. Large cat litter box full of clean store bought sand. I usually add marbles or pennies to it.

- Digging box with mealworms buried in it (same as above, only organic, untreated potting soil.)

- A number of tubes to climb through.

- A "swimming pool." Basically a larger version of fishing for peas. My rats love to swim, Melon, RIP, would dive to the bottom for "treasure". I float ice cubes in it in the summer.

- A jungle gym. Exactly what it sounds like. I had fun nailing and gluing anything and everything from my garage until I had a three foot tall weird "thing" to climb on. It is the favorite of the babies.

I love this sort of thing. :lol:
 

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could you take a picture of that play ground for us? that is really quite inventive and i'm sure my rats will love it come summer if i can make something like it.
 

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- Digging box with mealworms buried in it (same as above, only organic, untreated potting soil.)
For real?????? like live meal worms.... urghhhh!
Id give it a go if they like it tho
...
 

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DFW_Rat_Luvr said:
I hang feather boas in the cage - they love that. Also i get organic sugar free 'cheerios or fruitloops' and string them wiht twine. I also add uncooked wheat pasta (like penne) and some of the chew blocks or bark with holes drilled in them. I string them into long strings and then tie it to the top of their cage so they have to climb to get the treat.

i keep every empty box, toilet paper tube, old clothes, oatmeal containers, you name it (and even have gotten some plastic bins for 99 cents from the dollar store) and attach it with zip ties all over the cage so they have something interesting to do and climb in. Also those big bags of shredded brown paper that is used to stuff on top of present bags - I get those on sale and throw them in the cage - god they LOVE that stuff. And feathers, lots of feathers!
do they choke on the feathers at all?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow, that website above was really helpful.
Maybe I'll make them a dig box for when they get to have fun playing in the bathtub!
 
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