Rats are intelligent, social animals that love to play. Having toys in their cage and out where they roam helps to keep them entertained and active but some toys don’t come cheap. With things you can find around your home and some creativity, you can make easy and inexpensive homemade toys for your pet rats to help keep them entertained.
What kind of toys do rats like to play with?
Rats love to hide, climb, dig and chew things. Rats will find entertainment with any toys that allow them to do just that. Generally any toys that are made for parrots are great to use. Some of the toys you can use are hammocks, ropes, ladders, boxes, balls and tunnels. Some rats may like to use exercise wheels but it’s important to get one that is safe for rats to use that won’t hurt their feet or tail. It’s better to use a solid wheel over the wire ones so that your rats feet won’t get caught in the wire.
Pet Rat Safety
One of the most important things when it comes to choosing toys for your pet rat is that they are safe to use. When getting toys for your pet rat, you want to make sure it’s non-toxic as well as not containing any small pieces or threads of fabric that could be swallowed and cause your pet rat to choke. You also need to watch for toys that could contain loose threads or anything that could get caught around your rat and harm them.
Cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls are a great toy to have for your pet rats. Pet rats love to hide, play and sleep in the cardboard boxes as well as chew them up. You may notice the rats will actually use the cardboard boxes and rolls more often than any of the other toys you may have for them.
If you’re feeling creative, you could use the cardboard boxes to make a playhouse. To do this you can tape together a few boxes and create doors and pathways between them to connect them together. You can make ladders, bridges and ramps to connect them.
Paper may not sound like a toy but it can be used in a few different ways to make your pet rats cage or free roam area more interesting. Your pet rat will use paper to make a nest and bedding as well as just tear it apart. You can rip the paper up and hang it down from the top of the cage, crumple it up to make a ball or shred it up and add it to a bucket for your rats to play and dig around in. Another thing you can do is use the paper to wrap around one of their favourite treats. This will keep them busy as well as entertained unwrapping it to get to the treat. The different kind of papers you can use are toilet paper, paper towel, brown paper lunch bags and newspaper.
Most rats enjoy digging. Digging is one of the natural behaviours of rats. They enjoy making burrows and searching for food. Some people like to use a plain sterilised potting soil in their dig boxes or shredded paper or cardboard. You can plant some seeds for edible plants that are safe for rats to eat in the soil and allow your pet rat to go crazy in the soil digging and ripping up the plants or you can add treats into the shredded paper. The rats will enjoy digging around getting treats and pulling up the plants. There are other things you can use in your dig box instead of paper or soil and these include straw, hay, dried leaves and twigs or a mixture of a few of these put together.
Tunnels and tubes
PVC pipe is a good material to use for making tubes as it comes in different shapes and sizes. Other things you could use for tubes or tunnels are Pringle’s containers or any other circular object you may have. If you’re handy at or enjoy sewing, you can try to make collapsable tubes with fleece. You can sew a cardboard tube at each end of the fabric to help keep the tube/tunnel open.
Since rats teeth never stop growing, wood is a great chew toy to help wear their teeth down. You need to ensure that the wood you use is untreated, unpainted and non-toxic. You can also use branches if they’re free of any pesticides. If you’re handy, you can always use the wood to create ladders or a box for your pet rats to sleep and play in. You can also give your rats hard shelled nuts for them to chew and they get a treat out of it as well. It’s best that you only give your pet rats nuts sparingly as they’re high in fats.
Rats love to climb and adventure. You can use ropes to create bridges, rope ladders and tunnels. You just have to be careful that the way you configure your ropes doesn’t post a risk to your pet rats.
Rats love treats and hiding them in different spots for your pet rat to try and find will bring joy and excitement. You can hide treats in the dig box or around for them to find when they’re out free roaming. You can also hide treats in boxes or other places where the rats will have to try and get the treat out themselves.
Wands or chasing toys
Rats enjoy chasing things around. You can use cat wands or you can make your own. Simply tie some fabric to the end of a stick or you can just hold the fabric yourself. Some good fabrics you can use are fleece, tissue, toilet paper, paper towel, newspaper or brown paper bags. Just cut the fabric into strips.
Generally rats don’t like baths or swimming but some rats do enjoy playing in water. It’s best to use a shallow bowl or container that won’t tip over and fill it half way up with water. You can put a handful of frozen peas, corn or carrot in the container with water. This is commonly known as “pea fishing” or “fishing”. This also helps to keep your pet rats cooler in summer as well as help them get used to water.
Getting toys for your pet rats doesn’t need to cost you a lot of money. You can easily make some toys with things you have a round your home that doesn’t cost anything and your rats will enjoy them just as much or maybe even more than most store bought toys.