Mice and rats can be trained to do plenty of tricks and rats may also be toilet trained. Rats are quicker learners than mice having an equal intelligence to dogs. They are very food orientated and will soon learn to do something if food is offered as a reward. Mice and rats can be trained to run through mini agility courses which you can make yourself from pieces of wood.
I found a mouse circus business for sale on the internet once. It came with travelling van, all the equipment including miniature Ferris wheels, tunnels, climbing equipment, lights, bells and whistles of course, 40 breeding mice! Can you imagine travelling from town to town just like a real circus only all your performers where the size of a walnut?
If you wish to train your rat or mouse to run through a maze or an obstacle course teach it one piece of equipment at one time. Give it a treat 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 rather than treat after each one as the animal learns to complete the course. If you wish to introduce sounds or bells, introduce them to a rat or mouse from one or two rooms away so you don’t scare them.
When I trained my rat I used yogurt drops broken into small pieces and a training clicker. I trained him to ride on a remote control car. It was quite successful for a while until my border collie found the whole thing a little too ‘interesting’! Clickers cost between $6 and $10. They are predominantly utilised to train horses and dogs, but they work just as well on rats.
If you have a curious pet, you are able to reward its unusual behaviour by giving it a treat each time it does it. Something is living in my attic, The creature will soon learn how to repeat the behaviour for a treat. Shy rats and mice can be tricky to train so it’s advisable that you handle the animal for a little while before purchasing it.
Female rats are easier to toilet train than males because males have a propensity to mark new areas with their urine (this includes anyone who picks them up). I’ve old t shirts and jumpers that I use 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 some of their droppings in it. If you’re knowledgeable about 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 might take your rat some time to work out what you need. Always reward and encourage, never punish or hit your pet as it will learn to mistrust you and make training difficult.