Rats & mice are extremely active and intelligent animals, and thus require exercise and mental stimulation for optimal health. These animals are often purchased as pets for children and many are housed in smaller than adequate humane mouse trap with only the bare essentials such as food, water and an exercise wheel. Just imagine how bored you would be living in a bare room with an exercise bike as the only form of mental and physical activity ?
There are a number of fun and easy ways you can provide toys and enrich the environment of your pet rat or mouse:
Toys to CHEW – These are necessary for dental health, as rodents teeth grow continuously throughout their life and need to be constantly worn down. Safe chew toys for rats and mice include rawhide chews, nylabones, untreated wood, cardboard rolls, boxes and egg cartons.
Toys to SHRED – Softer items such as toilet paper or tissues, sisal rope and straw provide hours of entertainment for the pet rat or mouse. They particularly enjoy shredding these substances to use as bedding material to line their sleeping areas. Ensure you do not give your pets any toys containing soft rubber, soft plastics, leather or string as these materials can cause an intestinal obstruction.
Toys to PUSH & CARRY – Many rats and mice love to carry or push small toys around. Sturdy, hollow plastic cat toys with bells inside or acrylic toys provide great entertainment in your pet.
CLIMBING Toys – Ladders, branches, hammocks, ropes, PVC tubes, boxes and bird perches can provide numerous climbing opportunities on your pet rat or mouse. These items can be secured to the sides or top of the cage to increase the amount of play area in your pet’s cage.
FORAGING Toys – Rats and mice in the wild spend much of their day foraging for food. In captivity, we often put out a bowl of food for our pet rat or mouse and that bowl is simply placed in the same area, with the same food in it every day. Our pets quickly become lazy, bored and overweight from the lack of enrichment and foraging opportunities in their lives. Provide your pet rat or mouse with mental stimulation by hiding their food in specially designed foraging toys, treat balls, cardboard rolls or tubes. Bird foraging toys made from bamboo or cholla cactus can also be used for rodents.
TUNNELS – Rats and mice in the wild use and construct tunnels from items in their environment on a regular basis. Tunnels made of sturdy plastic, acrylic or PVC can be placed in the cage or attached to the side or top of your pet’s house. Ensure you select a tunnel with a large enough diameter to prevent your rat or mouse from becoming stuck in the tunnel. Blocks of untreated wood can also be hollowed out to make tunnels which rats and mice may enlarge themselves. You can provide ready-made tunnels in your pet, or allow them to construct their own from various materials provided in their environment.