Rats are intelligent creatures that always enjoy a good challenge. And as you've probably figured out by now, rats are also very food motivated critters and will do just about anything for a good snack. So what better way to provide ratty enrichment than to combine toys, puzzles, and food! On this page you will find fun enrichment ideas of both DIY and commercial types for your ratties to enjoy :)
Commercial Foraging Toys:
Teach n' Treat:
The Teach n' Treat is a fun foraging toy made just for rats and other small pets. it features 3 levels of difficulty that each require the rats to perform different behaviors to get to the treats hidden inside. The first level only requires the rats to slide a plastic sheet around with their paws, something they tend to figure out almost immediately. The second requires the rats to remove plastic cups from their place, something which my girls also figured out quite quickly. And the last level requires the rat to slide the plastic cups with their paws, something which while not too difficult can still provide your rat with lots of fun! All in all this is definitely one of my rats favorite foraging toys, and if you have a hoarder in your group like I do, they'll get extra enjoyment out of stealing and hiding the plastic foraging cups as well!
Bird Foraging Drawers:
Bird climbing toys tend to be some of the best rat toys out there, and their foraging toys are no different! Things like this bird foraging drawer provide quite a challenge to the rats when first figuring out how to open them. Nonetheless, once they figure them out they will have lots of fun periodically checking the drawers for any added goodies. I've even recently started feeding my main lab blocks out of these drawer, giving the rats some extra enrichment and extra incentive to go the extra step and open each one! (Note: if you get the same foraging drawers as I did, i recommend removing the leather straps for the rats safety.)
Cat Balls/Mini Wiffle Balls w/Food:
While cat balls and mini wiffle balls alone can't really qualify as a foraging toy, adding some treats changes that immediately! Simply place several small treats into each slot/hole and give it to your rats. Upon smelling the delicious treats inside the rats will have to figure out how exactly to get them out - something which can be done by rolling or throwing the ball around!
Budgie Foraging Spinner:
This amazing toy is a great way to really get rats to engage with their paws. Upon getting the spinner you simply need to fill the crack with small treats and attack it to the side of your cage. After playing with it for a bit your rats should quickly figure out that using their paws to turn the toy is how they can get treats out, and after that they'll have a blast periodically spinning it to see if there's anything yummy locked inside!
Wheeky Treat Ball:
This cute foraging ball is ideal for entertaining your rats! Simply add some small treats in the loading area and close it up, the give to your rats for some foraging fun! As the rats roll the ball around and try to get out the food, treats will drop out of the cute carrot shaped holes and reward them for their foraging effort.
Hol-ee Roller Bird Toy:
These fun bird toys can make perfect foraging toys for rats! Simply hang it up in the cage and add some yummy treats - your rats will have to push it around to get the treats out, giving them some much needed mental stimulation in the process!
The knot nibbler is a classic rodent foraging toy that any rat will enjoy! Its basically just a nut encased in wooden pegs - and this forces your rats to chew their way through the wood first in order to get to the yummy nut inside. This is definitely another favorite for my girls and I highly recommend these for rats of any age.
PVC Forager For Small Animals:
This cute foraging toy mimics many of the larger bird ones out there. This toy contains a small PCV pipe with a lid attached to each side. Simple add treats to the tube and hang it up in the cage - rats have a blast figuring out how to lift up the lids and get to the yummy treats inside!
Snuffle mats are a well known foraging toy in the dog world. But did you know they can also be used for rats? Snuffle mats are a great way to let your rats really work their nose to find some tasty treats. Simply sprinkle some treats onto the mat and let your rats sniff them out. Its that easy!
Dog Foraging Toy:
Dog foraging toys can often be used quite successfully with rats. I'd recommend getting the puzzle based ones with drawers to pull out, levers to switch, pieces to slide, and cups to remove. These toys are often comparable to the teach and treat but also tend to be less expensive, and are a great alternative toy for loads of foraging fun!
Rat Treat Kabob:
Treat kabobs give you a great way to give your rats fresh food in a challenging manner. Simply slip on your desired fruits and veggies and then hang the kabob from different parts of the cage!
DIY Foraging Toys:
DIY Toilet Tube Crackers:
Toilet paper tubes are one of the best things to use for rat toys because well, we all have them! Simple take a tissue, add some treats, ball it up, and stuff it into your toilet tube! And that's it, perfect foraging toy for your rats! (Note: Some rats have been known to get stuck in tubes. While I've never had this happen personally, if your worried about this simply cut a slit down the tube before stuffing it to prevent even the largest rat from getting stuck inside.)
DIY Bottle Foraging Toy
This is one of my personal favorite DIY foraging toys which I made to emulate commercial bird foraging toys! All you need for this DIY is a small bottle, string, a hook, cardboard, 2 pushpins, and scissors. Start by making a small hole in the bottle cap and threading through your sting. Tie a know with the string on the bottom of the bottle cap and pull it tight, making sure it holds the cap in place. Now tie the other end of the string to the hook. Moving on to the bottle itself, cut two plastic openings on different sides of the bottles bottom half. Now take your scissors and cut out cardboard ovals that are just larger than the hole you cut in the bottle. Now take a pushpin and punch it through the top of a cardboard oval and the plastic right above one of your bottle holes. Do the same for the other side as well. Finally, add some small treats to the bottle and screw back on the lid. All that's left is to hang it in your rat's cage for some foraging fun! (Note: Because the toy contains sharp points its best used under supervision.)
DIY Tissue Box Foraging Toy:
Another easy DIY that can be oodles of fun for any rat! Simply take a tissue and add some treats, then crumple it into a ball. Add several treat-filled tissues along with several empty tissues to an empty tissue box with the plastic lining removed. And that's it! All you need to do now is give the foraging box to your rats, and they'll have lots of fun rooting around the box and finding some yummy treats!
Muffin Tin Game:
This is a great DIY toy that serves as a great way to introduce your rats to the idea of removing objects to get food. Its also a great way to teach your rats to pick up a ball - so if your stuck on fetch consider trying this out! Anyway, to "make" this toy all you need is a mini muffin tin and several small balls with holes (I recommend mini wiffle balls or slotted cat balls). Now all you need to do is place a small treat or two in each hole and place a ball on top of it! (Note; some rats need a little help figuring out where the food is. For these rats, letting them eat out of open muffin holes first before placing on the mini balls can really help!
DIY Snuffle Mat:
Snuffle mats are both easy to make and fun for your rats! Simply take an old blanket and rumple it up, scattering toys in between the folds. then just add your rats and let the foraging commence! (Note: To find out how to make a fancier snuffle mat, click here!)
Bottle Cap DIY:
This is a fun foraging toy that can be easily made with bottle caps and dry pasta. Simply make a small hole in the center of 4 to 5 bottle caps and thread through a string. Tie the string on the bottom and cut off any excess, but leave some extra string on the top. Tie the top's extra string to a hook and finally insert some small treats between the caps. And that's it! Now hang this toy in your rat cage and let the foraging commence!
Treat Cups DIY:
This is an easy DIY that makes for a great cage foraging toy. All you need is 2 paper cups, some string, bite-sized treats, and a hook. Start by tying the string to the hook. Next you'll want to make a hole in the center of each cup. Place the cups on top of each other and thread the string through it, making sure to tie a knot below the second cup. Then cut off the extra string and add treats between the two cups. All that's left is to hang this in your rat's cage and let them figure out how to slide the cups apart and get to the treats inside!
DIY Treat Kabob:
This is probably one of the easiest DIY foraging toys out there! All you need is some sisal string or wooden skewersand some yummy food (I prefer veggies or fruits). Now make a small hole in the center of each food item and thread through the string. Tie a knot at the bottom to prevent the veggies from falling off and tie the top string to a hook. All that's left is to hang up the veggies inside the rat cage and let them munch away! (Note: Foran extra challenge use some empty toilet paper rolls to hide the treats!)
Disclosure: Esther (and her site rattrix.weebly.com) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com