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Mice/Training a rat tricks

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QUESTION: Dear Natasha,
Justin and Dustin,my rats are doing great.i now have an empty cage that I do nothing with so I've thought about getting one or two more male rats and as for Justin's and Dustin's huge cage it has plenty of room in it but I can always build on to it.is this a good idea,and if it is how would I go about convincing my mother?
Jada

ANSWER: Dear Jada,

Nope! Lol it is not a good idea. Enjoy the guys you have. How about teaching them some tricks?

;)

Squeaks n giggles,

Natasha

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Natasha,
I've already taught Justin rat agility,up(stand on hind legs on command),spin on command,and comes mg on command.
However Dustin I'm working on up and come.
What other tricks could I teach them or rather Justin who is more willing and I'd prefer words not videos because every video I've tried to look at kept freezing....and also I could use some tips on training Dustin who would rather grab the treat and go than actually doing anything
And thanks alot:) with that idea of mine but it would still be great I guess.
Jada

ANSWER: Hi,

Oh no I didn't answer this? Ack! I am going to be in trouble with the allexperts people!! Lol

I was waiting because I wanted to be on my computer to give you some links  to text. But I have been snowed in for several days and haven't been home (I am at my parents').

Try another follow up and when I am home tomorrow or Monday I can answer. Sorry! Lol

Squeaks n giggles,

Natasha

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Natasha,
Lol.Its fine,I know your busy:) anyways I just wanted to ask what tricks can I teach my rats (Justin knows come,spin,and up and can also run through an agility course),but I can't watch a video so please send me step by step directions instead and also how can I train Dustin,who now is my buddy but still bites toes and won't do any tricks no matter what I try.
Jada

Answer
One of my mods on my site wrote this:


From Caitlin Pearse: Written instructions for training beginners!


Congratulations on taking this fun and interesting step in your relationship with your rodent! Here are a few training tips that are useful to know before you go about training your rattie or mousie friend:


   Keep things short and sweet. Rodents have a 5-10 minute attention span and most, and if they grow bored, your training could hit a roadblock.
   Pick a reward your pets LOVE, but that is very small, so it can be eaten quickly and not be very filling. It is also a good idea not to make the treat very sugary or fatty.
   Go slow and be patient! Remember that as Rome wasn't built in a day, your rat can't necessarily master a trick in five minutes!
   Consistency is the key to effective training! The more consistent you are in your hand motions, commands and rewarding, the better and faster your furry friend will learn!


The best training method by far for your rats is the clicker-training method. This method pairs a distinct sound, like a click, beep, or whistle, with a treat of the trainer's choice. This the simplest and fastest way to associate a behavior with a reward when one begins training. In order to prepare your rat to learn new behaviors, however, there is first the task of priming your sound. Follow these steps to ensure that you "charge" your chosen sound correctly:


Charging the Sound:


Step 1: Choose your sound. Make it short and distinctive. You can click your tongue, use a beeping or clicking device (found in most pet stores for dog training), or even use a tone from your cell phone, but it is important for the sound to remain consistent. Consistency is key in training any animal!


Step 2: At random intervals, make your sound and give your rat your chosen reward. The only time you may not make the sound is when you are actually feeding your rat a meal, as this will spoil the association between the reward and the sound.


Step 3: When your rat reacts by perking up, getting excited, and looking for a reward when they hear your chosen sound, you can progress to actually learning tricks!


Now that your rodent friend has come to associae the sound with an incomng reward, you are ready to begin training! The next section is the steps for teaching your rat how to spin (as demonstrated by my darling Puck in the video preceding the steps):


Spinning:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lHx7dp230w


Step 1: With the treat firmly in your fingers, get your rat's attention. Lead them slowly in a circle while saying the word "spin" clearly to them. Once they have made a complete revolution, make your sound and reward them. Repeat this step until they are familiar with the motion.


Step 2: With the treat firmly in your fingers, make a large circular motion over your rats head with the treat while saying the word "spin". Hopefully they will connect this motion with the targeted. When they complete a full revolution, make your sound and reward them. Repeat until they have this step down. If they don't seem to have the hang of it, drop back to step one and try again! Patience and consistency is the key!


Step 3: Make your circular motion with the treat a small motion directly over the rats head while saying "spin". When your rat completes a full revolution, make your sound and treat. If they don't seem to get it, drop back to step two and try again!


Step 4: Remove the motion entirely, using only the word "spin". When your rat completes a revolution, make the sound and reward them!


Congratulations! Your rodent buddy is now a spinning fiend! Don't be surprised to have them offer the behavior to you at random, and as they progress past step four, treat them less frequently by making them complete several revolutions before rewarding, keeping the number of revolutions before a treat as random as you can. Which variable ratio reward schedule is the best way to cement your rat's new trick into his repertoire for good!



Squeaks n giggles,

Natasha

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Natasha

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I can answer questions about raising mice and caring for them as pets, with knowledge from my 38 years of having fancy mice as pets. I have NO MEDICAL TRAINING and you should take a sick mouse to the vet; but if you simply can't, I will try to help you. I LOVE PHOTOS!!! I ALSO LOVE UPDATES! Let me know how the little tyke is doing later on, for better or worse, especially orphans. It also helps me to help the next person. Please first search first: use 'Natasha Mice Mouse' with whatever else your question includes. Or check out these links: **** YOUR FIRST MOUSE (my video; rough draft): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNK4uqNZTbA&feature=share **** TEN VIDEOS ON RAISING ORPHANS: http://www.youtube.com/user/CreekValleyCritters/videos?query=raising **** SEXING MICE: http://www.thefunmouse.com/info/sexing.cfm **** And some GREAT MOUSE INFO SITES: http://thefunmouse.com/info/index.cfm http://www.rmca.org/Resources/mousefaq.htm

Experience

I have had mice for 40 years (since I was 5!). I raised them when I was a child but now I keep all females, and never fewer than three so that if one dies the others are not devastated, because they have each other.

Organizations
I run Rats and Mice are Awesome on Facebook. The official name is Rats are Awesome.

Education/Credentials
B.A., M.A., M.A. in Linguistics: Yale University and University of Connecticut

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