How to Teach a Rat Its Name


Because domesticated rats are playful, clean, intelligent animals, they make really fun pets. Rats enjoy learning, which helps them prevent boredom, and training a rat will help you bond with your pet. Teaching your rat its own name is an easy and fun first step in training. With a few treats and some practice, your rat will learn to recognize its own name and come to you when called.

Part 1
Choosing a Name and Treats

Choosing a Name and Treats on How to Teach a Rat Its Name

1
Names with two syllables may be easiest to train with. Names with one syllable can be mistaken for common commands, like “stand,” “walk,” or “shake.” Names longer than two syllables can be confusing for animals or too clumsy to say out loud.[1] Examples of names you can use for your pet rat include: Cheddar, Minnie, Rizzo, Whiskers, and Remy.

Choosing a Name and Treats on How to Teach a Rat Its Name

2
Food is a great motivator for rats. Since they are omnivores, you can reward them with bits of lean meat, fruit, or vegetables. Offer your rat different bits of food and use the ones it seems to enjoy the most as a reward.[2] Try feeding your rat bits of carrot, lean meat, grape, plain popcorn, or cheese to see which it likes best.

Choosing a Name and Treats on How to Teach a Rat Its Name

3
If you train your rat in a completely new space, it might get distracted by smells, objects, and sounds. A small enclosed room or a long table will give you enough space to move away from your rat, but not so much that it gets distracted.[3] If you are using its cage, make sure it is free of distracting food or toys during training.

Part 2
Calling and Rewarding Your Rat

Calling and Rewarding Your Rat on How to Teach a Rat Its Name

1
Hold a treat in the palm of your hand so your rat can easily get to it. Your rat’s path to you should be clear of distractions and obstacles.[4]

Calling and Rewarding Your Rat on How to Teach a Rat Its Name

2
You may need to call your rat a few times until it comes to you. If your rat doesn’t seem to hear you or is not focused on you, move a little closer and try again.

Calling and Rewarding Your Rat on How to Teach a Rat Its Name

3
Give your rat the treat immediately once it reaches your hand. You can also reward it with petting, scratching, or verbal praise.[5]

Calling and Rewarding Your Rat on How to Teach a Rat Its Name

4
Slowly increase the distance between you and your rat. By repeating this positive reinforcement and increasing the distance, your rat will learn to come to you wherever you are.[6] Keep sessions 10 to 15 minutes long. Like humans, rats can become moody and tired. Take a break and try again another time if your rat begins to lose interest.[7]

Calling and Rewarding Your Rat on How to Teach a Rat Its Name

5
Once your rat has learned its name, it will regularly come to you when you call it. When this happens, you can stop rewarding it with food and use only petting or verbal praise.[8]