What to do if your rat won't return home after playtime.
We've had many rats not want to return home after playtime. We've also had a few unnoticed nooks and crannies here and there that we were simply unable to convince the rats to leave. Even worse, we've had a few girls escape into the jungle of males that we simply could not catch fast enough.
We purchased a rat-friendly "humane" trap. This is a good product. It works once per rat. They don't seem to catch onto much, but this silvery object with it's big snapping noise they remember. We had to be more clever. We had to think like rats.
We spent a good deal of time banging our heads against concrete, licking ourselves and each other, and whizzing all over the place. This didn't get us too far. We had to stop thinking like rats and try to think of ways to outsmart them.
For the first encounter, we spent a lot of time hanging a water bottle from the ceiling right above a garbage can covered by a brown paper bag with an X cut in the middle. This was really effective. As planned rat jumped onto can, drank water, and fell in. Problem is we were both asleep when this happened and when we woke up we discovered that rats get really nervous when trapped in small dark places they can't get out of and the garbage can to say the least, needed a bath, as did the rat.
We then tried chasing after them with boxes (and this worked, but it sure was a lot of effort and we were always scared of accidentally stepping on them). We also tried simply snatching them up. You have to be really quick, and more importantly, in the right place at the right time. Sometimes we had to catch their tails. Like the "snatching them up" concept it required stealth, speed, and timing. Rats get really angry when you grab their tails and/or their butts though. So after a few good slicings and dicings (rats are very flexible) we gave up on the grabbing thing.
The best solution? Patience. We had, for example, a hole underneath one of our cabinets. Because this hole was leading to a wider area, and because the rat simply did not want to leave, we closed up the hole with the rat inside, and went to bed. We would then wake up the next morning with a fresh bottle of water attached to a small wire cage covered in their favorite pre-marked bedding, opened up the hole and waited for the rat to walk out. He did, she did, and they all did. At first this drove us crazy. We found ourselves waking up and checking on them every hour or two throughout the night. Eventually we developed the perseverance necessary to wait until morning.
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Disclaimer: There are many non-sarcastic accounts and tips on the web regarding rat care. This is not
one of them. These are merely accounts of our experiences with rats, our perceptions of these experiences, where we've failed
and where we've succeeded. These accounts are here for two purposes: