Holiday enrichment: Fruit Loop fun

Garland of Fruit Loops hung on the outside of the cage as enrichment for my two pet rats

I’m always looking for ways to make my rats’ lives more interesting. They have so much curiosity and energy and get bored pretty easily!

holiday enrichment for Flower the pet ratI often give them enrichment puzzles at dinnertime, such as hiding their food in toilet tissue rolls. This makes dinner last longer and provides additional mental stimulation.

However, after reading the book Beyond Squeaky Toys (which is all about enrichment ideas for dogs and cats) last month, I’ve been inspired to start experimenting with even more enrichment strategies for my rats.

We had fun at the end of last week with some Christmas enrichment. I took red and green Fruit Loops and strung them on a piece of green ribbon. I’ve seen other people do this before with cereal for their ratties, but this is one enrichment idea that I have never tried with Annie and Flower.

The ribbons of cereal are usually hung inside the cage, and the rats have to stretch and reach to chew off each piece of food. However, I made this even harder for Flower and Annie by hanging the ribbon on the outside of the cage!

They really had to work to pull each piece of cereal through the bars and then chew it off. In the morning, there were only a few pieces of cereal left on the ribbon. They both seemed to have fun with this, so it is definitely something that we will try again in the future.

Do you have any special activities or treats planned for your pets this holiday season?

(Note: The rats don’t usually get Fruit Loops, as they are fairly high in sugar! But, they think Fruit Loops are pretty yummy and I decided it would be fun to give them some for a holiday treat.)

My pet rat Annie works on a holiday enrichment treat -- a garland of red and green Fruit Loops

My pet rat Flower  works on a holiday enrichment treat -- a garland of red and green Fruit Loops

The rats loved eating all of their holiday enrichment treat

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  • How fun! I had rats when I was a teenager. I wish I had come up with something like this back then!

  • Love this! And enjoying the DogRead discussion about the book, too.

  • Emma

    Mom has a thing for gerbils, she had a ton of them as a kid, but never a rat. They are pretty cool pets but with us hunters in the house, we won’t ever have a rodent. Too dangerous.

    • It’s definitely tough when I have foster dogs. The rats would really like to be out of their cage for 2-3 hours a day, which means the dog(s) have to be crated in the bedroom (small apartment with a very open floor plan!).
      This is really the only thing holding me back from having a dog, which I would love — but, it would be unfair to both the dog and the rats. And the rats were here first. 🙂

      But, I have Ginger (my mom’s dog) to entertain me and plenty of dogs every day at work!

  • Betsy Kiplinger

    Christmas enrichment for my rats – Well, we already took 3 of them to see Santa Claus. (Look really close at Santa… He has a rat infestation.) For Christmas day, they will be getting a Gingerbread house. Me and my hubby will put it together and the rats will get to demolish. Yes, it’s not a healthy treat, but it’s CHRISTMAS.

  • Betsy Kiplinger

    Christmas enrichment for my rats – Well, we already took 3 of them to see Santa Claus. For Christmas day, they will be getting a Gingerbread house. Me and my hubby will put it together and the rats will get to demolish. Yes, it’s not a healthy treat, but it’s CHRISTMAS.

    • Fun!

      I would love to see photos of the ratties with Santa, if you have any. 🙂
      And the gingerbread house sounds like a great idea. My girls would have so much fun with something like that. Maybe I will have to make them one!

      • Betsy Kiplinger

        It looks like you found my photo. I’d thought the photo was too big for your blog, so I’d removed it. I tend to go overboard for Christmas for the rats, and I need to work more on day to day enrichment activities. One year, I made origami boxes (presents) filled with nuts, yogies, and chocolate chips. Also, I had a snowscape in their cage made with a “snow” from potato starch. They had a frozen pool to “skate” that had peas and such to fish for when it melted. And, I did a popcorn/cranberry garland. This year, their big Christmas present is a big box of wooden blocks. And, I’m still trying to convince the hubby that the rats really really need a ball box.

        • I did find the photo! It is awesome. 🙂
          Thanks for sharing it.

          The frozen pool is an interesting idea.
          A lot of zoos incorporate ice and food frozen within ice into their enrichment items. I bet there are some fun things that could be done with ice for rats.

          My girls would love a popcorn garland!

          I’m really planning / hoping to do more new and different enrichment things for the girls in 2015. So all of these ideas are great.

  • jana rade

    Cute. We used to get something similar for our birds when we had them.

    • Jana — There are so many fun bird enrichment ideas! It makes me almost want to get a bird, as I think I would have so much fun making enrichment for them and then watching them consume / destroy it. But, I don’t have the time currently to properly look after a bird.

      ————————
      Mary Hunter, M.S.
      Dog Trainer and Behaviorist
      Serving Dallas-Ft. Worth
      http://www.TexasAnimalTraining.com

  • Rachel Sheppard

    I definitely want to take Rooney for a hike on my days off from work! Great idea for your rats!

  • Sierra M. Koester

    That is really cool. I bet it was a lot of fun to watch them chew off the Fruit Loops!

  • AMBDT

    I’ve been working on coming up with more enrichment ideas for my ratties lately too (they love tubes!) Here is a little video I made of making an easy Treat Surprise Ball (just regular packing paper and rat chow). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66F1HiJ9BxY

    • Thanks for sharing the video!
      My rats would also have a lot of fun with something like that.

      I always look forward to Christmas because we save a lot of the packing paper and tissue paper for the rats — great for nesting material and enrichment fun.