Debbie Ducommun -

This gallery provides information from Debbie Ducommun, a well-known expert on the care and training of pet rats. Below are excerpts on trust training from her recent new book. Additional information on the contents of her book is located at the bottom of this webpage. (All material Reprinted with permission Debbie Ducommun.)

Please visit Debbie's website, the Rat Fan Club for extensive resources concerning pet rats, including health care, emergencies, feeding, and training. You can also find her on Facebook,

Debbie Ducommun, The Complete Guide to Rat Training: Tricks and Games for Rat Fun and Fitness, T.F.H. Publications, 2008, 144 pages.

Excerpts, Chapter 4, “Practical Training”, pp. 43-45. Reprinted with permission.

“A rat who is extremely shy or even afraid of humans may be that way due to several factors. In most cases, it is simply that the rat didn’t receive enough socialization as a baby. But in rare cases, it’s possible that the rat may have been abused. A rat can also genetically inherit a tendency to be shy or nervous, and such an individual will obviously be more affected by a lack of socialization….”

“Regardless of the cause of a rat’s fear or shyness, trust training can be highly effective in helping him to become accustomed to human contact. I learned a very simple taming technique from a member of my national rat club, Elizabeth R. TeSelle, and I’ve used it with all my distrustful new rats ever since….”

“The most important key to the trust training technique is to use soft food on a spoon as both a lure and reward. Using the soft food prevents your rat from being able to grab it and run away with it. He is forced to stay near you to lick it off the spoon. Also, you will be at an advantage when dealing with an extremely fearful rat because he may feel the need to defend himself by biting, in which case he will bite the spoon and not your finger.”

“Foods you can use include yogurt, baby foods, mashed bananas, mashed avocado, etc….”

“Trust Training Basics”

“The best time to have a training session is when your rat is alert and a bit hungry.

  • To begin, offer your rat the special food treat on the spoon inside his cage.
  • When he will comfortably eat it inside the cage, have him come to the door of the cage to get it
  • Next, have him get up onto the door (depending on the design of the cage) to get the food.
  • Once he does this reliably, have him come out of the cage and climb on your knee, arm, or other hand before allowing him to eat the food.
  • Next, require that he let you pick him up and put him on your knee, arm, or hand before giving him his treat.”

”When a rat allows you to pick him up, hold him, and pet him while remaining relaxed, he has developed a real sense of trust and will respond to handling like a rat who has been well socialized. At this point, you can discontinue the trust training.”

Click the book image above to go directly to the RanFanClub page for more information. Book content description below is from Debbie Ducommun's site.

”Rat Training also includes instructions for practical behavior training, such as litter box training, introducing new rats, and overcoming a rat’s fears. In addition, there is a chapter on activities, such as games, mazes, and obstacle courses, that can be taught to rats just for fun or for science projects.”

Table of Contents

  1. Rats and Humans
  2. How Smart Are Rats?
  3. Training Basics
  4. Practical Training
  5. Preparing for Trick Training
  6. Introductory Tricks
  7. Advanced Tricks
  8. Prop Tricks
  9. Games and Science Projects
  10. Project Plans for Tricks

Let me put in a strong plug for all pet rat lovers to purchase Debbie's indispensable Rat Care Guide, 15th Edition:


For ordering information:

The Rat Fan Club
857 Lindo Lane
Chico, CA 95973
(530) 899-0605
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