Keeping a pet rat requires a well-contained pen that is comfortable and safe. An escaped rat is difficult to catch and requires a creative approach. Rats are good at hiding and can squeeze through small openings. Aggressive chasing and handling will cause your rat to run and seek a hiding place.
Isolate the Rat
If you know the general area the rat occupies, isolate the area to prevent the rat from moving. Close doors and place carpet or towels against the door to trap the rat. Build a wall using books or anything available to narrow the space and close off any escape routes.
Eliminate Stress and Danger
Make the rat comfortable by removing dogs, cats and other pets. Minimize vibrations by walking slowly and wearing socks instead of shoes. Make the area generally quiet and peaceful to calm your pet rat. Rats will hide until they feel comfortable and think the area outside of their hiding place is safe. Keep noisy kids away from the area. If you have mouse traps set to control an infestation, be sure to remove them until your rat is safe and secure.
Baiting the Rat
Place some food on the ground and back away. Put the food close to your rat's cage with a trail of food leading into the cage. Patiently wait for the rat to come out and eat the food. Wait until he enters the cage and begins eating. Slowly approach and close the cage door.
If you have a relationship with your rat and he is used to your voice and mannerisms, attempt a hand capture. Slowly approach your rat while speaking in a calm and nurturing voice. Remain standing as crouching can look like a predatory stance. Slowly lean down and pick him up. If it looks nervous, take a step back and remain patient until he is ready for handling.
Zach Lazzari is a Montana based freelance outdoor writer and photographer. You can follow his work at bustedoarlock.com.