While some people might not see any reason to use a leash on a pet rat, it might help if you want to take your rat for a walk outside, to the park or to a store that allows pets like PetSmart.
Some people use a leash on their pet rats when they have play time on the floor so they don’t get stuck in places like behind the refrigerator or under the stove. It can be very hard to get a pet rat to come back out once they have found a hiding place and start cleaning themselves or just want to chill out.
Types of leashes
I have seen two different types of leashes and both are made for ferrets but work really well for full grown rats. One type of leash is seen on my pet rat at the top of this page. Dusty is wearing a very simple harness and leash.
A picture of another type of leash can be found at fancypetrats.com. That harness is a bit more secure and is easier to get on a pet rat. It has a buckle that fastens around their chest.
I tried both types of harnesses and liked both for different reasons. The harness that has a buckle is easier to get on the rat, but it isn’t as easy to adjust to fit each rats size as much as the other more simpler harness is.
How to Harness Train Your Rat
Don’t try to put the harness on your rat until they feel comfortable with you and are fully grown. Smaller rats and babies are going to have a hard time with the harness because it won’t fit them right and they will either slip out of it or freak out.
First let your rat get used to having the harness and leash around them. Let them smell it, play with it and get used to you touching them with it.
Younger rats might be very squirmy, it will take time to get a rat used to the harness. Have a lot of patience and if it looks like they are getting scared, mad or irritated put them back in their cage for a while before trying again.
Your pet rat may bite at the harness when you first put it on them, they might try to get out of it and if it looks like they really don’t like it, take it off and give them a treat. If your pet rat let’s you put the harness on them, give them a treat and pet them. Talk in a soothing voice to them as they eat their treat.
Some rats, like my Dusty didn’t mind wearing the harness at all, but when I tried putting it on Oreo he kept biting at it and made it clear he didn’t like it, so I didn’t try with him again. You’ll be able to tell right away if this is something your rat will tolerate. If they won’t don’t make them.
Once your pet rat is walking around with the harness you can attach the leash to the harness and walk them on the floor. Once they see they can get on the floor while wearing the harness, they might look forward to you putting it on them so they can get down or go outside for a walk in the yard.