Book Review: Training Your Pet Rat, by Gerry Bucsis and Barbara Somerville

Karolina Blaha-Black
From the RMCA web site, June 2003

Almost all rat owners have thought about training their rats at one time or another, but there usually werenít many books available on the subject out there. Yes, there is plenty of publications that talk about housing, feeding, and the general basics of dealing with how to take care of a rat or a mouse, but not very many devote a considerable portion of their book to training. I think this is a shame, since rats especially are smart and have a lot of potential as far as training goes. Then I found this book on Amazon.com.

It is called Training Your Pet Rat by Gerry Bucsis and Barbara Somerville, and in my opinion it is the best book that I could find on rat training. The authors are very thorough on the subject, and present the different chapters in an organized and clear manner. Their approach is very descriptive, and the readers wonít be bored by unnecessary details and boring descriptions, since the book is written in a light and funny manner. The book is also full of full-color photographs of rats, as theyíre playing, eating and training. The photos are eye-catching and are accompanied by hilarious commentaries.

The writers start from the very beginning, that is, how to buy the right rat and how to find the correct living quarters for him or her. They also teach you how to fix the living quarters to make the rat comfortable and have a lot of space. From then on, itís about creating trust in the rats that youíre going to be training and the first steps in the training process that the rat(s) need to learn. The book teaches you how to build the correct environment for your rat and where to buy stuff related to his or her training. The book goes on talking about the correct "proofing" of the play place where the rats are going to be playing or training (the place recommended by the book is your bathroom) as well as describing a whole slew of tricks, play and games for them in which you can also participate. I was so surprised when I found out that a simple thing like an embroidery hoop or a piece of a vinyl pipe could be a great play toy for a rat! Then the book also touches on travelling with your pet rat. In todayís fast-moving society, it is normal that people travel and move often, and I feel like the issue of travelling with your pet is important issue to address.

This book makes many important and strong points, such as treats that are used to train your pets. According to the book, Nutrical is one of the best nutritional supplements as well as a great rat treat, and I can tell you that my own rats definitely agree. According to the book, the treats in the training program of your rat are a very important system of rewards if one wants their rat to succeed and enjoy their play. At the end of the book, the authors list various Rat and Mouse organizations, clubs, publications and other related things that can definitely be used and benefited from by a beginning rat trainer.

In conclusion I want to say that this book is an amazing compilation of facts, ideas, tips and advice from two authors that did a one of a kind job writing it. If you own a rat (or the rat owns you, either way) and you have been thinking about training him or her, you will enjoy this book immensely. It will improve the quality of life not only for your rats but also for you because fun is shared and itís doubled when shared with your pets.