Before you let them go in or out of the house, be sure the area is rat-proofed and that the rats are not going to run away and hide. Teach them to come when called, and always stay close to them so you can keep them out of trouble. It is also helpful to keep a litter pan handy or keep the play area close enough to the cage that they can relieve themselves when they need to.
A Safe Place
Be careful to put other animals away before you take the rats out, and only let them out in areas you know to be safe for them. Check for exposed wires and small places where they can hide or get stuck. When we take our rats out of their cage to play, we like to give them a safe place to go in case something startles them. On the couch or bed, they come to us, their people, but on their playtable, they go to the old cage or into the cinder block. These are also the places they take their treats when they want to stash them, so be sure you can clean everything out when playtime is over.
Playtime is a chance for the rats to get some exercise, interact with you, to explore their world, work on training or even meet new rats. We give them places to climb like ropes and the outsides of the cages, room to run and hidey holes to explore. They like different size boxes with holes cut in them and tanks and such to climb in and out of. Crawling around on a cinder block or several stacked up can wear down those nails. Try hiding food or treats in various places for them to find.
Rats will play with all sorts of toys. Cat toys like the ones with feathers on them are fun for them to chase, and they will play with ping pong balls, balls with bells in them and other objects that roll. They also enjoy bird toys with bells or parts they can chew and dog chew bones. Your best bet, though, is toys that you find around the house or make yourself. You just can’t beat a toilet tissue roll with some paper left on it for tearing up and playing with. Hide treats in an empty tube, fold the ends and watch them work to get to those treats.
Some rats like to play or swim in water especially if they have been exposed to it since they were young. A paint pan makes a great pool because it has a shallow end so your rats can ease into the water. If your rat likes the water, be sure to give him plenty of opportunities to play in it as this can make things easier at bathtime. You can even put bits of frozen vegetables in the pool for him to "dive" for and eat. This is big fun for them and especially good on a warm day. Dry them when playtime is over with a soft towel.
When we have played and had treats, we all like to relax together. The boys usually crawl into our laps or into a hammock to nap. Girls usually clean themselves and curl up near their stash, in our shirt or, occasionally, in a lap. This is a good time to read a book or watch some television while getting some cuddle time in with your rats.