Trick Training

February 9, 2009

Here is the chart from the last two weeks (1/24-2/9) that shows her food intake and her weight.

This week her average weight has been 189.9g. She has been fed 12g per day, receiving in her cage what she doesn’t eat in the training session.

For our trick, I decided I wanted Rosalie to get into a basket. Since it has tall sides, I decided to use a small box as a step. Because it’s a more comple, I split this trick into several different steps/phases.

Step 1:

Phase 1: I clicked only when she had her two front feet touching the box.

Phase 2: I clicked when three of her legs, two front and one of the back, were touching the box.

Phase 3: I clicked when she had all four feet on the box.

Step 2: I introduced the basket.

Phase 1: I clicked when her back feet were on the box and her front feet were on the side of the basket.

Phase 2: Same as phase 1, but she also had to put her head into the basket.

Phase 3: Same as phase 2, but she also had to put a back leg up.

Phase 4: She had to get into the basket.

We made it through almost all of the steps. We got caught up on getting into the basket. A few times she put her two front paws in the basket along with her head. Unfortunately, we were unable to fully finish the trick, though we got rather close


Clicker Training

January 30, 2009

It has been an interesting week, to say the least. Firstly, I am happy to report that my rat is clean (luckily for both of us, since this makes handling her much more pleasant) Secondly, clicker training a rat sounded easy, but I was wrong.

At first, she was not hungry enough. I had to not feed her for a full 24hrs before she would work, so the weekend was uneventful. On Monday, when I figured she should be starving, she only worked for about 30-45 min before she refused to eat. She only consumed about 1/3 of her daily food in that sitting but still refused to eat anymore. When she would not work, she was put back in her cage without any pellets. This idea seemed to work because the next day she decided to work for 1-1.5 hours with out loosing interest in the pellets, and has continued to do so. I tried the two click method the first couple of days but she did not seem to pick up exactly what I wanted her to. I decided to throw in my own twist, and do what we call loading the clicker. For this, I clicked then dropped a pellet into the corner, and then when she grabbed it, I clicked again. Before she could leave the corner, I clicked, dropped another pellet, and then clicked when she picked it up. I repeated this several times, which seemed to show her where the food was coming from and that the clicker signaled its fall (half the time the pellet landed on her, she was so close). Of course, she hung around the corner for a while, but once I was sure she understood the clicker, I let her take a few steps away before clicking. She seemed to notice this within about an hour and a half. She is not completely consistent, but I can see her turn her head towards the corner every time the clicker goes off. She does seem to grasp the clicker. In the last 2 days she (we) has really made a lot of progress with the clicker, however an interesting behavior has begun. Now that she knows which corner the treat falls into, she marks it.


Sprague-Dawley Rats

January 30, 2009

Rosalie comes from the Sprague-Dawley strain of rat. They are decendents from the Wistar rats, which were the first rats ever bred for research. These rats get to be about 250-350g and live about 2.5-3.5 years.  It is an albinoo strain of rat that was first produced in Wisconsin and has been bred mainly for medical research. This is mostly due to the fact that they are calm and easy to handle. Interestingly, the esophagus of these rats enters the stomach through a fold of tissue of the stomach,  causing them to be unable to vomit. Common ailments for these rats are respiratory infections, with wheezing and coughing, and infection, so you must check for lumps or swelling on all parts of the body, especially the eyes, ears, feet, and tail.


One thing I found very interesting is that during times of stress they produce tears that are fluoresces under UV medical relivence for this class, but interesting none the less.

Ace Animals, Inc. (2006). Sprague Dawley. Retrieved January 16, 2009, from

History of the sprague dawley rat. Retrieved January 16, 2009, from Erikacarly’s weblog Web site:

Sprague Dawley Rat. (2008). Retrieved January 16, 2009, from the Wikipedia Wiki:

(I know these lines should be hanging, but I can’t get them to hang in the blog…they are from the document I copied from)

Introducing Rosalie

January 21, 2009

Well, I have spent a couple of hours with my rat, Rosalie, between Friday and Saturday. I also rat-sat for Christina while she was out of town. One thing I noticed about Rosalie was that at first she is the calmer of the two. However, once she has calmly explored my entire shirt, arms, hands, etc, she is in full swing to try and find something to do. She crawls up one shoulder, then I put her down and she climbs up the other shoulder. One thing that she did Saturday, that LC (Christina’s does not) was she nibbled my fingers. They were not bites, but rather she would smell my hand and inspect them then nibble my fingernails and finger tips. The bites are not hard, and the only thing I can think of is that I came straight from lunch, so she was looking for her share. LC, Christina’s rat, on the other hand, is the opposite of Rosalie. When you first get her out she is very squirmy. Once she has had about 5-10 min to calm herself, she is very cuddly. She just sat in my lap in the curl of the extra fabric of my shirt. My goal for the first week is to get her used to me and hopefully her behavior will lead me to our research topic. Also, I have a question about her. Her underbelly is covered in urine and the base of her tail if turning a dark yellow, I’m assuming from the urine. This is not the case with LC, and from what I can see through the cages, this is not the case with any of the other rats either. So, is this normal?