American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the Jan./Feb. 1996 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Pet Projects

Treats; Toy Tip: Ferris Wheel

By Nichole Royer

With Valentines Day and Easter approaching, it is natural to share in the festivities with our furry family members. Unfortunately, one of my favorite parts of the holidays (the chocolate candy!), is actually poisonous to our pets. I always felt bad not sharing my favorite treats, so I started baking cookies just for the rats and mice. Now I can enjoy my treats without feeling guilty, and the critters enjoy theirs which are, if not healthy, at least not deadly.

Peanut Butter Critter Cookies

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
1 teaspoon molasses or honey
cold tap water as needed

Mix the peanut butter, molasses, and flour together in a large bowl. Slowly add small amounts of water and knead mixture until it forms a very stiff dough. Roll dough out and cut with cookie cutters, or shape by hand into balls, bars, or patties. Bake at 250° until golden brown, then turn off the oven and leave them inside until it cools (I leave them overnight). This will remove the moisture from the cookies and make them hard and crunchy.


4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups corn meal
½ cup rodent seed mix
1 teaspoon oil
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1 can beef broth

Follow the instructions for Critter Cookies, except use the beef broth instead of water. If more liquid is needed after the broth is gone, then add tap water. This mixture is particularly difficult to cut with cookie cutters and it is often easier to shape into bars or balls.

Fruit Yummies

4 cups wheat flour
2 cups corn meal
½ cup dried fruit (I have used apples, bananas, pears, and mixes)
1 teaspoon molasses or honey
1 teaspoon oil
1 cup fruit juice (doesn’t matter what kind)
cold tap water as needed

Break the dried fruit into small pieces and mix all the ingredients together, then follow directions as given for Critter Cookies.

These cookies can be made more interesting and festive by adding food coloring. You can also vary the size and shape of the cookies to add interest.

Please remember these treats are not meant to be a significant part of your pet’s diet, and could be unhealthy if used as such.

Ferris Wheel

Made by a company called “For The Birds,” my girls give this toy three paws up. This nifty toy is durable enough to withstand the big birds with no problem (it’s recommended for African Greys and Amazons) and my rats love it.

It seems simple enough, a box with a wheel inside it. Food goes between the spokes, and the only way to get it out is to turn the wheel until the food lines up with the hole. I like to fill it with vegetables (frozen during the summer) and cut up fruit, but almost any small-sized treat will work. It’s easy to clean—just a rinse with running tap water—and comes with a chain attached for hanging. I usually don’t hang it since my rats prefer it laid face down and chained to the side of the cage (they can turn it easier and it doesn’t swing and hit them in the face).

This toy proved to me just how smart my rats are. It took the girls almost a month (they got the toy every other night) to really figure out how it works. It takes three rats, two to turn the wheel, and one to grab the food when it reaches the hole. Not only do the girls use teamwork to get their treat, but I now have a third generation being taught by their mom how to make this thing work. Needless to say, I am getting as much enjoyment out of their learning process as they are out of the toy.

Unfortunately, the boys don’t rate this one very high. They never really have figured out how it works. My mom rats always seem flustered when their little guys just don’t get it, though the little girls seem to have no problem. (My boys typically lie around on their backs hoping food will drop out of the sky and into their mouths, not very energetic). Could be my boys are just lazy and others will do better.

Like most really good bird toys this one is rather expensive, I think I paid $15. It’s worth it for me since I rotate it from cage to cage, with most getting it about twice a week. This keeps it from becoming routine and the novelty of it stays high.


I found a great new treat for our critters. Kmart now carries dog biscuits that are just the right size for rats (and the mice like them too)! They are called “K9 Feast Select Puppy Training Biscuits” and come in 24 oz. bags.

These biscuits are teensy-tiny, just the right size for one rat to enjoy. I find this works better for me as I keep the critters in large groups, and one big biscuit for the cage tends to be an invitation for a free for all. It also allows me to regulate how much each rat is getting, since they tend to eat them up and there are no leftovers for cagemates to steal. The mice seem to like being able to pick up and move their treats which they can’t do with big biscuits. All my “kids” like these so well they all come running out to get their treats when I rattle the goody jar.

These biscuits are made in the U.S.A. just for Kmart, which means most Kmarts should have them, but don’t go looking for them anywhere else. They are 20% protein, 7% fat, and don’t cause my boys to break out in scabs even when I give in and let them have 3 or 4 at a time. This is my #1 favorite “regular” treat, and the “kids” and I highly recommend them. *

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Updated April 19, 2014