My Homemade Rat Harness
I am in the process of socializing our three newest additions- a hairless female baby girl rat (Scarlett No-Hara), a PEW Rex coated baby girl rat (Chelsea), and a rescued beige hooded lady rat (Aniston).
One of my socialization processes is to get them to ride comfortably (and safely) on one’s shoulder. I like the idea of rat harnesses and leads to be used with shoulder riding. Should the rat accidentally fall or purposely jump, the harness and lead will keep them in a safe retrieving range. I always fear newbies like these girl rats will be shoulder riding, get spooked about something and jump then run off before we can catch them. With a rat harness and lead, should they jump, they are on a leash so they can’t scamper off.
The problem with most commercial “rat” harnesses is that they really don’t exist. The closest things I have found that you can purchase are ferret, guinea pig, rabbit or kitten harnesses- all of which are just too big for a young rat or even a lady rat. They are better suited for full grown adult males, and fat ones at that. So I decided to make my own. I started making the males harness, just because theirs was made up of my three favorite colors, LOL!
I purchased some embroidery floss (thread) used for embroidery and cross stitching at my local JoAnn Fabric and Craft Store in colors that appealed to me- black, white, and blue for the boys and black, white, and pink for the girls. I planned on just braiding them together to make the harness until I looked online at friendship bracelet patterns. I was never one to make friendship bracelets as a young girl and I struggled with the directions I found for a beginners level pattern. While I wasn’t able to understand the directions, I did end up teaching myself a very very basic pattern that I was quite pleased with in the end. I was able to make the size I needed.
Emerson testing out the new adult male harness
For the clasp (where the lead would attach to the harness) I used a tiny binder clip that I had purchased in a pack from a office supply store (they were originally intended to hold the fleece/flannel to the rat cages (for more info, see the Rat Bedding link at the top of this blog).
I will need to play around with my design to see if I can make it more adjustable or if I will need to make three sizes (baby, youngster, adult) for each sex of my rats (lady rats obviously being smaller even when full grown). But overall, I am very pleased with the results and found this homemade harness to be better than any I have tried in the past with other rats!