Q. I had a lovely hamster who used to roam around my flat. Last time he disappeared, I found out that he had jumped out of my second-floor window. I've bought a rat now and want to ensure it doesn't happen again. Have you got any advice? Laura, via e-mail
A. Firstly, I'm very sorry for your loss. It's terrible losing a pet, especially in such a tragic way. You're going to have your work cut out, as rats are very curious creatures and you need to make sure that your new pet cannot get into the same predicament. Have a look and see if you can work out how your hamster got onto the window ledge. If you can identify where he climbed up, try to put an obstacle there, or make it impossible for your new pet to climb up.
I live in a basement flat, so when I open the windows, I put a metal wire panel up to prevent the dogs jumping out. After a while you don't even notice it's there. Even if you open a top window, the rat could still find a way out as they are notoriously good climbers.
Rats have a different personality to hamsters; it's more like having a dog than a rodent. You can train them to come when you call as well as a variety of other tricks.
To start your training, you need to have a good bond: handle him frequently, hand-feed and play with him. Give your rat free time out of its crate, but do keep an eye on him. Always when training, use the positive rewarding approach. When your rat does something you like, praise him and give him a little tit-bit. And always keep the sessions short. For more information, go to fancyrats.co.uk.
Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort, an early visit to the vet is always recommended