Hi humans, rodent types, and anyone else reading this.
This is Jacob the degu, and these are my seven tips for fellow rodents attempting to train their humans:
1. When offered a nibble - even if it's your favourite treat - don't take it immediately every single time. I know it's tempting to do so... Especially with nibbles like Cheerios... But you must resist sometimes. Humans need to be reminded that things are on your terms, and that you're doing things because you want to do them, and when you want to do them, not because they said you should.
2. Whenever your cage door gets opened, try and escape, even if you know it's not the time you usually get "out of cage" time. This keeps the humans alert. If you manage to escape too easily, this is clear evidence that your human needs some serious work on training. Just keep escaping, and eventually they'll get the idea and start paying proper attention to you.
3. When you get "out of cage" time, don't make it too easy for the humans to catch you. They need the exercise they get from trying to catch you, and it's fun giving them a bit of a run around. Don't tire yourself out too much though, and remember that they become frustrated if this goes on for too long. So, make them chase you for a minut or two, and then stay still, allowing them to catch you and put you back in your cage.
4. From time to time, give your humans a gentle nip. Not hard enough to break the skin, but hard enough to remind them you have teeth, and could hurt them if you wanted to. This will make sure your human remembers that even domesticated animals need to be treated with respect, and can defend themselves if they feel it necessary to do so.
5. Even if your humans put everything in your cage back where it was after cage cleaning, make a point of moving things around a little once they're done. This will remind your humans that it's your cage, and - just like they decide the placement of items in their own homes - you have the right to rearrange the items they place inside it. This also helps you to get your scent on everything fully again. If you liked the placement of the items, simply move them back again after you've made your point.
6. If you feel your humans haven't paid enough attention to you today, get their attention by making a lot of noise. If you're able to, squeaking loudly works. Alternatively, stamping your feet, banging on your food bowl, or doing anything else in your cage that makes a lot of noise, are all good options. I knew a gerbil, for example, who got the humans' attention by spinning his bowl in the metal ring that atatches it to the side of his cage.
7. From time to time, throw things out of your cage through the cage bars. This will both keep the humans busy, and provide you with entertainment (watching humans scramble about to clean up is extremely amusing). Never throw out anything important. However, bits of food you aren't so keen on from your rodent mix, poop, and bits of sawdust, are all good options.