Mazes have been used in countless experiments involving mice and rats to test theories of spatial learning and to study memory. Each time a rat runs a maze, it gets through it more quickly than before, as it has learnt from its mistakes. Experience this amazing behaviour with your own rats in your own rat maze. You can build one with foam board and glue.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Foam board
- Felt-tip marker
- Heavy-duty scissors or utility knife
- Hot glue gun
- Rat food or some other kind of reward
Decide on which maze format to use or design your own on a sheet of paper. Research different maze shapes such as the classic maze, T-maze and the multiple T-maze to determine which you prefer. If you design your own maze, draw it out on the paper and "walk" through it to make sure it works.
Lay a large sheet of foam board onto a flat surface. Draw your maze design onto it, using a felt-tip marker and a ruler to keep the lines straight.
Measure the length of each wall in the maze, and cut pieces of foam board to fit. The more complex your maze, the more wall strips you will need. Make the walls high enough that your rat cannot see over or climb over them -- six inches should do.
Lay down a line of hot glue along a wall line on the foam board. Press the bottom edge of the corresponding wall segment into the glue until it dries. Repeat this step until all of the walls are glued in place. Leave the maze entrance and exit open, if you desire, or close them off to prevent the rat from escaping.
Place a reward at the end of the maze. Food makes the best rewards for rats because the rat will be able to smell it and will follow the smell to find the end of the maze.
Tips and warnings
- If you are worried that your rat might climb out of the maze, cut wire netting or mesh to cover the maze while the rat is inside it.
- Time your rat as it runs through the maze and record the times. After a while, your rat will get the hang of the route, and you will notice that the rat will take less time to find the exit.
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