Rats are clean animals, if healthy and happy they will usually always keep themselves well groomed. There are instances however when rats will need a little help, bathing your rat is not as strange as it may sound. A lot of owners bath their pet rats from time to time, it can be difficult at first but with some patience and regularity will become a lot easier for the rat, and you. This article will help you understand some of the do’s and don’ts when giving your pet rat a bath.
Trying to just put your rat in a bathtub full of water will not work. Rats react to water a bit like cats do at first, they will do everything they can to escape and it will put some stress on them. But we have all seen how cats can become submissive to being bathed with patience, and rats are no different.
As rat owners will know, all rats have different personalities. This is a general guide, don’t be surprised if your rat takes to water a lot quicker, or maybe it takes a little longer. The steps you need to take in order to help your rat become familiar with water and not fearful of getting wet are:
You should get an idea of how fearful your rat is going to be from this introduction. Do this a few times over the next couple of weeks and your rat will become a lot more tolerant. Then start to put some shallow water into the bath tub and place your rat in. It will become more familiar with water and the surroundings, combining this with the steps above you are now bathing your rat.
Be careful to never submerge your rat under water, if your rat gets water in its ears, eyes, and nose, if can be very harmful. Keep a shallow amount of water in the tub and manually trickle water on its fur, brushing it through and drying the rat yourself.
There is a wide range of shampoo and grooming products available from pet and online stores. There are products designed specifically for small rodents, additionally kitten shampoo is also safe to use due to its sensitive formula. Always read the instructions fully on the product you have. Here are the steps usually involved in using shampoo to bath your rat:
When your rat is dry give it a treat and some fussing to make sure it feels secure and happy. The first time you use some product on its fur keep an eye on it afterwards. If you see your rat scratching or grooming itself a lot more than normal it may be uncomfortable. If you are concerned you should seek the advice of a veterinarian. It is unusual to have any problems if you are using correctly formulated products however, as they are very sensitively formulated for small animals.
If your rat is proving difficult to bath in water, you can minimise the stress and difficulty by using a dry shampoo product. You can buy these products easily from online stores, or at some pet supplies shops. Just like normal shampoo read the directions of the product carefully before using it. Here are the steps involved in dry shampoo:
As with bathing your rat, some rats will be more difficult than others. If your rat is tame to handle then it should not be a problem, your rat will just think it is being fussed over.
There are some tips and tricks to help make the process of bathing your rat a little easier. If your rat has long nails and is finding it too slippy in the bath you can clip its nails, if you are not familiar with doing this yourself seek the assistance of a veterinarian. This will also prevent you getting scratched if your rat is scrambling around to get grip when you are handling it.
Take it slow and steady, if being placed in water is a completely new scenario to your rat, just use a very small amount at first. Do as many trail runs as necessary, slowing adding more water each time until you reach the level discussed above.
Another trick is to use treats as a reward when it is going well. Rats respond well to treats and will associate this with being bathed.
Try and remember that bathing your rat is supposed to be beneficial to your rat, and fun too. If you have a smelly, scruffy rat you will be doing it a favour by giving it a clean. There is nothing harmful about this activity at all if done correctly, and most rats end up enjoying it.