You may enjoy the warm summer weather, but rats certainly do not. Rats are nocturnal animals and when awake during the day, they prefer to be kept cool. Around 15-20 degrees Celsius is believed to be the ideal temperature for rats to be comfortable. When exposed to too much hotter temperatures rats are at risk of heat stroke, heat stress and even heart attacks in extreme situations.
So finding a suitable, cool location for their cage needs to be a consideration of any owner. Without taking the temperature of your rats or their location, there are some signs to look out for if you think the room is too hot for them. Some symptoms include:
Most rats are very active, and if you know your rats well you will notice any changes in behaviour. If they are acting a lot less active and moving slowly, this may be a sign that it is too hot for them. As well as being less active, rats that are overheating will be drinking more and eating less than usual. Keep an eye on their food bowls and water bottles, if you suspect them to be overheating make the adjustments necessary.
Rats will almost always lie down and stretch out when they are becoming too hot. This is their way of trying to cool down by allowing air to flow around their bodies, much like we would do if we were too hot. If a rat is laying in an area in the cage that is cooler than the rest, like an spot that in the shade or made of a material like slate that stays cool, this may be assign too that they are in need of cooling off.
It’s not difficult to keep your rats cool, noticing they are too hot is the most important thing. Rats are not able to sweat or pant to lower their temperature like some other animals. So if you suspect that they are too hot you need to do something to help them cool down. Here are a few methods to help your rats cool down:
On hot days it should be cooler inside your house than it is outside. Rats are indoor pets anyway and should not be kept outside, but this is even more important on hot days. Their cage should be situated out of direct sunlight, and not near any radiators or heaters.
Rats are happier when they have fresh, clean air. A lot of people keep their rats hid away in a spare room, especially if they house share with people who do not like them. Without fresh air, or a cool breeze, rats are much more likely to suffer from health problems. So think about having a fan, air conditioning unit, or a position next to an open window, especially during the summer months when temperatures are higher.
When keeping your rats cool during summer try to keep the room temperature as consistent as possible. If the temperature fluctuates greatly from day to day it can put some stress on your rats, possibly leading to them becoming ill. If you have an air conditioning unit you can set the temperature easily. However, if you do not have air conditioning you can try closing the blinds or curtains during the day and leaving them open overnight. This will block the sunlight and keep the room cooler during the day, be sure to keep the air fresh with a fan if needed.
During a heat wave or other severe weather conditions, there are some measures you can take to cool your rats down quickly. It is very important you act sooner rather than later, as discussed earlier it can be dangerous for rats to get too hot, or be exposed to hot temperatures for long periods. Like with any situation regarding the health of your pets, if you think there is a serious risk to their health you should consult a qualified veterinarian. Here are some measures you can take to help keep your rats cool in severe conditions:
If your rats are struggling with the heat then freeze some of their favourite fruit or vegetables. They can lick the cold ice coating and slowly work their way into eating the food while cooling down. Remember though, as they melt it will leave a puddle of water so place on a suitable surface in their cage.
A bowl of ice cubes will help rats cool down in a hurry. Be sure to use a bowl so you don’t create a large puddle in their cage, wet bedding can cause mould. You can use frozen water bottles as an alternative.
If you are really concerned about how hot your rats are and think they might be at risk of heatstroke, put a small amount of cold water in your bath or another suitable large container. Place your rat in and let them run around, most rats enjoy running around in shallow water, and this is a sure way to ensure they are cool.
Brick and tile surfaces do not absorb the heat as much as plastic or other softer surfaces. Having a clean brick or tile surface gives your rats the chance to have somewhere to lower their temperature if needed. It also has the added benefit of trimming their nails slightly as they walk over it too, a bit plus point if you have a rat that likes to walk all over you when it is out of the cage.