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Bathing a Pet Rat

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
Bathing a Pet Rat

If you have decided to bring a pet rat into your home, you may be wondering if it can swim. After all, rats are delicate animals that you should always handle properly and with care.

Because of rats' small size and tendency to flee from water, there are some methods and very useful tricks you can use when trying to make bathing a positive experience for your pet instead of making it a deeply uncomfortable experience.

Stay with us at AnimalWised to learn all about bathing a pet rat, including why, how often and a step by step guide. Read on!

Your rat's first bath

If you want to give your pet rat its first bath, we recommend doing it in the summer. This way your rat will be more likely to accept the water and consider it something positive and pleasant.

You should know that rats do not like excess water. Therefore, you should slowly get your pet rat used to the bath as if it were a game. Try to relax it with a gentle voice and strokes.

If you can't wait for the summer, use a small container holding two fingers' width of water at 37 ºC (98.5 ºF) - 38 ºC (100.5 ºF); this will be used to soak, not bath, your little friend. Use a small basin or the bathroom sink. Accustom your little friend to contact with water, which should always be at a comfortable temperature.

Bathing a Pet Rat - Your rat's first bath

How often should you bathe your pet rat?

In the case of rats, less is more. The less you bathe your pet rat, the better. Unless your rat gets dirty somehow, bathing it only on occasion will make it smell less.

When bathed, animals lose some of the natural oils secreted by their body that protect them from the elements. The animal will reproduce any lost oils, which will be of a stronger smell. Bathe your rat no more than once a month.

Bathing a Pet Rat - How often should you bathe your pet rat?

Bathing your rat for the first time: Step by step guide

A pet rat's first bath must be done once your small pet is accustomed to contact with water. Then you can start to wash it with specific products for small rodents. You can find them in any pet shop. Have these things ready:

  • Shampoo for rodents
  • A basin of water
  • A jug with more water
  • 2 or 3 small towels

Find a safe place in which if it tries to escape and succeeds it won't fall from a great height and won't hurt itself at all. It's best it's a small, quiet place. If your pet rat is afraid it will become stressed and will end up hating getting a bath. A large basin is also a good solution.

  1. Start the bath by letting the rat get itself wet, playing the water. Use your fingers to help slowly get it wet.
  2. When your rat's coat is completely soaked - except for its face - start carefully applying the soap. We recommend starting with the hind legs and moving forward towards the head.
  3. Make sure no soap gets in its eyes or ears.
  4. Once you've thoroughly rubbed the soap all over its body, rinse it with plenty of pre-prepared water from the jug.
  5. Finally, place your rat on top of a towel and gently rub it with another one, helping it to get dry.
Bathing a Pet Rat - Bathing your rat for the first time: Step by step guide

When should you bathe a rat?

You should wash your pet whenever it gets dirty, but you should never do so with water more than once a month, as we explained earlier. However, what should you do if your pets are little terrors and are always getting dirty?

There are three ways to dry clean a pet rat:

  • Cleaning powders: They resemble talcum powder, but they are actually a dry detergent which should be spread all over the animal's body apart from its face and genitals. Then, brush the animal's body with a very soft and thick brush to remove the dry detergent and the resulting dirt.

  • Dry cleaning mousse: The mousse must first be applied into your hands, before massaging it all over your pet. You should rub it so that it penetrates the dermis, except on its head and genitals. Remove the mousse with a clean cloth, wiping the rat's fur. Then brush it with a small brush.

  • Wet wipes: The best wipes to use are baby wipes. They are great for cleaning the legs and tail. Don't use them to clean the face and genitals. Then wipe your pet rat with a dry cloth.
Bathing a Pet Rat - When should you bathe a rat?

Disinfecting equipment

You need to be absolutely meticulous with cleaning your rat's cages, toys and accessories. It is your duty to keep it completely clean so that your pets don't get sick. Doing so also prevents your home from smelling like a zoo.

Wash the food and drink containers every day. Wash the cage thoroughly every week. There are some cage models that fit inside the dishwasher. Small steam washers are not too expensive and can also be used. Needless to say, people who have large steam-producing machines can perfectly disinfect their small pets' cages.

Bathing a Pet Rat - Disinfecting equipment

If you want to read similar articles to Bathing a Pet Rat, we recommend you visit our Fur care category.

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