Guide to pet rat nail care

Trimming your rats nails isn’t really necessary and there are other methods you could try that will wear their nails down instead. Trimming your rats nails can be quite difficult and stressful. Since rats are small and it’s hard to keep them still, it can be quite difficult to find where you need to cut.

Should I cut my rats nails?

Cutting your rats nails isn’t necessary. Generally rats will take care of their own nails by clipping off the ends with their teeth if they need to. Rats will also wear down their nails naturally from running around. However, some people like to keep their rats nails short and blunt.

Trimming your rats nails may be important if they are old. As rats get older, they’re unable to reach their back feet meaning they can’t trim their nails if they need to and if they have hind leg degeneration, they’re unable to wear their nails down naturally during movement which means they’re at risk of getting overgrown nails.

How do I cut my rats nails?

When trimming your rats nails it’s important to take care and be extremely careful. If you cut your rats nail too short it can bleed and if your rat is stressed and moving around a lot, there’s that risk of accidentally cutting off a toe.

When cutting your rats nails you need to stay away from the quick. Like dogs, cats and other rodents, they have a small vein in their nails which is called the quick. The quick is a red vein that goes from the base of their nail to about halfway down the nail and cutting into the quick will cause bleeding.

When trimming your rats nails, you should only cut off the tip. It’s important that you go slow and if there’s any doubt, don’t do it. It’s also important that you hold your rat securely and in a way that won’t stress them out. It’s best to have someone there to help you. Having someone cuddling them or giving them a treat and trim while they’re eating may make it easier. You should also do it in bright light so it’s easier to see their nails and to help eliminate any mistakes from happening.

Having cornflour, white flour or styptic powder nearby will be useful for if you do accidentally clip the quick. Dipping the claw into cornflour, white flour or styptic powder will help stop the bleeding.

What can I use to trim rats nails?

There are two options that you can use. You can use small human nail clippers or small animal nail clippers. It tends to come down to personal preference for what one you use. Both of these are easy and good to use.

How to wear down rats nails

If you don’t feel confident enough to trim your rats nails or they’re being too hard to handle, there are alternatives that you can use to help wear down their nails instead. Having objects for your rat to climb on and scrape their nails on will help to wear them down naturally. Some of the alternative ways to trimming their nails you can use are a nail file, brick, rock or lave ledge.

Putting these in a place where your rat commonly goes like under the water bottle will ensure that it gets used. Having these under the water bottle means that they will have to stand on the abrasive surface to drink and this will help to wear the nails down.

If you don’t see any results with those methods, you can always try using a nail file and file them down yourself. You might need to have someone hold your rat for you so you can gently file their nails.

How to keep my rats nails short

Like said above, you can use bricks, rocks or lave ledge under their water bottle, in their cage or somewhere that they commonly go. To get to the water bottle or to walk around the cage, they will have to stand on the abrasive surface. This will help to keep their nails short if used often. You can also add toys throughout their cage like branches for them to climb.

It’s important to take it slow and to be very careful when attempting to trim your rats nails. Having someone help you or distracting them with treats may help make the process that little bit easier. Good luck!

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