Should I Bathe My Pet Rat?

Rats are known to be very clean animals since they’re constantly cleaning themselves as well as their cage mates. If your rat is kept in a clean environment then a bath isn’t really necessary. Most of the time if your rat does get dirty, it may only require a wipe off or sponge bath. It’s important that you don’t over bathe your rat as this will strip them of their natural oils and cause their skin to become dry.

Do rats like baths?

Most rats will hate baths at first and will take some scratched arms and time for them to get used to it. It may take a couple of bath times until your rat feels comfortable having one. You will find that some rats will love baths and swim around enjoying it while other rats will hate it. It’s important to try and avoid stressing out you rat as much as you can.

When should I bathe my rat?

Since rats are constantly grooming themselves, giving them baths isn’t necessary. However, there are times where you may need to bathe them. The times where you may need to give your rat a bath are:

  • Your rat is elderly or ill and is unable to groom itself properly.
  • They get something sticky or yucky on their fur that you think they shouldn’t groom off themselves.
  • Medical reasons such as a skin treatment or preparation for treating mites or parasites.
  • Your rat sleeps on wet bedding and becomes smelly.
  • Build up of buck grease.

While your rat is wet, it’s also a good time to do a body check. With your rat being wet it’s easier to spot any lumps, scratches, wounds, parasites and any other abnormalities.

How often should I bathe my rat?

It’s important that you don’t bathe your rat too often. Washing your rat too much will strip them of their natural oils and cause their skin to become dry. As they reproduce the lost oils, they will have a stronger smell. You shouldn’t bathe your rat anymore than once a month. It’s best to try and avoid washing your pet rat unless it really needs it.

What products should I use to wash my rats?

When bating your rat, you may only need to use water but if you’re wanting to use a shampoo it’s important to wash your rat with a pet safe shampoo. The different shampoos you can use are:

  • Small animal shampoo.
  • Dog shampoo
  • Kitten/cat shampoo
  • Baby shampoo
  • Dishwashing liquid (for the tail or a greasy back)

When choosing a shampoo to use on your pet rat, it’s important to use a mild shampoo and one that doesn’t contain any flea or tick repellent.

Bathing your rat for the first time

Bathing your rat for the first time can be a stressful experience for both you and your rat. Introducing your rat to water overtime can help make the process easier. Just placing your rat into a tub full of water or pouring water over your rat isn’t going to go down well. To help make bathing your rat easier, you should try to slowly introduce water to your rat. To do this you can try this:

  • Fill a container with warm water (make sure it’s not too hot)
  • Gently trickle some water over your rat and rub it in.
  • Gently wipe your rat down with a towel.

Doing this will help your rat get used to the idea of water/a bath and hopefully they will be less afraid next time you try. You can also add toys and treats to help make the experience more entertaining for them.

How to bathe your rat

When bathing your rat it’s important that you never submerge their head under water. Since rats immune systems are extremely sensitive, they’re prone to having respiratory infections and getting water in your rats ears can lead to illness and a trip to the vet.

When bathing your rat, you should try and have everything you need ready. You should have a sink or container filled with some warm water, a cup, shampoo (if using) and a towel. When bathing your rat, you can try some of these easy steps:

  1. Lower your rat gently into the tub or sink.
  2. Lightly pour some water over their fur, making sure to avoid their head (eyes and ears specifically)
  3. Apply some shampoo and softly lather into your rats fur, avoiding the head.
  4. Rinse the fur until the shampoo is completely washed off.
  5. Gently dry your rat with a towel until it’s as dry as possible.

If any part of the bathing becomes stressful, you can give them a treat to keep them occupied and help make things a little bit easier. It’s important to completely dry your rat as best as possible before putting them back into the cage to try and avoid them from catching a chill.

It’s important to remember that not all rats will enjoy having a bath. Keeping your rats environment as clean as possible will assist in not having to bathe them at all.

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