Ways to Properly Bathe Your Pet Rats

rat care, pet rats, rats, rodents

A clean and well-groomed rat is a contented and healthy rat.

Most of the time, rats tend and clean themselves, but there are these instances when their cage pals assist them in cleaning. That is because a few rats are not really into grooming, which means they will require regular maintenance to keep themselves tidy and neat. And on some rare occasions, even the tidiest rats may need help and aid with personal care.

Proper Rat Care

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As a pet rat owner, the first and most important thing you need to take into consideration when it comes to the cleanliness of your pet rat is its surroundings or the rat cage. Remember that even a neat rat that regularly grooms itself will become filthy if its environment is too cluttered.

More often than not, a full bath is vital for a rat. Then again, there are times when a sponge bath or a regular tail cleaning is more ideal. It is best to take caution and not to over bathe your pet rat as it will get rid of the body oils, causing the skin to become dry. It is also important to keep the bath time quick and relaxing to help reduce stress to your rat.

If you are still unconvinced about bathing your pet rats, here are some specific reasons why you should bathe them:

Make Introductions Better

Bathing your rat may prevent territorial issues, especially when introduced to new rats.

Help Them Appear Great in Shows

Love to show off your pet rats? Bathing them several days before a pet show will ensure your pet rat retains a clean and shiny coat. Be sure you do not bathe in days closer to the show for it will prevent their natural skin oils from sticking back on its fur. As a result, their coat may appear unattractive, dull, or dry in appearance.

Controlling Odor

Sometimes, rats are just not good enough to groom and clean themselves. Also, they have a natural odor that is stronger than usual, hence the need for bathing.

Orange or Yellow Back Issues

Some male rats may experience an excessive buildup of yellow or orange oils at the back, which is completely normal. These are products of testosterone related sebaceous gland secretions.

Urination Problems

Now, you really need to bathe and clean your rat, especially the male rats that have been urinated by others of their kind.

Medical Reasons

There are many possible things that could happen when you don’t bathe your pet rats. Thus, preparation for mite treatment if your rat has mites, application of some medical shampoo, parasitic relief, or skin treatment for skin related problems might be required in the long run.

Health Issues

These rats may be unable to clean themselves for some obvious reasons. Poor hygiene may complicate existing health problems or possibly lead to some other serious health issues. Be careful, though. More care might be needed when cleaning older rats or those with health issues.

General Cleanliness

Regardless of the rat breed, sometimes, they just want to play around causing them to get dirty. Apparently, there is a need to be washed off.

Bathing Them Fully

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Make sure that the place you will be using to bathe your rat is properly lit and is very comfortable. In addition, it has to be draft free. As a safety measure, before bathing your pet rat, you should trim off his nails to avoid hurting yourself.

Pet Rat Bathing Supplies

Here are some of the bathing materials you can use on your pet rats:

1. Shampoo (kitten shampoos or baby shampoos will suffice)

2. Dishwashing soaps may be used for its tail and oily back

Prepare all these things before bringing your rat in for bathing. As much as possible, use warm water, and soap, and carry with you a dry towel. Check the temperature of the water as well and make sure you do not use water that is too hot or too cold.

There are a number of options on where you can bathe your rat. You can either fill a tub with a few inches of warm water or maybe use a wide plastic container. You can also put soap in the water either before or after the rat is wet.


Each rat has a different personality and reaction to bathing. While some of them will be scared and panic, others will go against you, cry, or scream. Some will also go limp or completely docile. But in most cases, you will encounter a pet rat that definitely enjoys bathing.

The best and easiest approach to bathing your pet rats is to think that all of them will react differently and may bite or scratch you during the bath. So, do not think that a docile and calm and relaxed rat will stay  that way once it is bathed in the water.

Technically, there is no “right” way of holding or restraining your rat. In the long run, you will think of your own method. But do take note that a loose grip enables the rat to escape and may even let the rat get away. It could make your pet rat feel like he is going to be immersed into the water, increasing the chances of yourself getting injured by your rat or vice versa.


Once the water is warm and ready, slowly pick him up and wet his fur. If you have not put soap yet to the water, put a little to its fur and massage gently with your fingertips. You may need to use a very soft-bristled toothbrush or a soft nail brush to clean up those deep dirt and oily backs.

Do not let water or sap into the rat’s eyes. Also, make sure you do not wash its head during the bath. Perhaps, you can simply just use a damp cloth to dry its head. After bathing your pet, rinse carefully.

Drying Them

After that, place your rat on a dry absorbent towel to dry him. You can always brush him while being brushed if you wish. It is also a great idea to give them treats after bathing. Doing all if this will give you the assurance that their memory of taking a bath is a good and happy one.

Do you think this guide is useful? Let us know below!

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