Introduction: How to Bathe a Rat, THE NICE, NO FUSS WAY

Picture of How to Bathe a Rat, THE NICE, NO FUSS WAY

Everywhere I look, I see traumatizing instructions on how to bathe a rat. By filling the tub or sink, dipping them in the water and taking care that the rat doesn't scratch your arm open trying to cling on for dear life!
It's Ok though, don't feel too bad about it. I did it too the first time because I didn't really know how else to bathe them. But now I have a much easier and friendlier way that my ratties enjoy, even though they still don't really like to swim!

Step 1: What Do You Need?

Picture of What Do You Need?

In your bathroom:
1: A dirty rat
2: A pail of comfy, lukewarm water
3: cotton balls, pads, or a small face sponge will work to
4: bath toys, berries, frozen peas, pieces of carrots or apples or any other treat that doesn't dissolve in water!!!! (optional)
5: A towel
(6: A tiiiiny bit of baby bath/shower gel, for the really dirty, dirty rats) You usually don't need anything.

Step 2: Making the Bath

Picture of Making the Bath

First make sure your bathroom is warm. Bathing in a cold, drafty bathroom will make anybody ill.
Make a nice bath for your ratties. 1 or 2 inches of lukewarm water is more than enough. Put some bath toys, berries or whatever in the pail and put it on the ground in the shower or empty bathtub.
Chances are they won't be impressed by it, but some rats do like to swim.
Whatever you do, don't stick your rat is the pail!!!! Just let them walk around the bathroom or empty tub, feed them the peas or berries and let them explore the pail on their own time. This way the rats are calm, not trying to run or scratch to escape. As long as they're concerned, it's just play time.

Step 3: Bathing the Rats

Picture of Bathing the Rats

Sit next to them on the ground or on a little chair. Dip the cotton pad, washcloth, sponge or whatever in the bathwater and just calmly sponge-bathe your ratties. They won't fight you and will just start grooming their self. You don't have to hold them or anything. Just let them walk around and sponge them until they're soaked.
They might want to come keep warm next to you or on your lap, it's all good, as long as nobody is distressed or afraid, it's all just part of a nice fun bath. Heck, they might even start swimming on their own!

Step 4: Lathering

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If your rats are particularly "nasty" you might want to use some no-tears baby soap.
So soak your ratties good,  then rub a tiny bit of soap in your hands into a lather and then lather your ratties up.
Don't do their faces so it doesn't get into their eyes! Even if it's no-tears it can still irritate a little.
When you're done just sponge on some more water until all the soap is gone.

Step 5: You're Done!

Picture of You're Done!

Now you're done with the bath and you can towel-dry your happy ratties!


RM9813 (author)2016-06-03

Thank you for this tutorial. I am going to try this soon. I have had girls in the past and never had to bathe them, but my boys seem to enjoy making their hammock or living areas kind of gross....Even though I clean their cage and shelves about every four days. I am glad to see that others have had boys that are a little smelly at times as well!

Rosaliehallo (author)2015-08-23

Thank you so much, I washed my rats two times so far, because they pee in their chilling hammock (they smell like pee) and both times the rats and me were totally traumitized. It was not fun. Lots of scratching and climbing up my back involved. From now on i'll do it this way

RM9813 (author)Rosaliehallo2016-06-03

I have had female rats before and they were clean little girls, but my boys like to pee in their hammock as well! I am glad it isn't just mine....I was starting to worry!

Mrstreadaway89 (author)2016-03-08

Thanks for the info on how to bathe rats!! :) we just got two baby dumbo/fancy rats they are so cute. And smart! ?? im going to try to bathe them tonight. We have had them about a week. Still babies through and im also going to try to train them.

tehferalhamster (author)2012-05-08

Nice ~_~
I bathed my older (white) Dwarf hamsters by holding them and softly scooping water over them in a small plastic lunchbox, mixing the soap with water in a separate bowl and softly rubbing it in. They didn't like it too much, so I'm gonna try your method with my current one. :)

When they're bathed, I highly recommend holding them in a small towel and keeping it close to your body so they don't get cold. You can towel-dry them, but one of the older ones just groomed himself with little physical input from me - apart from body heat!

really? I've heard that you really shouldn't get dwarf hammies wet under any circumstances due to their fur being too thick, it is almost impossible to dry them properly and they most likely will not dry on their own due to their thick fur, and it can lead to nasties such as their fur becoming mouldy and their skin getting infected ?

IsabellaL4 (author)2015-12-28

im going to try this thanks ive got two girl rats, oreo and champange oreo a dark brown and champange is the colour of champange. dorky u may say but they have gotten used too thier names and are well trained but not at bath time! love your rats by the way didnt know so many people like rats.

shethatisnau (author)2015-12-14

I'll have to try this next time my little Pendleton needs a bath. Poor guy HATES bath time and I have the scratches to prove it, though he's gotten a little better.. he's more a fan of the post-bath snuggle time when I wrap him in a towel as a little Rattito ^_^ just washed him a little bit ago and he's bruxing away in my lap~

darkwho84 (author)2015-08-31

Thanks for the great idea so I can wash my scared rat in. Better way. Thanks a lot

Animal Woman (author)2015-07-02

Nice to finally see someone acknowledging that it's not a good things to traumatize your rats or even use shampoo, unless they are unusually filthy. Otherwise you end up with a bad relationship and a rat with irritated skin from walking of all their natural oils. Well done! Thanks!

DaniA3 (author)2015-06-26

This is going to help soo much!! We have two beautiful 1 month old brothers and I'm sure they will love having a swim

jade.dasilva.16 (author)2015-04-25

Thank you for this, will definitely try next bath time.

EverythingAbby (author)2015-03-18

Your rats are so cute! We're getting rats soon and if we have to bathe them we'll give this a try.

Kris T. (author)2013-05-17

I forgot to mention: Your rats are absolute cuties!

Totysheep (author)Kris T.2013-05-20

Thanx! ^^ I'm sure yours were adorable also!

Kris T. (author)2013-05-17

Wish I knew this method, oh, 16 years ago. My boy Nosedive was always crawling up my arm. If he didn't sleep in his own filth and smell of homemade nachos, I wouldn't even have considered giving him a bath. He was a blast, though, loved 'im to pieces.

I've noticed girl rats keep themselves cleaner than boys; I never did have to bathe Bunny or Blackberry.

dgill4 (author)2013-03-17

My boy do not like baths so I'm going to try this thank you!

Polls2595 (author)2013-02-03

Your grey rat is adorable! I have 2 rats, one is grey and white and one is a white albino , both boys and I love them to pieces! Defiantly going to take your advice with the bathing as my boys aren't to keen on water!!

Totysheep (author)Polls25952013-02-03

Succes with your bathquest!! Much love to your ratties!

Gliucoza (author)2011-10-09

I have my rats for 5 months and i didn't give them a bath yet. When are you supposed to?

Totysheep (author)Gliucoza2011-10-11

Only when you want to ;) You don't HAVE to give them a bath, but if you want to because they're particularly stinky, this would be the way to do it. Enjoy your little friends!

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-07-21

here's an idea....
to make it so the animal does not freak out so bad, never have the water come higher than its belly. that way they can be IN the water, but they are in no danger of drowning or "going under" water...

I think if they know that they can stand in it without their head going under, maybe they will not be so scared....Just a thought.

Totysheep (author)SIRJAMES092011-07-22

Yes, exactly. I had it in mind when I wrote 'fill the tub with just an inch or so of water, but didn't really right it down that way :P
Thanks for pointing it out.

SIRJAMES09 (author)Totysheep2011-07-22

yes Ma'am. you're welcome. :)

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-07-21


can you use baby shampoo to clean the rat?

My vet advised us to use that on the dogs & cats I used to have....the reason being, was because baby shampoo was really mild & would not burn their eyes.

Totysheep (author)SIRJAMES092011-07-22

Yes, babyshampoo is ok. They sell special kitten shampoo at petstores, Iv'e heard that that's ok to use too.

Jayefuu (author)2010-08-15

This sounds like good advise. I don't have a rat but it's well written and makes sense. :D

Totysheep (author)Jayefuu2010-08-15

thanx, I decided to write this after I read another ible about bathing rats and I remember my rats HATING it. And this is so soothing and fun.

SIRJAMES09 (author)Totysheep2011-07-21

Attitude is everything to animals.

with patience & the right attitude, animals will trust you & do most anything for you & you can do most anything for them & with them.

YoshiB (author)2010-10-16

is this the same for guinea pigs as well because i have a few scares from their 'quick escape routes'.they do not like to swim.
great instructable by the way
toodle-pipsky !

Totysheep (author)YoshiB2011-03-12

You know, I never noticed that this was a question! I feel so terrible! I thought you were just sharing with us that it's the same for guinea pigs :P
To tell you the truth (I had guineapigs too) you can practically spongebathe anything. Guinneas shouldn't be bathed really, but if they get reeeeaaaaally dirty, you can always try this. ;)

YoshiB (author)Totysheep2011-03-13

thank-you. i suppose my bad grammar and spelling mistakes didn't help.thanks anyway.

Sharmie (author)2010-12-28

I think i'll have to try this.

I've found bath time to be hectic and stressfull for both me and the ratties, they tend to not like me for a few hours after it. Even if i give them their fav treats!

kooyma (author)2010-12-14

aaaaaaaaaww... the pretty sleeping grey ratty at the end is just too sweet!
is it a particular breed?
good on you for wanting to keep their lives relatively stress free- they'll be healthier and better pets due to your efforts!

Totysheep (author)kooyma2010-12-14

Yeah, he's a sweetheart isn't he? I don't know what breed he is, I just got him from the pet store. But according to his color pattern he's a platinum (or an American blue, but I think those only have black eyes)

valhallas_end (author)2010-08-15

Heh, my brother's rat actually loves being dipped in water, and likes a warm faucet stream even more. Each to his own, I guess. I think he tolerates it because he knows the low-heat hairdryer follows (yes, it's cool enough to be safe, but warm enough to not chill the rat). He loves that thing.

Totysheep (author)valhallas_end2010-08-16

Yes, some rats L-O-V-E being bathed and showered and blow-dried and all that stuff. And some are still weary of water, so dipping them makes them squeak, scratch and run and stuff. That's why I don't recommend dipping or showering for these rats and especially not for beginner rat-owners. Thanx for your comment.

valhallas_end (author)Totysheep2010-08-16

Oh, definitely. Our guy is strangely brave around water, but absolutely terrified about many other things (the floor...). I forgot to suggest these, but we found soft white cotton gloves (thin, ruffled fabric, which I think are supposed to be used for giving babies baths and shampooing them) work well at calming the rat. It helps muss their fur, letting you or the rat get to their skin and help remove mites or flakes. They make guiding shampoo a lot easier than trying to squeegee it with your fingers.

Totysheep (author)valhallas_end2010-08-16

Hahaha, Yes! Mine are afraid of the floor too!!! I guess is because they've never stood there and so they feel safer in your hands. By the way, if your rats have mites, fleas, lice or anything like that you can go to the vet and buy something similar to 'frontline' but for kittens! All you have to do is squirt a measured amount between their shoulderblades, wash the cage, throw their toys in the dishwasher or a bucket of water and soap or whatever and your done!!! Two weeks later you just squirt the stuff again for the hatchlings and it's as good as over. My rats had those pesky orange rat lice, and after the shoulder-drops-thingy, they never had another bug again! It even deworms a little I've heard.

valhallas_end (author)Totysheep2010-08-16

Interesting - our rat hasn't actually had mites so far, but the girl we got him from (he was actually supposed to be food for a snake, but the snake ignored him, so free rat when my brother took pity on the little guy - yay!) has had trouble with mites. She works for a vet though, so her animals get free checkups...even though they're then eaten later... It's funny...our rat has actually been on the floor before, and seemed to enjoy skittering around, but I think he became terrified when he realized he couldn't claw up our pants to get higher. He's a very good climber, but not on jeans...I think that traumatized him away for good. Out of curiosity, how many rats do you have?

Totysheep (author)valhallas_end2010-08-16

Just two right now. I've always had all sorts of animals before, but I've never had anything as awesome as my ratties. I just like spending a lot of time online collecting information about them (all my pets for that matter)

valhallas_end (author)Totysheep2010-08-16

Very cool. We may get a pal for ours, but he's pretty big now and his cage probably can't fit another full-grown rat (no room for a second cage either). I was pleasantly surprised how well a rat fits into the family - before, we'd had hamsters and parakeets, and nobody really thought of a rat until my brother brought one home. Now, he's the life of every family party - literally.

Sam Cook (author)2010-08-15

I think you did a good job and obviously care for your friend. I also don't think you have to tramatize your pet to keep it clean.

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