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