wikiHow to Bathe Your Pet Rat

Sometimes, your rat can get dirty or stinky! You don't want that, so bathe your rat the proper way! If you don't your room may very well end up stinking.


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    Before starting, ensure that your rat is comfortable being semi-submerged in water. Do not force your rat to go in the water.
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    Close the bathroom door and fill the sink about halfway with warm water.
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    Lay a towel down next to the sink, so they can jump out and shake off the water. Also, have a towel ready to dry them off.
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    Get your rat ready in one hand, and have the shampoo in the other(dog shampoo, preferably oatmeal shampoo because of it's soothing and hydrating properties. DO NOT USE flea and tick shampoos on rats).
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    Gently put your rat in the sink, just enough to get them wet. Make sure you don't get water in their ears or eyes. They won't like this too much so it's important to talk to them to reassure them.
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    Remove the rat from the water and sit it on the towel. Scrub the shampoo into the rat's fur, but don't use too much and don't get any on their face or head.
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    Put your rat in the sink again to rinse off the shampoo, making sure you don't get their face wet.
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    Continue as necessary.
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    Let your rat jump out of the sink and shake off.
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    Use a towel to dry your rat.
    • Bathing rats isn't necessary, but is useful before shows or if they are just a bit smelly.
    • Find a small animal shampoo with natural oils, especially if you have to bathe them more than once a month. It's important to clean your rat more than once a month if your rat has been ill or is elderly. However, be careful not to bathe your rat too often. If you bathe your rat too often, the supply of natural oils on your rat's skin and fur may become depleted, causing your rat's skin to get too dry. Be sure that you use baby shampoo or animal shampoo. Regular shampoo used for humans can cause serious skin problems.


  • If your rat is scared of bathing, instead of the usual dunking, try enticing him with his favorite treat to willingly enter the water.
  • If you don't want to fight your rat every time he gets dirty, get him used to open water as soon as possible. A rat which has only been around water from its bottle will be a great deal more stressed then a rat introduced to swimming early on. The best way to start a young ratlet on the path to bathing is to set up a little ratty swimming pool for some supervised summer fun. A shallow bowl or paint pan works well for this.
  • Have a few practice baths that include no shampooing, no dunking, no stress, just lots of treats and the option to swim.
  • If you have a group of rats try bathing them all together. Everything is less stressful when you have your buddies around.
  • If your rat is frightened by the noise of the blow dryer, throw a hand towel or kitchen rag over his back and rub him dry. Whatever you choose Never send your rat back to the cage still wet.
  • Before you put them back in, clean their cage so that doesn't get them dirty right away again.
  • Be ready for them to poop. It flies out of them like a rocket in a bath!
  • Don't let your rat get cold afterwards. A blow dryer set to the lowest warm setting and at the lowest fan speed can help to dry and warm your rat unless he is frightened by the noise.
  • Wear a long-sleeved sweatshirt (which you don't mind getting wet) or long gloves while bathing your rat to avoid scratches in case they try to climb up your arms and get out of the water.
  • Make bathing a routine; it's not required but it's a good thing to start. It may be stressful the first few times but if you do it enough they'll get used to it eventually.
  • Some products for "dry bathing" ferrets work well on rats. They're essentially a non-toxic light foam that you can apply with your hand.
  • If you trim your rat's claws, it's a good idea to trim them after you wash your rat/rats. This will minimise the depth of any scratches, by ensuring claws are short (and smoother-tipped than if you clipped them just before washing).
  • If you don't have the right kind of shampoo, don't use any at all. It isn't even necessary unless your rat is smelly. If its coat is just dirty it should rinse out without problems.
  • When rinsing the rat, it works well to run the water (not too forcefully) at a nice lukewarm temperature and "shower" the rat.
  • Test the water first to make sure it's a comfortable temperature.
  • Kitten shampoo works well also.
  • Have patience when bathing your rat. It may be frightened and struggle out first time, but just give it time and it might eventually get used to it!
  • Remember rats are one of the most clean animal, so you don't have the give them a bath that often. Clean them maybe only 1-2 times a month.
  • Whenever you're cleaning your rat with a towel, it's very important you don't do the tail wrong! NEVER go from the tip of the tail, up to the body, for this will make the scale bend the opposite direction and cost the rat a bad infection. DO go from the top of the body down to the tip, if confused, just clean it the way the scales go.


  • Never use people shampoo on your rat. It is much too harsh and can cause serious skin problems. Only use baby shampoo or small animal shampoo.
  • Bathing a rat can be very stressful to it, and it's usually not necessary unless the rat has gotten something messy on its fur. Use caution with skittish or ill rats.
  • All rats will be a bit frightened on their first bath day, but if your rat is truly terrified stop. If its first experience with water is a horrible one filled with dunking and showering, it'll probably scar it for life and he'll never enjoy the water. Rats have excellent memories and he will remember if you ever try to bathe him again. A bad first bath experience creates a vicious cycle of biting, scratching, and soaking.
  • You may end up getting scratched, bitten, soaking wet, or all three if your rat isn't very well behaved. A rat can climb your arm like a squirrel climbs a tree.
  • If you wash your rat on a regular basis only use shampoo every other time. Too much shampoo can be damaging to its coat and skin.

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Categories: Mice and Rats