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Giving a Pet Rat a Bath: What You Should Know

Updated on May 26, 2011

Like dogs and cats, pet rats can begin to stink and need a bath. In my routine, I give my rats a bath when I clean their cage every one to two weeks. This works out pretty well for our two rats because they do not make much of a mess and by cleaning the cage at least once every two weeks it doesn’t stink. When I’m about to give my rats a bath, I gather up all of the supplies I will need. The couple of times that I didn’t have everything at hand prior to the bath, it was hard to juggle two soaking rats to go find it.

For shampoo, I use No-Tear Baby Shampoo, which works great. I would not recommend using another type of human shampoo because it will be too harsh for their coat and could really hurt their eyes. Dog and cat shampoo should not be used because they are meant for bigger animals. I’ve read articles where some rat owners use kitten shampoo on their rats; however I have not tried this and am unsure if it is safe. I also have two towels nearby with a small treat for the rats when I get done.

One of our rats is scared to death of everything. The other, loves adventure and new things. The latter of the two is the rat I always start with because she enjoys her bath time and will play in the water. I usually use the sink so that I can use the attached sprayer. The sprayer is gentler than just shoving them under the faucet water. I think the rats get more of a massage out of it than anything. Our more social rat will sit on my hand in the sink and just enjoy the warm water. Rats have a slightly warmer body temperature than our own, so make sure the water is fairly warm to your touch to be warm enough for the rat.

All you need is a dab of the baby shampoo on your fingers. Then gently massage the baby shampoo into lather on your rat’s coat. Don’t go to rough or you may begin to hurt the little guy. My rats find the massage to be the best part of the deal. Keep the shampoo away from their face all together to avoid getting any in their eyes. I go to the ears and a little under the chin and that is the closest I get.

Dab a little bit more shampoo onto your fingers and massage your rat’s tail. You want to scrub the tail really good because this is usually the dirtiest. I will sometimes use an old toothbrush to help get the tail all nice and clean.

The next step is to thoroughly remove all of the shampoo. This is important because if all the shampoo isn’t removed then the rat may ingest in later while cleaning itself. While baby shampoo is fairly gentle, you don’t want to take any chances. Take your time and use a sprayer to help get the belly of the rat where it is hard to reach. Rats don’t like being turned on their backs, so try to keep this in mind while trying to clean their bellies.

As soon as you turn the warm water off, move your rat directly to a towel to dry it. You don’t want your rat to get cold because they can catch little colds easily. Use the towel to dry them off the best you can and place them back into their cage. The adventurous rat will usually sit on my shoulder while I give the other one its bath.

Just find a routine that works out best for you and your rats. While the first time may be difficult, the times after that should be better as the rats get used to it. Be patient and don’t get angry if your rat doesn’t like its bath time, sometimes they just don’t adapt, but it is something that must be done to help keep your rat healthy.



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    • profile image

      Trinity 5 years ago

      THANKS! I getting pet rat soon and find this information useful. I shall add page tofavorites so I can go back to it later, just in case I forget something :3

    • Ealisa Adams profile image

      Ealisa Adams 6 years ago

      I think you are right! I know some people who might forget that tip if someone didn't tell them :)

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 6 years ago

      I think, number one tip should be; do not drown the pet rat. :P