Pet Rat Grooming

Status: Real
Gary emailed me this article with the comment "Please tell me this is a hoax." Sadly, I think it's not. Here are some highlights from the article:

Grooming isn't just for dogs anymore, and many pet owners are bringing in their rats to groomers like Garrison, who uses waterless shampoo to make their coats shine and smell sweet... "We need to be there for all our clients," Garrison said. "I think we might be the only place around that grooms rats."...
"The most difficult part of grooming rats is trimming their nails," Garrison said. "They have very small feet." Ferguson recommends pet owners get their animals groomed at least once a month to protect them from parasites. "I love rats," she said. "It's an obsession to me. Sometimes when they get nervous they (urinate) but they don't usually bite. We know how to handle them because that's what we do."

A quick Google search brings up quite a few resources for rat owners who want to groom their pets. The biggest challenge for rat lovers seems to be the little drops of urine the delightful creatures leave as they walk around.


Posted on Tue Oct 25, 2005


Whats so unbelievable about it? You can groom your cat and your dog why not your rat?
Posted by Blood For Nothing  in  Somewhere in the Arctic  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  04:55 PM
Wonder if they have groom hamsters too? I would love to take my hamster for a good groom sometime ^_^
I hope they offer trimming services too, so I won't have to go to the vet to get it's nails trimmed
Posted by Yushi  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  04:56 PM
Hamster grooming sounds more fun than rat grooming, I know my old rat would have hated to be groomed...He was a meanie to people he didn't know.
Posted by Raoul Duke  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  05:35 PM
My cousin married a guy who went for a pet rat in a big way. Somehow the rat was for sale at a pet store, and he wouldn't leave the store until she caved in and let him have the rat.

So I guess there's a special bond between a man and his rat that some of us can only guess at.
Posted by eriC draveS  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  11:44 PM
This is my favorite way to groom a rat:

Rat Roulade
2 medium rats, dressed (cut off heads, paws and tails)
4 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups toasted bread cubes
2 tbsp. minced parsley
1/2 tsp. celery seeds
1/4 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup bouillon (1 cup water, 1 bouillon cube)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
Saute bacon with onion until onion is tender. Mix in bread cubes, parsley, celery seeds and sage. Season rats with salt and pepper. Stuff each rat with stuffing. Tie rats closed with strings by wrapping around bodies. Place in pan and pour bouillon over roulades. Cover pan and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour or until rats are tender. Add tomato sauce and cover pan again. Cook for 30 minutes more.
Posted by Craig  on  Wed Oct 26, 2005  at  05:34 AM
I don't think they pee unless they're really scared. I've held a few rats and they've never peed on me. Same goes for amphibians and reptiles, they only pee if you're holding them wrong.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Wed Oct 26, 2005  at  06:39 AM
My beardy needs a good manacure and teeth brushing...
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Wed Oct 26, 2005  at  07:32 AM
I think the idea is a good one. I love rats, they're my second favorite animal. (Birds being my first.) I used to own one, too. Why is it sad that this isn't a hoax? Rats need grooming just like any other pet with fur.

What's really sad are those places that allow you to give your dogs plastic surgery. I saw it on the news guy took his dog to have liposuction. Also, the other day I was at a party, and this one girl brought in a Chihuahua with BRIGHT PINK toenails and a diamond collar. So I'd say taking your pet rat to get washed and brushed or to have it's nails trimmed is hardly over the top by any means.
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Wed Oct 26, 2005  at  12:24 PM
rats = vermin
Posted by Lilorfnannie  on  Wed Oct 26, 2005  at  08:32 PM
Lilorfnannie = VERMIN
Gary = Never loved by ANYTHING
Craig = scares vermin
Thanks to everyone else! >^^<
Posted by KD  on  Wed Oct 26, 2005  at  08:48 PM
Thank you?
Posted by Craig  on  Thu Oct 27, 2005  at  06:38 AM
Animal plastic surgery?? Please tell me that's a hoax.

As for grooming rats...I just plunk mine down in a half-full bathtub and let him paddle around. They're excellent swimmers.
Posted by Elizabeth  on  Tue Nov 01, 2005  at  07:43 PM
Well, I guess things like ear jobs and tail bobs are cosmetic surgery for dogs (for dog owners, I should say: I very much doubt that the dogs want it). Then there's "declawing" cats, which doesn't make cats beautiful so much as crippled (they whack off most of the fingers along with the nails).
Posted by Big Gary, trying spats on his hamster  on  Tue Nov 01, 2005  at  09:34 PM
Well, its not really a bad idea. Trimming claws and washing rats is a pain. Especially the washing part, since the survival instinct kicks in if you try to soak them. And as all animals rats dont really smell that nice if you dont wash them every now and then.
Posted by Lore  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  01:26 AM
Unless a pet rat gets into something that makes them very dirty (like stomping in a stick of butter or diving into a bucket of mud) a rat doesn't need a bath. Rats bath themselves by licking their fur. Their natural oils give them luster. Bath that all away reguarly and you'll end up causing the skin to dry and flake, and sometimes fur will even fall off. Plus because rats, like cats, clean their own fur by licking, the shampoo used must be 100% safe for them. Otherwise any residue can kill them. For cats, they may get sick, but a rat could easily die from a small amount of shampoo.

To bath now and then, because some rats do like a swim is fine, but a shampoo needs to be safe for them and it can't be often.
Rats shouldn't smell, but unneutered males can have an odor. A throughly and often cleaned cage can help combat odor. As can litter box training. For unneutered males, a swipe with a baby wipe along the rear end and a little water to wash off residue now and then is all they need. A full on bath for odor isn't needed and shouldn't be if the rats are kept in a clean enviroment.
Posted by Siren  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  09:13 AM
You can litterbox train them? I thought they were incontinent? At least mine seems to be.
Posted by Elizabeth  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  10:07 AM
As a response to above questions:

Rats urinate as a way to mark their territory. If they like where they are, what they play with, or who they meet, they will dribble pee onto it. So, Elizabeth, you probably think your rat is incontinent because it likes you. Citizen Premier, either the rats you held were not overly fond of you or you were fortunate enough not to notice their tiny dribbles.

And yes, you can potty train them. You just can't train them not to "mark."
Posted by Heather  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  06:53 PM
But can they control their bowels? Mine can't seem to, which is unfortunately why I can't hold him as much as I would like. He does not urinate on me.
Posted by Elizabeth  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  06:56 PM
Hi, I just got a female Rat. She is very nice and doesn't bite. I got her a litter box for her cage, but sometimes when i take her out, if she is just running around on me or in my sleeve she will sometimes pee a little, but not all the time. Is there anything i can do about that or will she just eventually grow out of it (on the count of she is only 2 months old)?
Posted by Paige  on  Sun Dec 04, 2005  at  04:25 PM
The first thing you have to remember about pet rats is these aren't vermin that have been netted from sewers and sold to pet stores. Pet rats, just like dogs and cats, have been bred for hundreds of generations and there are a lot of different breeds.
Having had several pet rats I can tell you that no they won't grow out of dribbling a little urine here and there. Rats' vision isn't the best and they usually run around in the dark to avoid being seen and killed. Rats have a good sense of smell and hearing so they depend on those senses more than site.
I don't think I'd pay someone to groom my rats but giving a rat a bath is a pain. Their bodies are designed to get out of small spaces and being grasped panics them. When you try to rinse them they panic even more and struggle furiously to get free. Another problem is their tiny claws. Rats can't retract their claws like cats can so rat owners always get scratched up when their pets scramble across their bare skin. So when you bathe your rat you end up with scratches all over your hands. I'd say that's the main reason to have someone else do it.
Posted by MadRat  on  Thu Dec 22, 2005  at  10:46 PM
i am afraid to cut my rats toenails because i have heard so much about if you cut their quik (or however you spell it) they can bleed so much that they can get sick or even die, but it is so painful to have them crawling on me, especially trying to clean my teeth (only something us rat lovers would understand)that it is a great idea to have a rat groomer. i would give my rats a bath, but they hate water and last time i tried, my hands were scratched for a few weeks. all of you people who dont like rats, you must never have met one. they are the most adorable, nice, and friendly animals you have ever met. if you dont like them after you meet them then ok. but if you have never met a freinds rat who is at least a few months old, (when they r in petstores they are still kinda scared) then you really should.
Posted by rachel  on  Sun May 21, 2006  at  05:56 PM
I have two ( half a year old) big female rats. They are huge and dont smell. Yesterday i went to the pet shop to get their bedding when i saw one of the staff holding a small baby rat. I asked her about it and it was hers and an adult but it was really small for an adult. The female litter that was in yesterday was that rats and they wud only grow to that size ( which is half the size of my rats now). I told her about my big female rats (Puddle and sydney) and whot wud happen if i brought a baby female rat home. She said it would be fine and they would just mother care it so i now have two huge rats ( puddle and sydney) and a tiny rat who'll always be a lot smaller ( spritz ).

P.S I tried putting my rats in the bath tub with a small amount of water but the just jumped rite out. 😡
Posted by ILOVEMYRATS  on  Tue Aug 29, 2006  at  01:30 AM
hi dude i have a rat it stinks so much and my whole room smells what shampoo shall i give it and it poos in places instead of weeing is this because they are scard
Posted by LORNA HAYWARD  on  Sun Oct 22, 2006  at  06:41 AM
i tried to see if my rat liked to swim and it just kept trying to jump out. i fell really bad and it smells now when its fur was wet.. but i dont think i would bring it to a groomer
Posted by jess  on  Tue Dec 26, 2006  at  07:00 PM
Of course they need to be groomed. Mine get baths on occasion, luckily mine love to swim. Since rats spend about 20%-30% of their lives grooming themselves, intense grooming by humans is rarely needed unless it hsa a skin condition or is a show rat that needs to get all gussied up. Yes, there are rat shows.

In response to some the rat-hatin' comments: Rats are incredibly wonderful pets. I have had many rats and I will have them throughout the rest of my life. They are sweet, love to cuddle, I've taught mine to respond to their own names. They really love people after you've socialized them correctly. One of mine regularly escapes from her cage and crawls into bed with me at night to cuddle. I couldn't say enough good things about these creatures. Once you can get beyond the sewer rat/Bubonic Plague/weird reptilian tail stereotypes, pet rats are absolutely some of the best pets anyone could have!
Posted by caroline  on  Sat Apr 14, 2007  at  04:04 AM
that craig guy, booooooooo man show some respect boooooo.
Posted by el ratso  on  Thu Apr 26, 2007  at  01:21 PM
Hi I have a Rat his name is little willy all i want 2 know is can u wash them?If u can wash rats can u tell me wat shampoo And Conditioner u use thank-you :]
Posted by Courtney  on  Fri Apr 27, 2007  at  05:50 AM
Hi it is me again rember my rats name is little willy

Umm.... can u tell me the shampoo my rat stinks Lol
Posted by Courtney  on  Sat Apr 28, 2007  at  12:59 AM
If I do not clip them my rats nails can i put a rock in the cage to shave them down? If so what kind of rock?
Posted by charlotte  on  Wed May 02, 2007  at  05:25 PM
if you dont like rats, youre a piece of shit.
Posted by juno  on  Sat Jun 23, 2007  at  11:22 PM
i used to have over 60 rats, but they began killing each other, so i seperated them and got rid of most when i had 5 left, one got loose and killed my bird dante(a cocketiel) so now im set out to kill Sarah( the rat) but my fave... Michael... just passed away, and so did his daughter natalie, they had caught something i dont know what, but their environment was very clean and sterile. but now i only own 2 rats, both males until i clean the cage again, they are in a box,and free do as they please, the mesh lid is tilted against the box to act as a ramp, so they can do so. Pickle ( michaels son) runs everywhere he sleeps with me and my purebred chihuahua Hershey. Eddy just stays in the box, he has not yet made an attempt to get out so i just let him stay there, Pickle however is very adventurous, if he finds something he likes, he grabs it and runs lol it's so cute. I once lost a white rat with red gleaming eyes, and thought it passed, but i saw it again tonight under my bed trying to fight Pickle after i heard him squeak he showed up last night with 3 nasty bites on him, so i set a trap in the hole in my wall, that the white rat made, and am now eagerly awaiting its catch. as for bathing my rats ive done it, with o hassel they love to swim i put them in my pool sometimes but not with the chemicals and you have to watch as they get tired fast. mine does pee on me too, every time Pickle crawls on me he pees on me it never fails, i get frustrated but theres nothing i can do lol
Posted by jessi  on  Tue Sep 04, 2007  at  01:25 AM
I have 2 rats a thome a nd they can both get pretty stinky. I have never gave them a bath, but i recommend just putting them in a bin of some sort and giving them a little bit of water that they can clean themselves with. Never force them to go into the water though.
Posted by Emily  on  Sat Dec 08, 2007  at  09:55 AM
i got a rat about a week or so ago... and he died in his sleep last night. he was only about 3 months old and seemed healthy. he sneezed kind of oftenly... but i thought it could have been because I smoke and my room often smells like smoke. He ate 3 1/2 pieces of that food shit that they sell in pet stores a day, but he had a water dish and always seem to get his bedding in it... i would take it out as soon as i noticed and give him fresh water. Last night I wiped him down with a damp papertowel that had a slight bit of soap on it [not much at all] just because he had white fur and it had gotten a little yellow. It was rather cold last night and I held him until he was completely dry. So idk if that could have been it. Do you have any idea of what happened that would have killed him so I know not to make the same mistakes next time?

thank you.

Candi Shelton
Posted by candi  on  Sat Jan 05, 2008  at  10:04 AM
Unfortunately, I do think you are to blame for your rats death. I've had rats for many years and I can offer you some insight.

The smoke definitely did not help. Rats have extremely sensitive respiratory systems. I am a smoker myself and one of the last things I would ever do is smoke indoors if a rat was anywhere in the house. Smoking around your rats is a sure-fire way to give them a respiratory infection and kill them.

Rats should not have water dishes for drinking water ever. They need gravity-ball water bottles to keep the water clean. If a rat has a water dish he will play in it and/or get bedding (which has poop and pee in it) and then drink it. So, basically the rat is being forced to drink contaminated water if you are only giving it a dish.

As for wiping him down with soap: also probably a bad move. Rats do not need to be bathed often. They spend a huge portion of their lives grooming themselves. If you used soap that was not specifically for animals and did not rinse your rat off he probably groomed himself, ingested the soap and was poisoned.

I am not trying to harp on you, but you asked what could have caused your rat's death. Judging from what you have said I am 99% sure you had a major role in his death. Please please please do research before purchasing an animal. This death could have easily been avoided if you had taken the time to learn the very basics of rat care. All the stuff I have told you could have been learned in about 5 minutes of simple internet research on a reputable site. If you cannot take the time to learn about a pet and take care of it the way it deserves, you should not have one.
Posted by Caroline  on  Sat Jan 05, 2008  at  11:41 AM
I was a rat owner years..ahem...some time ago, when it was not only weird, but entirely unheard of. To this day I enjoy pet rats.
I started with feeder rats purchased from reptile shops. Then as the idea of "rats as pets" became more common, I began taking in rescues. These rescues were the result of "fad" ownership, and owners who had no clue as to how a rat needed to be cared for. The most rats I have owned at the same time is six. However, I typically stay with only two or three at a time. Right now I have three adolescent bucks (yes, that's what the males are called. Females are doe's)
Now, in almost every state of the union, you can find breeders of "Fancy" or "Pet" rats.
A good (private) breeder will breed for health and temperament first, then appearance. And believe it or not, these beautiful and highly intelligent critters are registered, with a pedigree, just like you would a dog or cat.
And YES, they need to be groomed! Particularly males. Males will mark/pee on each other and get an odor that, to me, smells a lot like corn tortillas if they aren't kept clean (their bodies rinsed occasionally, and cages kept clean). Also, if you don't want 20 little needles poking your skin every time you pick your rat up, you need to clip their nails. I clip my rats nails about every two weeks. Some people do it weekly, some monthly. I rinse my rats after each nail clip. I prefer not to use soap unless they are particularly icky. Then I use Mane and Tail shampoo (and a thorough rinse).
Just as a side note to anyone wanting rats..Get your rats from a private breeder! They are easy to find on the internet these days. Get your rats in twos. Two males, or two females. They are social creatures that need the companionship of another rat. I prefer males...they are just more fun! Also, males cant have citrus (particularly the rinds). It can cause cancer in males. Other wise, grains, dog biscuits, and pretty much any low fat food humans eat. Just be careful how much they get, they get fat easier than we do! :D

Oh, and my current rats?
A beautiful merle buck, registered name CMMR Ducati...
A fabulous pearl buck, registered name CMMR Ever Blazin....
And my beauty, an American Blue buck, CMMR Battle Tank!

Yes, we take our rattie guys and gals THAT seriously! :D
Posted by Gramma  on  Fri Feb 22, 2008  at  10:51 PM
I need to clarify...when I said low fat food, I DO NOT mean diet food! Diet foods can make them very sick.
What I meant by low fat foods....veggies, fruits, a FEW meats, pasta is good too (but not too much).
Just smart eating, like us humans should be doing :D

And, earlier I read someone wanting to know about shampoo, and another asking about rocks for their nails.

First, shampoo...NO!!!!! I do, on occasion, use a VERY SMALL drop of a horse shampoo called Mane and Tail if my guys get too icky. But that is RARE! A rinse or wading in a shallow bowl of water for a minute or two is enough once or twice a month (especially males). Females probably don't even need it but maybe once or twice a year.

Second, rocks to file nails naturally...that's a tough one. I tried coarse slate in one of my cages once. It didn't seem to make any difference. Others have said it worked well for them. So, give it a shot, you never know 😊
Posted by Gramma  on  Fri Feb 22, 2008  at  11:56 PM

The only good Rat is a Dead one. This animal should of been left off of Noes ark.

In my opinion

Thank You
Posted by steve  on  Sat Jul 19, 2008  at  07:20 PM
Now thats just weird. Besides, who really has a pet rat, lol.
Posted by Katy Pendelton  on  Thu Jul 24, 2008  at  09:31 AM
Why is everyone so confused about pet rats? Are they really that uncommon? I used to have one myself and I loved him. Rats get a bad reputation as dirty animals, but that's just because of the rats in the city streets. They get into the dumpsters to get food. But if you own a pet rat, it's in the tank you bought for it...why would it be more dirty than any other pet, like a hamster or a guinea pig?
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Thu Jul 24, 2008  at  11:33 AM
It is a bit odd.
My rats clean themselves very well.
I can see my cat going in but my rat is so much cleaner.
They're so cute when they wash in the water bowl.
Posted by Mitchell  on  Fri Aug 22, 2008  at  09:53 AM
I own a rat. She doesn't really need to be bathed unless the cage gets really messy. As for all you people who think that rats stink, THAT IS NOT TRUE! They only stink if their cage stinks. My rat even smells nice if she is clean. In my opinion, the 'clean rat' smell is even better than the 'new car' smell.
Posted by Rose  on  Thu Nov 13, 2008  at  11:26 AM
I have considered getting a pair of pet rats for some time now, however I have always been put off by them leaving trails of urine everywhere. My only experience of pet rats is when I house sat for two rats for a week. They were great but left streaks of urine everywhere they went, especially on me! I don
Posted by Keith  on  Mon Dec 15, 2008  at  10:12 AM
I just got a new male rat and is a lot smaller than my original rat. I have tryed introducing them and it ended up in a fight. I have put them in seperate cages and tryed putting them together when out of there cages but still they have a little fight. I would like to know a little more about how i can introduce them in a suttle way. Can anyone help me?
Posted by Jess  on  Mon Feb 09, 2009  at  02:14 AM
To Keith (and everyone else for that matter).

Male rats' urine tends to be slightly stronger than their female counterparts. The urine spotting is a way of marking areas that they are familiar with and feel safe in. However, even though both males and females scent mark, their urine is sterile. In the wild, rats might carry whats called 'Weils disease' in their urine, otherwise known as leptospirosis, which would be passed on by their mothers. However, it is very rare for a pet rat to have Weils. The majority of rats are harmless and the only problem with their pee is the smell (which is no problem at all as long as you clean their cage and play areas occasionally).

To Jess.

Male rats tend to be more territorial. Try introducing them in a neutral area such as a bath or sink, or any other area which is unclaimed/unscented. Then make sure the cage is cleaned very thoroughly, so that the scents can be gotten rid of. Failing this, it might be worth getting a new cage for them both.
Posted by Jack  on  Fri Mar 13, 2009  at  07:20 PM
Rats are the GREATEST small pet in the world! Anyone who talks bad about pet rats doesn't know shit, my rats probably 10x smarter then them anyway.
Posted by Stephen Shakeshaft  on  Tue May 12, 2009  at  01:42 AM
All rats, both male and female, scent mark and will continue to do so throughout their lives. At first I thought of it as a drawback to rat ownership but i've learned that its completely harmless and to me its worth it to give your rat freedom and enjoyment.
Posted by Steve  on  Tue May 12, 2009  at  01:48 AM
I have owned rats for about a year now. Right now I have two young rats as sadly the two older ones passed away. I do not know why people have to post such hateful comments about rats saying the only good rat is a dead rat. My rats are loving pets who gives me kisses and look forward to playtime with me. If you do not like rats that is fine but killing them is not right.
As for as rat groomers go I would not spend the money to get my rats groomed when I can clean them myself with a damp wash cloth. As far as the rock in the cage thing I never thought about that and might give it a try myself.
As for you other rat lovers nice to meet you!!! :lol:
Posted by Jasmine  on  Wed Nov 18, 2009  at  01:13 AM
i have a pet rat and he is great. i have called many vets and no one groomes rats. he broke a nail last night and i woke up the smorning and there was blood everywhere. how doi cut there nails since i cant pay anyone to do it? are we suppose to cut there nails
Posted by crystal  on  Mon May 24, 2010  at  11:49 AM
I clip my rats nails isn't much different than clipping a cats nails, just on a really squirmy and tinier scale :D
I use baby safety clippers, but my rats are also use to nail clippings since I do it from the time they are 8 weeks old. All you need to clip are the very tips.

Another solution is to place a slate stone, or other porous stone, beneath the spout of their water bottle. The action of climbing and standing (on their hind feet) will help keep the nails worn down, since they drink often throughout every day. Do not be surprised if they also gnaw on the edges of the stone as well, to keep their teeth worn down (their teeth are not like ours, they grow continuously and need to be kept filed down.)
Posted by gramma  on  Mon May 24, 2010  at  07:40 PM
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