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


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  in  ripley  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  in  Colorado  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 smile
Posted by Gramma  in  Colorado  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  in  Dallas  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  in  GA  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  in  Wisconsin  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  in  UK  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  in  Australia  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  in  UK  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  in  Hamilton, Ontario  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  in  Redding,CA  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  in  vallejo ca  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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