How To Bathe A Rat, If You Really Have To!

Aug 27, 2011 | 2011 Articles, Diana Hockley, Pets, Rodent Ramblings

by Diana Hockley

People who are “owned” by small animals – and there a millions of us – are love-bound to look after them. Some of us have them as surrogate children; some for security. Others keep working animals – sniffer, guide, police and sheep dogs. So it is probably safe to say that the majority of us love our animals, and that being so, it occasionally becomes desirable to bathe them.

Not too many animals like being bathed. The suburbs are littered with angst-ridden damp people chasing hysterical, soaking animals. Dogs would appear to be the most troublesome; cats the most dangerous. I’ve never heard of anyone bathing a snake…

From time to time it has become my rather doubtful privilege to bathe my pet rats. There are certain steps which must be taken in order to achieve a successful outcome. Here then is the approved and certified method, as per my own regulations and quality control standards.

Gather towels, small animal shampoo, soft brushes and bandaids. Place within easy reach of the bathroom basin.

Wet, unhappy rat

Don Workplace Health and Safety approved combat gear: long sleeved shirt, long trousers and if possible a vinyl apron wrapped about person.

Fill bathroom basin with warm water.

Get rat out of cage and put him into Holding Pen (bath tub).

Fill basin with warm water.

Get bathee.

Place in basin.

Grab rat from off the taps.

Hold screaming rat firmly and put him back into the water.

Shampoo briskly.

Detach rat from your wrist.

Squeeze water and soap out of angry rat.

Pick rat off your head carefully.

Pour rat into the bathtub avoiding squishy raisins.

Wring shirt out; change water in basin.

Grab rat.

Trickle rat back into basin.

Pick rat off arms, noting that shirt will have to go into ragbag.

Put rat back into basin.

Attempt to pick rat off the taps, miss and catch rat as he slides down the mirror.

Pick rat out of hair.

Squeeze rat out and wrap in towel.

Poke rat back into towel and rub vigorously.

Clean and dry

Pick rat off kneecap, note trousers will be used in garden from now on.

Put rat back into cage and apologize profusely.

Offer yogurt coated nuts to decidedly sulky rat as peace offering.

Get bandaid for fingers.

Pour Scotch with ice.


Diana Hockley is an Australian mystery author who lives in a southeast Queensland country town. She is the devoted slave of five ratties & usually finds an excuse to mention them in her writing, including her recent novel, The Naked Room. Since retiring from running a traveling mouse circus for 10 years, she is now the mouse judge for the Queensland Rat & Mouse Club shows. To learn more, check out her website.


  1. Sounds just about right when I used to bath my rat Ginger. She rolled & sleeped in her pee. She got a lot of baths.


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