Reasons to Avoid Bathing Your Rat in the Sink

When bathing your rat or another small animal, including rabbits, gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs, it’s important to avoid sticking the pet under running water of a faucet or shower spigot.

There are several dangers associated with placing your small pet under a stream of running water. The first danger is associated with fear. The intense fear can literally kill your pet! This is most common in rabbits, but it can occur in other animals too.

When a small animal is frightened, their first response usually involves biting and this leads us to the second problem associated with attempting to bathe a pocket pet by placing him under running water. You’re extremely apt to get bitten by a frightened animal and what’s worse, this can cause you to squeeze or drop your pet, resulting in injury or a loss of control. Fear can also cause squirming and struggling, which can lead to a potentially deadly situation.

A momentary loss of control can translate into serious injury or even death for a small animal. You may drop the pet onto the floor or your rat could start running; he may jump off the counter, resulting in broken bones or internal injuries.

Your rattie may also get lost if he slips under the bathroom door. This can be potentially deadly if you have cats or dogs in the household. It can also prove deadly if your rat is wet. A wet rat may die of hypothermia in fairly short order if he finds his way into the basement or another cold location in your home.

What’s more, the stress associated with placing a rat under running water can have a detrimental impact on the pet’s health. Virtually all rats harbor mycoplasma, a virus that’s typically dormant in a young, healthy rat. But in times of stress, the immune system is compromised. This provides the mycoplasma with an opportunity to get a foothold, resulting in a full-blown respiratory infection that will require prompt treatment with antibiotics.

Elderly rats, particularly those with hind limb paralysis will require more frequent bathing. If bath time is extremely frightening and stressful, this can actually shorten your rattie’s lifespan. The stress will have an adverse impact on the pet’s immune system, resulting in more frequent opportunistic illnesses. In addition, medications like antibiotics can actually lead to an end-of-life decline for an elderly pet. An older animal’s organ systems may be working properly, but it’s a delicate balance. Illness, combined with powerful antibiotics, can upset that fragile balance, triggering organ failure and death. So it’s important to keep your elderly rat’s life as stress-free as possible, as this increases the chances that he’ll remain healthy in the long term.

In short, improper bathing techniques will put your rat or other small pet at risk unnecessarily. Therefore, it’s really vital that you learn how to bathe your rat properly! See our related article for directions on how to bathe a rat. The same method can be used for other small pets too!

Photo Source: Zsuzsanna Kilian on

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Mia Carter is a professional journalist and animal lover. Her furry family members include 6 dogs and 12 cats. She is also a feral cat colony caretaker. Carter specializes in pet training and special needs pet care. All of her animals have special needs such as paralysis, blindness, deafness and FIV, just to name a few. She also serves as a pet foster parent and she actively rehabilitates and rescues local strays and feral kittens.

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