Owning rats, or as some say, being owned by rats, is a journey. For me it began with being intensely rat-phobic to where I am now, rat-obsessed (ok, i admit it).


Proceed at your own risk!

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Ok, with that cautionary disclaimer in place...

Awhile back I read about a zoo somewhere that has a rat exhibit of Rattus Norvegicus and they noticed that when the water sprinkler was on the rats would congregate underneath it, seemingly enjoying it so they made it a permanent part of the exhibit. If anyone has the link to that article let me know.

I couldn't find that reference, but I did find this: there is a zoo in the Netherlands with a rat "sewer" exhibit that features water. Anyway, the point to all this being that a strange idea was planted in my head after reading that and then subsequently reading about a rat owner who took her rats in the shower with her. When I told my husband I wanted to try it he told me I was crazy and I conceded that he was probably right, that they'd probably freak and I'd get mauled. But I still secretly yearned to try it. I mentioned it again the other day to someone, not a rat person, but sympathetic to rats and she said "that's insane, that is sick".

Maybe that's what finally did it. I have a perverse and obstinate nature and if enough people tell me I can't do something I usually have to try it. Consider me like that dude, George Plimpton, (someone characterized him as a participatory journalist), who checked it out so you don't have to. Or, if you are adventurous, follow my tips for an excellent adventure.

Showering with rats

First of all let me just say that they all LOVED it (well, with the exception of Peaches who jumped onto my head at first). Of course I didn't try Luna, my super-shy girl or Pickles and Bailey, the Rescue Rats. I'm crazy, but not suicidal.

And let me say, I LOVED it. Not because it proved me right, but because it let me share a new and different experience with the kids.

OK, so here's how I did it.
First the preparatory phase:
  • Move anything out of the shower that might get in the way.
  • Position the shampoo (I used a mild dog and cat shampoo) up high where it will be easy to reach.
  • Change the water setting to a spray that is closest to rain
  • Make the water temperature hotter than you normally use
  • Put on a t-shirt (long sleeves and high neck would be best, if possible)
  • Put towels where they are easily accessible
  • Turn the shower on and leave it running while you go and get test subject
Second phase:
  • Choose your guinea rat. I chose Buster because he is the most docile in terms of being handled.
  • Put them on your shoulder (this assumes they are already comfortable shoulder riders)
  • Step into the shower with them, but not directly into the water at first
  • Talk "happy talk" to them and pet them
  • Tell them what an exciting adventure they are on
  • Slowly back both of you into the water spray, just enough to get them a little wet. They may move away at this point. Just pet them and let them explore, then move back again
  • Turn to get them wet every so often (at this point several of them were helping me, putting their face into the spray, grooming my wet head, etc...).
  • When they are pretty thoroughly wet, get a little soap into your hands (you may want to dilute it with water a little so it is easier to rinse)
  • Scrub-a-dub-dub, but avoid the face
  • Rinse the same way you got them wet initially (if you have a hand-held shower you can use it to get closer to get the last of the soap off).
  • Get out of the shower and dry off rat
  • OR if you are doing multiple rats, call your assistant (yoo-hoo, John...) to come and take your wet rat and replace it with another one.
And if you do try this at home (or you have already tried it), please report back. I'd love to hear your experiences!


2 Responses to “Proceed at your own risk!”

  1. Anonymous YummY! 

    My girls are very much water-phobic. Or they all have been in the past. I've not introduced my latest 3 to it yet. I'm almost afraid to.

    Of course, I didn't use a shower, but just a tub of water with a deeper end and a dry end, and they woudlnt' go into the water on their own, and when I put them IN the water they launched themselves back out at me.

    I got wetter washing them than when I did my dogs, and more scratched up than when I used to wash cats and kittens.

  2. Blogger eileen2000 

    that is the wierd thing about it, yummy. In the past, any attempts at getting any of my rats anywhere near water resulted in me getting totally scratched up as they clawed their way up my body. I tried it several ways and every time there was a struggle, EXCEPT when I did the shower method.

    I know it seems bizarre and maybe it is only my current rats. I don't know. I keep wishing someone else would attempt the experiment so I can know if it is just a fluke or if it is actually a method they like better.

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