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I just wanted to know if they like water. I know I have seen that a few people give baths to their rats. I wanted to know if they find swimming enjoyable.
 

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No, you shouldnt let your rats swim. You also generally shouldn't bathe them unless they really need it. Using baby whipes to clean them up is better. While there are exceptions, most rats will find water and baths stressful. Baths can also dry out their skin.

If you want a fun way to have them enjoy water, I would suggest a shallow bowl or pan with frozen peas.
 

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Some do...

https://vid.me/3edL

And yes... Fuzzy Rat jumped into the lake on her own to swim after her human girl. She was a great swimmer with no fear of water, in fact she used her tail to propel herself, she wriggled it like a snake as she swam along.

She once jumped into the ice cold lake in late October to get around us as we were blocking her from checking out something she wanted to explore...

We have taken two other rats swimming... they were also naturally good swimmers but both pretty much just swam to the nearest human or to shore. So not all rats enjoy swimming as much as some do.

One last footnote... swimming is a young rat thing, after Fuzzy Rat was over a year old and got pudgy, she pretty much stayed on dry land.
 

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When I had mine they didn't like swimming or being near water. I hear it depends on the rat and how you introduce them to it.
 

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Mine really dont like it but one of my friends rat loves water and she will jump from her shoulder into the sink when she was washing her hands
 

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I just wanted to add a footnote to my previous post.... Fuzzy Rat was a very highly trained true shoulder rat and moreover she was "special" right from birth. She did lots of things no other rat would ever do. I post vids and pics of her because I want other rat owners to know what's possible, but it's not necessarily practical or wise for most rats.

I encourage everyone to find safe ways to help their rats have a more interesting life and to achieve a higher potential, but please use common sense with your indoor rats and don't just take your rats to a mountain lake and set them free on the beach. And do keep in mind, Fuzzy Rat jumped into the lake entirely on her own after standing at the water's edge for a while and watching the kids splashing around. We didn't have to force her to do anything.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the advice. I am new to being a rat parent and I want to make sure that their lives are as full as my two cats. It didn't take me long to fall in love with my two little ladies and they are quickly becoming friends with me.
 

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My rats loathe being placed in water. I will place a bowl of water in their cage and some frozen veggies for some pea fishing as an occasional treat, and though they will grab the food and cup their paws to grab some water for washing (they do this with their water bottle, too) they will not stick their head all of the way in unless they find it is truly worth it. They fight me every time I bathe them, so it's excessively rare. The last time I bathed them was a few months ago when I had given them some coconut oil for mites and they got messy from it. They hated me for it. I wish they enjoyed water - but I think it's something that some rats like, and most rats just don't. If you introduce them slowly it might be more pleasant for them. But mine just hate it ;)
 

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Mine like water, but they don't really want to go swimming. If I put a bowl of water in their cage they like to stand in it and some will lay in it. I have one of my girls who likes to actually go under and snorkle, but the rest don't generally go under water completely.
 

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I suspect that while rats are awesome swimmers (check out the video on how rats can come up through a toilet), it's not their chosen form of entertainment. Probably because being in a large body of water means that death is imminent. Even pet rats are slaves to their instincts; my Loki freaked out during a thunderstorm while she was out of her cage even though they've been through several thunderstorms before.

I think gradual introductions may be helpful. Let them play in water as they see fit. I placed frozen peas in a dish full of water, and my rats liked getting the peas out. Of course, they like peas, so they could still hate water.

I did try getting them used to another form of water in an attempt to make them more comfortable with baths if we need to give them one. I put them in a starter cage and then put the starter cage in the shower door (almost the same width) with the shower running. They weren't overly impressed with it. I had peas in a water dish a few inches away from the cage. They would grab a pea but then run back into the cage to eat it. Only Penumbra was brave enough to venture out into the shower stall amid the water. But she definitely was not a fan of placing any part of her under the falling water.

Do you have anything that can act as what we know as in-ground pools? Have a shallow end where they can walk around in water and then gradually drop off so that they have to swim? I can't think of anything that would fit that criterion. Almost like a paint tray but larger and deeper. I could imagine training them to do laps in a small pool. Place a pea at the shallow end and then gradually place the pea more and more into the deep end until they have to swim across to get it. It'd be worth a shot and wouldn't be too traumatic for them.
 

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Oddly Fuzzy Rat hated showers and wouldn't go into a dish of water.... She had no trouble with swimming in a lake... but scratched the heck out of me when I took her into the shower or tried to wash her in the sink.... Maybe she hated the soap? Can't say... Don't know.
 

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Oddly Fuzzy Rat hated showers and wouldn't go into a dish of water.... She had no trouble with swimming in a lake... but scratched the heck out of me when I took her into the shower or tried to wash her in the sink.... Maybe she hated the soap? Can't say... Don't know.
I bet it's because showers and sinks sound scary. The sound of pressurized water isn't natural, and I imagine that it can be alarming for some animals. At least I know my rats tensed up when being walked over toward a running tap.
 

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You know, I've been thinking about this.... and I honestly don't know what freaked Fuzzy Rat out about being put under the shower or being put in a tub of water. When I ran the sink she would walk down my arm and stick her nose under the tap to take a drink... But she would claw the heck out of me when I took her into the shower or put her into a tub. I think it was more a matter of her feeling a loss of control. Remember this is the same rat that car surfed on the side view mirror of my car on the NJ Turnpike and climbed to the top of tall trees and walked right up to strange dogs and humans... she didn't really do fear much. But in all of those situations she was in control. Same thing with jumping into the lake, she did it entirely on her own.

As she got older and perhaps wiser she did become a lot more conservative and yes perhaps more fearful. As her strength and abilities waned so did her confidence. When she couldn't see as well in the dark she headed back to the car around twilight for example. This might be true of humans as well. I tend to use jack stands or ramps when jacking up a car now, something I never bothered with when I was a young man. We all get more cautious with age.


Still I suppose we all hate or fear losing control. I think it's human nature and it may be true of rats too. There are just so many aspects of rat psychology that no one has studied. For the longest time psychologists have assumed that rats are pretty basic animals with a stimulus - response mind. It hasn't been until recently that we're starting to realize that rats are metacognative just like us. In designing experiments researchers simply haven't found what they weren't looking for.

I remember back in my time, that lots of rats wouldn't "properly" replicate long established experiments, some folks called them "defective" rats. Generally, it was easiest to simply exclude them from the study, chalk them up to experimental error or do a statistical analysis to zero them out for the sake of a good paper. I always suspected that there was more going on because there really were so many "defective" rats that it was hard to simply ignore them.

I think there's a lot of research that needs to be re-done. This time taking into account that rats are intelligent and emotional, social, metacognative animals. A rat that doesn't run in the maze might actually be trying to get to the experimenter to play or it might just be pressing the bar to please the human rather than to get food.

Sadly, when I started out with rats I pretty much bought into the standard model of rat intelligence. I was a psychology major in the 1970's after all. It wasn't until I started actually working with Fuzzy Rat outdoors that my mindset began to change. Nothing she did made any sense. Why would a rat like to climb trees or jump into a lake after her human? Why would she want to go into dangerous places to explore? Why would she enjoy meeting strangers? Why in gawds name would she climb out of a moving car at highway speed? Then when she started trying to communicate with me and started rewarding me when I did something right, I had no choice but to rebuild my own mental construct of a rat's mind to something much more similar to ours. This doesn't mean that 40 years of research is wrong, just that there's a whole lot more to the big picture than was imagined in my day. And I based the framework of immersion theory on rats being intelligent animals, and so far that's worked out pretty well for lots of people and rats. I think rats are motivated by lots of things that aren't just related to fear or rewards.

I know there are a lot of young people here on this forum who's minds aren't as rigid as my own. There's so much more to learn about rats and ourselves. I so encourage every young person here to keep an open mind and imagine the possibilities. Don't let your world be shaped by the misconceptions and narrow thinking of the past. There was only one reason that it took hundreds of years to 'discover' that the world was round... and that was because someone else had already 'proved' that it was flat. Every rat owner has to opportunity to add something new to the big picture... so if your rat is doing something strange, embrace it... your rat is always right, it's a real rat after all, so when what your rat does doesn't fit the model in your mind of what it should do... it's because the model is wrong not the rat.

I do look forward to the kinds of things those of you with young minds are going to discover. It's going to be a lot easier for you to embrace change and new understanding than it is for those of us who were born when the moon was still made of cheese.

Who knows why some rats like to swim and other's don't? But it would be a great project for someone to figure it out.

Best luck.
 
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