Can Pet Rats Swim? Do Rats Like Water? What You Should Know!

You might have wondered already if pet rats can swim. My ladies were never too fond of water. I tried to introduce it to them in different ways, but they’ve always been too shy. But, that doesn’t mean it’s the same for every rat!

Can pet rats swim? Yes! Rats will very easily and naturally learn how to swim and a lot of them will like it. As a pet rat, it all depends on how you introduce them to the water.

So yes, pet rats can swim and will excel at it! The important thing is to slowly introduce it to them and be sure that they like it!

How To Introduce A Pet Rat To Water

Rats are built to be excellent swimmers, unlike hamsters who’ll avoid water as much as possible. But they can also view swimming as a stressful activity.

This means you should introduce water to them in a very slow and patient process. They’re not that different from us in that matter. Lots of kids, when going to the beach or a pool for the first time will be afraid of water. Even just taking a bath!

Water can seem very terrifying when we’re small and the same goes for rats. If they see a huge place full of water, when they’ve never experienced it before, chances are they’ll be afraid of it.

Start with a small container, filled with a bit of water. It can be a bowl or even a plate. This will allow them to walk in shallow water, take in the sensation and get used to it. Let them play with the water and take their own time.

Do not force them into the water, let them come to it on their own. Rats are very curious and usually, they’ll go to anything, if they have the chance. Join the fun! Slowly, play with them in the water, by dripping some water on them.

Always pay attention to any stress on your rats. If they squeal or go stiff, this means they’re not comfortable at all.

Introducing a Pet Rat to water is easier than it seems! But there are some things to watch out for.

As they get used to it, move to bigger containers. Give them a ramp or a place where it’s dry, so they can have a “safe place”. Add toys and treats to it! As they get more and more comfortable with the water and swimming, they’ll want to play in it.

A bowl with peas, so they can fish them out, for example. Some stones and other toys they might have, so they can play around and keep themselves entertained.

Remember that rats are very curious, but will also get bored with things very easily. So give them different objects, to stimulate them!

Do All Rats Love Water?

Each rat has their own personality.

Some will love it, others might just tolerate it and go along with their companions. While some rats will just hate it and stay as far as possible.

They will show you their displeasure for it though.

Some signs to watch for are the squeals. They only squeal with the purpose of us hearing it. Rats can communicate with each other perfectly without it. So if your rat makes a high-pitch squeal at any time, it means it’s trying to talk to you and demonstrating their displeasure or stress about something.

Other than this, they might go stiff or give a phantom bite. This means that they make a bite motion, but not at you, they’ll bite the air. If they show these signs don’t force them.

In any circumstance, you shouldn’t force them into the water either. Leave the water in their cage or nearby it, on their playing area, and let them come to it. As I said, rats are very curious and any new object will be of interest to them.

Sooner or later they’ll come to the water and you’ll know if their enjoying or not. The most important is to let themselves discover and try it first, then you can join the fun for a bit. Always paying attention to their behavior of course!

How Far Can A Rat Swim?

Good question (I say to myself). Rats are excellent swimmers!

Not only pet rats but wild rats, in their natural habitat as well! They’ll figure out how to swim and not only go to shallow waters but go completely underwater.

Some species can swim for a mile if needed! There’s lots of energy to them and they can be very enthusiastic about it. Both if the situation needs it or if they just like to swim.

A box with water and some toys and stones would be excellent if your ratties like to swim. Just remember to keep a ramp, so they can get in and out easily and maybe even an island inside the container.

This way, they’ll always have a dry place to go to whenever they want to rest or just leave the water.

Teaching Your Pet Rat To Swim

When your rats start to feel more comfortable with water, start to introduce bigger containers with more water.

Now, if you want them to swim, you need to motivate them with something.

We already know that ratties love special treats and what better than pea fishing?

Again, you can start with a small bowl, where they need to submerge the head and front paws to fish them. As they get used, move to bigger containers, so they can start to swim freely!

Teaching your pet rat to swim can help them have fun in water, here's how!

Throw in the water some frozen peas. I usually pass them under water, just to clean up a bit of the ice and then throw in the container. They’ll have lots of fun with it and something healthy to nibble on.

Other than peas, you can also use corn or even blueberries! If the objective is for them to swim, it doesn’t matter if the food will float or not. They should be able to get them in any of the cases.

So having some treats floating and others sinking is not a bad idea either!

Should You Give Your Pet Rat A Bath?

Rats are known to be very clean. Generally speaking, they don’t need to take a bath, they can clean themselves. But if they do like water, why not?

If your rat enjoys the water, give them a bath as well. Let them play in the water a little, play with them and be gentle with them. I’d say that, for any experience with water, for the first times, do it in the summer.

The weather is warmer and dry so they’ll feel more comfortable into trying water for the first time.

Pay attention though, you shouldn’t bathe your rat a lot. As I mentioned, they can clean themselves and their body produces natural oils that will protect them from everything around them. Giving them too many baths will eliminate this defense.

I’d say to bathe your rat only if they really need it and if they’re too dirty. All in all, you should bathe them only once a month, but as I said, it’s not that necessary.

Playing in the water is good and exciting enough for them. And if you really want to bathe them and they enjoy the water, you can always just put them in the sink. Add a bit of water and even let the water run, but not a lot.

They’ll do the rest of the job themselves!

Additional Questions

Can a rat live in water? A rat can swim or thread the water for 3 days if necessary, but it’s not their natural habitat. They prefer to live in dry and dark places, so they can hide and feel safer.

Do pet rats like baths? As we mentioned, they don’t necessarily need it. But if they like water, you can feel a basin with some water and let them clean themselves in it from time to time!

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Can Pet Rats Swim - Let's destroy the myth of rat swimming! Every pet rat is different.