Rats are clean animals that usually do not require additional grooming. A bath may only be necessary for the event of illness.
Because rats keep themselves clean by extensively grooming their fur, they don’t need to, and shouldn’t, be bathed. It is nonsensical to want to bathe rats (especially the males) because of their species-specific odor. The individual smell is important so that the pack members can recognize each other. If you try to wash off the smell or cover it up, the animals have even more of an urge to restore their own smell by rolling and marking. The consequence is that the rats smell stronger than before. But there are also other reasons why there can be a stronger odor in the rat house.
When unfamiliar rats are close to the scent, they mark their territory more. After or during socialization, the territory is also more strongly marked out. Of course, this is not a reason to bathe the rats. Only if sick or old animals have problems keeping their anogenital region clean (e.g. in the event of diarrhea) may it be necessary to wash the affected area with lukewarm water and, if necessary, some (unscented) baby shampoo. The rat is then dried thoroughly so that it does not catch a cold.
Bathing fun for retreats is only bathed in emergencies for the reasons already mentioned. But there are also individuals who voluntarily and even like to splash in the water. When the temperature is warm, a “paddling pool” is a welcome way to cool off and brings variety to the rat’s everyday life. You simply put a flat, non-tilting, and non-slip bowl with lukewarm water in the cage for the animals. The height of the water should not be more than 2 cm so that no rat can drown.
To ensure that the rodents do not catch a cold, the location must be absolutely draught-free. Placing small pieces of vegetables in the water can even encourage water-shy animals to “fish” for food and splash around. Of course, the rats must never be forced to bathe. This type of activity only makes sense if they enjoy it.