Whether you are a new or experienced rat parent, Summer is a time to ensure your rats setup allows them to keep cool. Check out some of the strategies we use at the rescue, as well as some of the red flags to watch for!
Some of the strategies we use include:
- Ice cubes in bowls of water
- Slices/wedges of watermelon or other juicy fruit (they will sleep on it)
- Tins (think beetroot - no pull ring) which have been frozen
- Pea fishing
- Hanging racks and trays to lay on (think cake cooling tray for air flow)
Advice and things to watch for:
- Rats may get their tounge stuck to the frozen tins, so wrap them in a towel to be safe.
- Avoid pull-ring tins to minimise the risk of caught tongues and paws.
- Rats will try to store their ice and it will be messy so it is important to check later that their cage is clean and dry.
- When doing pea fishing, don't 'set and forget' or it will get gross!
- Please never wash a rat to cool them down, if they're overheated, cool them down slowly by moving them into a cooler space or letting them cool off at their own pace through an activity like pea fishing or use of water bottles, ice cubes and frozen tins. Encourage them to drink plenty of water, even bribing them with something like an electrolyte drink or icypole.
- Things can chage FAST in summer. A hot wind blowing through or the sun shining through the window can rapidly change conditions in a cage, and rats can't escape.
- If your rat isn't coping with the heat you might notice them pancaking out flat, being droopy (not unresponsive or floppy!) and lethargic, perhaps irritably shifting around as if trying to find a cool spot to rest
- Seriously overheated rats (immediate intervention required!) may be drooling which you can find by looking for a wet chin. If you find your rat in this state, let them cool down slowly and safely and keep them hydrated, this is a good time to use electrolytes.
- Vet care may be required for rats who experience heat stroke or severe heat stress, if in doubt always ask your vet.