It is summer time here in the United States, which means school is out for many children, vacations, fun in the sun, you name it! However, one thing to not forget about is your pets and consider how easy it is for them to suffer from heat stroke.
Rats do not sweat like we do nor do they pant like dogs and cats to. *Yes, cats pant when very hot or very nervous./stressed*
Rats sweat by losing body temperature through their tail. They also have a hard time adjusting to extreme temperature changes and ideally should be kept at a steady temperature at all times. This, of course, is not always feasible and therefore, rats can be subjected to extreme heat or too cold a room, and this creates trouble, especially when it comes to adjusting to heat. This is what makes rats more prone to overheating and heat stroke. A rat that is subject to cold temperatures has an advantage, however: Snuggling with his cagemates in a nice warm cozy nest made of fleece, flannel etc...so it is much easier to warm a rat up than it is to cool him down.
How can I tell if my rat is overheating?
1. Check his tail. Usually your rats tail is cool, like his feet. If his tail feels hot or even very warm, you must act quickly to cool your rat down.
Treating a hot rat!
1. You will need a shallow bowl of cool water. You can simply put his tail in the water and let it soak, and if he likes water, even better yet! Submerge him in the water totally and let him waddle around. Be sure its not deep, though, just enough to cover his tail and allow his forelimbs and hind legs to be immersed under water. Continue to do this until his tail seems to be cooler.
1. For starters, if you have access to air conditioning, thats just perfect. No worries. If not, you can always buy a small window unit for under $100 at discount stores such as Walmart. You can even check out places like Craigs list and Ebay for used units at great prices. Often they are cheapest when the summer season is near its end, but for places that are warm for most of the year, such as where I live, which is in SW Florida, its hot here more than its cool. Going without A/C is like not having water!!
2. Make a "cage air cooler" by filling up plastic jugs such as soda bottles, plastic milk or juice containers etc... and put them in the freezer until they are frozen solid. Place them in the rats cage. You can even take these and place them in front of a fan and the fan will blow on them, sending the cold frozen air around the room.
3. Add a ceiling fan to the room! Do NOT point a fan directly on the rats cage, though, but a fan over head is fine to use.
4. Keep the rats cage away from sunlight and windows that let in hot air. You should always keep rats from sunlight anyhow. Their tender skin can burn easily, even through a window. Also, rats require at least 10 to 12 hours of darkness in a 24 hr period. This is vital due to the fact that they are also nocturnal and need to have this time of darkness in order to thrive properly. Any major upset in this can cause a stressed rat. Stress weakens the immune system, which of course means a rat with a slew of health issues. Keep the curtains drawn shut and the blinds shut/down to keep the hot sun from shining in.
5. Keep a shallow bowl in the cage with some ice. They may lick it, they may even hop in it for a swim. Messy, yes, but to keep your rat cool, whats an extra clean up job?!
6. Always allow fresh air to circulate in the room. Keeping the door shut in a stuffy room can actually be bad for your rats (and humans, too!!(
7. By all means, always always keep fresh clean water in the water bottle at all times. Check the drinking nipple to be sure it is flowing right and not clogged. This should be done everyday, anyhow, no matter what kind of weather your having.
If you have any other tips to help keep your rat cool, please share it with us and I will add it here so other rats can have the same benefit. Email suggestions to Ratcarespecialist@ymail.com
Other summer time concerns/dangers
I am almost positive that I have covered this but here goes again anyhow:
NEVER EVER EVER EVER NEVER take your rat outside and let her just roam around. This, my friend, may end up being the last time you see your rat alive and I am not kidding. Through my career working with rats I have heard horror stories from distraught small mammal owners, even those that owned small dogs such as miniature yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas, and other types of small toy breeds. What happens? What happens is that large birds of prey have been known to swoop right down and grab the small animal and take it away to its nest, never to be seen again. Your rat is their dinner, so please do NOT let your rat wander around, not even if your standing right there. Also, rats, although they may do this in the wild (and dont forget, wild rats live to be no older than around 6 months if they are lucky, for this reason and many others!) rats may eat insects etc...in the wild, but this is NOT good for them, leading to many problems, from internal parasites to infection, so please again, if you want to take your rat out for fresh air on a nice mild day, keep him in a cage and in the shade at all times!!
Vacation time! What to do with our rats?!
Well, ideally, I just make sure that where I am going can include my rats, but thats not always an option for many people. My life is less complicated since my vacations used to be going from Ohio to Florida (before I moved to NC) which meant a two day drive and one night in a hotel, and after I moved to NC, I had just a days drive. I stayed with family so there was no problem. As of November 2009, I relocated once again, this time moving to Florida rather than just taking a vacation here a few times a year and to me, there really isnt anywhere else to go. I dont like cold, I dont like snow, I like the tropical enviroment, so now people want to come stay with ME, which is just fine and dandy!! To the beach we go!!
That said, not everyone is as boring as I am and they prefer to travel outside of their comfort zone. Ok I am not that boring...lol...but you get what I am saying, or at least I hope so! lol :)
Anyhow...I cant say that the best thing for your rats is to bring them with you since I have no idea what your destination is, your means of travel, etc... and some rats are stressed easier than others, hating new surroundings etc... so there are a few things to take into consideration, thats for sure. First of all, ask yourself these questions in order to know where you stand. The answers make a big difference in what plans you make for your rats.
1. Do your rats travel well?
2. Do you already have roomy travel cages for them and is there room in your vehicle for them?
3. Are you driving or flying?
Planes, trains and and automobiles!
If your driving, how long will the drive be and if you need to stay in a hotel/motel, do they accept caged critters? Ok ok, I am not going to tell you how easy it is to smuggle rats in to your hotel room, esp if the door to the room is on the outside of the facility (like in many Motels) and if you are out by the time housekeeping comes in, no problem-O. :) No siree, I wont tell you that at all. I wont tell you that I once smuggled in four rat cages and stayed three nights at the place, telling the clerk at the front desk that I do not feel comfortable having strangers in my room so I declined having housekeeping come in daily, and instead, requested new fresh bath towels daily, telling housekeeping to leave them at my door, and I would put out my soiled towels outside the room too. Worked like a charm.
. If your flying, this pretty much answers the question to if your rat(s) should accompany you on your vacation. I myself would never put my pets, esp rats, on an airplane. As for the rat being considered a carry on? Good luck finding an airline that is not prejudice against rats. I do believe some airlines allow hamsters, rabbits, ferrets and small dogs and I THINK cats to be considered a "Carry on" but as far as I know, rats are a big fat giant NO NO. Of course. What did you expect? Rat lovers hate rats. Hate is a strong word but I hear that so much more than hearing someone say they "dislike" rats or that they "dont care very much" for rats that I am just used to people saying "Rats? Oh gross, Sandra. I HATE rats!" Whatever. Their loss. They are missing out on knowing and loving one of Gods most clever, intelligent, loving, sweet, amusing and entertaining, courageous and proud little mammals ever created by the man upstairs! Ok back on track (If you know my website and my writing, you know I go off track and ramble so I dont know why I apologize when I babble off topic! lol) Where were we? Oh yea, about airlines and their policies. Call them. Ask them what their policy is pertaining to animals as carry ons ...tell them its a little rodent, try not to use the word RAT if you can. They cant hold that against you UNLESS it says in black and white that it excludes rats. **wink wink** Heck get creative, tell them its a rodent from Norway. Most non rat people wont have a clue that you simple mean a Norway rat, which, for the most part, is what our pet rats are.
No matter where your rats are, always keep them cool and out of the sun. I know someone that kept the rat cage in the back of the van and lost nearly all of her rats because it was just too hot back there. The Bottom line is use common sense...everyone has it, but not everyone uses it!
You can call your Vet and see if they board rats. Most do, as long as you bring them in their own cage. Some even have cages there for them, but to keep them from stressing too much, I suggest keeping them in their own cage and try to keep things as familair as possible. Prices vary, but it can be as little as $5 a day, $10 a day or even $15 a day, depending on the facility. Pet sitting is another option, but can be pricey and you need to be able to trust the people to have access to your home while your gone. I cannot give any names of any reputable places so please dont write and ask. This will need to be "googled" for pet sitters in your area and the joke of it all is when you ask if they will care for your pet rat. LOL I wonder how many little old ladies that are willing to sit with your kitty cat will freak out when you tell them you have the ever so dreaded RAT as the pet in question. LOL !