In general, rodents do not need to be bathed. Much like cats, rats, hamsters and guinea pigs are well equipped to clean themselves and will spend much of their waking hours washing and grooming their body and face. However, some long-haired hamsters and guinea pigs may need help to keep their long fur, tangle free. Owning a long-haired rodent requires commitment as their coats can be a challenge to maintain.
When it comes to bathing your rodent, it's important to keep their stress as low as possible. Remember, it is not natural for these animals to be submerged in water so they are likely to be wriggly or want to jump away from the water. Placing your pet on a thick towel in the bathtub will help them feel more secure as they have something under their feet to grip onto. Instead of bathing in the sink, do so in the bathtub so they are not placed up a height where they can jump out and fall. Bathtubs have the added security of high sides to help contain your pet.
Do not use grooming loops to restrain your pet, instead, hold them gently with one hand and bathe them with the other to stop them from jumping suddenly. Do use a shampoo which can be used without water. Foam cleaning products such as Ermidrá Foam can be applied to the coat to clean and moisturise without the need for rinsing.
When it comes to drying, do not use a hairdryer on your rodent. These are too loud and too hot and could cause serious burn injuries. Instead, do use a soft towel and gently pat dry. Don’t let your pet sit wet for long periods as they will quickly become cold. Instead, wrap them in a warm towel that has been on a radiator or from the tumble dryer.
If you own a chinchilla, you must provide them with a dust bath. Chinchillas have the densest coat of any land mammal, with 60 hairs sprouting from a single root. To keep their coat in tip-top condition, chinchillas need to roll and bathe in a bath consisting of chinchilla sand, a type of volcanic dust. Placing 5cm of this in a chinchilla bath, and allowing your pet access to this for at least 20 minutes a day will help to absorb the grease in the fur and help maintain its silky condition. Never bathe your chinchilla in water.
If your pet is active and well, they don’t usually need routine nail clips. However, pets that are older, less active, ill or overweight may need your help to keep their nails short and from overgrowing. Guinea pig nails will curl into the foot if left untrimmed and can affect the way your pet uses their feet while walking. Using specially designed rodent nail clippers to carefully cut away the excess nail will help keep your pet comfortable. Provide your pet with ample opportunities to dig and burrow in their living area as this will help them to wear down their continuously growing nails.
It is a good idea to become familiar with what is normal and abnormal when it comes to your rodent’s ears, eyes and nose. These areas don’t usually require grooming or bathing, unless in exceptional circumstances - for example, if your pet is older and needs help cleaning themselves. Watching for signs of irritation, redness, swelling or any unusual discharge is usually as much as you need to do when it comes to caring for these areas. If there are any signs of these or if your pet has become irritated by these areas, it is best to take them to the vet for further examination. Never put anything in the ear canal or use soap or shampoo on the face.
Care and maintenance play an important part in owning a rodent. Visit the FirstVet shop for all aspects of rodent care where buying online gives you 2-5 weekday delivery, free delivery over £39 and our 30-day return policy when you buy through us!