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Cooling Off...

Sarah Shuman
From the July/August 1998 Rat & Mouse Gazette

Cool Beans.....

don't work when trying to help your rattie beat the summer heat, but here are some other possibilites, many of which have been gleaned from the Rat List, other rattie folk, and some experience with keeping ratties cool in the hot Chicago summertime....

  • Frozen chunks of fruits and/or veggies will keep your ratties cool from the inside out. If they are not pre-bagged frozen, and you are buying fresh to freeze, be sure to wash the produce before chopping and bagging and freezing....pesticide residues are bad news for ratties....

  • Ice in a dish. Quick, simple, yet oh so satisfying. I have seen a hot rattie lick ice with great relish and seem much more comfortable afterwards, probably because the blood flowing through the tissues of the rattie's mouth is cooled by the ice, and as the cooled blood circulates through the rest of the body, it reduces overall body temperature. The cold water that is swallowed in the process has a similar effect, and additionally helps prevent dehydration. Plus, how else will you be able to see your ratties flap their arms? Unless you give them....

  • Peas in a pie pan. Frozen peas with cool water. Your rattie may or may not be willing to wade in for the refreshments, but the possibility is good, and this can provide quick relief. Make sure to supervise adequately. This one can be messy; best done on a tile floor, not in the cage. The bathtub would be even better.

  • Icewater in the water bottle. Same principal as the ice. Of course, ice won't fit into most water bottle openings unless it's crushed. A handy thing to do is simply have two water bottles and have one in the fridge cooling while the other is in use, and switch the two every couple of hours.

  • Bottle full of ice. Save your old juice, pop, and water bottles--whatever size fits the number of ratties and the size of the cage. Wash thoroughly. Fill 3/4 full with water. Freeze thoroughly. When the the mercury soars, put a frozen bottle in with the ratties...they will sleep on or near it, and it will also lower the ambient temperature in the cage somewhat. Itís best to have two bottles per cage so you can switch off. Also, realize they may chew a hole in the bottle and soak the cage.....sometimes glass is best, but it can crack in the freezer.

  • Spray Bottle--get a clean spray bottle--make sure it has no chemical residues. Put clean water in it. Refrigerate it. Periodically spray the rats down with it, as often as they seem to need it. This will not work well without adequate air circulation--a fan can help with this. Just make sure you don't soak the ratties and blast the fan on them--that's too stressful. Set the spray bottle to deliver a gentle mist, and set the fan so that it will move the air around the rattie, but not make it say, "Auntie Em! Auntie Em!"

Best wishes for a happy, healthy summer. Stay cool!