By: Diana Davidson

I am going to reveal the secret to tell if your Rat is Cool?
Is your Rat Hot? Or Is your Rat Cool?
You take our quiz:

Is your Rat:
a) Hot
b) Hip
c) Cool
d) Square Is your Rat Cool?

If the environment is too hot, Rats can't naturally cool themselves off. Rats cannot sweat like humans and they cannot pant like dogs. Therefore Rats are very sensitive to heat and humidity.

Rats are pretty comfortable in the upper 60's and lower 70's; many experience distress around 80-90'F and can die if left uncared for in this condition or if the temperature rises towards 100. Tailless rats and mice like it a tad cooler: 75-85 can be distressing with temperatures rising in the 90's being deadly.

If your rat is hot, or has developed heatstroke (hyperthermia) it may display some of the symptoms:

- Laboured breathing

- Very lethargic and slow moving

- If you coax them to move they may stagger as if drunk

- Drooling - (an attempt to cool off by having the drool evaporate just as water or sweat would cool you off).

- Tail, feet, ears and nose hot to touch

- Lie on their sides with their feet in the air and their tail stretched out.(As blood in their system travels to these unfurred parts of their body, it gets cooled off.) This means they are really really hot.

Note: older rats, overweight or ill rats are particularly sensitive to the heat.

Here's some tips to help your rattie beat the summer heat.

If your pet is used to water, you may want to submerge them up to their neck in some cool (not freezing cold) water. If you think your pet may be more stressed out by being in water then...

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.

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.

Ice water 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 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. It's 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.

Some of these tips will help keep your little buddy cool this hot summer.

About the Author

Diana Davidson is author of a new neat book on pet rat care which is a great resource that contains information you wouldn't find at your local library. For lots more pet rat care information, tips, quirky and interesting facts, and answers to your questions visit Diana's site at Article from EzineArticles.