Water dish or bottle?
Roof Rats need to have drinking water available at all times. They evolved to live in a semi-tropical climate, with frequent rainfall, especially during the hot, summer months. So, while they can tolerate warm weather, dehydration may occur within a day if their water dish or bottle is empty or the water bottle is blocked. Or if illness prevents them from drinking enough. If your Roof Rat’s eyes look sunken or sleepy, that is a sign of dehydration and it may need medical help.
For providing water, keep in mind the following considerations:
- It should be easy to check the water level, and add water as needed. Make sure the inside of their dish is visible at eye level.
- Their water needs to be clean, so the container needs to be cleaned regularly. If a water dish has debris in it, empty and clean it. Use a small brush to clean the inside of water bottles and nozzles.
- Water bottles can get blocked. If that happens, your Roof Rats cannot get water even if the bottle looks full. Always check that water can come out whenever you refill the bottle, and refill the bottle on a regular schedule even if it still has water.
- Some water bottles, such as Choco nose (which we otherwise like), have plastic mounting hardware inside of the cages. Some Roof Rats (and even Norway rats) will chew this to bits.
Once Roof Rats start to do that, they won’t stop, so they will need either a dish or chew-proof glass water bottle.
Note: as a rule of thumb, Roof Rats are more likely to chew on things which are vertically orientated than horizontally oriented. So, they will chew on Choconose mounting hardware, but not water dishes.
- All water bottles have a valve of some kind to prevent water from leaking out unless an animal is trying to drink from it. Usually, there is a little ball that sits at the bottom blocking water flow, until it is pushed up by the animal’s mouth or tongue. Unfortunately, many Roof Rats discover that they can push that little ball up whenever they feel like playing in water. And they really love playing in water. Once your Roof Rats learn how to do this, they will never stop, and their litter will be soaking wet every morning. They will need a water dish instead of a bottle.
- If you use a water dish, make sure it attaches securely to the cage, or your Roof Rats will flip it upside down every night. If the water dishes dish sits inside a wire loop attached to the cage, they will get underneath the dish and flip it upside down. Every night.
- Tip: Quickly and easily refill your rats’ water dish through the bars of their cage using an indoor watering can!
Recommended water dish.
Living World Lock and Crock Dish is our current favorite water dish. It is the right size, Roof Rats cannot flip it over (so far), and don’t seem to chew on it (so far.)
You can use a little watering can to easily refill them.
Alternative Water Bottles
Water bottles are very convenient. They are easy to refill, keep clean and won’t make a mess in their cage if they don’t leak and your Roof Rats use them properly. Unfortunately, many Roof Rats won’t use them properly.
Choconose is a great water bottle for Norway Rats. It is less great for Roof Rats, because they can chew on the mounting parts, and push the little metal ball to play with the water. We sometimes still use them for a few well behaved Roof Rats, but mostly we don’t bother.
Lixit Glass Water Bottles are perhaps somewhat better, in that they are chew proof. However, Roof Rats can still push the little ball to empty the water out of them. And they are somewhat less convenient to refill, so we rarely use them for Roof Rats.