What Your Rat’s Sleeping Position Really Means

Rats are social creatures by nature and will sleep in what I like to call ratty piles. Meaning if there are more than three rats in the cage they will all pile on top of each other or into a small bed together looking like they can barely breathe let alone be comfortable. But rats will also sleep in many other positions including on their back with their feet up in the air and when a rat owner comes out to see their rat in that position for the first time, they may think their beloved rat has crossed the rainbow bridge when in fact that are just showing you how comfortable they are.

Three years ago I adopted four baby rats. When I brought them home they started sleeping in ratty piles in one small fleece bed. As they got older and bigger the bed got bigger but they kept sleeping together on top of one another. Then they seemed to pair off into groups of two and would sleep side by side with one other rat in a hammock, a tube, a plastic bubble or in the house.

I would find them on their backs, their sides, flat on their stomach with their hind legs out or on top of another rat. If you’ve ever wondered what all these different positions mean, I have a pretty good idea after having had rats for the past 15 years.

Curled In A Tight Ball

I found that my scared or shy rats would curl themselves into tight balls, in the very back of the cage or in back of all the other rats. This is where they felt safe. It’s easy to tell a rat doesn’t feel safe, if he seems hesitant to come to you, backs away from you when you try to pet him or curls himself into a tight ball to sleep he probably needs more socializing.

Laying Flat on The Stomach With Legs Straight Out

This is usually done when they are hot and they are trying to cool off. Rats don’t do well in temperatures over 90 degree’s. You can tell a rat is hot by feeling their tails. Their tails are usually cool to the touch but if they get overheated their tails will become warm. If this happens you should cool them off immediately.

Laying On Their Back or Their Sides

Rats who are really comfortable will lie on their backs with their feet up in the air or on their sides with their feet splayed out. This position shows they feel secure, safe and happy.

Ratty Piles

In the winter if your home is cooler rats will pile up together for warmth. They will also sleep in piles if they don’t feel comfortable, but the thing is they will sleep in the ratty pile when they are feeling secure, safe and happy because they are social animals and like the company. This is the sleep position that rats will sleep in when they are happy, scared or feeling safe and happy.

I have two rats right now and they almost always sleep together. One might slither from the warm bed and catch a little nap outside the bed if he gets warm from being all cuddled up next to the other rat but then he’ll wake up and crawl back into bed with his cage mate after a while and warm up again.

We have two rats right now and they almost always sleep together. One might slither from the
warm bed and catch a little nap outside the bed if he gets warm from being all cuddled up next
to the other rat but then he’ll wake up and crawl back into bed with his cage mate after a while
and warm up again.

There are many products available for the rat owner to choose from. Here are some that we
recommend:

Books

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
The Essential Guide to Ownership, Care, & Training for Your Pet
Practical, Accurate Advice from the Expert
The Complete Guide to Rat Training

 

Rats: The Essential Guide to Ownership, Care, Training for Your Pet (Rat Care Book 1)

This 160 page book by Kate H Pellham shares what you need to know if you are considering a
rat as a pet. It will teach you how to house your pet to keep it from roaming free as well as how
to care for, train, and identify problems so you can fix them.

Rats: Practical, Accurate Advice from the Expert (Complete Care Made Easy)

Debbie Ducommum, known around the internet as the Rat Lady, offers expert advice for
keeping rats as pets. The 176 page book will help you select the right pet, know what essentials
are needed, and how to care for your pet rat.

The Complete Guide to Rat Training

In this 144 page book, Debbie Ducommum, shares how to train your pet rat. The instructions
include clicker training, basic and advanced trick training, and positive reinforcement.

Other Items You May Need:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Niteangel Small Pet Fun Tunnel, 39 x 4 inches – Fit Adult Ferrets and Rats
Kaytee Comfort Wheel Giant 12 Inches
Niteangel Fun Tunnel with 3 Pack Play Balls for Guinea Pigs
Kaytee Igloo Hideaway, Colors Vary
eCOTRITION Snak Shak Edible Hideaway for Hamsters

 

Niteangel Small Pet Fun Tunnel, 39 x 4 inches – Fit Adult Ferrets and Rats

Rats have a tunneling instinct and this will help fulfill the need to do that. It can expand up to 39
inches long but can also contract. It is made of durable, stain resistant plastic.

Kaytee Comfort Wheel Giant 12 Inches

This exercise wheel can be attached to a wire cage or left free standing. It is 12” in diameter
and comes in a variety of colors.
Niteangel Fun Tunnel with 3 Pack Play Balls for Guinea Pigs, Chinchillas, Rats and Dwarf

Rabbits

This crinkle play tunnel, by Niteangel, is 5.9 x 31.5 inches when expanded but will also contract.
The three ball toys are great to play with or to nibble. The tunnel is lightweight and easy to
clean.

Kaytee Igloo Hideaway, Colors Vary

Made of durable plastic, the Kaytee igloo is easy to clean and is stain resistant. It encourages
the natural nesting instinct small pets have.
eCOTRITION Snak Shak Edible Hideaway for Hamsters, Gerbils, Mice and Small Animals, 3-in-1

Chew Treat and Hideaway

The eCOTRITION Snak Shak comes in a variety of sizes and configurations. It is 100% edible and
made to look like natural wood. It is designed to be a hideaway, to be a treat, and will promote
a small animal’s chewing instinct.

Sources:
http://www.ratfanclub.org/cool.htmle