Fresh water makes the world of difference.
It only took a four-day vacation for us to figure this one out. Water bottles need to be rinsed out and refilled daily! Water that sits unmoved (as water in a water bottle does) will start to harvest bacteria which can make your rat sick. Generally this sickness will manifest itself into an inner-ear infection, loss of appetite, or simply a little sneezy cold, all of which can be fixed right up with a little antibiotics (except the ear infection). It's not really worth the risk though (obviously). If you do nothing else for your rat, do this! Keep your water supply fresh and clean!
Update: May I also recommend glass bottles? They're pricey, very very pricey, but wow! First we tried the smaller Lixit glass bottles:
But then we discovered even more pricey but easier to keep clean (with any brush, really):
So...before you spend $5 on a plastic water bottle, spend another $5 a year later to replace the plastic water bottle, etc. Just buy yourself a glass bottle. You'll be so glad you did!
tip: When navigating through the RatTails,
clicking on the image that looks like the image above
will take you back to this table of contents!
Disclaimer: There are many non-sarcastic accounts and tips on the web regarding rat care. This is not
one of them. These are merely accounts of our experiences with rats, our perceptions of these experiences, where we've failed
and where we've succeeded. These accounts are here for two purposes: