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.
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.