I feel your pain! I have fumble thumbed my way through tasks with my other kids--furkind and realkind-- more often than I can count. They always give me the saa-a-a-aaame look. "MoOOOoooom! What was /that/ all about??" I always feel about an inch high.
I am a big ole greenhorn when it comes to rats, but funny enough I just spent yesterday searching and happened to come across a really nice article on how to bathe a ratty at the Rodents Are Great website.
Edit: Oops. I'm a new member on this forum and they won't let me post links yet, but it's "the-rag" dot com. There's a link to the right if you scroll down intitled "Bathing your Rat".
And, heh, upon reading your dilemma, the first thing that popped into my head was the old quote paraphrased from Robert Burns "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray..." I had to go look up the poem, and was totally bemused at how darn appropriate it was for this situation, be it rat instead of mouse. Hopefully just to give you a little smile after your stressful day:
To A Mouse:
Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!
I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!
Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,
An'lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e.
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
(From electricscotland dot com)
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Hanging out in the Land of New Feetsies:
Melon, Skinner, Black Pete, Zanna, Custard, Tucker, Jeffrey, Zmei, and Windham.