Hairless Rats as Pets: Your Complete Guide - RatCentral

Hairless Rats as Pets: Your Complete Guide

Hairless Rats as Pets

Some people add cats and dogs to their family. Other people prefer more exoctic pets, like the hairless rat. This unique pet is very unusual and is a great conversation starter. Plus, there is a lot to learn about the rat once you own one as a pet.

If you’ve ever thought that it’d be cool to own a rat, why not take your desire to the next level and add a hairless rat instead? This is a pet that will make you smile, although it is a bit harder to care for than its haired cousin.

Your biggest job as a hairless rat pet owner is keeping it warm. Since it is not protected by fur, the hairless rat gets colder than a rat with fur. Even the slightest gust of wind causes the hairless rats a big child.

The bare skin is also very sensitive, so you’ll need to take extra precautions to ensure the hairless rat isn’t injured. With these things in mind, it is easy to care for the hairless rat and certainly an experience to remember. 

But, take the time to read the complete hairless rat guide below before you rush out to buy this pet. The details provided below will help you better understand the hairless rat, what it means to own one of the pets, and better determine if it is the best purchase for your needs.

What is a Hairless Rat?

A hairless rat is a rat without hair, just as the name implies. Its appearance is the same as any other rat, with the exception you’ll see soft, pink skin instead of brown, white, or black fur. In reality, however, the hairless rat is not totally hairless. Some may have patches of fur along their body and the pink surface is actually short, dark hairs that cannot form due to the lack of pigmentation. Most people describe the hairless rat in the same way as they describe the homozygous Rex rat.

But, why do these rats lack any hair on their body when most rats are full of fur? The Journal of Investigative Dermatology Reports that hairless rats are hairless due to a genetic mutation that prevents their thymus gland from developing, in turn causing the rat to face a severe immune deficiency. They Are born with hair, says the Laboratory Animal Science Journal, but it falls off in a few weeks. When a hairless rat mates, the offspring may or may not have hair. It really depends on the type of rat it is mated with. A hairless rat, when mated with a rat with hair, can produce offspring with or without hair.

How to Care for a Hairless Rat

It is important to learn how to properly care for a hairless rat before purchase. Although you may have an upper-hand on the pet’s care if you’ve owned a haired rat in the past, this animal has unique needs that you must understand to ensure that it lives a healthy, happy life. 

Hairless rats need more attention and care than a haired rat, but are nonetheless fairly simple to care for.  As discussed, the most important aspect of owning a hairless rat is to keep it warm. Their cage should always stay warm.

Without fur, the rats are susceptible to cold temperatures and become cold very easily. A temperature range of 64 degrees F - 70 degrees F is best for this pet. Most hairless rats prefer an environment that leans toward the warmer of these temperatures.

What does a hairless rat do during the day? Hairless rats enjoy playing from time to time, especially when they’re inside of a cage at home. It is probably a good idea to provide him a regular rat or another hairless rat for companionship.  Most hairless rats thrive when they have a mate inside the cage to keep them company (and to help keep them warm. What’s better than someone to cuddle with at night?)

Toys are also available to keep the rat entertained. There are many rat toys sold at pet stores. The hairless rat doesn't require any type of special toy, so you’re free to choose those that you like the most. Rotate the toys out each day or every other day to keep the hairless rat’s curiosity fulfilled.

How to Choose a Cage for a Hairless Rat

You’ll need a cage to keep your hairless rat inside. There are many rat cages out there, but do not purchase the first that you see. It is important to choose the best cage to keep the rat safe and secure.  

One of the most important features to look for in the cage is its size. You need at least 2-ft. Of space for each hairless rat that you own. 

So, for two rats, a 4-ft. Cage is needed. The hairless rat needs room to roam and play! The cage should be free of sharp objects that the pet could poke itself with and cause injury. 

Once a cage is chosen, it’s time to make a bed for the rat. Most rats prefer a bed made of thin strips of paper, but the extra delicate skin of the hairless rat may be too sensitive for such a bed. It is best to choose soft, absorbent materials to use as the hairless rat bedding.  

Remember, rats love to nibble, so you should keep a close eye on the bedding. Never use pine shavings as bedding because this is too coarse for the hairless rat’s delicate skin. Keep the cage clean so the rat doesn’t sit in urine and/or feces. This can cause the pet a variety of skin issues.

Hairless Rat Food

Rats enjoy eating, as you probably know already. As result, they’ll overeat if given the opportunity. They can become fat and extremely overweight very quickly. It is important to closely monitor the food that you feed your rat and the amount of food.

A hairless rat is cute, even when it is a little chubby, but its health is at stake. Hairless rats eat the same food as other rats. Check at the local pet food supply store to choose the best food for your rat. A lab block may provide the pet the vitamins and nutrients necessary to keep him healthy.

Fruit is a nice treat for the hairless rat, and one that it certainly enjoys eating. They even enjoy an occasional vegetable to nibble on now and again. Offer the hairless rat a few pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables everyday to promote good health and to satisfy the rat.

Some of the best food choices for the rat includes carrots, pears, watermelon, crocolli, plums, spinach, and kiwi. Rats should be given plenty of water to stay hydrated. The hairless rat drinks considerably more water than a regular rat. Use a water bottle, not a dish, to provide them water.

How to Care for a Baby Hairless Rat

If you want to breed a female and male hairless rat together, this may be more difficult than you’d like for it to be. The truth is that hairless rat breeding comes with many quirks and risks. It is important to learn how to breed the rats before you begin this process, or if there is an accident with two hairless rats placed inside of the cage.

The rats have been known to eat their young and many simply refuse to care for them. Most female rats don't lactate due to an intolerant immune system that cause them difficulty caring for themselves, much less babies. So, if you breed the hairless rat, do not be shocked to see the mom behaving in such manner.

Provide the pregnant rat added nutrients and vitamins so she can properly care for the babies. Extra food ensures that she gets the necessary nutrients to birth healthy babies.  

Baby hairless rats will likely require bottle feeding with a milk replacement formula since the mom may not care for it as she should. Bottle-feeding the rat during its first few weeks of life will ensure that it reaches optimum health. Be sure to keep an eye  on the mother rat as well ,since she may attempt to harm the babies during the early days of life.


Common Hairless Rat Health Problems

Without a layer of hair, hairless rats face more potential health problems than their cousin rats. As mentioned, the cage must be kept warm and at the appropriate temperatures to keep the pet comfortable since they can get cold very easily.  

The lack of hair also presents extra skin sensitivity in the hairless rat. Things that wouldn’t bother a regular rat can scratch, cut, and otherwise irritate the hairless rat’s skin. 

Although the pet is hairless, it does have hair follicles. These follicles can become clogged and form pimple-like bumps about the skin. If not treated, these bumps can become infected. For a hairless rat, an infection can cause immediate death.

The hairless rat lacks a thymus and as the result, has a  suppressed immune system. Bacterial infections and other sickness can easily and quickly affect the hairless rat. If the baby rats come into contact with other rats during early life, they’ll likely develop an illness quicker than others.

Always wash your hands before playing with the pet and again when you’re ready to move onto other tasks.

Life of a Hairless Rat

How much time should you expect to enjoy with your hairless rat? Exactly how long is their lifespan? The American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association says that a hairless rat rarely has a lifespan beyond one year.

The short lifespan is due to the rat’s inability to ward off infections. With proper care and near-perfect conditions, expect about one-year with your pet.


Cost of a Hairless Rat

Expect to pay more to buy a hairless rat than one with hair. The added expense is likely due to the trouble of nurturing the pet into adulthood. The pets are sold at many pet stores.

Make sure the hairless rat purchase is made only from a reputable supplier to minimize risks. Expect to pay $25 - $50 to buy a hairless rat.  The price increases if the hairless rat is purchased from a breeder or from a valued stock.


Should I Buy a Hairless Rat?

A hairless rat is an amazing pet for many people, just like a rat with hair. However, it is not a pet that is right for everyone. Many people find the Dumbo-looking hairless rat irresistibly cute and owning one is simply thrilling. Who can forget the fun that we get when choosing a name for our pet?

If you think that it is fun to choose a name for a cat or a dog, imagine the delight when it is time to choose a name for this hairless creature! Of course, there is far more detail to owning a hairless rat than the fun that it brings.

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Added Care

As mentioned, hairless rats require a greater level of care than a traditional rat. Before Buying, make sure you have the extra time and attention to devote to this pet.   

Hairless rats are high-maintenance and require this added attention to maintain goodhealt. It’s also ideal the hairless rat has a friend in the cage with him, so that adds to the work and care you’ll need to provide. 

Plus, the hairless rat requires a special cage, special bedding, and special cleaning to prevent disease from compromising the rat’s immune system. Make sure that you won't become attached to the rat, since they have such short lifespans.


The Bottom Line

Evenstill, the hairless rat makes a great pet for many people. They’re very cute and certainly make for a great conversation when a visitor discovers your pet of choice. Weigh the pros and the cons that come to hairless rat pet owners to determine if it is the best option for your needs. You may very well find that the hairless rat surpasses your needs for a pet!

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