When acquiring a new pet rat, be it from a breeder or a pet shop, the person from whom you purchase your furry new edition should be able to tell you which sex your rat is.
Finding Out The Sex Of Your Rat:
Finding out what sex your rat is can be as simple as just taking a brief look, yet quite often pet store workers especially will often tell you the wrong information. It’s important to find out for yourself to make sure.
Why do I need to know which sex my rat is?
Both female and male rats have different traits and needs so it is important to research beforehand, into which you might prefer.
Also, if you are looking to purchase more than one rat (it is recommended to keep more than one, as rats are very sociable creatures), or are making an addition to your current rat family, you need to make sure they are of the same sex to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Alternatively, you may be considering breeding your rats, in which case early sexing is vital to ensure the baby rats do not breed with their mother or siblings.
So what are the key physical differences between male and female rats?
Well, when buying a rat, the physical differences should be easily observed. Baby rats should leave their mother no earlier than 5 weeks old and by this time it should be very simple to identify which sex they are.
However in those who are breeding at home, reliable sexing can be performed as young as a week to two weeks old.
One of the most obvious differences between a male and a female rat is the testicles.
Male rats have rather large testicles that sit just beneath their tail, whereas the females obviously do not. Male rats also tend to be slightly larger than females although this cannot always be observed until later on in their development.
Females have, in general, slightly less coarse fur than males, and look very different in the genital region. The pictures below can give a clearer view of the differences between the genitals of a buck (male rat) and a doe (female).
On the is a photo of a buck’s genitals, as you can see the testicles are large and easily distinguishable from the doe’s lack thereof.
The penis can be observed sitting further up from the testicles, whereas on the doe the urethra (the little bump) and vagina sit much lower down and closer to the anus.
These differences can be distinguished in younger rats than those pictured above, but the genitals will be less developed and therefore slightly more difficult to distinguish.
If you are in any doubt, make sure to check with an experienced rat owner/breeder or vet.
For more information on the differences between female and male rats see Bucks Or Does, Which Is Best?