It isn’t uncommon for people to attempt to alter the physical aspects of a domesticated animal when they see potential in their companionship or utility. Dogs and cats are great examples of human influence through selective breeding within a species, but so are rats. Selecting and breeding unique rats has been a practice since the 1800s, and the results can be admired in present-day pet rats.
Rats are recognized by types instead of breeds. A curated list of the most common and widely recognized rat types has been compiled so you can better identify their unique characteristics.
What Is A Fancy Rat?
“Fancy rat” is a term commonly written on tanks of rats in pet stores. This classification may be more intriguing than labels like “rat” or “feeder rat” but it does not allude to a specific type of rat.
Most domesticated rats have descended from the species Rattus norvegicus, also commonly known as Norwegian wild rats or brown rat. Fancy rats are any domesticated variation of this species. In essence, “fancy rat” is an umbrella term for domesticated rats and it can refer to almost any type of domesticated rat.
At pet stores, standard rats are often displayed as fancy rats. Standard rats are very common and come in a variety of colors and patterns, many of which are recognized by the American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association (AFRMA). These colors include beige, agouti, lilac, Pink-eyed white, and many more. There are 40 recognized colors and about 11 recognized patterns, many of which appear in standard rats.
The physical requirements for this rat type are very slim. Short, smooth, glossy hair is the main requirement for domesticated rats to be identified as standard rats.
What Is A Hairless Rat?
Hairless rats look exactly as their name suggests. This type is the result of intentionally breeding for a genetic condition that can appear in most mammals with fur or hair growth. The origin of this type of rat is not certain, but its many uses as a model organism closely link it to research laboratories.
Today, the hairless is more popular as a pet and is recognized by rat fanciers as its own type. The main requirements for this type include thin, bright, and rather translucent skin that can be colored with any recognized patterns. Since their skin is entirely exposed, preventing skin damage and careful breeding are required to produce healthy show-worthy hairless rats.
Most show-worthy and carefully bred hairless have almost no hair. Some even have short curly whiskers, while others have no whiskers, making them completely bald.
What Is A Tailless Rat?
Long hairless tails are an iconic trait for most pet rats, but there is a type of fancy rat that is tailless. Much like the hairless rat, tailless rats are the result of a genetic mutation that was perpetuated through selective breeding. This mutation, when carefully bred for, produces a rat with a rounder hind end and a nub where their tail would be.
Since tailless-ness is a mutation, it is important to keep an eye out for any congenital physical issues that may be linked to it. Tailless rats with a deformed hind end, difficulty walking, or skeletal issues should not be considered common and should never be bred. It is also against AFRMA standards and general ethics for rats to have their tails docked to appear tailless.
Only the most reputable, experienced, and caring breeders should be sought out if you are looking to obtain this rare and unique type of rat.
What Is A Dumbo Rat?
With cartoonishly large ears and a balanced head shape, it is no wonder dumbo rats obtained such an adorable name. This type of fancy rat is rather popular and to the untrained eye, they can be confused with standard rats.
A well-bred show worthy dumbo rat will have large round ears, that are flat and uniform. These big ears should be lower on the sides of their head, rather than the perky ears seen in most other pet rat types. If you are to look at a dumbo from a top view, its ears and nose should form an equilateral triangle, as this is considered the most balanced face shape for this rat type.
What Is A Rex Rat (Curly Haired)?
Rex rats have a very iconic coat of fur. Their silky fur is noticeably curled, especially on their backs. A proper rex will have an even coat and the mutation that causes their fur to curl will also often cause their whiskers to be curled.
Rex rats are unique because breeding within this type does not always produce the typical rex appearance. Experienced breeders know that breeding a Rex with a non-Rex is more likely to produce less Rex offspring, but they will be of higher quality. When Rex are bred together, the young are more likely to have baldness or patchy coats. As with most rat types that are the result of a mutation, you will need to choose your breeder carefully.
What Is A Long haired Rat?
Long-haired rats are not a recognized type of fancy rat. If you hear someone refer to a long-haired rat, they are either referring to a type of wild rats located in Australia, an unrecognized mutation, or one of two recognized types that can appear to have long hair.
The bristle coat is a type of fancy rat that is known to have wire-like fur that appears longer than most other types of rats. The satin is another fancy rat type that may be mistaken for having longer hair than other types. Satin rats have a coat that is silky, flat, and shiny. Their coat can be longer than some other types of pet rats, and the silky nature of their fur can make them appear longer.
What Are The Best Types Of Pet Rats For You?
Fancy rats come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. What is most important is that you find individuals who come from good genetic backgrounds and caring breeders. Any well-socialized domesticated rat can make a suitable companion, but if you are interested in a specific type of fancy rat for showing or companionship just make sure to put the rat’s well-being first when you are on your search.