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7 Most Popular Rat Breeds You Can Have As Pets

If you take a look around on the internet (or anywhere else for that matter), you will find that there is a lot of confusion about the types of rat breeds out there.

This is mainly due to organizations setting standards for breeds that can be shown at exhibitions, with some allowing some breeds while excluding others, others allowing different ones, and so on.

It becomes even more confusing when some breeds are sub-species of other breeds, and some breeds are the same breed renamed.

No worries, though, I’m here to bring as much clarity to the issue as I can and give you my definitive guide to rat breeds.

Check: Rats Sleeping Behavior

7 Rat Breeds You Need to Know

From my research, I’ve broken down the rat breeds into seven main categories: Standard, Rex, Hairless, Tailless, Dumbo, Satin, and Marked.

There are also new varieties that are being discovered all of the time, and breeds that do not fall into any specific category.

There are also some breeds that fall into multiple categories, so I’m going to do my best to not confuse you.

1. Standard Rat (Fancy Rat)

a rat from the fancy rat breeds

The Standard Rat, or Fancy Rat, is the most common rat breed, and the rat which you will most commonly find as a pet. They are easy creatures to care for, have a wonderful intelligence, and are loyal and friendly.

They are a direct descendant of the Norwegian Brown Rat but are a lot nicer to have around.

Fancy Rats were once bred for sport but soon became domesticated animals. While they have the same keen intelligence as their wilder counterparts, they are extremely friendly and docile and are great around adults and children.

Many of these domesticated rats have retained the original markings of the brown rat, and come with an agouti coat.

An agouti coat contains three shades of brown on each hair. They can also be found in a variety of solid colors and various markings. They have thick, coarse coats, and can have various colors of eyes. [1]

Fancy Rats were once bred for sport but soon became a domesticated animal.

Fancy, or Standard Rats, make wonderful pets for everyone.

They do not need a lot of care and attention but thrive when they get a lot of social interaction with their owner. They will start as your pet and soon become your friend.

READ MORE: Everything About Albino Rats

2. Rex Rat

The Rex Rat has been around since the mid-1970s, and its most distinguishing feature is its curly whiskers.

People are drawn to the cute-looking whiskers, along with the often plush and curly coat. At the curliest, these little critters look a lot like tiny, little sheep.

a rat from the rex rat breeds

The hair can come in almost any color, and the density of the curl will change from rat to rat. When they are born, they have thick, curly hair, but that hair falls out in the first several weeks and is replaced by adult hair soon after.

This adult hair can have a slight ripple or a tight curl. It can even be patchy.

The Rex Rat has been around since the mid-1970s, and its most distinguishing feature is its curly whiskers.

Rex Rats are inquisitive and intelligent creatures and can be taught to perform simple tricks. You will love to pet their thick, soft coats, and they will love to snuggle up to you for warmth too.

3. Hairless Rats

Hairless rats are exactly what you would expect; they have no hair.

Having said that, they can have small tufts of hair, mainly around the feet and nose, and still be classed as Hairless. So, we should say that Hairless Rats are mainly hairless.

A true Hairless Rat, such as the Sphynx Rat, has no hair at all. No hair around the feet, nose, and not even whiskers.

a rat from the hairless rat breeds

A Hairless Rat is very pink. The skin under a rat’s coat is pink, and you get to see it in all of its glory. The skin is also smooth, and they love to be petted as much as rats with a coat do.

The great thing about Hairless rats is that they are the perfect pet for those who have allergies to pet hair.

A true Hairless Rat, such as the Sphynx Rat, has no hair at all. No hair around the feet, nose, and not even whiskers.

Hairless Rats look a lot different from their hairy counterparts, but they act and behave in the same way. They need the same care and attention as any other breed and are as friendly and intelligent.

Take a look at this video to learn more:

4. Tailless

a rat from the tailless rat breeds

As with Hairless Rats, Tailless Rats should be pretty self-explanatory. These rats have no tails. These rats look and act the same way as all other rat breeds; they just do not have a tail. Tailless rats are often referred to as Manx Rats.

The main difference between this type of rat and others is that they need a little more care and attention.

Rat tails aid in temperature regulation and balance. The lack of a tail can also lead to additional health issues, and that is something that you will need to look out for.

Tailless Rats make wonderful pets, due to them having the same intelligence and loyalty as all other rat breeds. They are wonderful around adults and children and will form a bond for life. [2]

Look at this adorable tailless rat:

5. Dumbo Rat

a rat from the dumbo rat breeds

The Dumbo Rat is one of the most recognizable and striking breeds of the rat. While most rats have short, oval-shaped ears, the Dumbo Rat has large, round ears, mimicking that of the famous large-eared elephant, and taking the name from that very same elephant.

The Dumbo Rats are low-maintenance rat that is very easy to care for, making it a great rat for small children (though we always recommend adult supervision when young kids are handling small pets).

They are also among the cutest small animals which you will meet, making them even more popular with young children.

Many people refer to this breed as the ‘teddy bear rat’ due to its cuteness. They are sweet, friendly, and loyal.

6. Satin Rat

a rat from the satin rat breeds

Satin Rats are known for their silky and shiny coats. They often have long, curly whiskers, and the overall look is a little metallic, due to the natural sheen of the coat.

The coats are usually longer than regular rat breeds, and there is no mistaking a Satin Rat when you see it side by side with another rat breed due to the way in which it glows.

They often have long, curly whiskers, and the overall look is a little metallic, due to the natural sheen of the coat.

With such a shiny coat, these rats make for popular pets, and adults and kids love to pet them. They have all the features of other rat breeds, making them great and loyal pets.

They are intelligent and caring creatures who easily form a bond with their owners.

7. Marked Rats

They do well in pairs and thrive when you can spend a lot of time with them.

a rat from the marked rats breeds

Marked Rats are rats that have markings (who would have thought?). The most commonly display two different colors which create a pattern of markings on the coat of your rat.

They come in a plethora of varieties, including the capped (solid white body with a color covering the head) and Irish (white triangle on the chest with white feet).

Marked rats act and behave in the same way as any other rat breed, so there is no difference in how you care for them.

They are friendly and intelligent and love to be around people. They do well in pairs and thrive when you can spend a lot of time with them. [3]

AOV

The rat breeds above are the main breeds that you will find, though there are other breeds, they are so minimal that they are not worth mentioning.

These varieties and breeds are known as ‘Any Other Varieties’ or AOV. They include any other rat breed and are mainly distinguished from other breeds by their color.

If you do find an AOV as a pet, then you should know that they act and behave just like any other rat, so they can be cared for in the same way.

There are new varieties of rats being discovered every day, and as they become more and more popular, they will be recognized as official breeds.

No matter your breed of rat, take care of them, love them, and you will have a friend for life.

References

  • 1. June. AFRMA Fancy Rats – Marked [Internet]. Afrma.org. 2015 [cited 2021 Nov 30]. Available from: https://www.afrma.org/ratmkd.htm
  • 2. June. AFRMA – Tailless Rats [Internet]. Afrma.org. 2018 [cited 2021 Nov 30]. Available from: https://www.afrma.org/taillessrats.htm
  • 3. June. AFRMA – Fancy Rat Genes, Marked [Internet]. Afrma.org. 2021 [cited 2021 Nov 30]. Available from: https://www.afrma.org/geneticsmkdrat.htm
a rat eating almonds

What are your favorite rat breeds? Which one do you have? Let us know in the comments below!

Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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