Hairless Rat Care

Hairless rats are among the most unique pets a person can have. They look like little alien lifeforms, feel like warm raw chicken when held, and are certain to start a conversation with any houseguest brave enough to inquire about the host’s strange-looking pet. But do hairless rats need special care compared to other rats? There are numerous myths about hairless rats, most of which make them sound like much more difficult and time-intensive pets than furred rats. In this post, we’ll get to the bottom of these myths and discover what special care hairless rats really need.

Hairless Rat

Hairless Rat

Myths About Hairless Rats

You may have heard some of the following claims about hairless rat care:

1. Hairless rats can’t be kept with furred rats

 2. Hairless rats must be kept alone because other rats could scratch them and cause a skin infection

 3. Hairless rats have no eyelashes or whiskers

 4. Hairless rats do not lactate

 5. Hairless rats have inverted nipples

 6. Hairless rats are more likely to develop tumors

 7. All hairless rats will abandon their young if bred

 8. Hairless rats are unfriendly; alternately, hairless rats are more friendly than furred rats

The Truth About Hairless Rat Care

Healthy hairless rats are indeed difficult to find. There are very few hobby breeders working with the hairless gene. However, most of the above myths are untrue, or at best partially true. I’ll go through each of the above myths and set the record straight:

 1. Untrue. Hairless rats can be kept with any compatible, same-sex or neutered/spayed companion rat.

 2. Untrue.  While hairless rats are indeed prone to receive scratches from cagemates, only very severe fighting that would be cause to separate any rats, furred or not, would leave wounds deep enough to require medical attention. The risk of infection is minimal in normal circumstances as most scratches are small, shallow, and heal quickly. The damage done by loneliness when a rat is kept alone is far worse than a few scratches.

 3. Rarely True. Hairless rats without eyelashes and whiskers do exist, but this is a severe fault and would disqualify a rat at a rat show. Hairless rats should have no body hair, but should have eyelashes and whiskers, and may have “peach fuzz” on the face.

 4. Sometimes True. Lactation problems are more common in hairless than in furred rats. This relates primarily to the lack of well-bred hairless rats. However, if you’re a pet owner, you should probably not be breeding your rats anyway.

 5. Rarely True. Hairless rats do sometimes have one or more inverted nipples. The condition is bizarre but benign in a pet and does not seem to have a noticeable effect on the already high chance of mammary tumors in female rats. Furred rats likely also have inverted nipples fairly often, but it’s harder to notice if fur is in the way. Individuals with this defect are generally unsuitable for breeding.

 6. Untrue. Poorly bred rats are generally more prone to develop tumors. There are many poorly bred hairless rats. This doesn’t mean the hairlessness is responsible for the tumor risk.

7. Untrue. Rats are generally excellent mothers, hairless rats included. Rejection of litters is rare.

 8. Untrue. All rats are individuals with individual personalities, and may be friendlier or less friendly than other individuals.

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9 Responses

  1. jelenawoehr
    | Reply

    @PetLvr PetLvr [Blog] \\ Hairless Rat Care http://cli.gs/ZXqWs

  2. HART (1-800-HART)
    | Reply

    (new PetLvr post ).. Hairless Rat Care: Hairless rats are among the most unique pets a perso.. http://cli.gs/TT79N

  3. Dentist Lancaster
    | Reply

    This is a very informative article. The only thing we should do is to take care of them.

  4. K. Robot
    | Reply

    Your statement on #8 is untrue or at least misstated, ” 8. Untrue. All rats are individuals with individual personalities, and may be friendlier or less friendly than other individuals.”

    They ARE induviduals with distinct personalities, and respond to certian situations differently, as seen with my experience with the 9 rats that I currently own. I am not going to give you a million and one examples, but I advise you to speak to rat “caregivers” rather than “breeders” who allow their rats to have some self expression and you will come to this conclusion.

  5. HART (1-800-HART)
    | Reply

    Hmm … sounds like you are in agreement …. so, not sure what you are talking about here .. unless you misread #8 that seems to have pushed sometimes wrapped around that big google ad on this page.

    8. Hairless rats are unfriendly; alternately, hairless rats are more friendly than furred rats

    8. Untrue. All rats are individuals with individual personalities, and may be friendlier or less friendly than other individuals.

  6. travis
    | Reply

    my fured rats have rejected my hairless . i dont know why they are all social and get 5-6 hours of play each day .I have 5 furries all introduced at different times and they have never rejected any rat but my hairless

  7. Desi
    | Reply

    I would like to know if anyone has any suggestions on how to get my hairless to take his antibiotic. I had no problem the first two days, he would take it from the syringe, the third day he would`nt so I placed it on his paws and he cleaned it off, the fourth day”he has figured it all out” he completely avoids the whole situation and will hide his head. He must take it BID x 10 days. any ideas

  8. debbie
    | Reply

    my hairless rat has a lump on her behind,dosent seem to bother or hurt her,could it be a cyst or a tumor or could it just be her time?she is 2 years old.not sure what to do for her,any suggestions

  9. Humlis
    | Reply

    Hello,

    I am very concerned about some of your claims. I was informed by my highly qualified exotic-pet-specialist vet that hairless rats (including my own pet who was bought from a pet shop) are a laboratory breed that is SPECIFICALLY BRED FOR THE STUDY OF ONCOLOGY (CANCER!!) They are officially known as ‘athymic nude rats’ which means that they are lacking the thymic gland that is responsible for the animal’s immune system. The lack of fur is a by-product of this reduced immune system rather than a skin condition (as in sphynx cats.) They are more liable to grow all sorts of tumours (cancerous and otherwise) than normal rats. If you want one as a pet, that’s great. However, please don’t mislead people, as it is important that they are aware of all the facts before purchasing one.

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