Hairless Rats Make Good Pets
Hairless rats are not the only hairless rodents that are bred and kept as pets. There are also hairless guinea pigs and hairless hamsters. There are even hairless cats and dogs for that matter, although many of them have hair that is so fine as to be virtually invisible. Some rats however have no hair whatsoever. Some of them don’t even have whiskers, which for a rat could be a little annoying.
Hairless rats are no different in many regards than bald men, which is to say that a total lack of hair can be a genetic trait that can be experienced by both humans and rodents. A lack of hair can also be caused by illness, disease, and such things as radiation treatment or chemotherapy, but in most instances it is hereditary or genetic in origin.
A Rat Without Hair is Still Very Much a Rat
If you were to purchase one of these rats as a pet, and they do make great pets, you aren’t purchasing a sick rat. You rat has no hair because of genetics. Aside from a lack of hair, there is very likely nothing else wrong with it. It will act every bit the way a rat is supposed to act, and will get along quite well with its furry brethren.
Not all of these rats will necessarily be healthy however. A rat’s health can depend a great deal upon its breeding. There are a number of different genetic strains of hairless rats, and some of these strains are naturally more robust than others. The genetics that cause a hairless condition sometimes will also cause deficiencies in the functioning of the rat’s immune system. This can lead to a greater propensity for illness or infection. Reputable breeders work hard to breed out some of these deficiencies.
Breeder’s Compromises For the Sake of Health
One compromise seems to be that of breeding what are called patchwork rats. These rats are not completely hairless, but have patches of what is usually very soft, fine fur, Patchwork rats are generally somewhat stronger and more robust that their totally hairless cousins, and many of them have whiskers to boot.
Breeders have found that female hairless rats are not desirable as breeding animals. Female hairless rats often have a genetic deficiency that prevents them from lactating, so they cannot feed their litter. The female rats often have undesirable temperaments as well, and will sometimes kill their offspring. Breeders get around this by breeding hairless males with furry females. The result is usually a little of pups, about half of whom have hair and half of whom do not. A few no doubt are of the patchwork variety.
Caring For Your Hairless Pet
While caring for a pet hairless rat is quite similar to caring for a furry rat, there are a few differences that need to be taken into account. The hairless variety will naturally become chilled more easily, although if it is kept in a location that is normally kept at room temperature, it is unlikely to be a problem. Nevertheless, it is a little more difficult for a hairless pet to keep warm, and to try to do so it will eat more than a pet rat normally does. If you do have a pet hairless rat, an ideal situation would be to pair it with a furry rat. Rats are social animals, and do not like to be left alone. Also, by having a furry companion, the hairless rat would have someone to snuggle up close to when sleeping. A part of an old shirt or blanket, or anything without sharp edges will make a good place for one of these rats to sleep. Wood shavings are all right, but some have sharp edges, which could scratch the soft, tender skin of the rat, and there are some types of wood chips, such as cedar, or chips that are extremely dusty, that are unhealthy and should not be used. Shredded newspaper is often better. Fleece is better yet.
Rats, hairless or not, are very intelligent and very inquisitive creatures. When tamed, they are usually quite playful and affectionate. They like the companionship of fellow rats, and they seem to enjoy the companionship of people as well. They will be happiest in living quarters that gives them a good amount of space to run around in. Tubes, shelves, and hammocks in the cage will keep a pet rat happy and busy, although these pets seem at times to be happiest in the presence of their owner. Something that a rat can chew on that will not cause it any harm is another thing that can be placed in the cage. You don’t necessarily have to look for pet rat toys in a pet shop either. Most toys that will keep a cat happy, will keep a pet rat happy as well.
As far as food is concerned, but if fresh fruits and vegetables are best. Rats also like breads or grains. Cooked vegetables are alright as well. Don’t forget to keep a pet hairless rat, or rats, supplied with fresh water.