Dumbo Rat: Facts, Behavior, Prices & Care

Two black and white dumbo rat play on pink background

Are you looking for a tiny pet that will keep you entertained for hours every day? If you are, then take a look at the dumbo rat!

This small, cuddly, adorable rat is sweet-natured, easy to care for, and incredibly irresistible — it is fantastic!

However, owning a dumbo rat will not always be a walk in the park. There are a few drawbacks that you have to know before getting this rodent as a pet. Luckily, this guide has it all laid out for you.

Here, we’ll talk about behavior, lifespan, health issues, and other dumbo rat facts. This guide will also touch on the cost of owning a dumbo rat and places where you can find them. Let’s get started!

What Is a Dumbo Rat?

Domestic black dumbo rat sits and eats food on table

Dumbo rats are rodents that belong to a group known as fancy rats. These rats are distinguished by their circular ears positioned slightly lower on their heads. As you might have already guessed, they are named after the famous elephant from the fable “Dumbo.”

In case you’re not familiar with fancy rats, it is basically a fancy term for domesticated rats.

One way you can think of it is that there are two kinds of rats — fancy rats and wild rats. Fancy rats are bred for domestication, while their wild counterparts are not.

The dumbo rat is a popular choice of pet for many rodent lovers. Aside from their peculiar ears, these rats are charming and docile. Plus, they are relatively easy to take care of, too!

Dumbo Rat Origin and History

Many experts believe that the dumbo rat is a result of a spontaneous mutation. Allegedly, these round-eared rats were first discovered in the United States, specifically in North West America.

According to the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association (AFRMA), the first-ever dumbo rat was born in 1991. If this is true, then that means these adorable crawlers are fairly newcomers to the pet industry.

The first-ever dumbo rat was bred with top-eared rats for gene testing. This is how it was confirmed that their round ears are indeed genetically unique.

Later, their unique gene was named after dumbo, the Disney elephant with a distinctive pair of ears.

The gene is now called the dumbo gene. Alternative names for this gene are the dumbo gene or du gene in the National Fancy Rat Society (NFRS).

Dumbo Rat Appearance and Varieties

Grey dumbo rat with nuts on white background

The dumbo rat is an adorable rodent with a short coat, long tail, and protruding skull structure.

The most distinguishing characteristic of this rat is its large ears which are almost circular in shape. These ears are usually known as dumbo ears.

According to breed standards, fancy rats should have ears that are standing with no folds. The ears should sit near the backside of the head and should be evenly separated.

As you might have guessed already, this is not the case for the dumbo rat. Unlike most fancy rats, dumbo rats have round ears that are placed slightly lower on the head. Moreover, their ears are roundish rather than slightly elongated.

Aside from these, the dumbo rat is pretty much similar to other rats. These rodents grow to about the same size as other fancy rats and come in a few color variants.

The four main colors of the dumbo rat are agouti, lilac, fawn, and black.

Dumbo Rat Size and Weight

A full-grown dumbo rat measures 9 to 11 inches long. Its tail is around 7 to 9 inches, and its weight can range from 0.5 to 1.5 pounds.

In terms of size and weight, dumbo rats are indistinguishable from other fancy rats. These rodents are in the same ballpark as most fancy rats, such as the standard, rex, satin, and bristle coat rats.

However, the dumbo rat is a bit larger and longer than the tailless fancy rat. As you can imagine, this is due to the tailless rat’s short tail.

Unlike with other pets, gender does not play a big role in the size of a dumbo rat. Most of the time, dumbo male and female rats are just the same size.

A dumbo rat is fully grown at around four to six months of age. Some can even reach their full size in four to five months.

Dumbo Rat Temperament and Behavior

White dumbo rat play on pink background

Dumbo rats are sociable and outgoing. These rodents have docile temperaments and are pretty intelligent, too. They enjoy interacting with their families, and they love to play!

Moreover, these adorable crawlers are fond of spending time with other pet rats. In fact, it is recommended to own at least two rats instead of just a single rat.

Because of this, breeders usually bundle two or more rats together on every purchase.

If you are planning to buy a couple of dumbo rats, it is important to segregate them in cages by gender. Rats of the same sex are safe to keep together in a shared enclosure.

Dumbo rats also love exploring. They appreciate being taken out of their wire cage from time to time to explore new surroundings.

However, be cautious when removing them from their enclosure, as these crawlers are incredibly nimble!

When you first get a dumbo rat into your home, it will take a few weeks for it to get comfortable.

During these times, a dumbo rat will nibble and sniff your hand whenever you reach for it. Having other rats as companions will greatly help them in adjusting.

Picking up rats by the tail is a common mistake made by first-time rat keepers.

Never pick up your rat by the tail; instead, wrap it around its belly and lift it gently. Doing otherwise might encourage your rat to have aggressive behavior toward people.

In terms of gender differences, male dumbo rats are typically more laid back and timid. On the other hand, females tend to be active and playful!

Dumbo Rat Lifespan and Health Issues

Dumbo rats don’t live that long. These domestic rats usually have a lifespan of just two to three years.

However, their relatively short life is not exclusive to them. In fact, most fancy rats only live between 18 and 36 months.

If you take care of your dumbo rat well enough, it can live longer. Some exceptionally healthy dumbo rats can live up to four to five years old.

On this note, the oldest dumbo rat ever recorded was seven years and four months old!

One of the best ways to extend the life of your dumbo rat is by keeping an eye out for health problems. Being able to recognize issues early on will help maintain your dumbo rat’s health.

Here are some common health problems in dumbo rats:

  • Obesity: Dumbo rats love to munch on food even when they’re not hungry. While it may be entertaining to watch them eat, eating too much is very bad for them. Obesity is one of the most common health conditions in dumbo rats. As you can expect, this results from overfeeding your pet rat.
  • Respiratory Infections: Rats are highly susceptible to respiratory diseases. Some symptoms you should watch out for are heavy breathing, nasal discharge, and weight loss. One way to prevent respiratory illnesses in rats is by keeping their cages clean and dust-free at all times.
  • Red Tears: Chromodacryorrhea is a disorder affecting the tear glands of dumbo rats. This condition is characterized by “red tears” due to a substance known as porphyrin. Dumbo rats tend to produce this substance when they are stressed, bored, or nervous.

It can be challenging to spot these health issues early on, especially for first-time rat owners.

Because of this, it is best to bring your rat to a small animal vet once in a while for check-ups. As soon as your rat shows any sign of health issues, visit the vet.

Moreover, you should also keep your rat’s enclosure tidy at all times. Providing a nutritious and balanced diet to your rat is also imperative. Doing all these will help your dumbo rat live its longest and happiest life.

How to Take Care of Your Dumbo Rat

A human feeding a black dumbo rat

Dumbo rats are pretty awesome pets. These crawlers will easily get attached to you and your family.

However, as a rat owner, you should keep a couple of things in mind to truly build that bond between you and your dumbo rat.

One of the best ways to do that is by properly caring for a dumbo rat. That said, in this part of the guide, we’ll talk about the best practices for owning this adorable pet. Let’s get straight into it!

Cage and Bedding

Dumbo rats require slightly bigger wire cages than other rodents. A good minimum cage size for them is about two cubic feet. You can get a bigger cage if you’d like, but not a smaller one!

If your rat has a few cage mates, their cage should be two cubic feet for each rat. In other words, that’s two cubic feet for one dumbo rat, four cubic feet for two, six cubic feet for three, and so on.

Watch this insightful video to properly maintain your dumbo rat’s living space:

Dumbo Rat Daily Care

Temperature and Lighting

Temperature and lighting are two key areas to keep in check for your dumbo rat. The ideal temperature for these rats is between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is also recommended to install LED lighting on their cages. This can provide an ample source of heat when the ambient temperature is too cold.

Buying a small thermometer for their cage also comes in a clutch when monitoring the temperature.

Food and Water

Nutrition is vital for the dumbo rat. They need to have a source of clean drinking water that is readily available to them at all times.

You can opt for those upside-down water bottles that attach to the cage, but be sure to keep it clean!

When it comes to food, you can safely bet on ready-to-eat rat food from pet stores. Just pick a good brand, and you’re all set. The usual portion size for a dumbo rat is about 20 to 30 grams of rat blocks per day.

Similarly, you can also serve your dumbo rat fresh vegetables and fruit from time to time. This also serves as a tasty treat for them.

Exercise and Entertainment

Inside the cage, your dumbo rat will need various toys to stay entertained.

Luckily, cage accessories and toys are reasonably cheap at the local pet store. You can get a couple of these accessories and swap them from time to time.

Doing so will keep your dumbo rat physically active and happy. These rats also need something to chew on, so make sure to pick up some chew toys!


Fancy rats, including the dumbo rat, are spotless animals who love grooming themselves. For the most part, you’ll only need to clean your dumbo rat’s cage and not your pet itself!

The soiled sections of your pet’s cage should be cleaned on a daily basis. Similarly, their bedding should be replaced at least once a week.

If you can maintain your pet’s cage nice and tidy, you wouldn’t encounter a stinky smell.

How Much Does a Dumbo Rat Cost? Prices & Expenses

dumbo rat on a white isolated background eating a nut

The dumbo rat is a pretty good entry-level pet. Because of their relatively low price, these rats are a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a new pet. The typical cost of a dumbo rat is between $10 and $20.

Aside from the price of your new pets, you’ll also need a budget for their needs. These include their cage, water bottle, toys, etc.

For these things, you’ll need around $180 to $355. Check out the list below for a brief breakdown.

Here’s a breakdown of all the things you need to buy for a dumbo rat:

Type of ExpenseCost
Cage$80 – $100
Bedding and Litter$5 – $20
Cage Essentials$25 – $75
Toys and Cage Accessories$10 – $50
Water Bottles$5 – $10
Cleaning Supplies$5 – $20
Spare Cage for Travelling$50 – $80
Total Initial Cost$180 – $355

In addition to all these, you’ll need approximately $15 to $20 for a dumbo rat’s monthly expenses. Keep in mind that this is only for one rat. So if you have more than one, you’ll need to multiply this budget accordingly.

Places to Find Dumbo Rats for Sale and Adoption

Baby dumbo rat for sale and adoption

Dumbo rats are relatively easy to find. These cute crawlers are usually up for sale at your local pet shop or local breeders. However, some unique dumbo rat colors are only available from reputable breeders.

In case you want one, we’ve listed a couple of reputable breeders for you to check out. There are also some reputable rescues listed down below.

Here are some breeders where you can find dumbo rats for sale: 

  • Rocky Point Rattery – Located in North Carolina, Rocky Point Rattery is a trusted dumbo rat breeder. They breed different dumbo variants, such as rex, double rex, silvermane, harley, and red-eyed marten.
  • Little Paws Rattery – Little Paws Rattery is a site where you’ll find an extensive list of reputable rat breeders. This is a helpful site, especially if you want to find a breeder near your area. They also have the complete contact information for each breeder.
  • 3D Rattery – If you live near Huntington Beach, California, 3D Rattery is a breeder to check out. They are a proud member of AFRMA, and they have good feedback from their customers. They have been breeding rats for many years now.

Below are some animal shelters and services where you can find dumbo rats for adoption:

  • Mainely Rat Rescue – Mainely Rat Rescue is a non-profit organization that aims to rehabilitate surrendered and unwanted rats. They are backed by dozens of volunteers from different states in the country. This is a fantastic place to start looking for adoptable dumbo rats.
  • Small Angels Rescue – Small Angels Rescue is a safe space for abandoned rodents. Like other rescues, their mission is to find forever homes for their rescued pets. You’ll find all sorts of pets from this rescue. They have everything from gerbils and guinea pigs to mice and rats. 
  • Petfinder – Petfinder is an awesome service that makes pet adoption accessible to everyone. This site connects to thousands of rescues and shelters from all over the country to make rehoming pets much quicker. Check out their listings for a dumbo rat from time to time!

If you need more options, you can always check out AFRMA Members’ Breeders list. This list has dozens of reputable breeders and rescues that are recognized by AFRMA.

Alternatively, you can join Facebook or Reddit groups for dumbo rat owners, where you’ll find information about the dumbo rat and leads for prospective dumbo breeders. Just make sure to stay away from backyard breeders!

Dumbo Rat vs. Fancy Rat: What’s the Difference?

You should know by now that the dumbo rat is considered a variant of the fancy rat. For the most part, these rats are almost indistinguishable. But how exactly are they different?

For starters, the dumbo and the fancy rat belong to the same species known as the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus domestica). The only noticeable difference between the two is the size of their ears.

Dumbo rats have low-sitting ears that protrude farther from their heads. Their ears are also circular.

Meanwhile, other fancy rats have a traditional ear shape that sits higher on their heads and does not protrude much.

Because of this, fancy rats are usually referred to as “top-eared rats” to distinguish them from their dumbo counterparts.

If you look closely at the dumbo and fancy rat, you’ll also notice a slight difference in their head shape.

Dumbo rats tend to have a slightly larger head and a smaller jaw. On the other hand, a standard fancy rat’s head is slightly smaller and more tapered.

There is also a slight difference between dumbo rats and other rats regarding genetics.

Dumbo rats carry the so-called dumbo mutation gene. These groups of recessive genes are responsible for their peculiar ear shape.

Aside from these, there are really not many significant differences between a dumbo and a top-eared rat. Regardless of which one you pick between these two, you’ll certainly be happy with your choice!

Frequently Asked Questions

Two black dumbo rats next to each other

Are Dumbo Rats Rare?

No, dumbo rats aren’t rare. In fact, the dumbo rat is one of the most common rodents you’ll find in pet shops.

If you haven’t seen a dumbo rat before, it’s probably because you just don’t know what it looks like.

In addition, many first-time rat owners pick up dumbo rats as their first pets, so these rodents are everywhere! 

Dumbo rats often get compared with the common house rat. Because of this, people get the notion that these rats with round ears are somewhat exotics even if they’re not.

Do Dumbo Rats Smell?

In general, dumbo rats do not smell bad. When you smell a stinky dumbo rat, there’s a good chance it’s the cage that stinks and not the rat.

Rats are generally clean creatures, and the dumbo rat is no exception.

Can Dumbo Rats Live Alone?

Dumbo rats are social creatures, and because of this, it is not recommended to only have one dumbo rat.

Sure they can live alone, but they will certainly not live their best and happiest life. It is always best to get at least two dumbo rats.

Are Dumbo Rats Friendly?

Yes, dumbo rats are very friendly. These creatures adore their owner as much as their owners love them! Moreover, these rats also get along with strangers quite quickly.

Do Dumbo Rats Get Along With Other Pets?

Dumbo rats are sociable with other kinds of rats and rodents. However, it is recommended to supervise them when playing or befriending your other pets.

At the end of the day, these are just creatures acting out of their instincts.

How Many Babies Do Dumbo Rats Have?

Dumbo rats have the same litter size as standard rats. These rats can have between 8 and 20 baby rats in one go!

One interesting fact about the litter of dumbo rats is that most baby rats are born blind and deaf.

Final Thoughts

If you’re sure that a pet rat will be a good fit for you, then you should totally consider getting a dumbo rat! These pet rats are lovely, friendly, and super docile. Plus, they are easy to care for as well.

The dumbo rat is also a terrific pet choice for people who live in apartments. Since they don’t take up much space, they are pretty easy to manage.

Just make sure you know how to properly care for a dumbo rat, and you’ll enjoy owning one.

Are you now determined to take home a dumbo rat as a pet? Let us know your thoughts about this peculiar rat pet in the comments below!

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