Hairless Rat: Facts, Personality, Lifespan & Care

Hairless rat posing on a white background

Some people find furry rats more appealing than hairless rats, but the only difference between the two is their appearance. Both have the same personalities, and hairless rats can make just as good pets as furry ones.

Hairless rats are not only adorable but are also unique, with attractive personalities. This article will explore the world of hairless rats and why these little creatures can make your day brighter. 

From grooming needs, diet, health, and personalities, we’ll deep dive into everything you need to know before bringing home a hairless rat into your home. 

What Is a Hairless Rat?

Adult bald rat on a white background

Hairless rats are light-skinned rodents that don’t have fur. Although they differ from the traditional rats we know of, they are also friendly and can make great pets. These rats, also called bald rats, can be prone to respiratory problems; hence, they require extra care.

A hairless rat is a unique variation of the common domesticated furry rat. You might be surprised that these rats are not naturally hairless but a result of a genetic mutation that causes the rat to be born bald. 

These bald rats come in different shades of skin tones, from light pink to dark brown, and can have wrinkles and bumps on the skin, making each one unique.

Although some people may find bald rats unattractive, others swear by the friendliness and trainability of these rats. In fact, bald rats can be trained to do tricks and respond to commands. They are also affectionate and loving.

Why Are Hairless Rats Hairless?

Hairless rats do not have fur because of a genetic mutation that affects the development of hair follicles. This mutation occurs spontaneously and is not affected by external factors like environment or diet.

That said, the main cause of this mutation is a recessive gene. This means that if both parent rats carry this gene, there is a chance that some of the offspring will be hairless. 

Different Types of Hairless Rats

Hairless rats come in three types, each with unique characteristics but giving the same love and joy to their owners. Listed below are the types of hairless rats you can choose if you are considering getting one. 

1. Sphynx or Truly Hairless Rats

Sphynx hairless rat
Image credit: harryoratinho / Instagram

Sphynx rats are a hairless variety of rats known to have smooth, wrinkled skin ranging from pink to gray in color. These rats have large ears and expressive eyes, giving out a friendly and intelligent look. 

Indeed hairless rats are known to be friendly and social animals. Although this variety can be a great pet, Sphynx rats were initially bred for research in the laboratory. 

This hairless rat does not have a thymus gland which contributes to the rat’s immune system. Due to this absence, the Sphynx rat’s lifespan is shorter than others because of an increased risk of bacterial infections. 

2. Double Rex Hairless Rats

Double rex hairless rat

Double Rex rats are a unique variety of rats known to have the double Rex gene, which causes baldness. Unlike other hairless rats, these rats have eyebrows and short, crimped, or curly whiskers.

This hairless rat also has small patches of peach fuzz-like hair on the head or feet, while the skin may come in various colors. These rats are a good fit for people sensitive to animal dander. 

3. Patchwork Hairless Rats

Patchwork hairless rat

Patchwork hairless rats are born from two parents of the Rex variety. These rats have a mixture of bald and furred areas in the body. Their fur constantly falls out and then grows back in another body area. 

Unsurprisingly, these hairless rats enjoy exploring and playing with toys. Like other varieties of bald rats, patchwork hairless rats are an excellent option for people sensitive to animal hair.

Hairless Rat Personality and Behavior

Hairless rat posing

Hairless rats are intelligent and social animals that thrive on interaction and companionship. It’s worth noting that these rats are known for being affectionate and enjoy cuddles. 

Hairless rats are curious and can be trained as well. However, these small animals are best adopted in pairs to prevent loneliness which can cause health issues to this little hairless being. 

Hairless Rat Lifespan and Health Issues 

The lifespan of a hairless rat is usually 2 to 3 years, except for the Sphynx variety, which has a lifespan of 1 to 1 ½ years. 

However, most hairless rats are more prone to specific health issues. Some common health issues affecting hairless rats include:

  • Cancer: Hairless rats have a higher chance of developing cancer because of the limited gene pool. One of the symptoms of cancer is lethargy. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do when your hairless rat is diagnosed with cancer. 
  • Respiratory infections: A hairless rat can acquire a respiratory infection throughout its lifetime. However, this condition can be fatal for rats with weak immune systems. 
  • Kidney failure: Kidney failure among hairless rats is usually a genetic issue. Fortunately, breeding techniques nowadays are able to lessen the occurrence of kidney failure among rats. 
  • Ringtail: A ringtail is when a hairless rat’s tail develops rings because of dehydration. If left untreated, the blood supply in the tail may be cut off, causing tissue necrosis
  • Eye problems: Hairless rats risk hereditary eye problems like enlarged eyes, blindness, missing eyes, and ocular entropy. 

By being aware of these health issues, you can prevent them and take appropriate steps as soon as signs arise. Although hairless rats have a short lifespan, you must ensure that your pet lives a happy and healthy life.

How to Care for a Hairless Rat

Baby hairless rat on hand

Caring for a hairless rat can take a little more effort compared to a traditional pet rat. This is because hairless rats lack fur and are at a heightened risk of developing some health issues. 

Below are guidelines to properly care for a hairless rat, including diet, bedding, and exercise information. 

Cage and Bedding

Hairless rats are active and curious animals. That’s why a cage with enough space where each rat can move around, climb, and play is necessary. 

These rats are also susceptible to respiratory problems, so a humid and well-ventilated cage is essential. When it comes to bedding, use a soft and comfortable material that will not irritate the hairless rat’s skin. 

Use paper-based or cloth bedding to avoid cutting your pet’s delicate skin. It’s also recommended to provide a soft and comfortable sleeping area for your hairless rat, like a hammock or nesting box. 

Food and Diet

A healthy diet is essential for maintaining your hairless rat’s overall health and well-being. A diet that is high in protein and low in fat is recommended for hairless rats. 

A good quality lab block or pellet diet is an excellent choice because it provides all the necessary nutrients in the appropriate amounts. You can also feed your rat 80% pellets and 20% fresh fruits and vegetables.

Here is a list of fruits and vegetables you can add to your hairless rat’s diet:

  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Grapes
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Pear
  • Plum
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon 

Avoid feeding your hairless rat high-fat, high in sugar, and processed foods because these can cause health problems. It’s also important to give your hairless rat access to fresh water at all times.

Exercise

Hairless rats need regular exercise to maintain physical and mental well-being. Your pet should have at least an hour of playtime per day. Just ensure that their toys don’t have sharp edges to avoid injuries.

It’s important to note that hairless rats are prone to overheating. That’s why exercise should be limited during hot weather or in a warm environment. 

Aside from toys, a good way to exercise your hairless rat is to plan a daily playtime with your pet. Regularly interacting with your bald rat will ensure your pet is happy and living the best life. 

How Much Does a Hairless Rat Cost?

Two hairless rats for sale and adoption

Hairless rats can cost between $25 and $100. These rats are typically more expensive than hairy ones because they are more expensive to breed. 

Summarized below are some of the expenses associated with owning a hairless 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

The overall expenses for a hairless rat can be relatively high because of the special care required to keep these pets healthy. You must also have extra funds for any medical emergencies. 

The cost of supplies for a hairless rat is comparable to that of a dumbo rat

Places to Find Hairless Rats for Sale and Adoption

Although hairless rats are considered exotic, these animals are not hard to find in pet stores. However, it is recommended to find breeders or rescues recognized by the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association (AFRMA).

Below is a list of breeders you can check out if you want this bald rat as a new family member:

  • Ballantyne Rattery – This hairless rat breeder from North Carolina takes pride in its ethical breeding practices and regular health testing. Their price range starts from $25 to $80, depending on the rat’s coat, color, and lineage. 
  • Regal Squeaks Rattery – This hobby breeder from Alabama is registered with the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association. Aside from hairless rats, Regal Squeaks Rattery also breeds furry rats. 
  • Head 2 Tails Rattery – Head 2 Tails rattery is a rat breeder from Washington. They breed and rescue rats, mice, and other small animals. This breeder ensures that their hairless rats are fed a premium diet. That said, you can be sure you get a healthy rat from them. 

There is no doubt that hairless rats can be good as long as these animals are correctly socialized and paired with the right humans. However, despite the affection these creatures can offer, some are still abandoned. 

If you are looking to adopt an abandoned hairless rat, you can check out this list below:

  • Small Angels Rescue, Inc – This organization does not have a shelter. Instead, its rescues are fostered around Virginia and Pennsylvania. Their adoption fees start at $20 for intact hairless rats and $60 for spayed and neutered rats. 
  • Mainely Rat Rescue – Mainely Rat Rescue is a non-profit organization that rescues all varieties of domesticated rats, including the bald rat. They are a home-based rescue organization with foster homes in New England and the Northeast of the United States. 
  • Any Rat Rescue (ARR) – This non-profit organization rescues all unwanted pet rats, including hairless rats. They are a no-kill shelter and serve the Tucson and Phoenix metropolitan areas. 

Hairless rats are often the most misunderstood pets because of this animal’s distinct size and appearance. Keep in mind that all animals deserve to be treated humanely. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Hairless rat on the cage with food

Are Hairless Rats Good Pets?

Hairless rats can make excellent pets when matched with the right person. These animals are intelligent and sociable, and they enjoy interacting with humans and other animals. 

However, hairless rats are not recommended for small children due to their fragile bodies. Small children may unintentionally play roughly with these delicate animals, which can be painful or even dangerous for them. 

Do Hairless Rats Stink?

Hairless rats have a natural scent, but the odor should be manageable with proper care and hygiene. However, you may bathe your hairless rat with mild and unscented shampoo. 

On the other hand, you may also apply olive oil if you notice your bald rat’s skin becoming too dry. Never use commercial lotions because this could harm your hairless rat’s skin. 

Do Hairless Rats Get Blackheads?

Hairless rats can be prone to developing blackheads called comedones. Oils cause these, and dead skin cells build up in the hair follicles. Comedones may appear on any part of the body. 

However, they are more common on the face, ears, and tail. They give the bald rat a ragged and dirty appearance when left untreated. To prevent this, keep your pet’s skin clean and moisturized. 

Can You Give a Hairless Rat a Bath?

Bald rats can only be given baths once or biweekly because doing this too often can dry out your rat’s skin. Also, only use a mild and unscented shampoo specially made for small pets like hairless rats. 

Never use shampoo for humans because this can irritate your pet’s delicate skin. You also have to ensure that you use warm water when rinsing your pet. Never use water that is too hot or too cold. 

After bathing, dry your rat with a soft towel and place your pet in a warm area until fully dry. You may apply olive oil if your rat’s skin gets dry or irritated. 

Here is a video of a hairless rat enjoying bath time:

Tele the rat getting a Bath

Do Hairless Rats Get Cold Easily?

Hairless rats are prone to getting cold because of a lack of fur insulation. A cool environment can cause these rats to chill, which could lead to health problems like respiratory infections. 

It’s essential to provide a warm environment for your hairless rat, ideally between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a humidity level between 40 to 60%.

Do Hairless Rats Sweat?

Hairless rats do not have sweat glands and therefore do not sweat to regulate body temperature. Instead, rats’ blood vessels are near the skin’s surface and are called “rete mirabile.” 

This helps hairless rats dissipate heat. Moreover, rats tend to pant, open their mouth, and use other behaviors to cool off when it’s too hot.

Final Thoughts

There are three types of hairless rats that are commonly kept as pets: the Sphynx, the double Rex, and the patchwork hairless rat. These rats have little to no fur, which makes these tiny pets prone to overheating and cold. 

One must understand that due to this rat’s lack of hair, bald rats have shorter lifespans and require special care in order to live happy and healthy lives. 

This includes providing a proper diet and protecting these small animals from extreme temperatures. If you are considering keeping a hairless rat as a pet, you need to do your research before getting one. 

If you already have experience with hairless rats, we would love to hear your thoughts and tips in the comments section!

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